Ancient Insights

Past Life Regressions – A Critical Approach

By Trevour Strudwick CH, MNLP

PLR image3Some people are surprised to learn that my ‘belief’ in Past Life Regression is somewhat ambivalent. I have been facilitating Past Life Regressions since 1986 having learned from the late, great Psychic Medium, Barb Eagles, who at the time was the personal psychic to none other than Margaret Trudeau – mother of the current Prime Minister of Canada. Or so she and others told me back in the day. At any rate, in the last 30+ years I have done somewhere in the neighbourhood of 1,000+ regressions and certified several practitioners in the methods for facilitating the process.

By the time I was 21, I had done some 300 professional Regressions and had many interesting mental journeys myself. However, as I matured and my interests changed somewhat, I gave up doing psychic work in favour of getting my life together on the physical plane with things like ‘real jobs’ and more critical spiritual concerns such as Qabalah, Psychotherapy and Ceremonial Magick. I managed to even grow a little cynical about the whole concept and process of Past Life Regression.

You see, training in classical magick on the Path of Return demands a skeptical, scientific approach which distinguishes our work from the masses of New-Age-Flakey-Reiki-Healy-Feelies out there. By this I mean we use the scientific method: 1 – Formulate Hypotheses; 2 – Perform Experiments; 3 – Record Results; 4 – Analyze Data.

Some legitimate questions of the skeptical mind include:

  1.   Is this an actual Past-Life memory or am I just making it up?
  2.   Aside from being a trippy experience, is there any value to doing Past Life Regressions or is it a complete, delusional waste of time?
  3.   Are there dangers associated with Past Life Regressions such as activating latent karmic debts, etc.
  4.   If it is in fact a genuine experience, what is the best way to use if for healing, wisdom and spiritual development?

Before each session, and every certification program, I always share some version of what follows with clients and students letting them know that while in many ways, I guess I am an ‘expert’, I’m still unsure as to the validity of the experiences and reports which is for each individual do decide for themselves; what is real or not real to them as well as the relevance of the experience to their current life problems. Notwithstanding a healthy dose of skepticism, sessions invariably reveal very similar signposts and experiences right across the board for each of the several hundred people I’ve worked with.

The Role of the Mind and Perception in Past Life Regression

The first question regarding whether or not the ‘memory’ is legitimate or simply something spontaneously generated by the ‘imagination’ needs to be explored at some length. So let’s start with the physical senses.

I’m sure most of you would agree that we see with our eyes, hear with our ears, smell with our noses, touch with our skin and taste with our tongues, right? AndPLR image2 of course, most of you would be wrong! We experience these things with the brain. The organs, muscles and specialized features of the human body that allow us to gather sensory information from the external world merely collect different forms of data visually, auditorily, kinaesthetically, etc. it is the brain that processes this information into meaningful perception. A good example would be a person, who after suffering a head injury, ends up losing their sense of sight or smell while all the components of the eyes and nose remain in perfect working order.

All perception whatsoever occurs in the mind including those stimuli generated by the external environment as well as images generated by the imagination, so in a very real sense when we talk about Past Life Regression it really is going on ‘all in your head’. How else can it be? How else can we expect to have any kind of experience whatsoever if not from our own unique point of personal consciousness.

The second part of the equation involves our use of the word ‘imagination’ and the stigma most people place on it as being something that is entirely fanciful and made up with no tangible or reliable purpose. However, it is through the imagination that we create our individual reality and receive things such as intuition, hunches and vision. The real challenge as to whether what we perceive with the Inner Eye is valid or whether it is merely a flight of fancy that panders to our own fears and prejudices depends greatly on one’s own personal psycho-spiritual development. However, to dismiss the powerful role the imagination plays as the Generator of Images is unwise.

My advice is to just allow the images and sensations to come and see what sense can be made of them later. All memories are imaginary – which is to say that you can not at any moment in time reach out and touch an experience from the past; in this lifetime or any other.

Is there any value to doing Past Life Regressions?

Something started happening in the 80s that made Psychologists, Psychiatrists and even MDs sit up and take note of Past Lives and theories of reincarnation. They found that while working with different patients in hypnosis that people were spontaneously experiencing very strong fantasies when being asked to go back in their memory to when a specific problem or issue first began. At first they chalked it up to infantile delusions and fantasy but what they noted was that after such experiences whatever problem seemed to be plaguing their clients suddenly cleared up, just like that.

The frequency of these experiences and the subsequent healing that followed was documented and shared as medical professionals from all over the world started to report very similar experiences, converting even the most empirical doctors into believers.

PLR imageI think this should serve as a litmus test against which we measure the success, failure and application of our Past Life theories. Did the Regression give us information that we didn’t already have and/or did the experience bring about a positive change in a person’s experience such as overcoming a phobia, healing a strained relationship or physical ailment? If the answer is yes, then I’m inclined to think that something legitimate is happening. This is also why I’m very skeptical when people say they’ve been to a psychic who told them they were XYZ in a Past Life. My first thought is always: “How do you know” or “How does s/he know”?

I’ve done over 20,000 psychic readings in my time and maybe – MAYBE – I’ve mentioned a past life connection twice. To me it seems a little spurious that people would pay respectable amounts of money to be regaled of something that cannot be legitimately validated. The psychic may well be spinning a yarn to deceive their client and may even be deceiving themselves. The proof is in whether the reading brings any direct bearing on a current life situation and whether or not the situation resolves after the reading. It is for this reason that I recommend people experience the Regression first hand so they can verify the experience for themselves, rather than relying on a reading which may or may not be authentic.

