The Personal Totem Pole
A Pathway for Learning, Healing and Growth
The Personal Totem Pole™ is a process of guided imagery that enables you to access your inner wisdom, strength and truth and to establish an ongoing relationship with them. It draws from three traditions: active imagination, developed by Dr. Carl Jung, the Eastern concept of chakras, or energy centers in the body, and the Native American tradition of speaking to and learning from animals.
In a state of deep relaxation, you focus on each of the chakras in turn and invite the image of an animal to emerge. The Animals become counselors and guides, dedicated to helping you live the life you want.
Imagery comes from deep levels of consciousness, bringing with it unerring awareness of just what you need for your learning and growth. You connect with this information by developing a relationship with each of your Animals. This interaction between you and your Inner Wisdom is at the center of the Personal Totem Pole ™ process and all Interactive Imagery.
Each Animal provides a distinct perspective related to the chakra from which it comes. Since each chakra corresponds to a different aspect of functioning, each Animal brings its own unique message. The condition of the Animal and your attitude toward it reveal a great deal about that aspect of functioning.
Thus, Animals may be robust and healthy or they may be ill, caged or trapped. You may feel close to an Animal or distant, comfortable with it or terrified of it. When you enter into a positive relationship with an Animal or free a trapped one or help a wounded one to heal, you experience renewed energy and enhanced well-being and manifest positive changes in your life.
Awareness that comes from within has the power to transform
Often the insight you receive in imagery is no different from what friends or relatives have told you or what I, as a therapist or coach, might say. The crucial difference is that this awareness comes from within. When your learning arises from behind your defenses, it carries the power of personal truth, making it easier to accept and integrate.
The Animals, dedicated as they are to helping you achieve greater wholeness, often connect you with aspects of your Self that have been repressed or disowned. Thus, an Animal can embody strength, tenderness, courage or any other trait you may have assumed was beyond your grasp.
You can merge with an Animal in imagery, feeling what it feels and knowing what it knows. When you become one with a Bear, you experience firsthand your own inner strength and power. When you frolic in the waves as a Dolphin, you experience joy and spontaneity that can transform your life. Through experiences such as these, you integrate lost parts of yourself and come into greater wholeness.
Imagery can provide you with fresh perspective to help you deal with the challenges you face. If you’re grappling with a difficult decision, you can soar with an Eagle, perceive the larger picture and discover new options. A friendly Dog can show you new ways to relate to the problem people in your life.
Everything you have ever experienced is stored in your unconscious. This familiarity with everything that has ever occurred in your life informs the work. You can trust that your Guide will provide precisely what you need to know to deal with whatever issue you are facing in the moment.
Your Animals know what thoughts or feelings may be blocking you. They know where these blocking beliefs come from and just what you need to resolve and release these internal blocks so you can live your full potential.
Achieve Inner Balance and Integration
Once you have met with each of your Chakra Animals, the next step is to invite all of the Animals to come together to meet in Council. The ultimate goal is not just a positive relationship between you and each of your Animals, but a harmonious interaction among all of the Animals, creating inner balance and the full use of all of your capacities.
In some instances one animal is ostracized or feared by the others or is afraid of them. Sometimes there is conflict between two or more of the Animals. This generally reflects problems among the corresponding areas of functioning.
For example, you may characteristically have used your thinking capacities to control your feelings and self-expression. In this case the Head Animal may be dominant in the Council and the others may be resentful or fearful of that one.
In such situation, the Animals need to come into positive relationship and balance with one another so that the special strengths of each become available for the good of the whole. As this happens you experience an awakening of capacities that have long been rep