The value of Regression Therapy - how a past life can help a present one.
What is regression therapy?
Regression Therapy, also known as Past Life Therapy, is the recounting of a particular past event by a client under hypnosis in order to clear distressing issues and/or ‘stuck’, limiting or inappropriate behaviour in the present.
It is a therapy that I found it to be one of the most valuable tools in my repertoire as a clinical hypnotherapist.
Hypnotherapy is most often used to help people safely face their phobias or fears, such as a fear of spiders or flying, reducing or more often, removing, their hold on the client. Dealing with such problems is a bread and butter basic of clinical hypnosis.
However there are times when people present with bizarre behavioural problems that impair their everyday life and which seem to have no obvious triggering event to work on. This is where Regression Therapy really comes into its own.
The subconscious mind protects.
More often than not neither the client nor the therapist knows at the outset what is causing the inappropriate behaviour. It has to be left to the subconscious mind to reveal it to the client via hypnosis and it will only do this if it regards it safe to do so.
The subconscious mind is fanatically protective about its host (after all it has a vested interest in its survival) so it will only reveal the triggering event of the disturbing behaviour if it feels the host, i.e. the client, can cope with the knowledge.
Many people are worried that they will be shown something so horrible they will not be able to handle it but this is not how the subconscious mind works. Its duty is to protect them.
The subconscious mind drives all behaviour.
Whilst having the subconscious block the sufferer from accessing information that may help them shed unwanted behaviours may seem somewhat counter-intuitive, it must be understood that if the conscious behaviour was becoming a problem then that is usually the subconscious unblocking the triggering event so that it can be looked at consciously.
This is the point when the non-verbal subconscious is willing to release the memories it knows will help the client and is driving them to look at and acknowledge those memories.
Unfortunately it is not always easy to ‘get at’ such memories despite such subconscious ‘prompting’.
This is the point that a wise person should seek professional help and the quickest, safest way to access the memories that are causing problems is by hypnosis.
From then on the cure is simple. Usually, once the memory of the triggering event has been raised up into consciousness and acknowledged, the fear or inappropriate behaviour either totally ceases or is, at the very least, severely moderated.
I don’t believe in past lives!
Frankly, my experience has shown that it does not appear to matter whether you 'believe' in past lives or not. As a casual Buddhist/New Age spiritual weirdo myself I have encountered too many unexplained things not to believe in them.
This however was never an aspect that I shared with my clients. I was there to help them not indoctrinate them into the ideas of reincarnation and Buddhism. After all, Buddhism is the least evangelical of all world religions being a system for living rather than a religion.
Suspending disbelief in past lives.
So I would simply ask my client to suspend disbelief for a little while, the length of the therapy session in fact, and see what turned up. Everything they then described to me was from what would appear to have been another life and often this would appear to have little to do with their present day problem.
Despite this the client's presenting issue was always resolved by focussing on whatever the subconscious chose to show to them.
It would seem that the subconscious in its limitless wisdom did not deem it necessary for either myself or the client to understand why we were being shown what was being shown.
Past lives rarely show the client to have been anyone famous.
Contrary to most people’s expectations people rarely remember a past life as an important person. In fact the life recovered can often be very prosaic and even menial, so no Boudiccas or Napoleons I’m afraid.
Whatever memories are released by the subconscious are exactly the right ones needed for resolution of the client’s presenting problem.
The importance of a well-trained therapist.
However, even though the subconscious mind controls which events are revealed to the conscious mind, it is vital that the therapist’s questioning is non-directive.
Correct questioning in regression is vital to good practice and a safe and honest resolution of the client's problem.
All questions should be neutral, non-leading and deliberately bland in order to stimulate the release of genuine memories rather than the recall of matter that has been read in books or seen in films in an effort to please or appease the therapist.
The hypnotherapist's job is simply to induce a state of relaxation in the client to allow the subconscious to step out of the shadows and communicate. Once this has been achieved they are no more than a prompter to move the sequence on to the 'next significant event' in whatever time the client is accessing.
