Healing Trauma with Past Life Regression

Our past life selves are not only characters in past dramas, but they also live within us today as ‘sub-personalities’. Their ‘unfinished business’ can make itself known through irrational fears, phobias or patterns that are not easily changed. We feel their emotions; manifest their talents; think their thoughts; are limited by their fears and perpetuate their quandaries often without consciously knowing we are doing so.

Here is a list of some complexes and issues I have used Past Life Regession via Deep Memory Process to heal and resolve:

  • Lost Love
  • Unrequited Love
  • Wounds from Sexual Abuse
  • Isolation / Alienation
  • Abandonment
  • Powerlessness
  • Depression
  • Grief / Sorrow
  • Clarify Sense of Purpose
  • Suicidal Thoughts
  • Guilt
  • Repressed Emotions / Memories
  • Fears / Phobias
  • Psychic Invasion
  • Low Self-Esteem
  • Chronic Pain
  • Physical Aliments / Illness
  • Obsessive Thoughts
  • Anxiety
  • Anger / Rage
  • Healing the Inner Child


Past Life Wounds – Present Life Problems

Excerpt from “Understanding Karmic Complexes : Evolutionary Astrology and Regression Therapy" The Wessex Astrologer, UK  2009, Patricia L. Walsh

Past life issues that carry into the current life are often thought of as being the result of karma. The Western notion of karma can sometimes be simplistic in this regard, implying that if something bad happens to you it is because you did the same thing to someone else in the past. This idea of karma as a sort of Old Testament ‘eye for an eye’ justice is not the whole picture. The wounds and unhealed traumas that we have experienced in past lives contribute greatly to our current life experience and constitute a large part of our karma. To understand how past life wounds impact us in the present, we need to look at how trauma affects the psyche in the current life. 

A traumatic event is any overwhelming experience (physical, emotional, mental or spiritual) that has caused an inability in the psyche to integrate it fully and continue in the same manner as before the traumatic event was experienced. Thus trauma leaves a lasting and damaging impression that manifests as a combination of symptoms, including but not limited to chronic dissociation, anxiety, phobias, fears, hyper vigilance, inhibitions, paranoia, neurosis, avoidance, armoring or rigidity, suppression of emotions, emotional or physical numbness, mental confusion and compulsions. In psychological language combinations of these symptoms are classified as post traumatic stress disorder/syndrome (PTSD or PTSS).  Dr Peter Levine, author of Waking the Tiger: Healing Trauma, explains that PTSD symptoms are caused by a ‘frozen residue of energy’ that was not discharged or resolved when the person was threatened.

The natural “fight or flight” response is activated when an individual is faced with a threat. If the person is overwhelmed or defeated (they can’t fight or escape) the natural response becomes a frozen impulse — an action that was never completed. The potential to develop PTSD varies from person to person, but when it does take hold the physiology changes as does the psychological state. People with PTSD cannot integrate the memory of the trauma properly. Psychologically unable to integrate the trauma in conscious terms, a part of the psyche becomes ‘split-off’ and stays, in essence, frozen in time. This is what shamans have described for ages as ‘soul loss’ or ‘soul fragmentation.’ This part of the psyche separates from the ego structure and remains that way. When these soul fragments are encountered in past or present life regression or through inner journeying, they seem to have a life of their own. The fragments appear to be the same age they were when they split off. Often they don’t have an awareness that life has moved on, or if they are aware of the present day personality, they are reluctant to be a part of it. The difference between conscious and subconscious memories is a matter of the perception of chronological time. The conscious mind perceives time as changing, moving from the past through the present, to the future. To the subconscious mind, memories (especially traumatic ones) retained there, are happening in the now. 

An example of this comes from a client who was abused repeatedly as a young child. Her first soul fragment to emerge was a four-year-old self. This soul fragment (the part of her that dissociated) was found to be hiding in a corner of Grandma’s old kitchen. This was where that piece of her went away (into a happy, warm and safe space) when her father started abusing her at four years old. This little girl self was unaware that there was an adult self now. All she was aware of was how nice and safe Grandma’s kitchen was. Because she was too young and small to fight off, or escape her father, the inability to complete the “fight or flight” response caused her to fragment. After some work the child fragment did reintegrate with the present day adult self of the client. When that fragment came back, she brought with her the ability to remember safety and to experience nurturing, thus returning new potential energy to be used in the present.

