Have You Lived Before?
An exploration of Past Life Regression
The concept of reincarnation is one, which is fundamental to religions such as Buddhism, Hinduism and according to some, also to Christianity before it was removed by the Roman emperor Constantine in AD 325 in order to unite feuding Christian factions. There have been many accounts of young children having memories of a previous existence. Quite often, the parents have assumed they were just fantasies of a child until the details became too vivid or accurate for a child to know.
Sceptics will say that the child had seen it on TV or heard someone talk about it, but in most of these cases that explanation is just not satisfactory due to the extensive research that has often been required to verify the facts, which in most cases have been verified. Some of us have had recurring dreams from childhood or have patterns of thought, behaviour or fears that seem to have no source in this life.
One of the most noted of these is from the work of Dr Brian Weiss. As a psychiatrist, working with hypnosis, he had no belief in past lives until he worked with one particular patient who suffered extreme anxiety. A common approach in any type of psychotherapy is to regress” or bring the person back in time to the first time they experienced the emotion and help to release it. After regressing her into her childhood to those experiences, he had limited success until he asked her to go back to the “first” time she felt the anxiety. Of course, she then regressed to a time in an ancient civilisation and that’s where her recovery really started.
Where was I before I was born? What happened before I began my existence as me? And what happens after we die? These questions and questions like them have been pondered and speculated on throughout history. Philosophers and numerous religions have attempted to provide answers to questions such as these in an attempt to help us understand this existence on the earth. Is there a grand design? Why is there so much suffering?
Perspectives and insights have been gleaned from mystics, sages and ordinary people who have had moments of “illumination” whist meditating or even doing mundane things such as doing the washing up! One useful piece in the jigsaw puzzle is from those people who have experienced a Near Death Experience (NDE). There are numerous case studies of people who have died for brief moments of time in accidents or on the operating table and during those moments experienced an overwhelming sense of peace, separated from their bodies, noticing all the details of what was occurring to their bodies and then moved away towards a tunnel of light and met deceased relatives or spiritual teachers. The most important of these experiences being that of Dannion Brinkley who died for 28 minutes and went further into the “afterlife” than anyone else recorded. It was here that he experienced a panoramic life review, experiencing his life and it’s impact on others. Being a CIA operative and having been involved in some unsavoury work this was not a pleasant experience for him. Now, he was not hauled before a court of judges and punished as some religions would have you believe, but realising himself as a spiritual being, it was he that judged himself. He then went on to meet a council of Wise Spiritual beings who instructed him in the consequences of pursuing his current life and gave him tasks to perform before he was sent back to Earth. The resulting experience brought about such a profound change in that persons life that he was quite literally a different person.
Much of the work of Dr Raymood Moody involves the investigation of experiences such as these. Through the remarkable work of Dr Brian Weiss and Michael Newton PHD we are now in a position where the afterlife is quite literally mapped out in extreme detail. Through the use of hypnotic past life regression, they both stumbled upon the place between the lifetimes where a person had just left a physical body and was in spirit form. These experiences showed remarkable similarity to the NDE with a few notable exceptions: it seemed more common in a NDE to see a religious figure and on some occasions there were frightening experiences in the NDE. This may be due to real physical trauma occurring in the NDE. The closest similarity between an interlife (or spiritual regression) and an NDE seems to be of Dannion Brinkley’s experience. Perhaps due to the fact that he was dead for so long and there was no brain activity.
What is Past Life Regression? Past life regression is a process that may or may not include hypnosis that can lead a person back in time before this life to the experience of a previous existence. It can be similar to the way we experience dreams in that sometimes we are outside looking at the past life character as an observer (commonly referred to as dissociated) or we see out through the past life character’s eyes, hear what they hear and experience their thoughts, feelings and emotions (associated).
Why would someone want a past life regression, surely we are here now, why dig up the past?