There is no room for ego in a therapist and the client should steer well clear of any therapist exhibiting any signs of conceit, overweening pride or self-satisfaction. The best therapists are usually those who appear humble and genuinely concerned about the client.
For a client the rule is simple: be warned: if they talk about themselves a lot, leave. They are only there to help themselves, not you.
Beware of the hypnotherapist who asks leading questions.
Unfortunately, it is likely that some therapists have brought regression into disrepute by the wrong sort of prompting. Some badly trained therapists may not even understand that they are asking leading questions; the sort of questions that can stimulate false memories.
Such questions may simply revive memories of television programmes that have left a lasting impression and which the client then accesses and believes to be their own memories.
This can sometimes lead people to think they were perhaps abused as children and that they have 'buried' the memory deeply. If their therapist also believes that they have stumbled upon a trauma they may 'load' the questions they ask of the client so that they are in a sense 'painting pictures' in the client’s mind.
When this happens the answers given will often appear to 'prove' their suspicions and the real truth can be very hard to get at. This is not best practice and it certainly does not help the client, the therapist ... or a legitimate and valuable therapy.
Trusting the event is relevant.
Frequently the event the subconscious raises in the conscious mind of the client whilst they are in a trance state (another name for hypnosis) can often seem to have little relevance to the presenting problem but it is worth remembering that the subconscious knows best.
Trance is the best possible method for allowing the subconscious mind the elbow room it needs to air the issues it feels should be addressed. As this part of the brain is all-knowing and all-remembering it is obvious that one has to let it do its job without trying to steer it down any pathways one thinks it should be exploring.
The best question a therapist can ask is always, ' ... and what happened next?'
Regression Therapy: a case study.
One of my more memorable, and poignant, cases involved a woman whose sleep was so turbulent and disturbed that she often tried to strangle her husband in his sleep even though she herself was also asleep.
At the initial interview she said she felt she was always 'waiting for something'. Needless to say she found all of this distressing and sought my help, against her husband’s wishes it must be said. He had the usual unfounded fear many people have of the hypnotic state.
Under regression my client remembered a life as what seemed to be a male Victorian artist. 'He' appeared to be clock watching, just sitting in his kitchen watching the clock. Under questioning she/he revealed 'he' was waiting for 'his' children.
In fact the whole event seemed to show that somehow 'he' had somehow become separated from 'his’ children, was constantly waiting for them and becoming distressed when they never showed up. It was a simple remembrance and sadly there was no touching scene of ever being reunited with them.
Perhaps this sense of loss and desolation was what had been retained in the soul’s memory. Memories released under regression are always to do with negative emotions. The final act of this remembered life was 'his' suicide by drowning and I remember thinking what a sad, bleak life it had been.
This lack of resolution in this past lifetime may have been the reason for the disturbed behaviour in the present lifetime but why the behaviour should present itself as strangulation of her present husband was unfathomable to both of us.
However on reporting back after treatment, my client said that she had had no recurrence of her sleeping problem. Her sleep pattern was now calm and her husband had remained unmolested from that date though neither of us ever understood why that particular past life should have had such particular relevance to her present one.
Does a remembered death hurt?
Remembering a death from another life has never, in my experience, been a painful process. Rather it would seem to be more of a detached observation of the event.
Some people do weep at the things they see when in regression but I believe this to be a cathartic release which encourages a positive outcome to the therapy session and I have never had any evidence to the contrary.
Despite the somewhat inexplicable nature of Regression Therapy, it really should not be regarded with suspicion. It has been proven to work by many very reputable hypnotherapists and even more grateful and relieved clients.
The remarkable thing about Past Life Therapy that has always struck me is that even when clients have been sceptical before going into regression they always came out of it rather blasé, as if they knew all about it and it was commonplace.
One thing I can honestly say I have always found is that people really enjoy the hypnotic state whether they are utilising Regression Therapy or some other kind of trance therapy. They love the way they feel in trance and they love the feeling they are left with afterwards.
As Jim Morrison said, 'There are things known, and there are things unknown. And in between are the Doors'.
The doors, with a small 'd' in this case, are found within Regression Therapy and they can be safely opened.
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