A Tale of Tails

Ok, hear me out. This may sound like nonsense, I know. It is a stretch for me too. I’m still unsure whether to publish this – But I guess if your reading this It must be too late. 

Here goes…

Lately I’ve become aware of a phantom limb. Not the classical type commonly found in amputees, but a subtle psycho/energetic one. Where it attaches is difficult to pin down, I’m almost certain it is somewhere along my spine. I’m keenly aware that this is likely all a trick of consciousness, an imaginary figment summoned by my insatiable desire to codify and name my subjective experiences during yoga practice. Nonetheless it is still there and warrants a closer inspection. 

I began to notice it outside of class, during everyday wake state reality. Historically all my odd physiological curiosities have occurred during practice, specifically when emotions are heightened. But this thing, which I’ve come to define as a tail based on its character, first appeared while sitting in my backyard doing nothing really, just sitting there. 

I’ve always had ticks, not the blood sucking variety, but the little unconscious twitches and finger drummings and the likes; Of which I’m certain most people have in varying form and function. Before I found yoga 18 months ago, I imagine myself to be lost for 28 years in a world of unconscious ticks that speak to my internal emotional state. Having now learned a few tools to overcome the blind, grasping swamps of emotional turmoil I’ve naturally begun to be aware of the physical expressions too. Even further still, I can now actively stop the physical ticks, which brings me to the curious subject of this blog. The phantom tail. 

It is mental in nature, that is, a fabricated product of my mind. I cannot see it nor hear it, but can somehow consciously move it throughout my body, and extend it beyond the body in certain circumstances. When it travels through my body, I can feel it. It feels like a gentle breeze travelling down whichever limb I choose to send it down. For now it seems to have only one end, I’ve made attempts to split it and send it down both legs, which gave me that breezy sensation in both legs, but in my intuitive mind it was still one thing. It’s dynamics are like that of a serpent, but I want to disasociate it from kundalini. 

From what I’ve read on kundalini, the nature of my tail is different.

I have an idea that perhaps this thing exists in the pranayama kosha from Vedic philosophy. Another possible explanation is some strange genetic defect that has been activated in my nervous system, leftovers from our ancient tree dwelling, tailed ancestors. I could postulate all day as to the reason I’m experience the thing, but I doubt that serves any useful purpose. 

Having said that, there are two outstanding effects I’ve noticed. Tick cessation and enhanced focus. 

The first effect I became aware of almost immediately, when my tail was active there was a significant reduction in my unconscious ticks. It is almost as though this tail was the direct cause of the ticks when outside of my control and left to its own devices. The act of becoming aware of the ticking is almost always followed by an activation of the tail sensation. I even began to notice a common ankle shake of mine draw into my body with the tail and up my leg into my spine. The shake transformed from physical manifestation directly into tail sensation. 

Now a classic tail shape is not the only form this thing takes, but it is the most common. Sometimes it expands to fill my entire body and local surrounding like a sphere or blob. Which leads me to the second distinct effect. Enhanced focus.

I’d like to take a moment to first delineate the difference between awareness and focus, which if  I’m being honest requires an entire blog of its own. But I will shove it into its nutshell nonetheless for the purpose of keeping on track. 

The different between awareness and focus as I’ve come to understand them is merely a matter of quantity. I can be aware of multiple phenomenon from my subjective point of view, whose source are both environmental stimuli and internal mental happenings. Focus, on the other hand can only be aimed at one, at the most two things simultaneously. But I suspect any instance of multiple simultaneous focusing is likely a combination of focus and strong awarness. 

The enhanced focus I experience through the tail is most noticeable when it is within my body. Wherever the tip of the tail goes, so does my focus. This is especially pronounced when I move the tail to any of the classic energy centres of my body, particularly the heart. I feel my sternum open up automatically and my shoulder drop back. When the tail is in blob mode and outside my body I find it difficult to locate the centre of focus, my eyes glaze over and my vision blurs and I get a distinct sense of gravity and my body in space and time. Experimenting with balancing I discovered that blob mode is wonderfully suited to the wobbly balancing poses in yoga class. I’ve been practicing holding the blob focused tail while closing my eyes in balances like tree pose – with mixed results. It seems when I close my eyes the tail takes it upon itself to switch on all the unconscious ticks one at a time. 

So, there you have it. A tail. I’d advise you to take this with a grain of salt as I’m not even sure about it all. But if you take a few nuggets of gold out of this muddy subject then fantastic.