Are there dangers associated with Past Life Regression?

For a time, I used to caution people against Past Life Regressions saying that we each have so many unresolved issues in our current life-time, why on earth would we want to open up a whole Pandora’s Box from the Ancient Past? And to some extent, I still hold firm to the spirit of this belief in that I think too many people are unwilling to accept responsibility for their lives and their own actions and are looking for some Past Life validation or excuse to relieve them of their obligation to fix it. Or, explain away whatever problem they seem to be experiencing as having a Past Life origin and do nothing else to resolve it.

However, I have turned around somewhat on the whole Pandora’s Box thing. I no longer believe that there is such a thing as ‘latent karma’. There is a saying that “God doesn’t give us more than we can handle” (which I think is utter crap – just so you know) but in this context I think if there is karma that we need to solve it is already active in our lives and we have a good sense of what that is.

As with all Hypnosis there is the possibility that while in trance a person can uncover repressed memories from this life time. I have to honestly say that in the thousands of Hypnosis and Past Life Regressions I’ve done this is very rare but my training allows me to guide my client safely through the process. The thing about such memories whether from the ancient past or from the current lifetime is that they have already happened, and we are still here and functioning. Often I find that a client will release these memories in a session because they feel safe doing so.

PLR 3I remember when I was 18, I was doing a Regression for a Lady who may have been in her 40s at the time. At one point in the Regression she began to bounce, elevate and convulse on the couch! It was right out of The Exorcist. Here I am, a mere teenager, confronted with what remains to this day as the most extreme phenomena I’ve ever encountered in a session and my instinct was simply to say: “Relax, detach, observe. You are releasing. You are safe. Just let it go.” In just a few seconds my client returned to a calm state of relaxation, the tears and hyperventilating subsided and when she came out of trance, she was perfectly fine.

The most insidious danger I can think of is that of creating false memories and self-delusion. I was once at a workshop on Forensic Memory Regression, which had a module on Past Lives. The instructor said he’s done something like 20,000 Past Life Regressions and he must be pretty good at it because he never once met Cleopatra. Neither have I. In fact, I have only met a handful of people of any consequence whatsoever – and nobody that anybody has ever heard of. I would be highly skeptical if I ever had a client retrieve a series of grandiose visions and would suspect narcissism or some other form of delusion or psychosis was at play. It is also imperative on the behalf of the practitioner that they not lead their clients but rather, ask only open ended questions when assisting in the process.

If it is true, how can it help me grow and develop spiritually, as well as in my life in general?

Whether or not Past Lives exist and or whether it is just a way for the subconscious mind to creatively solve problems as when dreaming at night, is highly subjective and can only be validated by personal experience. Certainly the most common session I do is for those whom I like to refer to as ‘Tourists’. They have a curiosity. They want to know if they’ve ever had a Past Life. (I pause for a brief chuckle as I think to myself – Just the one?) I think this is as valid a reason as any other. Having experienced a legitimate Regression can completely eliminate fears of death and dying. The knowledge that ‘life goes on‘  can be very empowering and serves to release the zillions of minor worries and anxieties that bog us down from day to day. There is often the feeling of expanded awareness, timelessness and connection with Source that brings a certain peace and confidence that everything will work out for the best.

Additionally, Past Life Regressions can be used to target specific core issues with intent for healing and resolution of conflicts and other stressful situations. In addition, other processes may be used in conjunction with a PLR such as Working with the Lords of Karma for assistance in clearing long standing blockages and karmic debt. (More on the Lords of Karma in a future post.)

Life between Lives processes can help people understand more clearly what their purpose and mission in this life is and how best to fulfill that purpose, as well as who your Soul Group is and even who your Soul Mate is.

And finally, since we’re already through the looking glass, we might consider some working theories of Quantum Physics, and that is there may very well be an infinite number of selves in an infinite number of Universes existing simultaneously! Which mean somewhere out there, there is a version of you who is male, female, homosexual, heterosexual and even transgendered because of the infinity of possibilities! Buddhists have a saying that ‘Everyone is your mother’ stemming from the belief that reincarnation is an eternal process and that at one time or another, everybody is your mother, and you, theirs. There is a you who is successful at the thing that challenges you most, as well as a version of you who is desirous of the talents and successes you have in the here and now. By using techniques very similar to the PLR process, clients can ‘audit and download’ talents, memories and experiences from different versions of themselves adding it to their personal arsenal of resources in this lifetime.

Maybe it’s all a little far fetched. Maybe it isn’t. I’ll leave that for you to decide. All that I know is that in over 30 years of practice, clients consistently retrieve very similar memories and experiences and also report nearly identical experiences well after the fact. As I don’t tell any of my clients what these details are, I’m inclined to believe there is definitely something there. My own experiences have also been incredibly intense and transformative at the deepest possible level. Yet the scientist and truth seeker in me is still inclined to take everything with a grain of salt.

The proof is in the aftermath: Did it bring about a necessary or desirable change? Was new information received that sheds light on a certain problem? Did a healing take place? Was a long standing conflict resolved? If the answer is yes, then whether or not it was a true Past Life experience or just an elaborate fantasy is irrelevant. I go with what works. And besides, this isn’t grade 9 math class. How you arrived at the answer is irrelevant so long as you got the right one.

Peace. Trevour