Sometimes when the soul fragments, the conscious memory of the traumatic event goes away with it or becomes buried with the split-off part. This inability to remember a trauma is commonly called a repressed/suppressed memory. Split-off parts of the psyche do not always leave the energy field of the person to ‘go off’ somewhere. They also can be buried deep in the interior world of the psyche, making them inaccessible to the conscious mind. 

In essence a trauma is a scar that won’t seem to heal. This scar then becomes a weak or vulnerable spot in the psyche, seeming to attract to it similar experiences over and over. Traumatized people find themselves reenacting the whole trauma or aspects of it without conscious awareness that they are doing so. This often happens on anniversaries of events or can be a chronic recreation, such as an abused woman who continually, subconsciously, chooses abusive partners. This is what Freud described as ‘Repetition Compulsion’. Freud initially theorized that this is the psyche’s attempt to heal. By recreating the event, symbolically or in actuality, the psyche is attempting to gain mastery and completion. This idea of ‘Repetition Compulsion’ that applies to a trauma experienced during a single lifetime also makes sense in a longer timeline — over the many lives of the soul. It would seem that the soul over the course of many lifetimes attempts to heal by recreating in essence or in actuality, traumas experienced in its past. This also needs to be understood in the context of karma.

Eastern traditions that have reincarnation and karma central to their belief system teach about an aspect of karma called Samskara.  Karma literally means actions, and many of those actions come from the deep impressions of habit that are called samskaras. Samskara then is intrinsically tied into the laws of karma that govern the cycle of rebirth. Keeping in mind the nature of traumatic imprints and how they cause continual recreation of the original traumatic event, one can also look at samskaras as trauma imprints re-manifested from life to life. It is the essence of karma to bring forth the actions of the past to the present. The inability to complete even the simple action of ‘fight or flight’ as a result of trauma in past lives is also carried into the present as the soul continues to create from its own wounded place in an ongoing effort to heal. Because of this, the reality is that most of us are born already with some degree of PTSD.  Sri Swami Chidananda states that “Each Samskara has inherent in it the capacity to once again recreate that very experience which originally caused it.” Our past life physical, emotional and mental bodies are not wiped clean in-between lives, but continue to recreate themselves in each incarnation through the subtle bodies. This transmission of past physical, emotional and mental wounds constitute a large part of what we are meant to heal in our present lives.
Beside the repetitive nature of trauma, the thoughts, feelings and attitudes we have formed, also dictate how our future is created from the present and past. It would seem that the circumstances of past lives are less important to the soul than the attitudes we have formed because of them. These are the imprints we carry, that are in need of change and healing. What is true for the individual is also true for the collective. Thus the adage, History repeats itself! In fact, look back at history and look at the present. Most of the recorded history of humanity has been one of dominance and war, violence, suppression and exploitation of the weak — you were either the victim or the perpetrator or both! Man’s inhumanity to man has known no bounds, especially in the last few thousand years. If we take reincarnation literally, then by just looking at history we know that each of us carries these imprints as unresolved traumas. It is a part of our collective and individual psychic inheritance that we are here to heal.

The Dynamics of Past Life Regression Therapy

The healing of samskaras and imprints is the aim of Past Life Therapy (PLT).

Our past life selves are not only characters in past dramas, but they also live within us today as sub-personalities. We feel their emotions; manifest their talents; think their thoughts; are limited by their fears and perpetuate their quandaries. We often act this out without consciously knowing we are doing so, simply because we are unaware they exist within us. The most problematic past lives for us today, are the ones that have unresolved trauma or ‘unfinished business.’  In PLT these problematic inner characters are brought to the forefront of consciousness and worked with to bring resolution and healing to their complexes, so that they cease to affect the current life.

