Category : Past Life Therapy
Past-life therapy is regression therapy accepting that scenes from apparent past lives may emerge. Regression therapy derives its name from its method: recovering and reliving past experiences cathartically. Though reliving cathartically is sometimes sufficient, regression proper often has to be complemented by working with subpersonalities, having the present personality communicate with the child or the past life that had the traumatic experience. In the present lifetime, this work is called Inner Child work, in past lifetimes, this is called working with pseudo-obsessors: treating and integrating disturbing past-life personalities.
The second complement of regression is bio-energetically: discovering and processing old residues – including those from past lives – that clutter our system and that we still may experience physically. Regression therapy in the wide sense includes Inner Child work and bio-energetic work, and the same holds for past-life therapy.
Both working with subpersonalities and working bio-energetically, often may lead to discovering what those two field respectively call attachments and foreign energies: charges, subpersonalities and even complete personalities of others. In the last case, we deal with attachment by deceased people. Sometimes, attachments appear to come from people we knew in a previous lifetime. Consequentially, past-life therapy includes removing karmic attachments.
In regressing to infancy, birth and the time in the womb, children often respond, consider and decide in a way that betrays an adult background, an adult awareness. Like adults have Inner Children, children have Inner Adults. Past-life therapists take those Inner Adults seriously and discover in them previous lifetimes or conclusions and decisions from the intermission between death and rebirth. When processing an apparently relevant childhood trauma gives only half results, past-life therapy will go farther back.
Past-life therapy is generally short therapy, though the sessions are longer and more intensive than is usual in psychotherapy. The main motives are childhood fears and phobias. Other motives are bed-wetting, dyslexia, depression, anger and hyperactivity. Some work with even younger children, in fact from the time they begin to speak.
How often do patients relate previous lifetimes if asked to return to the first cause of their problem? About one third of my patients, after an open suggestion, arrive in a past life, about one third remain in this life, and about one third relive childhood events that appear to be restimulations of older traumas. Shakuntala Modi found, with more serious patients, that 70% had symptoms originating from past lives. Brian Weiss (1993) found that about 40% of his patients had to go to past lives to solve their problems:
Regression to an earlier period of this present-day lifetime is usually fruitful enough for most of the remainder. For those first 40 percent, however, regression to previous lifetimes is key to a cure. The best therapist working within the classically accepted limits of the single life-time will not be able to effect a complete cure for the patient whose symptoms were caused by a trauma that occurred in a previous lifetime, perhaps hundreds or even thousands of years ago. But when past life therapy is used to bring these long-repressed memories to awareness, improvement in the current symptoms is usually swift and dramatic.
Some patients prefer to indulge in past lives while they resist confronting bad feelings and bad experiences from their childhood. On the average, working in this lifetime is emotionally more taxing. Working in past lifetimes usually is mentally more taxing, and the somatics are probably more intense while working in past lives, except for reliving serious physical trauma in this life, like accidents or violence.
For what kind of problems people seek past-life therapy? Or when do therapists who have more options, apply this therapy? We have ample information on this: a survey in 1988 among the members of APRT, the professional association in the USA, a similar survey among the members of the NVRT, the professional association in the Netherlands, the survey of Rabia Clark in 1995. Garritt Oppenheim (1990), Hans TenDam (1993) and Shakuntala Modi (1998) also present lists. The big four of motives for past-life therapy appear to be:
1. Fears and phobias.
2. Relationship problems and problems of connecting with people in general.
4. Physical complaints without medical explanation or not responding to medical care.
After those four, the most common other motives are:
5. Sexual problems.
7. Obesity and eating disorders.
What problems and which patients are unfit for regression and past-life therapy? The first condition for regression therapy is that we can communicate with the patient. We cannot do regression therapy with patients who we cannot talk to because they are mentally too retarded, too heavily drugged, too psychotic – so they cannot hold on to their own thoughts and feelings, or the reverse: they cannot let go of them, or because they are too autistic. For regression we need people who can explore their thoughts and feelings and can distinguish fact and fiction. Few psychotics qualify.
Morris Netherton considers working with schizophrenics possible. He starts with imagination and gradually moves to real regression. It works, but slowly and limited. With autistic children he had no success. An alcoholic has to be free from alcohol for about three days to regress successfully. People using barbiturates or other tranquillizers have to detoxify before starting regression therapy.
Roger Woolger considers working in past lives for many too intense. They have no need to reopen old sores in their psyche, but need a personal, therapeutic relationship to rebuild their confidence in life and in themselves. Others find it difficult to visualize and to internalize. Oppenheim mention as counter indications (1990):
* patients with acute anxiety attacks,
* those acutely confused,
* those in acute depression,
* those with severe acute psychotic symptoms.
