Embracing Your Past Life Self
One of the most common fears that I encounter in my work doing past life regression is the idea that by uncovering past life memories, one will discover that they were a “terrible person” in a previous incarnation. The concept that you might not like yourself or the things that you might have done in a past life can indeed become a real hindrance to fully opening up to this process. Often, people are afraid that they will find out about some evil past deed which having done will somehow make them a “horrible human being”. In order to address this issue, I think that first we must examine the purpose that knowing our past lives might play in our current life.
So great, what is reincarnation for then? If we do come back again and again to live different lifetimes in different bodies, what is our reason for doing that? Is it a somehow random occurrence, in which we find the first available womb to jump back into after we depart our bodies at death? The answer to that question is a resounding no. There is a pattern and a design to which specific lives and circumstances we choose. My experience doing this work both with myself and also my clients over the years has led me to believe that there is a plan or a “big picture” for our lifetimes, and that we seek to reincarnate in order to create the situations that will give us the best learning opportunities. Simply put, I believe that we reincarnate here on planet earth in order to learn and grow.
Based on this belief, one can then compare this world that we live in to a large, very elaborate and highly complex school for personal and spiritual growth. Each and every individual and circumstance that we encounter over the course of a lifetime is a chance for a lesson, and we seem to be graded on a pass-fail basis. This does not mean that we ever “fail” at life, it simply means that the choices we make on a daily basis are either correct (loving and compassionate) or not. And if we don’t make the best choices, they will be presented to us once more in a different incarnation over and over until we do.
Other people that we encounter, and the every day situations that we find ourselves in are how these choices are cleverly presented to us by the universe or whatever you would like to call the force that organizes all of life on earth. These people and situations is how we deal with a concept called “karma”. This term is one that we often hear being thrown around at yoga class and we often see it in the New Age section at the bookstore, but I believe that most of us don’t really know or understand exactly what it means or how it actually works. To make it even more confusing, sometimes this term is used with the words “bad” and “good” placed directly in front of it. For many, this implies that doing something kind or generous will give us “good karma”, which will earn us a reward in the next life for being such a wonderful person. On the other hand, “bad karma” is something that we fear, and there is an underlying threat of punishment for our “bad” behavior, in this life or the next.
But this isn’t exactly true, or at least it isn’t the whole story. Translated from Sanskrit, karma literally means “action”. This literal translation makes karma somewhat different from the common conception of it being something that you “get” in either a good or bad way. Karma is a deed, or an action. To me, this term also implies “to act”. By this definition then, karma can also be a verb, meaning to do something, to be active, or to take action. And so, karma is not only what we do, but is also the act of doing it.
Naturally, there is good, or right action as well as bad, or wrong action. What makes an action right or wrong? To me, it is by how loving, compassionate and kind this action is. Our every action has an impact (I also believe that words and thoughts have a similar power), and can work to either help or harm others or ourselves. I know what you’re thinking, each and every single action, word and thought is way too much to think about. Don’t worry, we’re in school, remember? We are learning to be more loving beings and what is important is that we are dedicated to giving it our best effort.
We are presented with the option to make loving choices or not nearly every minute of every day. Most of us are so absorbed in our daily routines that we hardly notice these situations as they appear, sometimes in the form of the breathless, harried individual making a mad dash to the elevator giving you a pleading look as you stand inside. Although it is truly difficult to know whether or not holding the door for them is going to benefit them (they might need to miss that particular elevator ride so they can experience an important encounter on the next one), being kind, caring and polite whenever you can is definitely more loving than being rude, selfish, callous, and unkind.
The term “action” from our karma definition to me also implies a “reaction”. It is equally important how we respond to the actions of others. If someone blatantly steals the taxi you were about to get into out of the pouring rain, you then have a choice. You can shake your fist at them, pepper them with all kinds of colorful curses and kick the soaking wet curb to show your indignation. Or, you can take a deep breath, shake your head at how incredibly rude that person was, and then proceed to hail another. You would have to find another taxi or an alternate means of transportation anyway, unless you wanted to spend the entire day standing on the street corner in the rain. But, you can choose to do it without raising your blood pressure and ruining your whole day by getting angry. You might never know if your kinder choice made a difference in the other person’s life, but you will quickly become aware of the fact that it does in yours.
This action and reaction stuff sounds simple and easy, but we all know that it is extremely difficult to practice. And, you needn’t be a math genius to figure that the greater the number of people and situations that you encounter in a single day, the greater the number of these choices. This fact is precisely why I believe that big city living is substantially more spiritually challenging than living a more rural existence. Those of us who live in urban areas are inundated with encounters with our fellow human beings everywhere we go, and we cannot make choices for them. We can only choose for ourselves.
So, that all said, we need to brace ourselves somewhat for what kind of mistakes we might have made in our past lives. Most of us have studied enough history to know that there have been some pretty awful things that people have done to one another over the course of human existence. Murder, torture, rape, enslavement and even genocide are just a few examples of the horrific side of our history. These same things unfortunately still happen today.
And so, uncovering memories from your past lives can help you discover the role that you, yourself have played in all of the history of humanity. Expect some dark spots, we are evolving not only as individuals but also as a collective humanity, learning as we go. And, it is important to remember that before we can be completely compassionate and enlightened beings who only make loving choices, we must first deal with our issues of power, greed, lust and anger. Understanding that these darker issues are an integral part of the human experience can change how we approach the process of uncovering our past lives. Even the most enlightened of us still struggle with these issues and more in some form or another. And, no one is “done” reincarnating because they got it all and learned all of the lessons, otherwise they wouldn’t be here in the trenches with the rest of us!
I have myself made some terrible choices in my past lives. Remembering myself as someone who has taken another human life (please don’t judge me for the mistakes that I made in the Stone Age) was overwhelming to say the least. But, in my current incarnation I am a person who has an incredible amount of respect for life in all its’ forms. I am a loving mother and friend, a tree hugger, an insect rescuer, and am devoted to causes that work to diminish suffering wherever it is found. To me, it is certainly good news that I have managed to evolve from being a murderer into a significantly more loving person over the course of many lifetimes (but I am admittedly somewhat of a slow learner). And great, now I can focus on the myriad of other issues that I am still struggling with.
So, why do we need to know all of this? If we have all done terrible things in our past lives, what would be the point of bringing all of that up? Isn’t it better left alone, and let the past stay in the past? Perhaps, except that the point of all of this is to learn and evolve. The better we can understand where we have been, the more we can learn from our past mistakes in hopes of not repeating them. When we find the courage to confront the darkest parts of our past, we can work on evolving consciously and thoughtfully into more loving and enlightened beings.
As we uncover our past life stories, we can begin to know who we are on a deeper level. Which includes those dark inner parts that only we know even exist, and mistakes we have made in our past. By embracing our past life selves and accepting them as a more youthful and inexperienced version of who we have become today, we are also learning to become more compassionate and loving to ourselves. Surely, you wouldn’t judge yourself for not knowing Algebra in Kindergarten, right?
And, looking back makes it nice to see just how far you’ve come.