QUESTION: What's all this about 'past lives'?

ANSWER: I didn't used to believe in reincarnation. I do now. Two things changed my mind. The first, and rather hard to ignore, was the appearance of spontaneous past-life memories. Sometimes it was just a movie image during meditation, other times it was as vivid as I've heard described by LSD flashbacks--where for just a moment, I was there, reliving the scene, in another place and time. Very weird. The second reason I converted to believing in reincarnation was some of the research done by psychiatrist Ian Stevenson of the University of Virginia and others. They have accumulated more than a little solid evidence for it. For those unfamiliar with this work, I'd recommend starting with his book, Twenty Cases Suggestive of Reincarnation: Second Edition.

How can you remember them?
There are several books on the topic of how to remember your past lives, but basically there are three ways you can go about it. First, you may find they appear during meditation or dreaming. Second, you can ask a psychic. Or third, you can undergo regression therapy with a trained hypnotherapist. Regardless of how you approach this, you MUST take what you "remember" or are told about with a grain of salt. We tend to distort memories, even those of our current life. So, what would make you think the problem wouldn't also occur, even worse, with memories that go from before we were born?

So I remember a past life. Now what?
The best approach, is to think of your past lives as a metaphor. Whether or not they were literally true (and how many Cleopatras or Alexander the Greats do you think there really were?), there's a reason why you're seeing that lifetime or those images now. The reason tends to fall into one of three categories. It can:
  1. Explain what's going on in your current life. This can be extremely helpful, especially if it helps you to understand why you might be reacting a certain way to another person or have a phobia, such as of heights. Sometimes even just seeing what happened before can allow you to let go of those unwelcome feelings or fears.
  2. Illustrate a pattern of behavior that you've had in other lives that you don't want to keep repeating. Again, this is helpful. It tells you something useful about your life, the kinds of choices you've made in the past, and whether those choices led to outcomes you wanted or not.
  3. Tell you that you've been there, done that, already and there's no need to do it again. This, too, is helpful, as it allows you to focus more on what you want to accomplish this lifetime.
All of these reasons, when approached in this manner, are good ones, which allow your past life memories to help you.

Mistakes to avoid
Where I see people get into trouble with past life memories, is when they get hung up on them. There's a reason why our past lives are hidden from most of us. It's because we're supposed to live in the present . Let me repeat that, because it's important. We are here to live our lives as best we can--not to simply repeat the past or become stuck in self-indulgent dreams of earlier glories. If a given past life comes to mind, there's a reason for it. It's a lesson. A hint. Advice. But it's not something to dwell on or be proud of. The past is the past. Live in the present.

Let me add one more warning. I see people get hung up--to the point that they completely destroy their lives and that of loved ones around them--because they feel some other person who they aren't with is their soulmate from another life. Let me tell you, that you have MANY soulmates, especially if you're an old soul. Don't destroy this life to be with them just because you may have enjoyed a previous life together. This is a different life. Treat it so. If you're meant to be together, it will probably work out. If not, there may be a good reason for it--other things that can be better accomplished with different souls.

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