History of Past Life Regression
The use of hypnotic regression to bring a subject back to a purported past life began in the late 19th Century in France. The idea of reincarnation was essentially non-Western, an idea imported from the East and the Hindu as well as Buddist religious beliefs.
Mesmer and his associates observed that as part of his "magnetic cure" the client may need to go through some kind of healing crisis, by bringing to a head dammed-up emotions and thoughts. This has been known as the cathartic method since the late nineteenth century.
The Society for Psychical Research was founded at the end of the nineteenth century in London by a group of scholars, philosophers, spiritualists and scientists intent on saving religious values by basing them on scientific evidence. Their goal was to investigate, expose or document those phenomena that indicated a life after death. They found that the study of reincarnation is intrinsically involved with the study of psychic phenomena in general.
In the 1930's, JB Rhine at Duke University began a systematic scientific study of parapsychology and essentially converted the research to a psychological discipline and ESP became the forefront of all parapsychological research. The modern renaissance of interest in reincarnation begins in 1956 with the publication of Morey Bernstein's book The Search for Bridey Murphy. Only four years later Dr. Ian Stevenson, a psychiatrist at the University of Virginia published his scholarly report on "The Evidence for Survival from Claimed Memories of Former Incarnations". It served as a prelude to the gradual emergence of reincarnation as a topic of import to parapsychology as a whole. He brought respectability to the field having dedicated his career to the study of reincarnation and its research.
Hypnosis is an effective method by which attention can be channeled away from the outside world, permitting the subject to enter into an active dialogue with material from the unconscious. Other altered states of consciousness may also be linked to these memories as well and that these memories can surface spontaneously in every day life.
For most people who are experiencing a past life session for the first time, the unconscious mind will, in its wisdom, only send us past life memories that we are ready to deal with and are able to integrate into our conscious personality structure.
Any work that goes into the deeper layers of the unconscious mind may bring up strong emotions, disturbing memories, and fantasy material. Past life exploration can be like taking the lid off Pandora's Box, and therefore should only be undertaken by those fully trained in the field. There is great learning to be had from this extraordinary process. There are many people who have found their whole life orientation changed following their regression sessions. It is an opportunity to confront one's true self, naked and unadorned, to see the essence of one's "stuckness" in a single story.
Reincarnation is a vehicle for spiritual evolution. The idea of reincarnation has been commonplace in Hinduism and Buddhism, but also has been embraced by most major religions at one time in their history.
It doesn't matter whether you believe in reincarnation or not for a past life journey to be effective. It does matter, however, that you believe in the healing power of your unconscious mind. Jung developed a technique which he called active imagination - an interaction with the unconscious. The aim is to allow the image to come to life of its own autonomous psychic energy, our ego letting go of all expectations, presuppositions, or interpretations. The literal truth of a story is not of import, its psychological truth is.
Often it is necessary for the individual to fully experience a past life trauma. It is necessary for the body to be made aware so the trauma can be fully released cathartically. Complex feelings and thoughts revolving around guilt, failure, etc. may need to be brought to the surface, expressed, and relinquished.
At times, illness and other physical maladies may conceal an old "defeat in life" in symbolic language. These can be released and cleansed using PLR. The old pain is released cathartically, then you are guided to let go and reverse the old emotional pattern and finally encouraged to remain especially open to this area of vulnerability and not close it off again. In this way, our wounds become our strengths. They make us tolerant of the wounds of others and constantly remind us of our own human frailties. These are what in the East would be called the lessons of karma.
Past life work, with its emphasis on the power of body imagery and the embodied story, can often move symptoms to another level, where resolution occurs.
PLR is a less threatening and indirect way of coming to accept the most difficult parts of ourselves. As you go through the process of reintegrating the past life story back into this life, there are all kinds of opportunities for release, detachment, reconciliation, or self-forgiveness. Insights into the meaning and interrelationships of several past lives and present problems often come spontaneously from the client's realization and interpretation. Past life work is thoroughly holistic as it works on all three levels (body, mind and spirit).