Usually during a regression session one past life story is worked with. This is not always the case, because resonant stories with a similar theme may also arise in the course of one session, and almost certainly do in successive sessions. In past life work it seems that ‘clusters’ of similar past lives emerge from the soul’s history. They are connected by the same theme yet each may reflect a different facet or aspect. For example, a man may find himself a slave in a past life, where the theme or personal imprint is one of hopelessness. If we are exploring the personal theme of hopelessness, several past life stories may arise that carry different aspects of how this was imprinted. The circumstances may change through lifetimes in which hopelessness became a part of each life. In one life it may be because of slavery, in another life it may be because of feeling trapped in an arranged, loveless marriage where he feels like a slave; or in another instance he may be a hardworking farmer and sole provider of a large family or community and blight comes that kills the crops. In the slave scenario, he may die with the idea that ‘there’s no way out,’ and quite literally this may be true, in the marriage he may simply feel trapped and may commit suicide out of depression. The farmer may come to the end of that life feeling that “no matter what I do, the odds are against me, it’s hopeless.” All these different lives will be connected and recalled by an exploration of what is called the ‘core theme.’ These core themes are present in our current life and are noticed by examining recurring patterns of behavior. This is one way that karmic imprints and samskaras reveal themselves in our current lives.

A few simple questions will open the door to streams of past life imprints.. Just finish the sentence “ I always...” or “I never…”  One could answer “I always have to do it all alone” or “ I never have enough money”.  Sometimes we even make casual comments when describing our feelings that are loaded with past life imagery, such as, “I feel like a slave”, “My hands are tied”, “I’ve been stabbed in the back’, “There’s no way out”. These repetitive themes, that we take as actual truth and that shape our reality, are most likely core themes that past life characters are still unresolved with. They are changeable, but they are also so darn familiar, that one can’t even conceive that it might be possible.

Stage One: Inducing Past Life Memories

The first stage of PLT is the induction of the past life memory. This is the method used to recall the past life. Following is a brief outline of some of the methods;

Exploration of Current Life Themes – This is like doing a Google search by typing in keywords and pulling up relevant content. In PLT thoughts and emotions, at the center of any particular complex are uncovered and then used to follow backwards through time to find relevant present and past life formative experiences. This happens through an interview process with a client, when discussing issues or doing a review of different areas of their life such as the history of relationships, upbringing or work. This also serves to identify core themes together before starting regression work.

Dream Fragments and Imagery - Past life memories can arise within the dream state, often this imagery is fragmentary, but a particularly charged scene in a dream can be explored for past life content. An example of this could be a dream of being chased by wolves, exploration of this may lead to a literal past life where that happened or it may be a metaphoric image that leads to a different past life memory of being a child in the forest running from invaders.

Fear / Phobias – Present life fears, such as those that seem to not be connected with any current life cause. When these fears are explored they are often found to have their root in past life traumatic deaths. Fear of water or heights for example, is often caused by past life drowning or death by falling. 

Womb Regression – Going back to the womb can happen during regression either by direction or spontaneously. Sometimes during a session all of the work will happen in the womb but quite frequently while in this state of memory, past life content arises also. 

Spontaneous Memory or Imagery – People, places and charged events in one’s life can often ‘shake to the surface’ deeper associative past life memories. This can happen spontaneously, and the amount of detail recalled in such an event varies from person to person. Some people recall the whole past life, some only fragments of it. When a client comes to therapy with such memories, these can be explored in PLT to go deeper into the story.
Body/Somatic Memory – The mind is not located in the brain but permeates our entire being, including the body. The principle at play is that our current life bodies are recreated from a subtle energy body that is a part of the soul’s memory. ‘Cellular Memory’ is the term often used to describe subconscious body imprints. Thus a chronic neck pain may come from a past life hanging or beheading that has been traumatically imprinted and carried into the current life body. Exploration of current life somatic pains, repeated injuries to a part of the body, illnesses, deformities or even birth marks may reveal past life content.
Guided Imagery – This is a directive process that allows a past life memory to arise spontaneously, where a scene is set in the imagination intending to lead to a past life. This could be the suggestion of imagining crossing a bridge and coming into a past life scene, or walking down a hallway with many closed doors and choosing one, opening it and walking into a past life scene. There are myriad variations of the initial imagery used to get to the past life. This is the induction that most people think of when they think of past life work. It is most commonly used in hypnotherapy and used less frequently in the style of regression that I work with.
All of these methods and combinations of each are used in the cases in this book. No matter how the past life memory was accessed or who performed the regression, the stories still relate to the karmic axis within the birth chart.

