I can't believe I'm actually opening up this whole 'past-life' can of worms. Oh well.
As a Certified Clinical Hypnotherapist, every once in a while, I'll get a phone call asking me to conduct a past life regression. The requestor is usually convinced their current-life problem stemmed from some old, unresolved issue in a past life. I have been trained in this area, and I've facilitated numerous past life regressions (PLR's), for both individuals and groups. I found out early just how passionate and downright angry people get regarding this fascinating topic. They are either passionately angry for it, or passionately angry against it.
The Believers in Past Lives (henceforth referred to as BIPLs) are certain, beyond all doubt, that past lives are REAL, dammit, and anybody who doesn't believe as they do are a bunch of old-fashioned, fundamentalist, right-wing, meat-eating whacko's who "just aren't evolved." (They usually declare this with a Yogier-Than-Thou arch to one of their eyebrows.) BIPLs want to be right about their own enlightenment. Many BIPLs are vegan and gluten-free. I generalize, but you get the picture.
On the flip side, we have the Disbelievers in Past Lives (henceforth referred to as DIPLs). DIPLs are just as convinced they are right, and, with God on their side, they are poised for Holy Battle. DIPLs wonder why this hooey wasn't stamped out once and for all back in Salem, Massachusetts years ago. To a dyed-in-the-wool DIPL, the topic of Past Life Regression is closed for discussion. Period, end of sentence.
What BIPLs and DIPLs don't get is that they are mirror images of each other... both are narrow-minded, stuck and positioned. Many BIPLs have given up their childhood religions to embrace their "spirituality" but have turned that spirituality into a rigid belief system reminiscent of the one they left behind.
Inevitably, I'm asked by both camps about MY OWN personal beliefs on the topic. The BIPLs assume I'm on their side.
The truth is, I don't know. The truth is, none of us knows, not really. We suspect, we hope, but we don't know. Past lives fall under the heading of "Mystery." Mysteries are frustrating! Human beings want answers, not mysteries! We want to be right about our beliefs! We want to be seen as enlightened, saved, or both! But we just don't know. Not for sure, anyhow.
Luckily NOT knowing is the most positive, most powerful, place to stand. As a Healer, I must stand in the mystery... the twilight... the in-between... avoid temptation to try to put the fullness and richness of a client's experience into a box with a label. I must avoid categorizing, conjecturing and pigeon-holeing ideas, experiences, research and beliefs. Too much "knowing" and not enough "mystery" flattens and robs an experience of it's magic, it's love, it's most profound essence.
Every major religion in the world believes in "the Mysteries" in some form or other. Catholics are familiar with the Creed, "We believe in one God, the Father, the Almighty... the Maker of Heaven and Earth...of all that is seen and Unseen." That "Unseen" part refers to the Mysteries. Mysteries are prevalent in other branches of Christianity, too. Judaism, Hinduism, Buddhism, Islam and other religions all contain references to the Mysteries.
In all faiths, the word "Mystery" is a good thing. In metaphysics, it is representative of the unseen dimension. "Faith" is another signpost that comprises mystery. Faith must come first before evidence is experienced. From the Latin comes the phrase popularized by the Holy Order of Servite: "Credo ut Intelligam" which means "I believe, so that I might understand."
In the study of metaphysics, suspension of rigid right/wrong beliefs and experiencing the expansion of presence is what reveals the fourth dimension and allows deep peace to manifest.
Take the magic of Santa Claus! The wonderment about Santa made our Christmases sparkle... there was almost an electrical charge to the atmosphere when we were children. The richness of it, the openness to possibility... that's what was important. Remember when we found out Mom and Dad put the presents under the tree? Remember the flatness? It wasnt that there were fewer presents. It wasn't that Santa was gone, we'd never seen or met the guy anyway! We were asleep! lt was the magic of mystery and wonderment that left. Our childlike unbridled openness to the mystery... that's what mattered and created joy!
I'm asked, "Hey Janna, don't you need to believe in past lives to facilitate a past life regression?"
And the answer is this: to make my client's experience effective and fruitful, I must do two things: one, supply the love and unconditional positive regard for their transformation, for what they want, without muddying their waters with my own belief system; and two, neither believe nor disbelieve... I must stand, firmly, in the mystery. If I were to burden you with stories of why I believe in past lives, spelling out evidence, citing research, clinical studies and accounts, it would actually flatten your experience and ruin it -- it would be dimensionally reduced for you somehow. So how can PLR help people? You decide. Here are a couple examples.
Years ago, a man came to one of my teachers and told her he wanted to visit his past lives to rid himself of his fear of spiders. In hypnosis, he recalled one particular life where he was "murdered" by a large number of spiders. (Think Ron Weasley in the Forbidden Forrest with Aragog and family.) Was it real? Who knows? The point is, that man was able to move forward without being afraid of spiders anymore... in his own way, he figured out his personal "why" and, with his question answered, was able to deal with spiders easily after that. Was the PLR simply a subconscious fantasy? Was it a bona fide past life? Does it matter? NO! What matters is the poor guy can let go of his fear of spiders now! That's all that really counts!
Another client (different case-history) was one of those good-looking, non-committal type of men. Mid-40's, he'd never married. He'd had a plethora of steady girlfriends, but always dumped them at the last minute when things got serious. He went to his hypnotherapist for months. No matter what hypnotic techniques she used, she couldn't get rid of his fear of commitment. The guy was convinced a past life was to blame for his non-committal, womanizing ways. His hypnotherapist (incredulous) figured he was just a womanizer who wanted to stay that way, but she humored him and did the past life regression figuring heck! Why not? Nothing else had worked!
So she hypnotizes him, facilitated the regression, and he remembered a past life in which he'd lived in ancient Rome. A hit-man for the Caesar, he killed many enemies of the government. He retired to a farm outside of Rome with his wife and children. One day, his identity was uncovered and some enemies came to avenge the deaths of their friends. They tied him up, raped his wife in front of him, and systematically cut up his children, then his wife, into teeny tiny little pieces while he watched.
He came out of hypnosis, suddenly "realizing" why he'd been afraid to commit... he subconsciously thought, or 'remembered', the people he loved would be in danger by being close to him! Once he decided his fear of commitment must have come from a past-life fear of hurting those close to him, he let his fear of commitment go and, miraculously, got married to his current-life girlfriend six months later. Nobody was more flabbergasted than his hypnotherapist!
Was his past life in Rome real? Was it imagined? Who cares! He got what he wanted! He got answers! His girlfriend got what she wanted... a ring! He married her, had a few kids, and is now extremely happy.
In other news, every once in a while, something new and unexpected happens in my hypnotherapy office that makes me tingle in wonderment. Last week, I conducted a past life regression with a young man who suddenly began speaking in a foreign language he did not know. The session was recorded, and the foreign language was real, and it was fluent. There was no way this young person could have learned that language in this lifetime.
This is a phenomenon known as xenoglossy. I had studied xenoglossy in college but hadn't encountered it personally until last week. Do I believe in past lives? After the xenoglossy experience, I lean toward yes, but then I remember... staying in the "Mystery" is the most powerful place to stand. So my commitment is to embrace the wonder, the unknown, and to hold positive intention for all others to overcome their fears, their obstacles, and to realize their dreams... because that's all that really matters.