FINDING YOUR PAST-LIVES
The evidence for reincarnation is overwhelming in my opinion. In addition to being a certified hypnotherapist who has conducted many past-life regressions, I've spent 25 years analyzing foreign intelligence. One of the challenges in conducting such analysis is determining the validity of the sources and the veracity of the information. An intelligence analyst weighs the reliability of the source and tries to corroborate the information through other means, just as I suggest you do when trying to determine if your own past-lives are true. In the end, however, it's important to realize that there is no way to prove reincarnation to the satisfaction of science or even in some cases, religion. All we can do is present the best evidence and decide for yourself if it feels true.
So far, the strongest evidence for reincarnation comes from the work of Dr. Ian Stevenson, who spent a lifetime investigating children who remember what is purported to be their "past life." Although scientific protocol prevented Dr. Stevenson from making the explicit claim that reincarnation exists, his evidence strongly suggests so. Another investigator of childrens' past life claims is Carol Bowman. She, too, provides numerous anecdotal accounts of children who remember their previous existence. Of course, the question of where the information on past lives these children came up with originated has been asked by skeptics who cite possible hoaxes, parental influences or cryptoamnesia (forgetting you know where information comes from).
Recently, others have come forth with stories that seem to substantiate reincarnation. Perhaps the most widely publicized is the case of James Leininger, a child who remembered being a World War II navy pilot. But there are other cases of equal interest, including that of Robert Snow, a police detective, who recalled being an artist in his most recent past life. There are some adults who claim to be reincarnations of historical figures, such as Jeffery Keene as Confederate General John Brown Gordon and Jessica Jewett as Fanny Chamberlain, the wife of Union General Joshua Chamberlain, among others. I'm even aware of a woman who remembers being Martha Jefferson, the former president's wife. She was able to point out hidden features of Monticello that the curators didn't know about. She wishes to remain anonymous. I'm also aware of a woman who, when as a toddler she saw Judy Garland on television, said, "That's me in my other life." This woman apparently has the same looks and interests as Garland.
Children who recall a past life are not uncommon. (My own granddaughter did.) But there hasn't been much research into adults who consciously remember past lives, perhaps because there are so few and they prefer not to disclose their memories. I used to work with a fellow who remembered his past lives, but he was loathe to mention it. Yet, a search on line indicates that there are some adults who claim to remember their previous personalities and don't mind going public. I admire their courage.
Even when adults or children remember past lives, verification of their previous identities is difficult because most people were not historical personages and they seldom left a record of their existence. So, identifying those rare individuals who were famous in a previous life is important because the data points they remember can in some cases be verified.
The question is how to identify people who were a historical figure in a previous life. My theory is that because of karmic patterns, some people will be famous in successive lives, especially if they did not complete the task or goal they incarnated previously to achieve. I believe that, in general, those who died young, especially due to violence from war or at the hands of a murderer, reincarnate quickly and try to resume the kind of life they led before their untimely demise.
If there's anything that reincarnates, it's obviously the soul. People sometimes say, "I was John Doe in a past-life." But the "I" in that case pertains to the present personality, not the soul. It would be more correct to say that the soul that inhabits your present body inhabited previous bodies. Then you have to bear in mind that, according to some mystics, on the other side, time does not exist. So from the soul's perspective, successive lifetimes don't exist. I sometimes think of it as the soul occupying the hub of a wheel with spokes going out to a wheel rim that represents chronological time. The soul sees all of the incarnations.
So what do we carry over from incarnation to incarnation? My hypothesis is that because our subconscious mind can recall past-lives under hypnosis, it appears that memory is the main quality that lives on in a new body. That memory is further enhanced by emotion. The more emotional the memory, the more it provides energy to the present life. If we have those subconscious memories, then, it seems that they influence our present life in the form of likes and dislikes, prejudices and predilections, interests, talents, and geographic preferences. We have a tendency to gravitate towards what we fondly remember and recoil from what hurt us in the past. I don't think we carry over personalities. That's a function of the brain. As for appearances, it seems that people look in a general fashion like their past life. Whether that's true in all cases is unclear. Whether we look more or less the same in every life is another unknown possibility. My guess is that the more energy we have invested in a lifetime, the more likely it is that we'll carry over body resemblances.
