There are many working theories of what might be happening when people experience a past life. The theories include the anti-past life theory: cryptoamnesia, the concept that the subconscious has recorded historical information though books read, conversations overheard, lectures attended, and any other present life exposure to facts. These facts emerge in hypnosis as historically accurate stories and characters in specific time periods. The person having the hypnotic experience misinterprets the facts that emerge out of the unconscious as being her own past lives. Past life skeptics love this theory to explain away past lives. Then, there is the theory that our imagination creates the past lives the same way that our imagination creates our dreams.
If past life experiences are purely products of our imagination, then we can work with past lives the way we work with dreams by understanding that the psyche creates “lives” that in some way reflect our present life psychology and unconscious process similar to our dreams. By doing dream work with past life experiences, we can glean important patterns, insights and understanding of our present life. Another theory of past lives is that they are metaphors for our present life experiences. By overlaying the “past life” metaphor onto our present life experiences, we can see more objectively our blind spots and patterns and potentially reframe and transform our blocks and limitations.
Working with the theory of archetypes is also a helpful psychological approach to past lives. The archetypes that we embody in our past life experiences help us to work with our core issues and the life roles we presently live. For instance, if we have been driven to fight for the underdog or to be the constant zealous worker for the under privileged and disenfranchised in our present life, we may have past life experiences of being a benevolent leader or a revolutionary.
Overlaying the archetype onto our past life may reveal many of our present life attributes and foibles. As a western Newtonian “show me” culture, the genetic theory of past lives is quite popular. Some regression therapists theorize that when we have a past life memory we are tapping into our DNA and the genetic memory of our ancestor’s life times. By far, however, the most popular and widely accepted theory of past lives is the notion of reincarnation. All major world religions, including early Christianity,  believe in the soul being reborn into multiple life times for the purpose of working through lessons and growing in consciousness until there is an experience of enlightenment, or a complete remembering that we are divine in nature and an individual expression of God, the creator, the Tao or whatever is the ultimate source.
Along with the theory of reincarnation is the idea of transmigration: that we can reincarnate as an animal as well as human. And finally, within the realm of quantum theory, some believe that we are one and part of a unified field. Since there is no time or space in the quantum reality, all past lives are happening simultaneously as parallel lives. With all of these theories as explanations of past life memories, it is obvious that one does not have to believe in reincarnation, or even in past lives, to engage in past life therapy and benefit from the work in THIS life time.
Past life and inter life regression has proved effective for many kinds of issues that people work on in therapy: phobias, feeling stuck in patterns, relationship issues, questions of life purpose, grief and loss, death and dying , physical problems, illness and spiritual questions and concerns. If you are interested in experiencing a past-life and inter-life regression, you may choose to use a self-guided process available on CDs or MP3 files, or you can seek out the skill and guidance of a well-trained regression therapist.
The International Board for Regression Therapy (IBRT.org) board certifies regression therapists based on their training, experience, and also the submittal of two recorded regression therapy sessions for review. The people listed on the IBRT.org web site are good choices as regression therapists because these therapists have gone through extensive review of actual client sessions and have agreed to follow a high code of ethics as Board Certified as Regression Therapists. A well trained regression therapist uses non-directive language and asks open-ended questions to assure that the client is generating her own past life content and that it is not influenced by the therapist using directive language or embedded suggestions.
Here are some basic pointers to help you have success early in the process of doing regression therapy:
Do not lie down, but sit up while doing the regression. You will stay more alert and be able to interact in the process if you don’t go to sleep or too deeply into the hypnotic state. Past- and inter- lives are usually accessed right under the surface of your waking consciousness in an active and engaging state of trance. If more that one event or aspect of your past or inter life comes to awareness simultaneously, simply choose one to focus on. You can always explore any aspects of the past life or inter life at a later time.
It is a common mistake for people to anticipate that they have to SEE in hypnosis. Many people do not see anything in a regression. They, instead, know it, or think it, or feel or hear the details of the past life. All of your five inner senses and your intuitive knowing are channels through which past lives are experienced. Go with your natural ways of experiencing. Trust the process and what comes, even if you feel you are making it up. The content is still coming from within you…. even if it IS your imagination. Your imagination is still a reflection of who you are, and is relevant to your metaphors, archetypes, and unconscious experience of Self. Give yourself permission to go with whatever is coming to you, even if it doesn’t make any sense.
Let go of trying to control or figure it out and let the process evolve. If you ever feel stuck and nothing is happening for you, just make up something…you will soon experience that the process becomes more spontaneous and it takes on life of its own.
The past life and inter life regression process, as any interactive hypnotherapy process, may bring up real and sometimes intense emotions and body sensations for healing and release. While you can bring yourself out of the process anytime you wish, it is usually most healing to go through the experience so an energy release can take place. Try to stay with your experiences and move through them.
Remember, that whatever may have happened in the past, you have survived it and that, if past lives are real, there is no death of consciousness….there is just a changing of form. Also, you can always use a self-guided experience of dissociating from event, by becoming an observer rather than a participant of the events. Simply imagine walking out of the body and floating above the scene to watch the events, in a detached way, as if watching a movie. You may walk back into the scene at any point in the process, if you wish.
As with any self-guided hypnotic process, caution is warranted with past-life and inter-life therapy. It is not recommended that people with mental disorders that are in an unstable mental and emotional state engage in self-guided processes. Rather, they should seek the skill, containment, and support of a trained regression therapist who will guide the client’s process in an individual way addressing each client’s unique needs. Only use a self guided CD if you are mentally and emotionally stable and functioning in your daily life. Otherwise, seek professional support before doing regression work.