Stage Two: Reliving the Past Life

Because we find imprints and samskaras at the heart of our core themes, the emotions and thoughts of the past life character must be explored in depth to reveal what is being carried from life to life. In the form of regression therapy that I teach and practice (Deep Memory Process) it is essential to relive the past life as fully as possible during the session. There are many reasons why this is a part of the therapy, but there are two main points to be made. First, trauma causes freezing and dissociation. Second, one needs to uncover the depth of the past life characters experience to actually heal it. Regarding the first point, reliving the past life helps in the ‘unfreezing process.’ In essence, unfreezing wakes up that soul fragment that may still be stuck or split off from the whole psyche. Reliving acts as a way to revive this ‘dead’ aspect of the soul. Recalling a past life story from the perspective of an observer, instead of being fully in the story suggests that a dissociated part of the psyche is having the memory. A dissociated memory is not an accurate account because, that part of the psyche split off as soon as things got difficult. In present life traumatic recall, people often report watching themselves from ‘above’ or ‘off to the side’ while the traumatic event is happening. The dissociated part of the psyche can remember the details through observation from the sidelines, but the memory will often not include the emotions, thoughts, and imprints that were present in the body, where the actual event was taking place, simply because that part was not present while the trauma was happening. The second point follows the first one closely. As a therapist in past life work, it is essential to know the inner life of the past life self to affect change and healing.

Stage Three: Death and the Afterlife

Every past life we have had ended in death. Each death is a decisive transition stage for the soul. In therapy, this is where the most crucial part of the healing begins—finishing the unfinished business. Since we know that consciousness survives death, it is possible to follow it in PLT through the death process into the afterlife. Deep Memory Process work in this area, is based loosely on the Tibetan Buddhist understanding of the Bardos. Throughout this book I use the terms Bardo, spirit world, and afterlife to mean the same thing. The Bardo is a transitional state; the term is most commonly used for the state after death and before reincarnation although in the Buddhist view all states of existence are Bardo states. The Bardo of dying is the transitional plane between life and death, when the elements of the body are breaking down. Traditionally a Lama or priest would read the Bardo Thotrol or Thodol (The Tibetan Book of the Dead) to the dying or recently deceased person. It tells them not to fear death, and explains to them the experiences they will have on the other side so that they can safely navigate through these planes. It warns that once awareness is no longer in a body it will continue to create a reality in the afterlife. The person is urged to turn from the living, to die with peace of mind and heart so that they do not go further into the lower Bardos, and attachments are not recreated and experienced as reality on the other side. 

The Tibetans describe the light that is perceived immediately after death, and say we must recognize this light as our own true “Buddha’ nature to merge with it. But they also warn there are other lights, one is the light of your own individuated mind. If you fail to see through the illusions and merge with the true light, you will journey further into the lower Bardos which eventually lead to rebirth. Many souls obviously do not achieve this recognition upon dying. They bathe temporarily in the light, or miss it altogether, and the weight of the unresolved issues causes them to wander confused, getting lost in the lower Bardos where ‘karmic gravity’ pulls them back into incarnation. Yes, that’s why we are all here! Some confusion as to what the afterlife of the soul is like exists today because of the information that is gathered from Near Death Experiences. Many NDE cases document going into a supernal light (although some do describe hellish states as well); meeting loved ones or higher beings, and then being directed or feeling pulled back into their body on the earth plane. Because this is not a full death experience, it is possibly, only this first stage of the Bardo that is temporarily encountered. This can lead to the misconception that we all go ‘to the light’ after death and remain there. With NDE, the death process and entry into the Bardos can be like visiting a place as opposed to moving there permanently. When you visit somewhere it can be fresh and exciting, you may think “Gee this would be a great place to live.” When you finally move to that place a different reality sets in. There may be difficulties and complications that arise that never experienced when just visiting there.