Bear in mind that we also incarnate to learn and to experience new situations. So we may not repeat aspects of our previous life. We may go off in a different direction. Someone who was a farmer in several lifetimes may decide to learn music in the present lifetime, for example. We may also face situations we are unfamiliar with from past lives, such as going to war or being born with or developing a handicap. Someone who was beautiful in one life may decide to experience being ugly, which may change their appearance. We need to challenge ourselves from lifetime to lifetime. Then again, we can become stuck in a karmic problem that recurs in life after life. That usually involves a relationship problem we're trying to get right.
FINDING YOUR PAST-LIVES
So how do you find your past-lives? This methodology is one you can pursue yourself.
My recommended methodology consists of acquiring information from various sources and comparing them to corroborate each other if possible. The primary method most people use to determine who they were in a past-life is hypnotic regression. Other common means are use of psychics and rarely, dreams. Another less reliable method, but one that can merit initiating an investigation, is feelings of affinity.
After determining a candidate for one of your past-lives, the next step is verification. That's why it's critical to gather as many data points as possible about the past-life regardless of how you determined it. It's the details, rather than the broad descriptions, that can prove critical. Unique or rare characteristics are especially important.
There are assorted ways to assess the accuracy of your past-life choice and after going through this methodology, you're in a better position to decide whether you have a probable, possible or unlikely identification of your past-life personality.
If you have conscious memories or dreams of being someone specific, you can still use this method to verify your possibility. So, here's my recommended process:
1. Make a list of:
- Interests and hobbies you pursue or would like to pursue.
- Talents you display and skills you've acquired.
- Places you've lived.
- Places you have emotions about even if you've never been there.
- Historical people you have an affinity for.
- Character and personality traits.
- The issues you're dealing with in life.
2. See a past-life regression hypnotist and see what is uncovered. Do not see a psychic first or you will front load your expectations. Make sure you acquire as many data points about the past-life person as you can for later confirmation, if possible. What a person experiences in past-life regression differs considerably from person to person, and many people come out of a trance thinking they made it all up. Sometimes they do, but in most cases, it's a mixture of memory and confabulation.
3. See several psychics who say they can pinpoint your past-lives. Most will speak in generalities, so try to find people who give specifics and don't "cold read", that is, keep asking you questions upon which they can base their reading. In my experience, psychics are not terribly reliable, but they sometimes provide valid data points along with what they acquire through your answering their questions or what their own imagination produced. It's better to tell a psychic up front that you won't speak during the reading.
4. Determine if there is any commonality between what you acquired under hypnosis and what the psychics said. Check to see if the traits of your past-life personalities are similar to your present traits. Did they have similar interests and talents? Are you drawn to places where they lived? Did they have similar character and personality, or did they deal with similar issues?
5. If you have specific data points, such as descriptions of dress, architecture, ceremonies, food preferences and so forth, research to determine if they're accurate. If anything is unusual or unique, focus on that. These days, the internet makes research considerably easier.
6. Once you've settled on who you might have been in a past-life, ask the universe for a sign if you are correct. A good sign or synchronicity will be timely, specific and even startling. Do one person at a time.
Many people are fearful of hypnosis. Perhaps because of Hollywood movies, such as "Svengali", and stage hypnotists, some have the impression that hypnotists have complete control over their client. Not true. Here are the facts:
- While in a trance, you're normally awake and aware of what the hypnotist is saying. A small percentage of the population is sonambulistic, that is, they go unconscious. Unless you're sonambulistic, you will remember the session.
- You have full control over your actions. You can ignore any suggestions you don't care to follow. Stage hypnotists look for people who willingly follow suggestions, usually because they've had a few drinks and are looking for fun.
- There is no danger you won't "wake up." If you fall asleep, you'll wake up normally.
- The more intelligent you are, the better hypnosis subject you make. Being "weak-willed" has nothing to do with it. Hypnosis is just relaxed concentration. In fact, most people experience hypnosis whenever they're engrossed in inner thoughts or in some task. It's natural.
