"Here is an article I wrote about my first past-life regression nearly 15 years ago. I think you'll enjoy it." ~ Bob Olson
Like many people, I read Many Lives, Many Masters by Dr. Brian Weiss in 1996. Dr. Weiss, a graduate of Columbia University and Yale Medical School, was a bit skeptical when his psychotherapy patient, Catherine, began recounting the details of her past-life traumas. These past-life reviews, however, set Catherine free from the anxiety and nightmares that led her to Weiss’ treatment in the first place. Weiss was then captured by the idea of using past-life regression as a treatment tool, and the world became hypnotized by his best-selling books that retold in remarkable detail the particulars of his patients’ healing journeys.
I enjoyed, and even believed, Dr. Brian Weiss’ story in his now infamous book. Still, it was a gigantic leap for me to go from believing that Weiss’ patient regressed into a past-life to believing that I, too, could have such an experience. I had explored enough spiritual experiences that I had no doubt other people could achieve hypnotic regression. I just didn’t believe that I could do it myself.
So, one day, at the age of 38, when I saw an advertisement for past-life regressions by a clinical hypnotherapist named Nancy, a practitioner whom I’d heard positive things about from other spiritual practitioners, I said, “What the heck. Why not give it a shot?”
I drove three hours from Maine to Cape Cod hoping Nancy could guide me to a new level of hypnotic relaxation far beyond anything I’d ever experienced. With my trusty skepticism still in check, I wondered if I was wasting my time. But as the sun rose from the early morning darkness, my optimism increased.
Once in Nancy’s office, I lied comfortably on a couch with my eyes closed as she began the relaxation procedure. The first forty minutes of my hypnotic induction were everything I expected. Nancy helped me unwind with guided imagery. She walked me through fields, across valleys, past oceans and individually relaxed every muscle in my body. The visualization calmed my busy mind until I lay in a semi-comatose state.
Before long, I felt as if my body and mind were one tingling mass of flesh, bones and organs. My breathing became shallow. My heart rate slowed. My intellect stood to the side. It was as if my busy little mind agreed to not interfere, yet kept a protective watch in case it was needed. My resistance to the experience was minimized by my excitement, although not entirely free of skepticism and doubt.
“Bob, you’re now going to walk down a spiraled stairway,” said Nancy. “It has thirty-eight stairs, one for every year of your life. At certain ages, I’m going to ask you step off the stairway and tell me what you are experiencing at that age. Okay?”
“Okay,” I said.
Nancy brought me down the spiraled stairway. When she asked me to step off the stairway and tell her what I was experiencing, for the most part I thought I was experiencing nothing. I expected movies of my childhood to appear in my mind’s eye, but what I saw was a blank screen. A couple thoughts popped into my head as Nancy asked questions about the childhood moment I had stepped into, but I was waiting for the movie and didn’t give these thoughts much consideration. Sensing that I was having trouble, Nancy continued guiding me down the stairway.
“That’s okay. It’ll come,” she said. “Don’t judge it. Just go with it. It takes a little getting used to. I want you to get back on the stairway and walk down to the bottom step. This is the day you were born. Are you with me?”
“I guess so,” I said. I was putting a lot of pressure on myself, sure that I’d be leaving her office as her worst client ever.
“At the count of three, you’ll be at the bottom step of the stairway. One… two… three… You’re now on the bottom step, the day you were born. What is happening? You might not see it. You might just know it. Tell me what thoughts fill your mind?” said Nancy.
Again, I saw no movie, but I now paid attention to the thoughts I had been ignoring. “I think my parents are arguing. My mother seems sad. She’s upset. I don’t see it, it’s just something I feel.” I didn’t know how I knew this; I just knew it.
“That’s good. That’s good. Just go with the experience. Don’t judge it. I’m going to have you go back now just a little to when you are in your mother’s womb. I’m going to count to three, and when I reach three, you’ll be in the womb. One, two, three, you’re now in your mother’s womb on the day of your birth. What do you feel?”
I tried not to fight the thoughts and feelings, and a few squeaked into my consciousness. “I feel like I’m starving for nutrition. And my mother seems depressed,” I said.
“Anything else?” asked Nancy.
I started trying too hard again. Everything went blank.
After I was silent for a minute, Nancy continued. “Just sit with this scene a moment. You feel like you’re starving for nutrition. Your mother seems depressed. Just stay with it, experience it. And let me know if anything more comes.”
Nothing more came to me. I was still disappointed that I wasn’t seeing anything, so I figured I was definitely failing at the regression. Nancy must have sensed my discouragement, as she decided to move into a past life.