Many of our present blockages can be traced back to a past life. By experiencing what occurred in the past, we can heal physical and emotional problems. With a past-life journey, many have released ailments and phobias, mended relationship difficulties, increased their creativity, and released blockages to abundance. The results can be amazing.
Current estimates are that more than a third of the people alive today believe that the soul is eternal and returns to earth again and again, through rebirth into new bodies, in order to grow and learn. Each lifetime provides a wealth of experiences that allow each of us as spiritual beings to become stronger, more balanced and more loving and eventually to reunite with Spirit.
Reincarnation experiences can occur in many ways. Have you ever had the eerie experience of being in a strange town and feeling a familiarity almost too deep to describe? Have you heard a particular piece of music and felt transported by it? Or, have you ever had a vivid dream about a time in history or a foreign country that seemed extraordinarily familiar and real? All these incidents can have their roots in past lifetimes. Think of past lives not so much as building blocks, but as pieces of a jigsaw puzzle with each piece, or lifetime, making you more knowledgeable and balanced.
The earliest record of reincarnation was in ancient Egypt where the soul was believed to be immortal and that when the body perished, the soul would enter into another human body. Hindus, and Buddhists believe in the cycle of life and death. Pythagoras, Plato and Napoleon all were believers in reincarnation. Reincarnation as a viable personal philosophy is becoming more prevalent in Western culture. The philosophy of reincarnation allows us to understand the way in which we each weave our own destiny.
A very important aspect of past life work deals with relationships. Understanding and healing relationship difficulties that have their roots in past lives can help improve the quality of our present relationships. The term soulmate can refer to a deep love for another person - or hatred, envy or spite. It is not reserved for your "one true love", though it could be such a person. Have you ever had a brief encounter with a stranger, and been positive you knew that person from somewhere, sometime? As soul memories are roused, relationships are rekindled. The effect of these past-life experiences can be created again in this life. When we meet again, in this lifetime, it is to relive and rework the relationship.
The underlying principle behind the Eastern concept of karma is: "as ye sow, so shall ye reap." The current trend is to suggest that inside each of us is an inner scale of justice monitoring our integrity. I believe that we create our own reality as well as our own karma. Essentially, you create difficult situations in your life in order to present yourself with opportunities for growth and learning.
You are what you think . . . and most especially what you don't know you think. Deep inside your subconscious are fears and beliefs that you have submerged. Yet these fears and beliefs set up inner blocks to fulfillment and will create frustration in your life. It is because your subconscious mind actually directs your reality. Although your conscious mind has the ability to reason and decide what is best for you, it cannot implement any decision unless the subconscious mind agrees. Your subconscious mind accepts programming from a very early age, and also from past lives.
One of the most powerful things you can gain from a past-life journey is forgiveness. Often, to be able to heal, you must be willing to forgive the past. And, it is much easier to forgive those who have hurt you in your present life when you understand the karma that precipitated the situation. It is also just as important to forgive yourself for things you have done to others as well as to yourself.
There are many clues you can obtain about your past-lives by exploring your experiences and affinities or aversions to particular types of: clothing styles, architecture, foods, geographical locations, climates, time periods or eras, occupations, talents or abilities, animals, fears and phobias, injuries, diseases and scars as well as profound déjà vu experiences.
Each incarnation is not a separate entity, but more correctly, an integral part of a much greater whole.
Hypnotherapy: A form of psychotherapy that directly or indirectly induces hypnosis in order to gain access to and to alleviate unconscious conflicts and buried traumas.
-Roger Woolger, Other Lives Other Selves, p352
Hypnotic Regression: the use of hypnosis to enable a person to relive a recent or distant past experience. Past life journey resembles age regression in that a "past life" is imagined to be prior to both present & early childhood experience.