past life regressionWhether you believe in life after death or past life regression (PLR), you can’t help but wonder about those two things.

But, before we can even look at the question of life after death (which is far too heavy a topic for just one blog post), let’s look at PLR.

Firstly, does PLR even work? What really needs to be addressed is are these experiences real and do they actually help the patients they come from?

Proof has shown time and time again that fabricated memories are indistinguishable even to the most trained psychologist and that those with strong imaginations and who are susceptible under hypnosis are more likely to evoke any experience a hypnotist or psychologist may prompt.

So what’s really going on here? The debate is as heated as it is fascinating. Check out this article below from GoodLifeZen.com that debates the efficacy of PLR and brings up the idea of the makyo.

After you read this article, I want your honest opinions on PLR. What do you know about it and have you experienced it before? Or maybe you know someone who has. Just drop a comment below :) .

Past Life Regression: Evidence of Life after Death?
From GoodLifeZen.com

Dr. Michael Newton was a traditional psychotherapist opposed to past life regression work when a client spontaneously entered what seemed like a past life regression.

.The man had complained about a persistent pain in his side that doctors couldn’t diagnose or treat. In the regression, the man found himself in the battle of Somme of World War I  on the British side. He was dying of a bajonet wound. Newton, a keen scholar of martial history immediately asked him to look at the division patch on his arm. The client could describe it correctly. That was the clincher for Newton. But was it proof a past life?

I’m in two minds about past life regression because on one hand I have reservations about the validity of so-called past life experiences. On the other hand, I’m happen to be one of the people who may have had a past life experience. (I’ll tell you about it further down).

Past life regression

This is a form of therapy where people allegedly access previous lives in the course of hypnosis. It’s a controversial form of treatment and there are two main questions one could ask. One is: are these really previous lives? The other: is this therapeutic intervention useful?

Are past life regression memories real?

They certainly feel real to the person experiencing them and seem convincing to therapists who evoke them. Whilst I have some reservations about the validity of this therapy, it’s fair to say that there are respected psychotherapists and psychiatrists amongst the PLR (Past Life Regression) therapists, as well as people whos qualifications are more doubtful.

One of the leading developers of PLR therapy was Brian L. Weiss, M.D., the Chairman Emeritus of Psychiatry at the Mount Sinai Medical Center in Miami. The well-known psychotherapist Dr. Michael Newton explains why he became a PLR therapist in this video.

I’m not sure whether past life regression is a useful tool for well-being and mental health. I would hate to see people whose psyche is already fragile burdened with more life-times of trauma. To heal the wounds of this life seems to be more than enough for many people.

Prof. Ian Stevenson’s work, whom I introduced in my article on reincarnation, is often quoted by therapists as supporting evidence for the validity of Past Life Regression. Actually, he was dead set against it. In an article he voiced strong concerns:

“The subconscious parts of the mind are released from ordinary inhibitions and they may then present in dramatic form a new “personality.” If the subject has been instructed by the hypnotist–explicitly or implicitly–to “go back to another place and time” or given some similar guidance, the new “personality” may appear to be one of another period of history. Such evoked “previous personalities” may be extremely plausible both to the person having the experience and to other persons watching him or her…

In my experience, nearly all so-called previous personalities evoked through hypnotism are entirely imaginary and a result of the patient’s eagerness to obey the hypnotist’s suggestion. It is no secret that we are all highly suggestible under hypnosis. This kind of investigation can actually be dangerous. Some people have been terribly frightened by their supposed memories, and in other cases the previous personality evoked has refused to go away for a long time.”

From his response I can’t help thinking that he would have been delighted with a current book title, ‘The Complete Idiot’s Guide to Past Life Regression’!

I think we need to consider the fact of False Memory Syndrome [FMS] when discussing past life regression. Here is an example False Memory Syndrome from Kathleen Flannery’s article on FMS. She relates:

In the mid-nineties, a sniper’s shots echoed through an American playground. Several children were killed and many injured. A 1998 study of the 133 children who attended the school by psychologists Dr. Robert Pynoos and Dr. Karim Nader, experts on Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder among children, yielded a very bizarre discovery. Some of the children who were not on the schools grounds that day obstinately swore they had very vivid personal recollections of the attack happening.

Prof. Elisabeth Loftus, a leading researcher of False Memory Syndrome, explains in an interview:

Psychological studies have shown that it is virtually impossible to tell the difference between a real memory and one that is a product of imagination or some other process.

