By Susanna Sweeney, MSC, MBACP, CHT
Some practitioners specialize in past life hypnosis, which has become somewhat fashionable.
Using a particular session protocol, they bring people back to what they describe as ‘past lives’, i.e. experiences associated with a different person living at a different time in history.
Do you believe in ‘past lives’? This question points you to the level at which the subject tends to be discussed:
These judgements and associations are the first reason I am uncomfortable using the term ‘past lives’.
The second reason is that for me, the term ‘past life’ implies too much of an ego connection to these experiences, as if it was actually you- the person you are today, who experienced them. But clearly, this is not so.
It makes much more sense to me to think of these so called past life
experiences as pieces of the ‘collective unconscious’, a term coined by
Carl Jung, or as ‘transpersonal experiences’, a term coined by Stanislav
These two models acknowledge that somehow, in ways we fail to fully comprehend today, other realities do exist that stretch beyond the boundaries of the individual mind and that these ‘transpersonal experiences’ or ‘pieces of the collective unconscious’ have the power to impact our thinking and our emotions in the here and now.
Science has yet to find an answer as to what past life experiences are exactly and how they have found their way into your mind here today. But we do know that people can have spontaneous ‘past life’ experiences- not only during past life hypnosis, but also in the context of other regression work, such as Holotropic Breathwork, or Rebirthing.
In a nutshell, transpersonal experiences are a real phenomenon.
Some hypnotists offer past life hypnosis workshops or parties to clients who are curious about the sensational side of past life experiences.
I suppose hypnosis has always had an entertainment based stream to it. In the late 19th century and well into the 20th century, hypnosis shows would travel around the country where extremely susceptible subjects would perform incredible things on stage under hypnosis guided by the hypnotist.
Some of this is still alive today. Stage hypnotists like Keith Barry are still doing that today- mixing magic and hypnosis for entertainment.
If you are so inclined, go along and enjoy the past life workshop for its entertainment value. If you do, please take the whole thing with a pinch of salt.
In the next paragraphs I will go into what I believe is required for past life hypnosis to be of deep therapeutic benefit to you.
When you look at the stream in the hypnosis world that is about therapeutic benefit to you, the client, I am really not sure that it is a good idea at all to offer specific past life hypnosis sessions. Why?
If you booked a session with a past life hypnotist, what would you expect from that session?
Naturally, you would expect to encounter a past life experience, would you not?
And, if you did not encounter a past life experience, how would you feel?
So, if that was the case, I would argue you would be deprived of exposure to the powerful healing with hypnotherapy that can drastically improve the quality of life of those with depression, anxiety and trauma issues. Such healing involving regression hypnosis requires thorough one to one work and holding by an experienced practitioner.
Most likely, you would, in that case, continue to hold on to hypnosis myths and look elsewhere for healing, or for a boost to your career or life if you needed it- instead of looking to hypnosis for success. The hypnotist then would not have done the field any favor in that case- I will argue.
And if, indeed you did encounter such a past life experience in this session, of what value would it be for you?
You have to understand that the censors around your subconscious mind are usually on high alert. They will censor such an experience as soon as you are back in your conscious mind:
My point being that even at the level of entertainment value the results will be questionable.
And at the healing level?
How do you actually know that what your subconscious needs to further your healing at this particular moment in time is a past life experience?
Deciding in your conscious mind what content you want to bring out for healing to occur denies the power of your subconscious mind. Take this in: Your subconscious mind makes up far more of your personality than your conscious mind does. The ratio is said to be around 10 percent for the conscious versus 90 percent for the subconscious mind.
If you do end up having a past life experience, most likely you will lack the deep emotional connection that you will usually have in life regression hypnosis when your subconscious brings forward the real thing- the subconscious material that you need at this moment in time in order to change your life. As a result, most likely you will question the validity of the past life experience in the same way as described above.
Reflecting on this fact, do you now think it is a good idea to allow your conscious mind to lead the way with hypnosis or other altered state work?
This is where I see the place of ‘past life’ issues in hypnotherapy
work: If these experiences emerge spontaneously, from a place of open
mindedness, where the subconscious mind is free to bring up any relevant
material that needs healing- only then you are looking at the real deal. And it is only
then that ‘past life experiences’ make sense to me.
From my perspective as a hypnotherapist who does regression work, it doesn’t matter what sort of memories the client contacts. The important part is that the memories emerge spontaneously, without any coaching or coaxing. The therapist has to remain a neutral facilitator who is not invested in the content of what will emerge. The client's subconscious must be free to find its own way.
Most of the time, the memories that emerge in the context of regression hypnosis are from this life time. For most people, this life time holds enough trauma and resulting material that needs integrating. But if what comes back is a so-called past life memory, so be it.
I won’t judge it or attempt to alter it in any way. I will work with it in the same way as I work with material from this life time, facilitating the client to free up their energy so that they have more freedom of choice in their lives at the end of the piece of work.
That seems the only sensible approach for me.
In other words, I believe best practice for any hypnotherapist is to use a very open session protocol that allows the subconscious mind to bring forth any relevant experience it needs to bring forward in order to heal, be it from this life time, or of a transpersonal nature.
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I hope you have not only enjoyed this brief article on past life hypnosis, but also gained more of an understanding of the complexities involved so that you are in a better position to know what is for you and what is not.
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Here is to your well being and success.
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I have struggled with anxiety and self-confidence issues for as long as I can remember. I am an artist, therefore as creative person, I struggled with