Past lives and reincarnation are not concepts I believed in or even considered prior to my husband’s passing. However, as I explored the metaphysical world and ground-breaking books such as Ian Stevenson’s investigation, Twenty Cases Suggestive of Reincarnation, I had to know more. I knew I needed to undergo past life regression myself. I went for several sessions and had intriguing experiences – no recollections of being anyone famous but of more ordinary lives as is typical. I have also had dreams that seemed to recall a past life, and once even visited a country and town where a flood of emotions along with the unbidden thought ‘I am home’ convinced me I had lived there before!
I love how it is often the skeptic, not the long-time believer, who ends up experiencing something so fantastic that they become a convert and even a spokesperson for that new perspective. So it was with psychiatrist Brian Weiss, an academic trained at Columbia and Yale, when he encountered a patient, ‘Catherine’, who would not only change his beliefs but the entire course of his career. Having avoided parapsychology and past lives in his hypnotherapy, one day during a session Catherine began recalling past life memories and her clinical symptoms improved once she did! In 1980, exploring past-life regression as a professional could have been considered academic suicide. Yet what I admire about folks like Weiss and Raymond Moody (the ‘father’ of the near-death experience) is their commitment to learning the truth, and sharing and speaking it in the face of potential ridicule. I highly recommend Weiss’ best seller Many Lives, Many Masters in which he details the story of Catherine, as well as his later contribution, Messages from the Masters which summarizes clinical and spiritual ‘learnings’ from twenty years of work with over 2,000 patients.
What Weiss and others have discovered is that when significant, often painful, memories from past lives are recalled through regression therapy there is healing and resolution of related emotional and physical issues in this life. For example, a fear of water or difficulty breathing could arise from a past life in which you drowned, and recalling that life and episode may be all that is required to release the problem.
But did you know that the onset of a condition can also herald from a past life? A fascinating read on this topic is Sandra Anne Taylor’s The Hidden Power of Your Past Lives. According to Taylor, certain ailments, for example, allergies, asthma and respiratory problems, may relate to a past life. She describes the case of a client who developed celiac disease, who in a previous life had been a wheat farmer in Oklahoma during the dust bowl and lost everything including a young child.
The book not only describes the myriad of ways that our past life experiences can affect us in the present, but provides the tools to uncover those blockages and heal our karma. While I read, I pondered if any past life experiences might be affecting my health today. Thankfully, I have always been quite well but I began to recall how I periodically sleep in the wrong position and subsequently suffer neck pain. Prone to waking with my head cocked to one side on the pillow, it feels comfortable initially but if I don’t immediately straighten my neck I end up with debilitating pain that lasts 1-2 days. As I sat with this thought I suddenly saw in my mind’s eye an image of myself hanged in a noose, dead, and with my head tilted just as I tend to awaken! Excited, I decided to do the past life regression meditation from the CD that is included with the book. In the meditation I saw myself imprisoned in a stone-walled jail cell and understood it was because I had stolen a loaf of bread. Later I saw myself being led from the cell, and was aware of being at an elevated vantage point looking out at a group of people that had gathered and was staring up at me. Though I saw no more after that, the scene was entirely consistent with a public hanging, which was common at one time for minor crimes such as theft. Interestingly, as I write this one year later I realize that since that meditation I have never again awoken with my head in the hanged position on the pillow, and so never had that neck pain. Amazing, right?
A related concept in understanding past lives, that I still struggle to get my head around, is that of karma. In society it is commonly used to denote a punishment coming to you for something bad you did earlier in this, or in a past, life. It is not. Taylor explains it well, as “an exchange, return or understanding of energy patterns and their meanings.” To better understand karma, especially as it applies to relationships, I delved into Family Karma by Kevin Todeschi, based on the Edgar Cayce readings. Cayce (1877-1945), called The Sleeping Prophet, would lie down and become unconscious in order to give readings to seekers on topics such as how to heal illnesses or how a past life was affecting the current one. It has been said that anything that is a like, dislike, preference or aversion may relate to a past life. Family Karma shines a light on this concept in the context of relationships and why we react strongly to certain individuals. The Cayce readings illuminate that if we don’t forgive those we feel antipathy towards, we are bound to keep reliving those troublesome dynamics in future existences.
Those who would like to understand more about our past lives may enjoy Denise Linn’s Past Lives, Present Miracles.