• Steve Hoblyn

In Search of the Dragon Tail

What follows is a very personal reflection of my journey into a deeper understanding of resilience and self awareness, and hopefully brings greater insight into just a small part of the world of somatics.

Since first meeting and working with Clare Myatt and Beverley McMaster in March 2017, a somatically aware life has become core to my values and as such how I make decisions and approach my life. I have many opportunities in my role as a coach and leader to talk about embodiment, conditioned tendencies, the importance of trusting what is going on in our bodies as much as in our brain, not to disconnect the two, and of course this amazing thing we have begun to talk passionately and affectionately of; our dragon tail, as an embodiment of depth and gravitas.

When I was first invited by Clare to try to grow my dragon tail my experience was of filling a translucent skin behind me with feelings associated with my family, friends, supporters and network, my experiences, good and bad, my history, and ancestors. It grew and I experienced the rudimentary effect of having depth given to me by a broad and powerful tail but it was fleeting. However I recognised it's importance and as such it became part of my daily practice to nurture and feel for my tail and it became part of my vocabulary. Over the space of a few weeks the translucent form gained colour, texture size, shape, weight, depth, and a certain swishing mobility!

When I re-experienced the instructions around growing my dragon tail at a follow up somatic awareness and resilience workshop my process was again the same to refill a translucent skin, but this time all the troubles, insecurities and traumatic events and people in my life appeared in greater numbers and filled more of my tail. I had a visceral reaction to this and physically felt my tail being damaged, tearing, scarring and twisting into awkward shapes, this was not the experience or tail I wanted but I went with it and through talking about it as a group this was not unusual, and trusting my somatic feelings the skin toughened up and took on even more beautiful and vivid textures and colours than had been there before, the scars and twists were softened and healed and my tail was bigger, brighter, heavier and more powerful than it had been, and this was with recognition of all the pain and hurt it now held as well as all the positive histories and additions. The sense of incredible depth and the gravitas that this is meant to provide was embodied in me at that point.

As we moved into the dignity aspect of length I was not able to embody a tree, an iron bar or a shaft of light, none of these suggested visualisations resonated. I needed to stay with the dragon tail. I needed grounding contact through two points; through both feet, and I needed the ability to move, characteristics that the single root options as I visualised them did not permit me. Naturally my dragon tail took over and grew into me, and the sense of an enormous dragon grew out of me; it gave me two long and solid feet out of my own, it gave me an enormous backside that I could breathe down into and large enough to support my tail and hold my centre, it also gave me a long and powerful neck that shot out and up from me to give me extraordinary length and the ability to survey and keep overwatch of the world ahead of me. The sense of power, vision, solidity, peace, grounding and centring, when combined with my beautiful tail and large feet able to ground me or move me forward if required was unbelievably strong and when we did our destabilising exercise I was unmovable. But more than just being unmovable, I was able to hold a conversation, be engaged and connected but felt anything could be thrown at me without matter. I felt what I hoped I was supposed to at that point, completely grounded, centred and in the moment. The metaphor was complete and unified in this 'dragon guardian' and embodied the commitment made to myself in the workshop objectives which was to put myself first from a self-care standpoint, so that I may better be in the service of helping, supporting and guiding others, a path I set out on I recall as a child and feel more and more able to do as I grow and learn more about the power of somatic awareness and resilience.

Thank you Clare and Beverley for being there on this exciting and rewarding journey with me.