In 2016, 26 percent of all Americans over the age of 18 said they believed in reincarnation. Those beliefs were likely shaded by personal religious and philosophical views. For those who say they remember their past lives, however, the concept of reincarnation is more concrete. Dr. Ian Stevenson, an internationally recognized psychiatrist and researcher at the University of Virginia, studied over 3,000 children before his death in 2007, and his work continues. From birthmarks to phobias, his research shows a link between present-day circumstances and past-life memories.


What is past life regression therapy?

Although some people have spontaneous memories, others recover memories through regression therapy, a technique used to retrieve information from the subconscious mind through light hypnosis or focused attention. Skeptics argue the subjects are recalling information from other sources or responding to suggestions made by a hypnotist, but many people who have experienced it themselves disagree.


What takes place in regression therapy?

Past life regression therapy is not the same as stage hypnotherapy, a practice that hypnotizes people as part of a performance for an audience. Instead, the regression therapist leads the person being regressed into a trance or state of acute awareness. In this state, the subject is very relaxed but remains conscious and can recall the events after the session ends. The therapist may use breathing exercises or guided meditation to make it easier to relax.


Is past life regression therapy traumatic?

Regression brings up emotions and circumstances from the past, and they may be happy or sad. A well-trained therapist knows how to handle whatever arises, and most people experience some degree of healing after recalling painful memories. Physical illnesses or injuries, phobias or emotional problems may disappear or improve after the session. Therapists say people who don’t recall a past life may also experience improvement after answering questions or discussing details of their childhood.


Are the memories real or fantasy?

Thoughts during regression come to the mind in symbols, memories, imagination or metaphor. Dr. Brian Weiss, a renowned psychiatrist and expert on past lives, advises clients to accept thoughts without judging them. Some people are able to validate their memories by researching details like the names of streets or villages. Others discover birthmarks that match their death wounds or develop the ability to speak foreign languages while under hypnosis.


What is life between lives?

Dr. Michael Newton accidentally discovered the concept of life between lives during a counseling session and spent the rest of his life researching the phenomenon. Rather than taking his subjects to a past life, he led them to the place where they go between lives. There, people remember and understand their past lives, receive counseling from their elders and plan their future lives. They report a nonphysical, energetic state between incarnations.


Why do people reincarnate?

The most common belief is that people return to learn lessons about love, forgiveness, and compassion. A life lesson is not necessarily learned in one incarnation, however. It may, in fact, take many lifetimes to achieve a goal. Some people also return to help others.


Will everybody have similar results in regression therapy?

Everyone has a unique experience during regression. Results are impossible to predict and vary from one therapist, subject or session to the next. They all have a common benefit, however. They lead to a better understanding of past and present lifetimes.