Consequently, it could be that what we experience as ‘past life memories’ are actually images fabricated by our brain and stitched together by our mind. Prof. Sam Wang explains how our brain lies to us in arecent NY Times editorial.

Some people are particularly vulnerable and susceptible to hypnosis. In some cases, it’s quite clear that the therapist has primed the client for particular experiences. The following is from a woman’s description of a Past Life Regression therapy session:

Upon reaching the bottom of this very special staircase, I found myself in what my Regression Therapist called the Hall of Wisdom. This hall had many doors and openings. My Regression Therapist advised me in advance that this “Hall” looked different depending upon the individual being regressed.

I think you can see in this description that the client was obligingly fulfilling the therapist’s expectations!

I was struck by this woman’s experience of the ‘great hall of wisdom’ because it echoed an experience of mine. Some fifteen years ago I had this vision or deep dream during meditation:

I found myself in an ancient temple. I had the body of a man. I was kneeling on a huge flagstone near one of the great pillars. By the faint light of lamps I could see an ornate coffered ceiling high above me. At the other end of the huge temple people in robes were lighting fires in big bowles. They were preparing for my ceremony and I was waiting to be called.

Even now I can recall minute details of the ceiling and the temple This is very different from night dreams  that fade in time. My experience has remained undimished and feels significant.

Was this a past life regression?

I interpreted it as a makyo, a Zen expression for ‘mysterious vision’ -which is not seen as a past life experience. According to my teacher Robert Aitken, Roshi, a true makyo experience has three characteristics:

  • A sense of the ancient,
  • A religious drama in which the dreamer is chosen or confirmed as a disciple,
  • A sense of encouragement.

What was this experience? Why does it feel so significant even years later? Was my mind just playing tricks, or did I really glimpse a past life?

What do you think?

Have you ever had odd experiences like this? Or have you heard of some first-hand? Please share them with us in the comments.

This article was written by Mary Jaksch and originally published on GoodLifeZen. It’s been reproduced here in full for your convenience.

FinerMinds Team

FinerMinds Team

In our quest to boost your personal growth, we hope to inspire and support you through our content! You can also check us out on Facebook.

14 Comments

  • Avatar Mikael says:

    Michael Newton’s books

    Journey of Souls: Case Studies of Life Between Lives

    http://www.amazon.com/Journey-Souls-Studies-Between-Lives/dp/1567184855

    and

    Destiny of Souls: New Case Studies of Life Between Lives

    http://www.amazon.com/Destiny-Souls-Studies-Between-Lives/dp/1567184995/ref=ntt_at_ep_dpt_2

    are interesting and great books in my opinion. They may seem like “new age” books, but they are intelligent books where Michael Newton tells about experiences his clients have had during hypnosis, during his 30-40 years career as hypnotist. Many people, regardless of their religion or nonbelief in spiritual things, age, nationality or so on have reported similiar kind of things of life between lives during hypnosis.

  • Avatar What was done says:

    Here is a kind of life after death you can be sure of…
    http://www.whatwasdone.com/Age.php?&Age=-1

  • Avatar Jim says:

    a visit to india as a younger man, I'd happened upon a village in the northwest around Jammu. I saw a building, the path toward it and the ancient woman servant..all of which I remembered!!

    apparently the old lady recognized me as well!

    we spoke briefly before she shooed me off cause "they will kill you again".

    the people travelling with me were dumbfounded

  • Avatar Jim says:

    a visit to india as a younger man, I'd happened upon a village in the northwest around Jammu. I saw a building, the path toward it and the ancient woman servant..all of which I remembered!!
    apparently the old lady recognized me as well!
    we spoke briefly before she shooed me off cause “they will kill you again”.
    the people travelling with me were dumbfounded

  • Avatar Dioro says:

    I have been regressed three times and I cannot say that it is the absolute truth, but each regression has had special meaning to me. One memory in particular was a life I had spent in Ireland and, without any logical reason, I always had a special feeling for that country. I was born in Italy in 1934 when the world was extremely big, we lived in tribal communities and very few peoople travelled at that time. Well, when at the age of twelve I entered High School we had two languages italian and latin, and a choice of a foreign language either french or english. My family wanted me to choose french but I inststed that english was what I wanted and desire to learn. It came very easy to me just as though I had spoken english forever while many children founded it extremely difficult.

