One of the tools I use frequently in my hypnosis practice is working with animal totems. Animal totems are a tool from Native American shamanism. Each animal has certain qualities that you can absorb or take into your own psyche to help you through various phases of your own personal growth. When I think of all the wisdom that members of the animal kingdom have shared with me, I am instantly reminded me of a time in my life when I saw racoons everywhere…even in my dreams. That was the time when I finally awoke to my most deeply buried fears. And it brought in its wake the most vibrant feelings of wakefulness I have ever experienced until now. And, although it was painful at times to feel the feelings, I remember the experience fondly. It was pure magic!
It all started like this. The year when I first dreamt about the racoon was 1995. I had been going to a psychotherapist named Dr. Marilyn Mendoza in New Orleans. She was helping me deal with job burnout. I had begun feeling like a rat on a treadmill. I knew I was planning to leave my job soon. I knew it was time to take the leap of faith, leave the security of a steady paycheck and strike out on my own. It was during that time that I first dreamt about the racoon.
I dreamt there was a racoon running around and around on a loop rug in a house that was decorated in psychedelic yellows, oranges and greens and mod furniture from the 60’s. I had a broom and I swatted it. When it looked back at me, it had a man’s face and it said, “Thank you.” and fell over dead.
Killing the racoon was the metaphor for overcoming my fear of letting go of my salary. Racoons teach us to wear appropriate masks for the situation we’re in. It was time for me to take off the mask of the employee. Not too long after that, I DID quit my job. But not before the racoon showed up a few more times. I’ll get back to that story in a minute.
During that same time, a voice started yelling at me to “Pay attention! Pay attention!” “To what?” I would ask. My answer was always …silence. It would happen for no apparent reason, but was especially noticeable before or during my morning walk.
One day I was working with my friend Marilyn in Mississippi. We had just come back from breakfast and were back at the hotel. She was going inside to make some calls. I was going for my morning walk. As soon as I got out of the car, the voice started again, “Pay attention!!”
I began my walk and was quickly lost in meditation. Suddenly in front of me, was the largest racoon I had ever seen. I stopped and looked at him. He stopped, sat up on his haunches and looked at me. We stared at each other for a moment. I said, “What can I do for you?” He looked at me a moment longer, then turned and waddled away.
That experience, in and of itself, was strange enough, but when he did it four more times, I was awestruck. I can’t really explain to you in words what happened next, but I can tell you that after that day, I made a major shift in my thinking. People who know me today, and who are not mad at me for some reason or another, usually say things to me like, “You are so brave.” I can tell you that somehow the racoon took away my fear of moving forward with my life.
I’m in the “thought” business, so now when a mental shift like that occurs in my life, I am CONSCIOUSLY AWARE that my thinking has shifted. I’ll give you a good recent example. Even though we appear to be in a recession, albeit short-lived, if I am to believe my hero, Warren Buffet, I suddenly feel that my business is “bullet-proof.” Mind you, a year ago, my thoughts went something like this, “My service is a luxury item; my business will be the first one to recede in a recession.”
Fortunately, for me, my thoughts create my reality, so business is booming.
By the way, if you live in or are visiting San Antonio, visit our “Secret of Manifesting” class on the first or third Thursday of any month, except July and you can learn some of the tricks we teach for altering your thought processes.
And, if you’d like to learn more about the animal guides in your life, try Ted Andrews’ two marvelous books, Animal Wise and Animal Speak.