Past Life Therapy
Past life therapy is a therapy in which an individual is regressed to past lives in order to heal and resolve ailments and situations from the current life.
Past life therapy is based on the ancient belief of reincarnation. The foundation of Hindu philosophy, reincarnation dates back thousands of years. It is the notion that the soul is eternal and incarnates again and again, retaining all the knowledge of events that occur during each lifetime.
Karma is an important component of reincarnation. It is a Sanskrit word meaning action. The basis of karma is that every action has a reaction: cause and effect. Each lifetime is lived in order to resolve unwholesome actions in previous lifetimes. The circumstances of each life are determined by the growth and progress achieved in a past life. According to this theory, a person's actions in one lifetime determine the conditions, situations, relationships, environment, and opportunities of the next life.
The actions carried out in one lifetime are often carried through to the next life. For instance, someone who committed a murder in a previous life may encounter a lifetime in which he will have to deal with anger and violence. Although "past lives" began as a religious concept, since the 1960s it has been used in the therapeutic community to help people reframe current issues in their lives that are blocking their health and well-being. Whether or not there are past-life experiences and memories is debatable and ultimately unprovable. They may be metaphors of the mind. Even so, they can serve as useful processes for bringing understanding and resolution to present conflicts.
Past life therapy is reported to have a myriad of benefits. Memories revealed from a past life allow individuals to alter their perspectives on their current lives. This therapy helps people to understand who they are, learn how past life events have affected present life circumstances, and to offer insight into hidden conflicts so that repeating patterns may be stopped.
Awareness created through regression therapy allows mental, physical, and emotional release. Patients may let go of deep-seated emotions, fears, and guilt that often result in the relief of such problems as chronic pain, alcoholism, jealousy, arthritis, claustrophobia, agoraphobia, migraine headaches, weight problems, insomnia, obsessive/compulsive behaviors, chemical dependencies, depression, and sexual dysfunctions. The release of fear and other painful emotions strengthens will and self-esteem and fosters forgiveness towards others and towards the self.
Throughout their lives individuals may have felt negativity towards certain persons or places. They may be averse to particular foods, be prone to illness or disease, or have recurring dreams. This may be the result of a past life connection. By becoming aware of the roots of these conditions the negativity is released and healing often occurs.
Past lives may be accessed through regression therapy, hypnosis, guided imagery, dreams, cranio-sacral therapy and other types of bodywork, spontaneous regressions, automatic writing, meditation, or contact with one's higher self. Dealing with one's higher self is achieved through meditation and hypnosis and is based on the belief that the soul retains information of past lives and uses this to set the destiny of the current life. Contacting the higher self is said to help change one's destiny. The therapy is usually performed on an individual basis.
Past life therapy is usually undertaken to reach the source of problems or conflicts in the current life. The purpose of a regression session is to release guilt, fears, and other emotions tied to past events in order to make appropriate decisions in the present lifetime and gain an understanding of present relationships.
One common method of exploring past lives is through hypnosis. During a hypnotic regression, the patient is relaxed into a light trance state in which he or she is often completely aware of the surroundings. In order to achieve this state, the therapist may lead the patient through a guided fantasy. The patient may begin to intuit an awareness of a scene or see moving pictures as in a movie or on television. The patient may see or hear words describing a scene and feel emotions relating to that scene. The therapist acts as a coach, encouraging the
In the past life regression, the patient may recognize people from her current life. According to the karmic theory, souls who are closely related in one life will meet in another. Often people who bond together in this lifetime, such as family, lovers, or friends, have also been together in previous lives. The significance of meeting again is to resolve karmic issues from other lives in order to promote growth and healing.
Past lives generally are not experienced in a sequential fashion. This is due to the karmic understanding that past lives are revealed at a time when the individual will benefit most by the lesson learned through the review.
Research & general acceptance
Much research has been conducted on past life therapy. One of the proponents of the past life movement, Dr. Brian Weiss, has written several books detailing the experiences he has encountered while performing past life regressions.
Dr. Ian Stevenson, professor of psychiatry at the University of Virginia, has conducted research on children who consciously recall their past lives. One of his cases involved a girl from India named Shanti Devi. When she was very young, Shanti began to talk about a husband and children. She gave the address of her "former" home and the identity of her husband. When she was nine, Shanti was taken to the house, where she retrieved some jewelry she had buried in the garden in her former life.
Past life therapy is not generally accepted by most Western medical practitioners. Although the idea of discovering past lives through hypnosis became popularized in the 1970s, it is now under criticism by modern psychologists. Many contend that patients under hypnosis are directed to remember past lives by the suggestions of hypnotherapists, and subsequently fabricate false memories of past lives.
BRIAN WEISS 1944–
Brian L. Weiss graduated from Columbia University and Yale Medical School, where he received his degree in medicine with a specialty in psychiatry. He is Chairman Emeritus of Psychiatry at the Mount Sinai Medical Center in Miami and a former professor of psychiatry at the University of Miami School of Medicine. He is an advocate of the clinical applications of regression or past life therapy in treating phobias, addictions, depression, and psychosomatic disorders. Weiss uses hypnosis to access patients' memories of their childhood and past lives. His interest began when a woman he had hypnotized said she had communicated with his dead infant son through spirits called the Masters. The woman claimed to have lived at least 86 previous lives.
He conducts lectures around the world and is a frequent guest on radio and television talk shows. Weiss is author of several books, including Many Lives, Many Masters (1988), Through Time Into Healing (1993), Only Love is Real: A Story of Soulmates Reunited (1995), and Messages from the Masters (2000). He is founder of the Weiss Institute and maintains a practice at 6701 SW 72nd St, Miami, FL.
Ken R. Wells
Training & certification
Past life therapy may be performed by trained psychologists, persons trained in hypnotherapy or regression techniques, or psychics or mediums. The techniques used for past life regressions are the same techniques used for age regression therapy.
Andrews, Ted. How to Uncover Your Past Lives. Minnesota: Llewellyn Publications, 1997.
Avery, Jeanne. Past Lives, Present Loves. Signet, 1999.
Eason, Cassandra. Discover Your Past Lives. England: Foulsham, 1996.
Association for past Life Research and Therapies, Inc., P.O. Box 20151 Riverside, CA 92516. http://www.pastlifehealing.com/.