Past lives or reincarnation used to be a belief associated solely with certain religions. The major Indian religions, particularly, hold past lives and reincarnation as a firm tenant in their religions. Hinduism and Jainism in particular teaches that reincarnation is the transmigration of the souls and that the soul continues to learn “life lessons”.
Likewise, Buddhism also holds reincarnation as a mainstay in its religion. So much so, it is said that the main focus of a Buddhist life is the effort to accumulate good karma and acquire merit to achieve a better reincarnation in the next life.
While the concept of reincarnation has always been a principal belief in these religions, by those outside of the religions, it was seen as no more than an intriguing supernatural teaching. The idea of having a past life as a different person or being, while not seen as rational to westerners, was a harmless, unthreatening notion. In fact, it the concept of karma pushed the believers of reincarnation to become better people in the hope of being reborn in a better state of being.
In the past decade or so, however, a different attitude seems to developing towards the idea of a past life, not only among the modern, forward-thinking generation, but also its academicians.
Personal experiences like the feeling of déjà vu, visions and surreal dreams have led many people to become more open to the idea of a past life.
These common experiences has even led scientists to carry out studies and researches about reincarnation. One of them was a psychiatrist called Dr Ian Stevenson who worked for the University of Virginia School of Medicine.
Dr Stevenson was the founder and Director of the University of Virginia’s Division of Perceptual Studies investigating parapsychological phenomena such as reincarnation, near-death experiences, out-of-body experiences, after-death communications, deathbed visions, altered states of consciousness and psi.
His studies led him to conduct research into reincarnation, which he became internationally recognized for. He discovered evidence suggesting that memories and physical injuries can be transferred from one lifetime to another. He traveled extensively over a period of 40 years, investigating 3,000 cases of children around the world who recalled having past lives. His meticulous research presented evidence that such children had unusual abilities, illnesses, phobias and philias which could not be explained by the environment or heredity.
While Dr Stevenson passed away in 2007, there are numerous resources available about him and particularly his findings on reincarnation.
The new acceptance of past lives and reincarnation has prompted more and more people to ask questions about their past lives. While some raise such questions out of pure curiosity, others believe that knowledge obtained from learning about past lives can help open doors to self-discovery in our current existence.
There are now various different methods that can help people to delve into their past lives. One of the most popular methods is past life regression, which is done by someone with regression therapy experience who will guide a past life seeker through a hypnotic state to a previous lifetime. People who have experienced this method often feel as though they have left their body and some have even reported that they feel are in another location, or of the opposite sex, or even speak in another language or with an accent.
Other methods of exploring past lives include meditation, which is an exercise that seekers can do themselves by allowing their mind to wander back through your current lifetime, to earlier memories, and then telling your mind to go back to the lifetime before, and dream analysis where people can learn about their past lives from recurring dreams.
For many, learning about what they suspect to be a past life would then lead them to do some historical research. While this does not confirm the existence of a past life, it could result in a sense of personal satisfaction and enlightenment, which would help them in their current lifetime.
The exploration and understanding of the past lives has led to another practice: Past life healing. The practice stems from the idea that people do not start from a clean slate with this life. Whatever feeling we experienced in past lives are carried through into this lifetime. So, while feelings of happiness in past lifetimes may result in beneficial effects in this life, the bad experiences will only have a harmful effect.
Some believe that if a bad past-live is not healed, it lives within a person and will remain restless, mingled with the person’s energy.
A good example of bad experience in a past life manifesting itself in this life is the phenomenon of phobias — such as the fear of drowning, or of enclosed spaces, which in some cases seeming illogical, that may or may not have been awakened by an event in this life.
According to Portugal-based past-life healer Nuno Heartki, any negative effects of the past-life into our current life is a problem and needs to be addressed. This is done by delving into the past life and then healing it with the assistance of a trusted past-life healer.
“When past-lives have any discernible interference over your moods and current life, they are meant to be healed. That is their main relevance. Otherwise, there is absolutely no need to delve in the past,” Nuno said on his website.