* patients who ask for hypnosis to stop smoking or lose weight or improve their golf scores or achieve similar goals – they can nearly always attain their goals without deep-level probing,
* patients deeply rooted in religious teachings who back away of reincarnation,
* macho patients (including women) scoffing at anything mystical or paranormal as ‘crackpot’ or ‘weirdo.’
Patients may be neurotic, tremble with fear, hear voices, have multiple personalities, are depressive, suicidal or murderous. As long as they want to work, as long as they assume responsibility, we can work with them. We cannot work with dependent people. Assuming responsibility is a condition for any therapy that is insight-oriented.
People with ‘patient mentality’, even after apparently successful regressions, hardly improve. People addicted to their suffering are rather cases for ‘antitherapy’, jolting them out of the standard patient – therapist relationship. Others are walking case files: they regurgle all their previous diagnoses and can talk about themselves only in psychobabble or psychiatric jargon.
Also people who refuse to be patients are unfit. They refuse suffering in all its forms (they have forgotten to feel, as feeling is too painful or too threatening), and so are unfit for explorative, insight-oriented therapies. They refuse to relax and want to interpret, comment and rationalize anything remotely resembling a significant experience or emotion. Who cannot live, cannot relive. Interesting as an intellectual ball game, but a dead-end road to catharsis. People who want to get rid of their problems without finding out the causes, sometimes may be helped by antitherapy or paradoxical therapy, and often by behavioral therapy or classical hypnotherapy.
For many, past-life therapy still has a sensational ring and so it attracts professional sufferers who want to add it to their collection of near-hits. Also, past-life therapy is mainly known in alternative, spiritual circles. Many have been told by people who just discovered they are psychic, that they have a hole in their aura because in a past life they dabbled in black magic. People who visited others to hear things about themselves, expect a therapist to do the same. They don’t come to do produce, but to consume. Or they want psychic surgery. They want to be hypnotized and come back to their senses when everything is over. Or they want to witness a miracle healing. The worst assume they are entitled to that. They have suffered enough and they pray so seriously for being healed. Others want to hear that they are a special, an uncommonly difficult case.
Only few past-life therapists like to work with drug addicts. They get images, but usually both chaotic and tedious. It seems as if their tapes have come loose and are entangled. Scientologists believe that each drug is tied to a specific emotion, and they rigorously pursue the separate emotion lines one by one.
Ten suitable motives for regression therapy and past-life therapy are:
* Old anguish: paralyzing fear, roaring despair, waves of grief, mountains of sorrow, maddening confusion. This comes from old traumas that we track down and resolve with straight regression.
* Be stuck. See no way out. Simmering impotent rage. Next to straight regression (often to death experiences or long incarcerations), bodily work (like acupressure) and bioenergetic interventions are indicated, till freedom has been won back and the blocked energy flows again.
* Loneliness and desolation. This requires regression to the beginning of these feelings and especially to before that: homing.
* Inhibition. Never mingling easily. Feeling an outsider, a spectator. Feeling clumsy, shy, withdrawn. Often guilt or shame are involved, real or talked into. Personification (working with subpersonalities), mainly Inner Child work, is indicated.
* Submissiveness. Over-adapting to others. Lack of assertiveness. Not being able to stand in your own space and energy.
* Be lost. Having lost the way or not knowing what way to take.
* The body resists. Physical complaints without medical cause or not responding to medical treatment.
* Ineffective insight. We know what the problem is, we know what to do. But nothing changes
* Relationship problems. Being entangled with somebody else. Efforts to disentangle are in vain.
* Self-discovery. The search for unknown, undiscovered parts of ourselves or unsuspected talents. Curiosity. Free explorations rather than therapy.
Past-life therapy often helps where other forms of psychotherapy halt. Its methodical basis: regression, is simple. Practitioners at least have to be able to establish relationships of trust, to counsel, and to deal with emotions. And they need practical wisdom.
Regressions and personifications quickly uncover the source of most problems. Who wants to work with those methods, but doesn’t believe in real past-life or prenatal experiences, may consider those experiences as diagnostic psychodrama and treat it as such. As long as the experiences are taken seriously as experiences.
Past-life therapy always starts just as regression therapy. Traumas, postulates or hangovers also originate in the present life, and pseudo-obsessions may come from multiple personalities. The only really specific elements in past-life therapy, compared to present-life regressions, are dealing with afterdeath and prebirth issues. With hangovers this is often necessary, with pseudo-obsessions always.
Success certainly is not only a question of the right methods. Past-life therapy, like most psychotherapy, is more than applying skills; it also depends on the person of the therapist. A good therapist is weathered and mild, all friendliness and scars.