Thursday, 15 January 2015

Present and Past life regression.... Just what exactly is that all about?

Regression is something I get asked about a lot! What do I think about it? What is it? Is it real? Do we really have past lives? Do people really suppress memories? Do I use it? Can I teach them how to do it? 

I Hope this blog post answers some of those questions....

Current Life Regression:

Current life regression comes in many forms and as hypnotists we use it all the time, even something as simple as creating a safe place for a client or setting up an anchor is a form of regression, "remember a time when you were safe, you were happy" etc are all regressive prompts for a client to access a past memory. Regression has come under a lot of fire over the past decade or so, mainly down to the problems with false memory syndrome, clients looking for memories they think they have, clients being lead by a therapist by unhelpful questioning or voice emphasis. But like all techniques used in hypnosis, regression has earned its place in our tool kit and when used appropriately and skillfully can have powerful results. Most people understand current life regression, to mean that a person is regressed back to a certain time, when an event occurred, or a seed was sown for a particular behaviour, reaction or symptom to occur in later life. This is known as regression to cause, the idea being that by going back to this point, the cause will be released or better understood and all will be well. I am a big believer in just because you might have a better understanding of how something happened, its doesn't mean it will stop happening in the future unless you do something with the information you gather. So when I need to regress someone to the cause of their issue I tend to use the method of Transformational replay developed by my friend Drake Eastburn which is documented in his book "The power of the past". This way the client can identify all the key aspects of their issue and release them, change them, take control of them and react differently in the future. As therapists we are about creating positive change for our clients, not just helping them understand how they ended up with the problem in the first place.
Techniques such as inner child, are also a form of regression, but in this case its accessing a part of us that has got stuck along the way somewhere, we all experience this from time to time. For example we might have a difficult boss who makes us feel and sometimes behave like a naughty or shy school child again. Or a part of us that feels very vulnerable in a particular situation just like we did as a child, or we may seek recognition or approval from others like a child might. If we can access that inner child and re parent it as an adult, we can cause positive changes that allow us to let go of the insecurities of the past and that allows us to react in a different way in the future. The inner child can also be used to access the part of us that is much more carefree and accepting of ourselves and others, than perhaps our adult self is.
Regression can also be used to access skills and resources we already have in us, to access and reactivate muscle memory for example, to remind a person what a pain free body feels like for instance, as part of a rehabilitation programme. Or  an athlete or musician who gave an amazing past performance that they wish to recreate in the present and future. By regressing a client back to those positive and helpful memories, they can remember not only how they felt emotionally but also physically. As well as the atmosphere, what they did just prior to the event or performance, what made the difference that particular time. Sometimes we spontaneously regress to a particular song that might start playing on the radio, or a news item on the TV might take us back to a time, where something similar happened to us.

Which ever regression technique is used within hypnosis, regression when its used carefully can be a valuable tool in helping people overcome some of lives major hurdles, even EMDR (eye movement de-sensitisation and reprocessing) the gold standard treatment of post traumatic stress disorder (flash backs are also a form of spontaneous regression), relies heavily on a regressive element in the process, so that the emotion can be taken away from the distressing image.

False Memories and Leading:

The term false memory syndrome was 1st used in the Early 1990's, after there were several claims of people accessing previously suppressed  memories of childhood abuse in a therapeutic setting. Many people were prosecuted on the back of this recalled evidence. Several studies have shown that memory can be influenced both in and out of hypnosis, and people especially if questioned about an event fictitious or otherwise by a person they see to be in authority (therapist, teacher, parent, police), will unconsciously fill in the gaps. Memory implantation is a technique used in cognitive psychology to investigate human memory. In memory implantation studies researchers make people believe that they remember an event that never actually happened. The false memories that have been successfully implanted in people’s memories include remembering being lost in a shopping centre as a child, taking a hot air balloon ride, and putting slime in a teacher’s desk in primary school. Memory implantation techniques were developed in the 1990's as a way of providing evidence of how easy it is to distort people's memories of past events.   The possibility of false memories and or distorted memories when using regression is always there, it is paramount that the therapist does not lead the client in any way, either by leading questions or by intonation in voice and language patterns. when ever I use any regressive technique with a client I spend much of the session pre-talk explaining that, if their unconscious mind does in fact produce a memory that its important to remember several key points:-
The unconscious mind does not like gaps- so it fills them,
The filler is not always what happened, in fact nothing may have happened at all.
The memory itself is the clients interpretation of the event, not a video record of fact. someone else may have a very different memory of the same event.
Anyone that has been taught by me will know that I insist that both the therapist and client understand the purpose of the therapy, "I just want to know what happened or if anything happened" is not a sound purpose, unless it is linked to the resolution of a problem or issue. In this setting the unconscious mind is not to be trusted, if you go looking for something, the chances are you will find it, or create it, its really uncertain which it is unless it can be verified by someone else. That said, in my day to work as a hypnotherapist hardly a day goes by that regression isn't used in some form, therapists that use Milton Erickson's early learning set as part of their deepening patter, give the suggestion of regression without even realising it, creating a safe place or an internal bolthole for a client often has its basis in a memory of safety even if the regression is only to access a feeling and is fleeting.

Past Life Regression

This is an interesting one, if the media is to be believed countless people have discovered they were were Cleopatra or some other famous person in a past life, I know therapists that only do past life regression and nothing else, I know others that think its a load of hogwash and wouldn't dream of doing anything with it. I lean more towards the latter, not because I think its hogwash, but because I don't know what it is and neither does anyone else really. All Therapists know (or should do) that the only important beliefs system in the therapy room, is that of the clients - the Therapists belief system should be left at home, along with religion and  judgement. If I have a client that wholeheartedly  believes that their issues is something to do with a past life, who am I to tell them that it isn't?

I have to admit that I find the whole idea of past lives fascinating, I also find some comfort in the idea that when we die we do not cease to exist and that every life has a purpose or goal. Brian Weiss' books ( Many Lives and Many Masters - Only love is real) and Micheal Newtons books (Journey of souls) certainly make an interesting read, and I admit that I quite like the idea of the same souls interacting with each other in different relationships in different lives.  I have conducted lots of "past life" regressions on friends, clients and students and have been regressed in this way myself, but I still have no proof or evidence that it is real, but I also don't have any proof to say that it is not. When I was regressed I accessed several past lives, including a jolly and fat Italian women with lots of children, a native American Indian, a young french boy who was an orphan and a game keeper on an estate who was running for his life from the land owner after been found in a compromising situation with the lady of the house!. During the regression process the images in my mind were very vivid and seemed very real, I could answer some but not all of the questions I was asked, I was able to give very detailed descriptions of my death and departure from each life and where I was in between lives. However, there was nothing that could be independently verified or researched, and I believe all most all of my recall in hypnosis could simply be my unconscious mind showing me different aspects of my personality or accessing things that I had seen or learnt previously. No one I have ever regressed to a past life has ever claimed to be the reincarnated soul of a famous person, no one has claimed to have been abducted by Aliens, but many did report some of the most horrible and gruesome deaths. There have been reports of lives from roman times, Viking times, people from all walks of life, and the thing I find really fascinating is when people recognise people from their current life in a past life, I have still no idea what this is though, but I guess that's whats makes it interesting.

Thank you for reading this blog post, I think the debate on regression of all kinds will carry on forever. For me its a useful tool, but one that is to be used carefully and respected.

Keep on Trancin ...

1 comment:

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