This post is so long, it should be a short book. In fact, it is, and you can get it here. But for those of you who prefer blog post formats, here’s a long (and interesting, in my opinion) exploration of the subject of past life regression. This is a field that personally fascinates me, and which I explore as part of my therapeutic work with clients. I hope reading this treatise will give you a good overview of the different components of this fascinating subject. 

The Boy Who Flew

When James Linegar was two years old, he was obsessed with airplanes.

He would point to pictures of airplanes and identify them: “That’s a corsair!” He knew things about fighter planes that his parents didn’t know: what a drop tank was, or that corsairs were prone to flat tires.

He was a happy and precocious toddler. Yet almost every night he would have recurring nightmares about being in an airplane that was “crashing and burning.” The same vision would repeat itself, several times a week, for months.

At the advice of a psychologist, his parents asked him to describe his nightmares. He told them that he would take off from an aircraft carrier, called the Natoma. He told them that his name was James, and that his friend was named Jack Larson. And he was able to point out a picture of Iwo Jima, and tell his parents that it was over that island that he’d been shot down by the Japanese.

As soon as he started exploring his dreams and relating them to his parents, the frequency of the nightmares was significantly reduced. At the same time, his parents continued to research the topic, and discovered that there was indeed one James M. Huston Jr., a fighter pilot for the US Navy during World War II, who had been shot down on March 3rd, 1945.

Four year old James used to love drawing pictures of airplanes, and he used to sign them with the words “James 3”. He explained to his parents that he was “the third James”, which his parents understood to mean that he was the incarnation of James M. Huston.

James’ parents were straightforward, non-superstitious people. Yet after experiencing James’ unusual story, and after being faced with the amount of information that James should not have normally known about, they concluded that the only way to explain it was through reincarnation.

This particular story was told in a segment of ABC primetime, but there are many more anecdotal stories like it. The question is, do these stories prove the existence of a soul? Are they glimpses into previous lifetimes that we are somehow able experience?

In the coming chapters we will explore several different explanations for this phenomena, the ways in which regular people can experience it, and most importantly, the benefits that can be gained from doing so.

What is Past Life Regression?

Past life regression is the experience of visualizing oneself in situations that seem to be from different lifetimes and ages.

The process of regressing – of moving back in time in your mind – is usually initiated by relaxing into a meditative, trancelike state, and then allowing specific visions to arise without being prompted. Regression itself is a straightforward psychological concept, which simply means to experience oneself at a younger age. In conventional therapy, a client may experience a traumatic childhood memory in a very vivid way, and they can be said to be “regressing” to that memory.

Regression becomes more controversial – and fascinating – when it seems to take you back to memories from a different age. Instead of experiencing a memory of your parents forgetting to pick you up from school, you experience yourself as a terrified caveman trying to hunt a gigantic wooly mammoth.

Whether this experience is actually a person’s ability to peer back into an earlier incarnation of his soul, or a psychological experience that does not rely on metaphysical belief, will be explored later on. I will use the term “past-life regression” regardless of whether these experiences actually represent encounters with a previous lifetime or just an imaginary vision, because they always subjectively feel like an experience from a different lifetime.

One thing is clear: it is very much possible for almost any person to experience these memories, and the process of doing so is remarkably simple. It involves relaxing your body with the help of a facilitator, who serves as a guide to accessing a more intuitive, visual part of your mind. We’ll explore the details of these experiences in the next chapter.