Looking back, waaaay back: Oprah-approved past life regression therapy

Book your own past life regression
Posted: May 26, 2008, 8:59 AM by Karen Hawthorne

By Karen Hawthorne, National Post

I was quite the socialite who loved dressing for an occasion — especially in my pink heels — and taking my daughter out for high tea at some of London's best salons in the 1930s.

I've also been a hardworking woman in an African village during the 18th century, in charge of all the domestic duties while my husband is busy with the affairs of the village elders.

How do I know this? Daydreaming at the keyboard or watching too much History Channel? No, these revelations came to me during a past life regression session with a hypnotist. (Just stick with me for a second.)

Past life regression allows us to visualize what we looked like, our family and friends, memorable or even traumatic events of past lives that may affect our behaviour in the present. How do you do it? Hypnosis puts you into a deeply relaxed state, so you're able to connect to what some people call our "higher self" or "reptilian brain" — it's basically our emotional centre that houses all our memories from yesterday, last week or 100 years ago. I'm the curious type, so I wanted to experience it for myself.

"It's a way to better understand ourselves and remove any emotional blocks from past lives that may be holding us back," wellness practitioner Darlene Hobson says. She's the person who's going to unlock my reptilian brain for an hour or so. She's certified in many forms of alternative medicine, including Reiki, reflexology, and hypnosis, helping people to overcome their fears and reduce stress and anxiety.

She tells me that one of her clients had started a new job and was having trouble with a board member of the organization she worked for.
"They made her feel inadequate and incompetent, which was surprising because she was a strong personality and had a good self-image," Ms. Hobson says. Through past life regression, the client discovered that someone with the same difficult personality type had dominated her in a negative way before.

"The view to the past life became the 'light bulb moment'," Ms. Hobson says. "She realized that this personality type will do this to her and she needed to find a new job and put the conflict behind her," Ms. Hobson says.

Another shy, reserved client went through past life regression therapy and her family couldn't believe how much she opened up and how secure she became after the session, tapping into one of the positive, confident lives of her past.

"Hypnosis allows you to go much deeper than meditation," Ms. Hobson says. "You're able to dial in and connect with your higher self and take this journey." She advises clients to come with an intent, if possible, about why they want to go through past life regression. "Often the information we receive is meant to help us on our path at this time, so we learn what we need to know."

I was coming with an open mind but little in the way of expectations — or fears or phobias, for that matter. I begin my session lying on a massage table in a quiet room at the Centre for Healing and Personal Potential in Pickering, Ont., where Ms. Hobson offers her treatments.

Her soothing voice counts down from 20 several times as I envision climbing a staircase. Falling into that relaxed state is almost euphoric because I have a mind that doesn't sit still very often.

Her voice sounds distant yet entirely audible as she asks questions about my journey, what I'm able to see, what surrounds me. It's like dreaming, yet you feel so aware of the sequence of scenes and people. I'm not sure whether this is my fertile imagination at work or actual memories. I travel back to two previous lives and then she guides me to full consciousness. It was an hour of relaxation in a one-with-the-universe kind of way. Ms. Hobson later sends me her notes on what I've told her, so I'll have a roadmap of my past lives.

The idea of reincarnation is nothing new, but it's slowly becoming less New Age and more mainstream in alternative medicine circles, anyway. If actress Shirley MacLaine had her way, we'd all be documenting our past lives like she is, finding peace and harmony and sharing the love.

Even Oprah had a recent show about past life regression where psychiatrist Dr. Brian Weiss explained that hypnosis helps people access their past lives by focusing patients' concentration while their bodies are relaxed.

"It stops the clutter, the everyday mind, from getting in the way," he says. "You go right to the subconscious. You can go right to where the memories are. You're still here, you're safe, and you don't go anywhere."

Oprah's favourite no-nonsense doctor, Dr. Mehmet Oz, also weighed in, saying there is a medical explanation for this phenomenon. In the same way that a driver on the highway "on autopilot" can miss her exit, another person forgets her oldest memories.

"What's happening is this part of your brain, the cortex — the part that's doing all the executive function — it's continually repressing your reptilian brain -- the deep part of the brain that has our most ancient memories in it," he says. "But if you can free that part of the brain, you can express yourself and find out minute details of your childhood or maybe things beyond that."

What did I learn? Family is what's most important to me, and a fabulous pair of heels is worth every penny — always good to know.

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