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While writing A Strange Companion, I did a lot of research into past lives. I read some of the pre-eminent experts in reincarnation and sifted through countless stories of past life experiences. But perhaps the most intriguing day of research came when I attended a Hay House conference and subjected myself to a past life regression.
I’ll admit right now that, like Kat, I was skeptical, and perhaps a little bit nervous. Would I feel weird, would it be frightening, and what if (my overactive writer’s imagination wanted to know) I somehow became trapped in my past life and couldn’t get back? What if I uncovered some terrible past life trauma that would stay with me for the reminder of my current life?
Regardless, in the name of science, I decided to keep my mind open and trust that nothing untoward would happen to me.
I had chosen this particular conference because of one speaker. Dr. Brian Weiss was a respectable psychiatrist when one of his patients, Catherine, began recalling what could only be past life memories, and delivering messages from another realm. That encounter became the basis for his books Many Lives, Many Masters and Only Love is Real, both of which formed the foundation of my research. If I was going to visit my past lives, I wanted it to be with Dr. Weiss.
In a room full of people, Dr. Weiss talked us down into a state of deep relaxation and through his method for tapping into past lives. In the first, we chose a door that would lead us into a particular era. I opted for Ancient Rome, where I saw myself as a Roman legionnaire whose life was in danger because I had fallen for the wrong woman. A mere sentry, I had lost my heart to a woman who was way above my station. Even in my past life, I was a hopeless romantic. I chalked this vision up to watching too many gladiator movies, and moved on.
In the next regression, we were taken back again to another incarnation and asked to picture scenes from that life. I pictured a wide valley, that I assumed was somewhere in Northern Europe. The people lived in huts in a settlement, and were perhaps farmers, maybe Vikings, Celts, or Anglo-Saxons. I seemed to be someone important in the village, because at one point, a group of men rode into the village on horseback with a message that I had been summoned to the leader. Later, the regression moved us to the end of that life, where I died of a serious wound, surrounded by my people. I was left with the feeling that I had lived a noble life and was leaving behind people who really cared about me.
During the regression, two very specific details stood out. One was that my name was Johann, and the other was that I owned a piece of important jewelry that was either sacred or a mark of status. I saw the piece very clearly and was able to sketch what I could recall afterwards, hoping to be able to find a picture online that would indicate the place and era. Sadly, I’m not much of an artist, and I’ve yet to find anything definitive.
Perhaps the strangest part of the experience was the emotions I felt during the regressions. I wasn’t just seeing images, as if I were watching a movie. They were accompanied by strong feelings of joy, satisfaction, sorrow, and fear. I left the session feeling tired, but strangely peaceful, not at all distraught or afraid, but with those emotions still lingering, as if they had really happened.
Like Kat, though, I am a scientist at heart, and a born skeptic. I need answers and explanations, but I left with none. Maybe the images I saw were just pulled from my imagination. Maybe I saw what I wanted to see or what was most interesting to my relaxed mind. I’m a writer, after all, and stories are what I do.
But even now, several years after the experience, I’m still left with the feeling that I tapped into something important, something meaningful to me. I don’t have a firm opinion about reincarnation, but I’m open to the idea that we have connections to others that cannot be explained by science. I find it comforting that we might not just disappear into oblivion and that the people we love stay connected with us in some way.
And I think it’s very cool that I was once Johann, beloved leader of an ancient people, and that I owned an important piece of sacred jewelry.