After further deepening my hypnotic state, which is really just an intensely relaxed state of mind, Nancy guided me into deeper realms of subconscious knowing. She led me down an elevator, suggesting that I feel more relaxed with each descending floor. She then verbally guided me out of the elevator and toward a door. Behind the door was a white light, she told me, and apparently a previous lifetime.
While I was still hopeful, my inability to see the movie-like visions of my childhood had added to my doubt that this would be a successful regression. All the same, I was able to envision the door she suggested and the white light behind it, at least in my imagination, so I persisted. Finally, at Nancy’s suggestion, I opened the door to discover where I was.
The following is the actual transcript of this part of the regression, word for word, that was recorded on tape. I’ve added some side comments in [brackets] to help you better understand what is happening in the room and in my thoughts.
Nancy: “Is it daytime or nighttime.”
Bob: “I guess it’s daytime. I don’t know if I’m there.” [I still seriously doubted my ability to do this, and I was sure I wasn’t doing it correctly.]
Nancy: “Yeah, just trust it. It becomes more and more vivid as you go along.”
Nancy: “Are you inside or outside?”
Bob: “Outside.” [Again, I wasn’t sure how I knew this. I just did.]
Nancy: “Now I want you to simply look down at your feet and tell me what is covering your feet.”
Bob: [There was a long pause. I knew what I saw, but I didn’t trust it. It wasn’t like it was something I viewed in a picture or a movie. It was more of a knowing of what was on my feet. But I hesitated because it seemed so cliché—I was wearing sandals.] “I just want to say sandals, I guess.”
Nancy: “That’s fine. It may not be that you see it. It may just be a knowing. Trust whatever way the information comes. And know that as you continue, it absolutely becomes more vivid and clear. And so now that you look at your life, look down and tell me what is covering your legs?”
Bob: [long pause] “I don’t think anything.” [The truth was that I saw myself wearing a skirt or kilt, but I wasn’t going to say that out loud. So I told Nancy the truth.] ”There isn’t anything covering my legs.”
Nancy: “Okay, what is covering your chest or torso?”
Bob: [Another long pause] “It sounds silly. I think it’s some kind of armor.”
Nancy: “Uh huh, just go with it. And what is over your head? Do you have anything on your head?”
Bob: “I don’t know.” [I saw an armored helmet with two bones or tusk-like things sticking out of it; but again, I felt silly saying it. It seemed so fairytale. “I don’t know,” is all I could say.]
Nancy: “Let your logical and judging mind step aside, and let whatever impressions come to mind. Let it come.”
Bob: “I guess it’s a helmet.” [I also knew that this wasn’t a battle helmet, but rather a costume or some type of formal wear. Again, not trusting my thoughts, I just let it slide without telling Nancy.]
Nancy: “And about how old are you?”
Bob: “Forties.” [I got the number forty-three, but told Nancy forties for some reason, still not trusting what I was getting.]
Nancy: “And at the count of three, the year is going to pop into your mind. Just trust yourself to know it. One, two, three… what year is it?”
Bob: “1643.” [It came quickly and matter-of-factly. I was surprised.]
Nancy: And at the count of three, you are going to know the country or geographical location. One, two, three… where are you?”
Bob: “It seems like some Celtic place. I don’t know the country.”
Nancy: “And now at the count of three, you are going to know your name. What do people call you? One, two, three…”
Bob: “George.” [Now if I were making this up, I would have chosen Clint or Dirk or something. I was actually a little disappointed with the name George. There isn’t anything wrong with that name. I just don’t have a good association with it in reference to people I know. So the fact that “George” popped into my head gave me a little more confidence that I was actually doing this hypnotic regression thing correctly.]
Nancy: “George. Great. Thank you, George, for being here. Tell me, George, why are you dressed in armor? What is happening today?”
Bob: “I guess it’s a celebration of some sort.” [At this point, I didn’t feel like George, but rather Bob sensing myself as George, so I thought it awkward that Nancy was speaking directly to George. But I understood what she was doing, so I just answered her questions without correcting her in regards to whom she was speaking. If you could hear the tape, you would hear my voice as soft and slow. My answers were brief. Normally, I’m fast to respond, more articulate than I was during this regression, and brevity is not generally my forte.]
Nancy: “George, what kind of a celebration is it?”
Bob: “It’s a parade.”
Nancy: “What’s the celebration about? What’s happened?”
Bob: “We won a battle.” [Nancy was right. Things were becoming more vivid.]
Nancy: “Who have you been fighting, George? Who is the enemy?”
Bob: “The English.”
Nancy; “So that is a good reason to celebrate, winning a battle against those English, huh? Tell me, George, what have you been fighting over? What is the battle about?”