In working with many cases over the years it is apparent to me that it is only a part of the soul that remains in the lower Bardos. I think of these parts of the soul as ‘split-off psychological complexes’ frozen in time. This is the fragmenting effect that trauma has on the psyche. In Shamanic terms this is a soul fragment that is split off and stuck in a kind of tape loop, replaying its worries, fears, and unresolved complexes.  It is not the entire energy of the soul, but is an earthbound fragment. Thus, a dying thought of “ I can’t leave them” may play over and over immediately after death at such an increased rate that it fixes the attention of the newly departed soul on the earth plane, causing it to miss its opportunity to fully ascend to higher planes. Such a dying thought can take over the awareness of the departing consciousness, causing it to remain partially earthbound, obsessively focused on its single objective. Consciousness not anchored in physical matter creates reality faster than the speed of light. Songyol Rimpoche writes in the Tibetan Book of Living and Dying that once awareness or mind is free of the body at death, it vibrates hundreds of times faster. Thus thought manifests instantly in the Bardo, much like it does in our dream states. We create our reality in the afterlife instantaneously.

Buddhism and other traditions such as Hinduism teach that one of the main objectives of life is to be able to die well, thus to achieve eternal freedom from the earth plane or cycle of rebirth. Traditions that have a place for reincarnation in their beliefs all have similar teachings – it is of utmost importance to the evolutionary well being of the soul to die as consciously and untroubled as possible. They explain that the intensity and weight of unfinished desires, emotions, and thoughts in life slow and even retard the soul’s progress after death, like taking too much baggage with you on a long journey. Thus they teach that by limiting desires and purifying thoughts and emotions during life, the afterlife passage to higher planes will be easier to complete. It also is taught that meditation on or invocation of the divine or a divine being at the moment of death, as a continuation of a lifelong spiritual practice, will also result in clear passage through the Bardos. 
Unfortunately, uttering “Oh My God” at that last moment doesn’t seem to work!

Anyone who works in the style of PLT that follows the consciousness into the afterlife, will report that many do not perceive the light after death. They are still caught in their emotions and dying thoughts, they are still looking for their loved ones, or they are still angry at the ones who killed them. There are so many variations of the kinds of imprints held at death. That is why in PLT, the state of mind and emotions at death are most important to capture and bring to consciousness because these lead to the lost parts of the soul. A main principle of the Bardos is that recognition and liberation are instantaneous. In other words, we only need to see beyond the illusion to be liberated from it. This is useful to know when working with past life characters that are stuck after death. Often the work that happens in the Bardo involves getting the soul to give up its obsessive thoughts and leave its complexes behind. You will see in the case studies the different kinds of resolution that happen in these Bardo states. They can include the healing of physical traumas carried in the subtle body, reunion with lost loved ones, dialogue with perpetrators, seeking forgiveness from those one has hurt; the finishing of unfinished desires/impulses, or just having a good old catharsis. The reworking of all these imprints in the Bardo, allows this part of the soul to complete its unfinished business and more fully ascend to higher planes. 

Stage Four: Overview, Integration and Review 

Once resolution happens in the lower Bardos, it is as if the consciousness becomes lighter. It is possible then to ascend to the higher Bardos and this often happens spontaneously. These realms are more like the natural domain of spirit that is unfettered by earthly existence. This is the original light the Tibetans describe that consists of unconditional love and grace. Wise beings and images of the divine are often met here. It is a place of clear, pure supernal light where overview of the past life happens; inspired connections to current life people and places are made, or whole patterns of past lives and the reason for them are revealed, often spontaneously and without direction. It is the place of higher view. Communication here is often direct and intuitive without words. Questions are answered by higher beings concerning the meaning and lessons of the life that was just re-experienced. Often new current life directions and potentials are pointed out. The soul fragment that is resurrected and brought to this plane is often overjoyed to finally come to this place of peace.
After bringing the client fully back into present day consciousness, we work together to recap how this experience fits into the current life context. Often further insight happens this way, but in the following hours and days after a session, clients often report that the insights occur like dominos falling into one another, as they go about their day to day business. After time, the changes that have occurred as a result of the session also become more noticeable, so in some of the cases in this book, the afterthoughts of clients are included.

The stages that occur in regression illuminate much about the psychology of the soul. Even though a lifetime may be in the distant past, it can be very present in the current life psyche. These circumstances from the past shape who we are today. The past and the future are tied together by the present, and the choices we make now affect both. Self knowledge of where we have been, and resolution of any limitations from the past allows us greater freedom in the present and subsequently the future.