What's all this about 'past lives'?
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:
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.
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.
- 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
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