- Hypnosis differs according to the depth of the trance. It takes about six sessions before you will reach your maximum depth, and that depth is as determined as your I.Q. Some people can only achieve a light trance and some can achieve a deep state of trance. Hypnosis induced by someone else will lead to a deeper state of trance than self-hypnosis.
- Most therapeutic applications of hypnosis only require a light to medium trance to work.
Past-life regression is a useful tool to uncover past-life memories. But it's not perfect.
- Generally, the deeper you go, the more accurate will be the memory of past lives.
- People experience their past-lives under hypnosis in a variety of ways. Most people see fleeting images, while others get sounds or even impressions. Some people see entire scenes, similar to viewing a movie. Other people actually believe they're in that past-life and take on the personality of whomever they say they were. People prefer to experience life either visually, auditorially or through other senses. They experience past-lives in a similar fashion.
- Many people will come out of a past-life regression believing they made the whole thing up. In reality, past-life memory is frequently a combination of actual memories and imagination or confabulation. We fill in what we don't remember with imaginary facts. How much is memory and how much is confabulation depends on each individual.
- While it's claimed that the hypnotist can implant suggested memories (so-called false memories), in reality, most people under hypnosis will correct any suggestions that aren't conforming with what they're experiencing. Some clients will try to please the hypnotist, thinking they better come up with something, and then confabulate completely.
- There's also a possibility that the client is receiving information telepathically from the hypnotist. Sometimes clients start answering the questions a hypnotist is about to ask them. It's better if the hypnotist and the client have no preconceived notions of who the client might have been in past-lives.
- In some cases, especially in therapy, the client will uncover a memory that is traumatic and have an "abreaction", that is, an emotional catharsis, usually involving crying or other outbursts. The trauma can be from this life or a past one. (I once had a woman who uncovered being molested as a little girl get up, go to the restroom, vomit and then return, all while in a trance.) Usually, a client won't go to a traumatic incident unless directed to by the hypnotist, and then only if they are willing. In some cases, clients go there automatically without prompting. Once the abreaction is handled and the emotion released, healing usually results.
- Because of possible abreactions, people with heart conditions should not be hypnotized. Likewise, people with mental conditions or pathologies should see a qualified and licensed psychologist or other mental health practitioner.
- Hypnosis is valuable for dealing with phobias, finding your purpose in life, uncovering karmic patterns, and healing relationships (many of which started in past lives). Generally, past-life regression just for curiosity will not be as successful as a therapeutic session because emotions more easily lead to the source of a problem.
Many people question the validity of hypnotically derived past lives and with good reason. Hypnosis is much like dreaming and the mind is a powerful generator of imagination. So it is prudent to ask whether what one sees or experiences under hypnosis is an actual past life or something else.
My view is that for the most part, the material experienced under hypnosis is usually derived from a combination of sources:
- Actual past-life memories which may be complete or partial.
- Symbolic imagery of present psychological issues that the mind is not willing to face directly but will construct imaginary scenarios in a metaphorical sense.
- Confabulation because the hypnotist expects something and so some scenario is concocted.
- Simple imagination.
- Cryptoamnesia (what the conscious mind forgets seeing but the subconscious mind remembers) resulting in reconstructing movies, or historical novels and representing them as memories.
My view is that what one experiences is dependent the depth of the trance and the emotional charge creating the past-life scenario. If one is deep in trance and there is a traumatic event somewhere in the past whose emotions have been lodged in the subconscious, then the release of those emotions, whether metaphorical or actually remembered, usually results in healing.
If the subject can remember historical details that would be unknown otherwise, it may represent psychic connections, reading the akashic record (a theory posits that all events are recorded energetically in the zero point energy of the universe), or telepathy from some other person who is not even present. My view is that when we own a memory we know it's ours and we react accordingly. When we view a movie or hear someone else's tale, no matter how harrowing, it doesn't have the same meaning to us that our own experiences have. So to claim that someone, particularly those having an abreaction (emotional release), is not experiencing their own memories seems unlikely.
In the end, everyone will have to determine whether what they experience in a past-life regression is an actual memory or something else. But regardless, in my experience, what emerges is meaningful to the subject and usually of value.