Blog: Ask Isa: Are All Past Lives Traumatic?
By Isa Gucciardi, Ph.D.
Question: It seems like all the past lives I contact with Depth Hypnosis are traumatic in nature. Do we have happy past lives?
The concept of reincarnation is found in many spiritual traditions. To my mind, the tradition that best articulates the relationship between our previous lives and our current life is Buddhism. In that tradition, there is a concept called a “sanskara.” A sanskara is an imprint that contains information about the focus of the mind at the time of death. The information contained in this imprint is considered to be at least part of the focus upon which the next lifetime is based. For this reason, Tenzin Wangyal, a well-known Buddhist teacher, says, “If you want to know what your past life was, look at your current life. If you want to know what your future life will be, look at your present life.”
People who are drawn to alternative therapies like Depth Hypnosis and Regression Therapy are often trying to understand themselves at a deeper level. In particular, they are trying to uncover the roots of patterns of thinking or feeling that create imbalance in their daily lives. When a person engages with the processes of altered state work in a Depth Hypnosis session, a spontaneous past life regression can occur. The experience of a past life is almost always related to the issue or pattern they are dealing with in the current life. For this reason, the past life may appear to be “traumatic,” but it is actually bringing attention to the patterns of the current life by lending a “new” perspective.
There is much to be learned about the roots of current imbalances by understanding the lessons from a past life. Many people find relief in being able to look at their issues with the expanded understanding the images of a past life provide. Often long-standing issues are resolved or lessened to some degree as a result of seeing the pattern in a different context. So, it is understandable that a person working in this way might see their past lives as traumatic.
Of course, not all lifetimes are traumatic. Often in the context of my own Depth Hypnosis practice, people have had experiences of past lives that have been happy. Usually, they are brought into the experience of these “happy” past lives in order to reclaim more positive aspects of their deeper self that they may have become separated from in the current life. By accessing a lifetime where they were expressing an innate gift more fully, they gain understanding about how they might express that gift in the current lifetime.
The concept of past lives is not one that is readily subscribed to in our contemporary society, and even some Buddhist traditions have watered down the idea to make it more palatable to a western mindset. Whatever your belief system, it is not required that you believe in past lives to participate in a process like Depth Hypnosis. It is really up to the individual to decide how they want to characterize their experience. If someone finds themselves in a spontaneous past life regression— in a body that is not their own or in a time that is not familiar— it is perfectly fine to relate to it as a way the psyche is communicating about the pattern and not an actual past life. What a person believes really makes no difference to the healing of the pattern.
For many Buddhists, especially Tibetan Buddhists, reincarnation is part of their understanding of the nature of reality and the evolution of one’s consciousness is considered to be ongoing. If you are intrigued by the concept of past lives in a clinical setting, you might find Brian Weiss’s book Many Lives, Many Masters helpful. If you would like to learn more about the Tibetan Buddhist practice of finding the incarnation of their master teachers known as Tulkus, check out the film Unmistaken Child.