    Maybe that was a coincidence but to me it makes much sense

    and I can honestly say that english has been my main language in this lifetime and love it. Strange? Maybe so, but I still believe that I had lived in Ireland once before.

  • Avatar Dioro says:

    I have been regressed three times and I cannot say that it is the absolute truth, but each regression has had special meaning to me. One memory in particular was a life I had spent in Ireland and, without any logical reason, I always had a special feeling for that country. I was born in Italy in 1934 when the world was extremely big, we lived in tribal communities and very few peoople travelled at that time. Well, when at the age of twelve I entered High School we had two languages italian and latin, and a choice of a foreign language either french or english. My family wanted me to choose french but I inststed that english was what I wanted and desire to learn. It came very easy to me just as though I had spoken english forever while many children founded it extremely difficult.
    Maybe that was a coincidence but to me it makes much sense
    and I can honestly say that english has been my main language in this lifetime and love it. Strange? Maybe so, but I still believe that I had lived in Ireland once before.

  • Avatar Mahen says:

    Frankly I have always believed that we have some kind of connection with the past. Perhaps it is difficult to describe or define or substantiate this belief. There are things that cannot be best described but they can be felt or perceived or imagined when one goes into the depth of the mind . It is all a question of travelling into a trance or drifting along the imaginary trip into one's unfathomable mind

    One needs to enquire ,ask ourselves who we are , why we are here. Why some are born maim or lame, why some are born with a silver spoon in the mouth while others have to strive , beg, borrow, suffer inthe heat of drought afflicted areas or in zones where there are only sufferings.

    I sincerely believe that it is all a fruit of our Karma, in other words we reap what we sow.Past life can be a reason!!!

  • Avatar Mahen says:

    Frankly I have always believed that we have some kind of connection with the past. Perhaps it is difficult to describe or define or substantiate this belief. There are things that cannot be best described but they can be felt or perceived or imagined when one goes into the depth of the mind . It is all a question of travelling into a trance or drifting along the imaginary trip into one's unfathomable mind
    One needs to enquire ,ask ourselves who we are , why we are here. Why some are born maim or lame, why some are born with a silver spoon in the mouth while others have to strive , beg, borrow, suffer inthe heat of drought afflicted areas or in zones where there are only sufferings.
    I sincerely believe that it is all a fruit of our Karma, in other words we reap what we sow.Past life can be a reason!!!

  • Avatar Mahen says:

    Frankly I have always believed that we have some kind of connection with the past. Perhaps it is difficult to describe or define or substantiate this belief. There are things that cannot be best described but they can be felt or perceived or imagined when one goes into the depth of the mind . It is all a question of travelling into a trance or drifting along the imaginary trip into one's unfathomable mind
    One needs to enquire ,ask ourselves who we are , why we are here. Why some are born maim or lame, why some are born with a silver spoon in the mouth while others have to strive , beg, borrow, suffer inthe heat of drought afflicted areas or in zones where there are only sufferings.
    I sincerely believe that it is all a fruit of our Karma, in other words we reap what we sow.Past life can be a reason!!!

  • Avatar steven henry chong says:

    well,well well!!i dont know how to explain this plr issue as it is one hell of a mammoth subject!!!but i can tell u very honestly that situations in life time and again gives u strong feelings that its likely to be true!!!How then can u explain strong goodwill or illwill shown towards u from certain strangers!!!contemplate my words and bye for now!!!

    best regards

    steven henry chong

  • Avatar steven henry chong says:

    well,well well!!i dont know how to explain this plr issue as it is one hell of a mammoth subject!!!but i can tell u very honestly that situations in life time and again gives u strong feelings that its likely to be true!!!How then can u explain strong goodwill or illwill shown towards u from certain strangers!!!contemplate my words and bye for now!!!
    best regards
    steven henry chong

  • Avatar Eric Delea says:

    I'm a Hypnotherapist & Psychotherapist with over 16 years of experience as both a therapist & a past life regressionist. I agree with the article in the sense that many regressions are at least partially the result of confabulation (hidden memories) and not a past life experience at all.

    However, there are also a number of cases that seem to be more than that. If the client was merely trying to please the therapist, I don't believe they would pay money just to do that.

    Also, most, if not all regression experiences are of fairly mundane, everyday lives of 'ordinary' people. Contrary to belief, clients do not believe they were the Queen of Sheba or a King, just a normal person with an interesting story to tell.