Nancy: “George, what do you do for a living?”
Nancy: “Yeah, you’re a farmer. [Nancy seemed to know the answers before I gave them, as if she was seeing them herself. When she said “Yeah,” it was as if I got what she was getting.] Do you have a large farm or a small one?”
Bob: “It’s a small farm.”
Nancy: “And what do you raise?”
Bob: [pause] “Sheep, I guess.”
Nancy: “Tell me, George, are you married?”
Nancy: “And what is your wife’s name?”
Nancy: “And how long have you been married to Linda?”
Bob: “Twenty-three years.” [Everything was coming really fast now. I was feeling more confident about my answers.]
Nancy: “And do you have children?”
Nancy: “And what is your child’s name?”
Bob: [long pause] “Jeffrey.” [Or Geoffrey. I didn’t know the spelling. That sounded to me like a really unlikely name for someone of Celtic descent, but what do I know? Maybe Jeffrey or Geoffrey is a Celtic name.]
Nancy: “And how old is Jeffrey?”
Nancy: “Hm hmm, Jeffery is nine. [There she goes again, as if she knew the answer before I did.] Tell me, what kind of life do you have? Are you happy, content, sad, disappointed? What is your life like as you look at it?”
Bob: “I’m happy… proud.”
Nancy: “And what are you proud of?”
Bob: “My heritage.” [It was if I were inside of George feeling his pride. It was amazing.]
Nancy: “Yeah. And what kind of a husband are you?”
Bob: “I’m a good husband.”
Nancy: “And what kind of a father; do you spend time with your son?”
Bob: “Yes. When I’m around.”
Nancy: “Are you gone much?”
Bob: “Only when we are fighting.”
Nancy: “And how do you feel about fighting?”
Bob: “Ah, I’m proud to fight. They are trying to take our land.”
Nancy: “Yeah, they are trying to take something from you; that’s wrong. Are you ethical? Do you go by what’s right?”
Nancy: “And do you train your son that same thing?”
Nancy: “As you look at your life and the celebration, are you a friendly person or are you kind of quiet? What is your personality like?”
Bob: “I’m friendly, popular. It’s a small town. Everyone is friendly.” [I could actually feel George’s joyful and friendly nature. Again, I felt as if I were inside his body and feeling his enthusiasm for life and his pride for who he is—or was.]
Nancy: “Well tell me George, this is a significant day, is it?” [Nancy’s intuition is great. How did she know this?]
Nancy: “What makes this a special day?”
Bob: “We won some battle.”
Nancy: “Yup. Well I want you to move forward now at the count of three to a significant event in that day. Moving forward now, one, two, three… what happened?”
Bob: [long silence, shock] “We were attacked. We were attacked during the parade!”
Nancy: “You weren’t expecting that, were you?”
Nancy: “What happened.’
Bob: “A lot of people were killed.”
Nancy: “What about your wife and child?”
Bob: “No, they’re okay.”
Nancy: “What happens with you? Allow that to unfold.”
Bob: [long pause, heavy breathing, becoming emotional] “I’m fighting, I can’t… I can’t save everyone.”
Nancy: “Yes, a lot of fighting. But move forward and tell me what happens to you?”
Bob: “I live, but I have to live with that I couldn’t save everyone.”
Nancy: “And what was that like for you?”
Bob: [emotional] “It was sad.”
Nancy: “You took it hard, did you?”
Bob: “I felt like it was my fault.”
Nancy: “How come it was your fault.”
Bob: “Because I was their leader.” [sobbing]
Nancy: “Let yourself feel what that was like. People in the town died. And you lived but you have to live with that. How much longer did you live? I want you to move through that and move on with your life now. On that last day of your life when it is your turn to pass over, how old are you on that day?”
Bob: [heavy emotion, breathing] “Sixty-three.”
Nancy: “So you live another twenty years, huh? And what are those twenty years like for you?”
Bob: “They, um, they are… I’m trying to think of the word…”
Nancy: “Do you continue to hold it against yourself that those people died?”
Bob: “Forever.” [I’m an emotional mess by this time.]
Nancy: “And what happens, does it affect your relationships with your wife, your son, your friends, yourself?”
Bob: “I’m not happy anymore.” [I’m still emotionally in despair as Nancy questions me.]
Nancy: “So you hold it against you forever?”
Nancy: “Is that something you decide?”
Bob: “I can’t forgive myself.” [My voice is cracking.]
Nancy: “So you are not happy anymore.”
Bob: [long period of deep emotion, soft crying, shaking]
Nancy: “Notice how that affects your relationship with your wife, your son, your friends and yourself. Then moving on to the last day of your life, are you ill or healthy or what is the condition?”
