How to Learn From Your Past Lives
Photo Courtesy of the Author
One tranquil morning on the beautiful island of Bali, I reclined outdoors on a spa chair at a destination resort. Perched atop a shelf of rice paddy fields, my eye caught a farmer dressed in ragged clothes briskly tilling his watery terrace. He had a clubbed foot. Nevertheless, knee deep in cold water, bent over with a rake in hand, he patiently mowed each square foot of a large, muddy plot. Throughout the day, I kept him in sight. With the hot Bali sun beating down on his sunburned shoulders, he plowed on. Later, even in the pouring monsoon rain, he plowed on.
By sunset, finished with his work for the day, the farmer went to stand up straight, but couldn’t. Years of strenuous work had rounded his spine into the shape of a turtle. As he climbed barefoot up the rice terrace to his small abode, I couldn’t help but wonder what twist of fate, destiny, or good karma gave me the privilege of languishing all day long in a luxury spa while this old man worked his fingers to the bone for pennies a day in the rice field.
And then, I remembered. In a previous life, I too worked long days and nights bent over on my own plot of land – as a crop farmer in Asia.
Past Life Regression for Present Time Healing
Though the concept of reincarnation may seem quintessentially New Age, the idea of remembering past lives is not a new one. People as young as two, three and four have claimed to recall significant details from previous lives without prompting.
As a longtime yogi and alternative healing practitioner, I’ve always believed in the power of the soul to journey back to earth, lifetime after lifetime, to learn key spiritual lessons. Though I’d tried past life regression therapy several years ago, I didn’t think much about it again until last year, when my dad passed away suddenly. Losing him so unexpectedly led me to think deeply about the larger meaning of life, and what happens after death.
For those looking to revisit past lives to gain insight into present-day karmic relationships and recurring negative patterns from the past, regression therapy has recently emerged as a dynamic tool. As a healing modality, it embraces many disciplines, both traditional and non-traditional. Techniques vary, but typically therapists use hypnosis to help clients recover poignant memories from previous soul incarnations.
Unlike traditional therapy, regression therapy – also called past-life therapy or past-life regression therapy – differs from other therapeutic modalities given its approach. Regression therapy focuses on discovering the original causes of a client’s problem, and on acceptance of the theory that present life issues often have origins in past lives, whether real or symbolic.
In the past few decades, regression therapy has begun to emerge as a dynamic and vital therapeutic modality embracing many disciplines, both traditional and non-traditional. Though past life counseling is still a relatively new and evolving practice area, each year, new therapists are certified to facilitate regressions through the International Board for Regression Therapy, the largest professional organization in the world for this modality.
My Past Life Regression Session
To learn more about my own previous lives and how old patterns from the past might be impacting my present reality, I booked a session with Ann Barham, LMFT, Certified Past Life Regression Therapist and author of The Past Life Perspective: Discovering Your True Nature Across Multiple Lifetimes. Ann’s expertise includes training in transpersonal psychology, hypnosis, therapeutic imagery, and trauma release. Throughout her nearly twenty year career as a licensed marriage and family therapist, she has evolved her practice to merge her interest in spirituality with her counseling work, and now focuses almost exclusively on past life regression therapy. Ann believes regression therapy can have the greatest healing impact for her clients in the shortest amount of time.
Based in Northern California, Ann works with clients around the world via skype whenever she can’t meet in person. Since we were on opposite sides of the globe at the time of our session, we settled for connecting via facetime. This allowed her to read my facial expressions for key emotional cues throughout the regression process.
Her first instruction for me was to lie down in a comfortable position and take several deep, cleansing breaths. Then, using soft verbal cues, she had me visualize myself slowly descending a set of stairs while counting down from ten. With each step, she guided me to sink into deeper and deeper levels of relaxation, until I fell gently into a hypnotic state.
Second, Ann instructed me to choose a beautiful, soothing place that would be the starting point for our journey. I love the woods, so I chose a green forest thick with tall sequoias. Clear in my mind’s eye, I could see the sun dappling in through soft clouds above my head as I reclined on a cozy park bench underneath the leafy canopy. Ann asked me to identify any smells or sounds I could sense. With my next breath, I took in the warm, woodsy smell of the earth under my feet and the sound of a clear stream rustling nearby. As I relaxed in that sacred place, my past life journey began.
Ann called in my spirit guides to protect me as I moved beyond this world into the astral realm. Then, she led me gently upward, beyond the forest to 30,000 feet above my body. Floating above myself, below me I saw a chain of iridescent glowing orbs, each representing one of my previous lives. She asked me to choose the one that resonated with me most at the present moment, and led me to gradually float down into that life until I felt myself landing safely on the earth.
Ann’s next question caught me off guard.
She asked me what my feet looked like.
To my surprise, I looked down and saw two bare, hairy feet covered partially in brown dirt. They were a medium golden brown color, wide and rough hewn. She asked me who and where I was, and what gender. It was then I realized that in this life, I was a man – a young, strapping farmer – living in Asia around the year 1700. I had a large plot of land where day and night, I toiled to make a living for myself and my young family.
When Ann asked me what feelings came up around this lifetime, waves of emotion swept over me. My nonstop work as a farmer was so out of balance, I had missed out on life itself. I wept with regret. After guiding me expertly through my feelings and key lessons learned from this lifetime, Ann mindfully ended the session by once again calling on my spirit guides to help me integrate back into my present life. Like clockwork, they showed up in my consciousness and offered the wisdom and grace I needed to view this past life with compassion and detachment.
After the session, I felt renewed and relieved, as if I’d found a long lost treasure chest containing my next clue to the mystery of life. From time to time, I still reflect on the other lives and lessons passed over during our 90-minute session.
Today, several months later, I’m still processing the information I learned. I still pause for a moment each time I see a farmer working his rice field. I feel reverence for the varied human life experiences our souls have shared over millennia, and feel humbled for the life I get to live today.
Whether or not you believe in reincarnation, according to Ann, “Understanding that we are eternal beings, manifesting on the physical plane over and over again in different human bodies and personalities, brings such enrichment to our current lifetimes. It expands our vision of life and what it means to be human. It enhances our understanding of what our purpose is here on the planet. It certainly has eliminated the fear of death for many, many clients. It assuages our feeling of loss when we see how we have been with loved ones before and will be with them again. And it richly magnifies our relationships with the people in our lives, particularly when we see the chains of love and connection that have endured across lifetimes.”
A Spiritual Workbook for Children & Families
Someone to Watch Over Me is a sweet little gift for connecting with one's inner spirit, for giving voice to one's inner being, and for connecting one's essence with Guardian Protectors or Guides. Simple and inviting enough for children, lucid enough for adults...a precious offering."
Edward Espe Brown, Zen Priest, Author of The Tassajara Bread Book et al