Creativity for the Rest of Us

Teachings From the Banana Slug

On a recent outdoor adventure, I had the opportunity to spend some extended time up close and personal with a banana slug.

Here’s what I learned.

Move at your own pace and with the intuitive rhythm of nature.  Sometimes quickly, sometimes slowly and never in a straight line, slugs get where they’re going with grace and ease.  With curiosity, they investigate everything that crosses their path.  They also stop to rest.

Use all of your resources for paying attention.  Slugs have 3 sets of sensors that I observed and probably more.  Listen to all of the ways that you receive information – hearing, sight, sensing, and the intuitive realms.  It’s all valuable and equally valid.  Learn to trust it.

Extend yourself into new places.  Exploring new territory where there is no solid ground underneath requires us to stretch.  When slug comes to a chasm to be crossed it uses its sensors to stretch across and find a foothold on the other side.  Once it finds this, it will attach with a mighty grip then pull the rest of itself over.  Slugs are shape shifters – stretching, constricting, and even traveling upside down – to meet the current circumstances appropriately.

Stop and reflect on where you’ve been. Slugs don’t let anything clutter up their sleek exterior on the journey.  They do accumulate and eliminate “stuff” along the way that collects as a sac at the tail end of their body.  Periodically, they will stop and eat the sac, digesting where they’ve been and absorbing it into fuel for the next excursion.  Incorporate reflection into your life and take time to integrate what you’re learning.



Schedule some time and go to a park, the beach, the woods, or your garden.  Pick a place where you can sit undisturbed or distracted.  Fly solo – no books, games, or technology.  Spend some concentrated time observing one of nature’s critters.  Track its behavior and see what you have to learn from it.

Some people like to work with animal totems as teachers and guides.  Here are some good resources if you want to dig a little deeper.

Animal Speak by Ted Andrews

Medicine Cards by Jamie Sams

For a bit of educational fun you can check out the Banana Slug String Band

One Response to “Teachings From the Banana Slug”

  1. Justine says:

    Nice analysis of the banana slug.


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