Bob: “Just old and defeated. I want to die.” [I’m still shaking, now filled with shivers and an inner cold that filled me to the core of my being.]
Nancy: “Yeah, you are done, huh? Move to that time now. You are old and defeated and ready to go. Are you alone or is someone with you?
Bob: “My wife is with me.” [I could see her kneeling at my side as I lay down waiting to die. I could not see anything else around us, not field or ground, no furniture or shelter, everything was blank except for my wife kneeling beside my dying body.]
Nancy: “And how is she doing with you? Does she still love you or has it been a difficult time?
Bob: “No, she loves me. She is strong.”
Nancy: “I want you to move now past that time. At the count of three, just move beyond it. One, two, three… Do you see yourself floating away from your body?”
Bob: “Yeah.” [I could see the scene: my wife and myself (George’s dying body) slowly getting smaller, as if I (my spirit) were moving upwards into the sky. The scene of Linda and George’s body slowly disappeared, but the emotions—the pain and despair that I felt during those last twenty years and on the day of my death—continued to stay within me.]
The session lasted almost another hour, but what you just read is the experience that ruptured my disbelief that past-life regression was for other people, not me. What surprised me most was my physical reaction to the ambush during the parade. It was as if I relived the horror of the moment. I was crying and I felt the dread and despair that George must have felt upon seeing his dear friends slaughtered. I suffered the sense of anguish and self-loathing that George felt for being their leader and not being able to save them. My body shook and shivered, and I froze from the very core of my being up through to the very top layer of my skin. Upon my request, Nancy kept covering me with blankets—five blankets in all. She also cranked up her heater for my benefit and sweltered in the hot room as she continued the regression. Finally, since the blankets and heater had no effect on me, she instructed me to warm myself from the inside out using hypnotic suggestion. This worked quickly and we moved forward in the session.
According to Nancy, many people’s experiences are different then mine—many people actually “see” the movie-like scenes I was expecting right from the start. Perhaps I, too, will begin the experience that way one day. But as the regression continued, I eventually did see, hear, feel, smell and taste things. I could feel what it was like to be in George’s big, hairy body. I could smell the dirt floor of George’s home. I could hear the sheep in the fields and see the rich, green color of the grass. It had gone from a cognizant experience (knowing) to a multisensory experience, although still all within my mind.
My past-life experience with Nancy held everlasting benefits. It was a gift I gave myself that is simply irreplaceable. The greatest benefit I received from reliving my life as George came from the second part of that session. It is also what makes Nancy unique as a regression hypnotherapist.
After learning about my life as George, I then went into the spirit world after my death. I know this part will be a little too much for some people to swallow, but bear with me. While in the spirit world following George’s lifetime, I was able to review that life and learn the spiritual lessons that resulted from it. Each lifetime brings new lessons. In my regression as George, what I learned will forever be engrained within me in my current lifetime because of this experience in the spirit world.
I learned that even as leaders, as long as we are doing all that we can to help others, no person is responsible for the lives of other people. I learned that we do not have the right to feel in control of such a Divine responsibility; that is, we must trust that there is a bigger plan to which we may not be privy. My lesson was that I did everything I could to save my fellow townspeople that day. If it was meant that some people be killed during this ambush, I should not second-guess God on that outcome.
I also learned a lesson about forgiveness, especially self-forgiveness. My failure to forgive myself for my friends’ deaths ruined the rest of my life, as well as my family’s and friends’ lives in relation to me. For instance, my wife and son lost their husband and father that day because I lived the rest of my life in depression and self-reproach. How ironic that my choice to not forgive myself then negatively affected the lives of those who survived that tragic event. I lived twenty more years after that event but forfeited those years with my family and friends to bathe in sorry and self-blame. Instead, I could have brought greater joy and prosperity to those survivors, as well as to myself.
Finally, I learned a lesson about living in the moment. George was a happy man who lived a simple life before the parade tragedy. When I first became aware of George, I felt his intense bliss for life. I could feel that he was full of joy, laughter and love. Yet he squandered it all away by living in the past and focusing his thoughts on that one, heartbreaking day.
If George had stopped thinking about the past and began living in the moment, as he did for the first forty years of his life, both he and everyone around him would have benefited dearly. As Nancy guided me into the spirit world after George’s death and brought me through his life review, I sensed the immense pain of regret he felt as he relived that experience from a higher level. As difficult as that was for me, because I began shaking and sobbing once again, it was a gift because I will not make the same unfortunate choices in this life that I made in my life as George. These lessons—this knowing that reached me on a cellular level—will forever be mine.
© Copyright June 2, 2002