This is something I used to believe. As someone who practised a lot of meditation and had a firm belief in the power of now, I didn’t think it was useful to explore a life before this existence. We don’t remember our past lives for a reason, right? Yet, since working as a clinical hypnotherapist, I found the use of regression highly valuable in helping people to release unhelpful patterns and fears. Once those patterns are released it is much easier for a person to live a happy life in this life without being encumbered emotionally by an event that happened centuries ago. Past life regression is just one other aspect of working with regression that can help to resolve deep patterns in a person’s life. With a person who has experienced a deep trauma in this life, it is sometimes easier to resolve a similar pattern in a past life first because the person is not so close to it. It’s not really you anymore is it, it’s your past life character? In this way, some of the emotional “charge” is taken off the event in this life. Some people have relationship problems that they just can’t resolve. They might find out they have known that person in a previous life in a different type of relationship with certain challenges and it is often in the “interlife” period (the time between lifetimes) that new and powerful insights can be gained.
What happens during a past life regression?
A past life regression normally lasts 2 or 3 hours.
1. Intake interview
Normally a person will have a certain focus of what they would like to work on during a past life regression. This can be structured as a therapy session with topics such as anxiety, phobias, relationship problems, motivation, depression, panic attacks to name but a few. For some people its just curiosity, and for them it can be useful to suggest something that they’d like to improve on, or relationships in their life that they’d like to gain insights about. So, first of all there’s usually a discussion for about 30-45 minutes on that topic. This helps to bring everything up into consciousness.
2. Journey into past life. This can be done in a variety of ways depending on what’s most suitable.
3. Exploration of past life. This is a bit like navigating a new and unexplored land and when done from a therapeutic standpoint important relationships and events requiring healing can be discovered. These can be beliefs that have arisen or physical, emotional and mental traumas.
4. Through the past life death. This is an important process, uncovering emotions; thoughts and beliefs at the time of death that can often still have an impact on our current lives. There are two main approaches to the death experience: one is to go through it quickly and experience little of the emotion; the other is for a full cathartic process involving the position of the body at time of death. This latter process is very intense and is capable of resolving issues very quickly, but few people including therapists are willing to go through such an intense experience so most therapists to do most of the healing in the interlife period.
5. Healing in the interlife. This is where the soul after separating from the physical body is able, with the help of spiritual guides or teachers, to undertake physical healing on the body and emotional and mental healing of the souls energy field. This is where any unfinished business can be taken care of, reunions with loved ones can occur and new insights can be gained. This is where powerful spiritual insights are possible that can stay with a person for the rest of their life and is often worthy of a separate session in itself. It can be here that the past life can be related to the current life to recognise similar patterns.
6. Awaken client. The client is brought back to full consciousness and there can be a discussion of how that past life character relates to the current issue.
Through all the research and work I’ve done in this area, what has become apparent to me is how we get caught up in the dramas of our day-to-day existence. I find it extremely inspiring to hear of the insights that individuals experience at the soul level with the help of their teachers and friends. And it becomes apparent that there are certain things that are important, and they’re the simple things, such as how we relate to other people and how we overcome challenges. And, it can be inspiring to know that we are all each others teachers, even the people that do us harm because we all are part of the same source, travelling as immortal spiritual beings of light throughout many lifetimes, learning, growing, expanding and setting each other new challenges and sometimes experiments and wagers to carry out here on Earth. For Earth represents some unique set of challenges, one of which is the amnesia that is set when we enter.
Now, whether you believe in the experience as real in itself or if it has another purely scientific explanation, the fact remains that all the insights a person discovers during these processes are extremely empowering. How much more useful is it to look at a problem or person as a challenge and wonder what can really be learnt from this situation instead of overindulging in anger or self pity. We deliberately come here, forgetting who we really are in order to find new solutions to the challenges that we choose.
Acknowledgements to the work of Michael Newton, PhD., Andy Tomlinson, Raymond Moody, Dannion Brinkley, Dr Brian Weiss, Helen Wambach