Whether it’s for finding a lost object or taking one last look at the events that caused ongoing emotional discomfort, age regression is one of the most useful techniques in hypnotherapy. We remember distant events far more easily in hypnosis than in a waking state, and our enhanced memory even has a fancy name: hypermnesia.
Usually what we do is assume that the unconscious mind can remember just about anything that ever happened, and so we ask the client to be taken back to the most appropriate event. If you’ve lost an object, the starting point would be “the most recent time where you knew where it was,” while with emotions or behaviors that are giving you trouble, you key on the feeling that’s associated with the problem and find “the very first time you felt these feelings.”
With lost objects, this will get you into the ballpark of of when the item was lost, and you move forward in time until you get a clue about where it went astray, which works much better than usual when you’re in a hypnotic trance. With emotions or behaviors, it gets you to the event that set you up for future repetitions of the problem. In the majority of cases, this turns out to be before the age of ten, and often before the age of five. Every once in a while, people will overshoot this life entirely and end up, completely unprompted and unexpectedly, in a past-life experience.
Are Past-Life Regressions Real?
What does this mean? As a hypnotist, you get really good at saying, “I don’t know.” I’ve had past-life experiences myself, and I still can’t tell you what they mean. What I can tell you is that clients get the same kind of relief and progress from working through a past-life experience as with a more recent one. Some people will claim that this is because the past-life experience is literally true and that (unlike today’s airline passengers), souls can carry a lot of emotional baggage with them on their journey, as a kind of karmic burden to be set down when the time is right. Others will claim that the past-life experience is a metaphorical representation of a problem from this life, one where the unconscious mind has filed off the serial numbers to allow the problem to be re-experienced in a different setting and with a different cast of characters, allowing the issue to be laid to rest sooner and more smoothly than if it were tackled head-on.
So which is right? I don’t know! With lost objects, the goal is objective and verifiable: you either find the object or you don’t. So when it works, it’s pretty impressive! Sadly, few past-life experiences lead to GPS coordinates for buried treasure or verifiable information like that.
It’s also true that metaphor is very powerful in hypnosis, just as it is in dreams. Experiences that resonate with you, even though they’re about someone else, can be just as healing and instructive as ones that are unquestionably about you, personally.
Sometimes clients seek out a hypnotist for a past-life regression more or less as a form of entertainment, but in my experience they usually have an inkling that such an experience will help them with an issue in the here and now, and so far they’re generally quite correct!
So while I don’t have a lot of answers about the objective truth of this kind of experience, my clients are finding what they’re looking for, so I’m always glad to see someone who’s interested in revisiting past-life experiences under hypnosis.