|Illustration by Karen Lindsey Harris|
I found myself in a little row boat on a foggy moor, pulling the oars and listening to the splashes. I beached on a small island covered in green grass, a lonesome stone tower the only building in sight. I climbed the stairs to find a single massive bed in a cold chamber, piled high with blankets. I knelt by the bed and took the woman’s thin hand, knowing she had waited for me to come so now she could die.A long time seemed to pass, and at last I carried her body down the stone steps. I could feel the bite of the shovel, the smell of moist dirt, as I dug deep into the earth. After I had buried her, I simply sat and waited, and after a long time, I noticed the grass was beginning to grow again.
When I came to, I knew the face of the woman, I knew what I felt I needed to do. The trance felt like days and weeks was really only 40 minutes long, and I can still remember it very vividly, as well as still appreciating the insights I gained in that journey, years later.
Transpersonal and Spiritual Hypnosis
“Much of hypnosis is oriented toward identifying and fixing symptoms and developing resources by utilizing the powers and wisdom of the unconscious mind, In this work, the ego or personality finds a particular symptom or behavior distressing, and wants to be rid of it - wants to return to its idea of health and balance, or the client wants to develop a new skill or attitude. This works well for instance, if someone wants to stop biting their nails, or pulling their hair (trichotilomania). Eating habits, sleeping habits, smoking habits can all change easily when the desires of the ego are met by the cooperation of the unconscious.
In Transpersonal and spiritual hypnosis, there is a subtle and radical shift in perspective and focus. The goal is not so much to be symptom free, or even happy, but to achieve higher consciousness. Symptoms are not to be understood as inconveniences or signs of imbalances but rather are appreciated and embraced as important signals from a place of higher wisdom. Carl Jung said “The gods speak to us through disease” but I have also head “All illness is initiation”.
In spiritual and transpersonal hypnosis, the client is searching for meaning. There is often the sense that a symptom that is upsetting for the ego may in fact be just what the soul needs to grow on its life journey. From a place of higher consciousness, change follows acceptance, healing is not always the same as cure, and wisdom is of the greatest value.
Past Life Regression/ Future Life Progression
Just as it is possible to move back and forth in time within one lifetime, it is also possible to move into other lifetimes - past and future - for healing information. A client (or hypnotherapist) does not have to believe literally in reincarnation for this work to be helpful, for it is possible to treat the experience as a meaningful dream. People often do past life regressions to explore persistent physical and emotional symptoms, to understand current life relationships, to access wisdom and skills - and also just for fun.
Some of my Experiences
• The demo in hypnotherapy school was one of the most powerful experiences I have ever witnessed. The teacher led an aide into a past life. Her whole body transformed before my eyes, her hands all bent and twisted, her body curled up almost fetal. In a deep, gnarled voice, she began to pour out a story of being a cobbler whose only daughter had been killed while out to fetch more leather. When she came out of trance, she felt that she had experienced a deep insight into her own personal path of forgiveness.
• I have done around a dozen past life regressions for my clients by now. I have had clients experience themselves as being the captain of a sinking ship, an African woman whose babies were kidnapped and sold into slavery; and one client who simply experienced being literally floating between the worlds. Her whole life was in limbo - job, marriage, etc. - so it ended up being the perfect place for her to hang out in for while, to feel at peace with transitions.
• One client came to see about a past life regression. After initial trance, I initiated ideomotor signals (letting the body communicate “yes”, “no” or “can’t/won’t answer”) and asked his body if it would be beneficial for him now. His body clearly answered “no”. We used the rest of the time to establish more inner resources instead.
• I recently attended Donald Michael Kraig’s workshop on Experiencing Your Past Lives. I thought my current stomach problems I have had this year, and set the intention to discover the deeper cause.
“And when I reach zero, you will be aware of your surroundings. Start by looking at your shoes…” I looked down at the coarsely stitched brown leather that had passed as my shoes for years. I was aware of vivid green grass, gray stones covered with paler green lichen, the feeling of a cow’s warm side, the fact that it was the year 800 in a borderland between France and Belgium (Rouen). I lived a simple life, making cheeses, laid out on wood slabs, needing to be turned each day, slowly ripening for market. “Now imagine it’s the day before your death, and allow an important message to come through…”
Unfortunately, there was a miscommunication about timing and the experience was cut short just when we got to the really juicy part, and I left feeling incomplete. Luckily I’m a certified hypnotherapist myself, and later that night I found it easy to slip into trance and really flush out the details of my experience.
I’m in a tavern, arguing with the inn keeper. I see a bone handled knife, very clearly. I see an abdomen, cut open, slippery guts sliding out - I don’t know if it’s the tavern keepers’ or my own. Later I am with my husband in our hut with no windows, just a hole in the ceiling for the smoke from the fire to escape. It is our last moment together, and I know I have made the right choices.
The message, so simple, so profound: Trust your gut instincts.