As someone who has been facilitating past life regressions for many years, I frequently get asked to comment on whether past life regressions are ethical. There are two schools of thought that we will explore together and hopefully answer the question, are past life regressions ethical?
What is a Past Life Regression?
A past life regression involves being guided into hypnosis for the purpose of re-experiencing past life memories. The past life practitioner will induce a hypnotic trance and guide you back in time to experiences that occurred before you were born. Clients are aware of what they are experiencing and remembering, while remaining aware of their surroundings. The patient is not asleep and typically remembers everything that has transpired.
In order to induce trance, a hypnotist who specializes in past life regression will use a combination of guided imagery, overload techniques, body relaxation techniques, and confusion to guide the client into trance. The subject simply needs to follow the verbal instructions of the hypnotherapist in order to access past life memories.
Are the Memories Real or Fantasy?
Many in the scientific community believe that the memories experienced during a past life regression are a product of the “leading” suggestions given by the practitioner. They would argue that being in a suggestible state leaves one open to false memories that were essentially implanted by the past life regression hypnotist. They are also concerned that these memories could actually do harm to the patient.
I make it a practice not to guide clients to specific memories. Rather I suggest that the unconscious mind present a memory that will help the client. I also have witnessed many spontaneous or unexpected past life regressions. These were clients who came in to address a clinical issue like anxiety or a phobia. Interestingly enough, the clients who had these unexpected regressions did not believe in past lives but benefited from the experience just the same.
In my experience, there are no side effects to past life therapy. To the contrary almost everyone reports feeling relaxed after the session. From the perspective of most practitioners, the goal is to help clients release any past life trauma that may be impacting them now. That being the case, most clients report a positive shift after the session.
Do I Need to Believe for It to Work?
A belief in past life regression is not necessary for you to have the experience. In fact, I have had skeptics as clients that had vivid past life memories. What makes believers out of skeptics are the vivid emotional, physical, or visual past life experiences. Clients often expect to see past life memories in hypnosis, but they are surprised by how strong the emotional and/or physical sensations can be.
Aside from rare cases, where past life information can be confirmed, there is no way to definitively prove the memories are real. However, certain experiences and similarities lead many to believe they are. Almost always after a person dies, the soul floats out of the body and watches the death scene from above. After a period of time the soul begins to float up and is eventually met by a guide of sorts or the souls of loved ones. This pattern of similar experiences after death leads many to believe these memories are genuine.
Additionally, clients often say they were shocked by the past life scenes themselves. They might have expected to experience a memory from ancient Egypt. Instead, they had a memory of being a Native American Indian. Prior to the session they had no interest in Native American culture or history. The unexpected past life scenes made believers out of them.
An Unexpected Past Life Memory
In one case a client who had a fear of heights regressed unexpectedly back to a past life where they were pushed off a cliff. In this session no suggestions were given to explore memories of any type. By using hypnotic techniques, that help a client release ,or let go of a trauma, this person completely overcame their fear of heights. This client did not believe in past lives but was nevertheless happy to overcome their phobia.
One of the most famous past life practitioners, Dr. Brian Weiss who was head of psychiatry at Mount Sinai, did not believe in past lives until one of his patients unexpectedly experienced a past live memory during a session. Dr. Weiss was able to confirm some of the facts she shared during the regression that she could not have otherwise known.
Familiar Souls & Family
In almost every past life regression I have facilitated, clients have recognized family and friends playing different roles in different bodies. You mother in this lifetime may be your brother in a past life. This is especially comforting, when a deceased relative or spouse is identified in a past life scene. Knowing that there is more to our existence than what happens now is also reassuring.
Are Past Life Memories Real?
I do not try to prove to anyone that past lives are real. I facilitate the session and let the client decide on their own. For those who do not believe, I suggest that they think of these memories as metaphors of the mind. We assign meaning to certain experiences, both good and bad. Sometimes it is helpful to reframe our beliefs related to a memory or metaphor.
What tends to make believers past life regression clients, are the strong emotions and physical sensations. They very often report a strong association to the past life scenes. In some cases, a relative playing a different role in a prior life does something that directly relates to their current relationship.
Whether it is a current life memory or a past life memory, letting go of limiting beliefs and feelings are beneficial to almost everyone. By seeing things from a different perspective, we can experience a positive shift. At the very least, past life regressions can help some overcome the fear of death. After all, if one believes in past lives, they also believe that death is not the end. Whether one believes it is real or not, doesn’t really matter if a positive shift takes place.