    As for the article's comments on people having negative experiences that last for a long time, this is purely due to poorly qualified or unqualified therapists and/or possible hysteric or pre-psychotic tendencies in the client. In either case, the above types or person are generally unsuitable for a regression experience and an experienced therapist would know this and would not proceed.

    Any experienced therapist is very capable of distancing the client from the emotional or upsetting aspects of a regression whilst still allowing the client observe and more importantly, learn from the experience whilst feeling safe and relaxed.

    Most experiences are very vivid. The memory can and does last for years with the average client, but not negatively if done correctly. Good regressions, performed by an ethical & qualified therapist, can become very treasured experiences.

    If you are seeking a regression, please make sure the regressionist is well qualified, insured and will not lead you in any way, who will just bring you to an experience unique to you and take good care of you before, during and after the session.

  • Avatar Eric Delea says:

    I'm a Hypnotherapist & Psychotherapist with over 16 years of experience as both a therapist & a past life regressionist. I agree with the article in the sense that many regressions are at least partially the result of confabulation (hidden memories) and not a past life experience at all.

    However, there are also a number of cases that seem to be more than that. If the client was merely trying to please the therapist, I don't believe they would pay money just to do that.

    Also, most, if not all regression experiences are of fairly mundane, everyday lives of 'ordinary' people. Contrary to belief, clients do not believe they were the Queen of Sheba or a King, just a normal person with an interesting story to tell.

    As for the article's comments on people having negative experiences that last for a long time, this is purely due to poorly qualified or unqualified therapists and/or possible hysteric or pre-psychotic tendencies in the client. In either case, the above types or person are generally unsuitable for a regression experience and an experienced therapist would know this and would not proceed.

    Any experienced therapist is very capable of distancing the client from the emotional or upsetting aspects of a regression whilst still allowing the client observe and more importantly, learn from the experience whilst feeling safe and relaxed.

    Most experiences are very vivid. The memory can and does last for years with the average client, but not negatively if done correctly. Good regressions, performed by an ethical & qualified therapist, can become very treasured experiences.

    If you are seeking a regression, please make sure the regressionist is well qualified, insured and will not lead you in any way, who will just bring you to an experience unique to you and take good care of you before, during and after the session.

  • Avatar Neptune says:

    I did past life regression therapy three months ago. I certainly felt at the time that I was making stuff up just to please the therapist — she was asking me what I saw and I thought ‘well, I can’t just lay here forever. Say something at least.’ But the complete story that came out of each session (I had 4 sessions) took me totally by surprise — they felt like whole and complete stories that I can’t say come from books or movies (though the scenes themselves could have been — we all know what Auschwitz looks like from movies, etc.)

    Forcing myself to see something and say it out loud felt like I was trying to please. But the memories I found there were horrible and I tried to please myself by trying to change them, but couldn’t. (I remembered being tortured, for example. That was horrible.)

    I’m skeptical of myself just because all my stories were based in Europe and involved historic periods and events that I know about — the Reformation, French Revolution, WWI, the Holocaust. That still leaves me suspicious. I’d have been more convinced if I remembered China in the Ming Dynasty because I know nothing about that.

    I did see that hall you mention in your article though — without any prompting from the therapist. It felt like Alice in Wonderland — a hall full of shut doors (though how many times does that scene appear in cartoons? Or does it appear in cartoons because we all have a latent memory of it?)

    So even though I experienced it, I also remain a little critical — I’ve never trusted that my mind recognizes the difference between real and made-up. What I do know, though, is that complexes and problems that I had learned to cope with over my whole life disappeared within a week after the therapy. I undertook the expense of the therapy because I suffered an almost continuous stream of violent images in my mind. After the sessions, I felt bored inside my head because I didn’t have that conflict there anymore and didn’t know what to do with the silence. I still see a guillotine blade now and then, but at least having a story and a context to it (even if it was made up as a metaphor) allows me to put it aside.

    So that is the way I’ve come to think of it — whether metaphors or memories, they did come from somewhere and do provide some insight. My question is the same one as in your title though — if they are memories, then it poses really challenging questions about the meaning of a life and death, and the purpose for your actions.

    Last point is that — and I’d be scared to do this because I’m almost scared to learn that I made it all up, mostly because I do like the feeling of ‘knowing’ myself better now — I had several memories involving people that I know in this current life. The real test, I suppose, would be if those people did the therapy too. If they had entirely different memories, then it would call it all into question, wouldn’t it?

Leave a Reply

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.