Thursday, April 3, 2008

Past Lives - This occupies a lot of my thinking time lately

The first time I travelled to India, Nicole taught me about past life theories. We had this amazing experience when she practiced Reiki with me (my first experience with Reiki, and the whole reason I extended my first trip to India for!). Essentially, we both experienced a similar flash of me ~ as a man~ in a convincingly similar environment and set of circumstances. Although it was eerie (and quite frankly difficult to believe), there were too many similarities in our visual stories to ignore. She got me seriously thinking about the idea of past lives, something I'd never contemplated before.

Nicole recommended Dr. Brian Weiss' book called "Many Lives, Many Masters", and I quickly went and bought it (for about the equivalent of about $6 Canadian...!!!....). I cracked the spine with pure disbelief. Nothing I had ever experienced in my life up until then could have convinced me that this was anything other than quackery.

But now, after having been in India again, and having reconnected with my soulmate Linaji (just tonight, on the phone to California while writing this!!!), I have a little more buy-in about the whole thing. Even though Paul doesn't quite get it, that's ok. It soothes my soul to think about my issues spanning across life times and not being totally responsible for them (karma-wise).

Here's the bio of the author. His story makes me buy in to the potential validity of scientific training can't handle anything too "woo-woo", and, thanks to 6 years and $40, 000 of tuition at U of T, I've been taught to critically evaluate subjective claims of success. Yet, this speaks to me. This captures my attention.

As a traditional psychotherapist, Dr. Brian Weiss was astonished and skeptical when one of his patients began recalling past-life traumas that seemed to hold the key to her recurring nightmares and anxiety attacks. His skepticism was eroded, however, when she began to channel messages from "the space between lives," which contained remarkable revelations about Dr. Weiss's family and his dead son. Using past-life therapy, he was able to cure the patient and embark on a new, more meaningful phase of his own career.

A graduate of Columbia University and Yale Medical School, Brian L. Weiss M.D. is Chairman Emeritus of Psychiatry at the Mount Sinai Medical Center in Miami.

Dr. Weiss maintains a private practice in Miami. In addition, Dr. Weiss conducts national and international seminars and experiential workshops as well as training programs for professionals.

In his first book, "Many Lives, Many Masters", there are an incredible number of compelling stories about a client for whom traditional methods of therapy have failed (I guess I can relate "traditional" therapy missing the mark). After Dr. Weiss reluctantly turned to hypnosis to help his client, Catherine manage recurring nightmares and chronic anxiety attacks, they both saw change. What happened was that Catherine began recalling trauma experienced in past lives that began to free her in her present life.

Even though Dr. Weiss remained cynical, after a time he could no longer deny Catherine's powerful recollections, some of which brought with them powerful revelations about his own life. Mostly it began to make sense to him that the influence of our past lives can really have an impact on our present behaviours.

So now, the second book I'm reading is called "Messages from the Masters". What I'm learning from it is that destiny brings us to our "guides" that help us choose and transition into our next life.

You know what else blows my mind? According to Dr. Weiss, we choose to come back into a present life with those who were part of our past lives. That's really reassuring to me. When I was about 6 years old, I distinctly remember being really scared about the possibility of eternal life. I think that was because I thought I was just going to exist forever in this state of nothing-ness. This re-frames those fears, knowing that I can come back with those whom I choose.

Have you ever heard of someone being referred to as an "old soul"?. Typically that means that this person is mature, thoughtful, serious, wise, and dependable. Yet, really, I think we're all "old souls". If what Dr. Weiss proports is true, then we all have innate wisdom that has been cultivated for thousands of years. So in this lifetime, our responsibility is to reveal that wisdom and act on it. To turn down the volume on those messages that turn us away from our true selves and to honour the truth of our own knowing.

This theory works for me. Despite the fact that my "rational" left brain tells me that having lived past lives is impossible, my body believes that this really could be true. I can offer some examples:

* what else could explain why it felt so familiar when I arrived in India in 2005? Even though I had suffered panic attacks in crowds here in Toronto, in India the crowds, noise, invasion of personal space and commotion was oddly calming...

* and what about my conflicted sense of gender? I always had this sense of really feeling what it's like to be a man - not in a transexual way, but I never really felt comfortable being a "girl". I can identify with living in a man's body, even though I know that's not what I need/want to be right now, in this life.

* and, freaky as it may seem, there are folks in my life that I know have been with me before. There's just this comfort and ease and sense of familiarity - a sense of knowing and being able to relate in a way that seems well beyond "clicking".

Mostly, this whole past life theory thing just makes me feel happy that we are all "old souls" and that we are all on the same path. That this life is not new, that we have the resources to make it work and to advance along the path towards consciousness.

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