Past lives:' I died in Dachau in a previous life'
Have you ever met a stranger and thought "I feel I know this person already"? Maybe you have. . . in another life that is.
Millions of people around the world believe in reincarnation. And they also believe the way we lived, loved and died in past lives affects who we are today.
Past-life regression therapist Kathy Gibbons certainly believes that the traumas from past lives sometimes need to be healed in this one. At one point in her life she had dreadful nightmares. And she understood their cause when she tried past-life therapy herself. What she believes she discovered was that in her most recent past life she died in a concentration camp.
“I was a young Jewish women who ended up being killed in Dachau” she says, adding that her two children, a boy and a girl, were taken from her. One poignant memory from that past life was lying in a bunk and clutching her child's shoe as though it was her “greatest treasure”.
During past-life regression, Kathy felt that she had been forced to be a camp prostitute at Dachau, but this seemed unlikely. However, years later when she did some research she discovered that “Dachau was a place that had a lot of political prisoners and had its own brothel”.
She feels sure that none of this is fantasy. “Past-life memories can be very detailed” she explains. She says that, on very rare occasions, her clients relate stories that are not based on past-life memory, but if this happens the story is relevant for them. She adds “I can detect when this is happening because there is a distance”. But when a client is engaging with a “real” past life they are often surprised by the depth of their emotions. This is because “they are reliving feelings both physically and emotionally. They are like memories from one's present life”.
Kathy has even found that past-life regression can heal mysterious phobias. For example, she believes an inexplicable fear of water can often be caused by a past-life “drowning”. And people who can't get rid of a strange “tension in the throat” have often been hung or had their head cut off or had some other unpleasant throat related demise. These problems often disappear once the person has been brought back to a previous life and gets a chance to heal traumatic experiences.
“It is not the death that causes the trauma it is the thoughts and the fears in the moment of death” she explains.
But what is the point of travelling back in time, especially since the “memories” are sometimes so painful?
“The big benefit for me and a lot of my clients is you can understand why things are the way they are in your current life” Kathy comments.
She reveals that in her own case she came to understand that her nightmares related to her past- life death in Dachau, and that it also explained various behavioural patterns. For example, she believes that her feelings of claustrophobia in confined places were caused by being buried alive in a mass grave in that past life, “gassed but not quite dead”.
And certain tensions in a current life friendship were explained by discovering that he was the reincarnation of a “friend” who had betrayed her and her family to the Nazis.
It's just as well that past-life regression emphasises the importance of forgiveness. But how does Kathy assist others to access past-life information? She says she helps her clients “to enter a light hypnotic trance” and then uses special techniques that trigger past-life memories. For example she will often start by asking them to look at their feet and describe what they are wearing. . . what they are standing on and what are the sights, sounds and smells around them.
Last year she did a past-life regression for Seoige and O'Shea on RTE 1, And this summer she helped people travel back to ancient France for a Channel 4 programme that will be broadcast this December. It's part of a series provisionally called The Unexplained (the title may change), and is hosted by Tony Robinson of Time Team fame.
Kathy says that Tony once had a past-life regression that “affected him profoundly”. So he wasn't scoffing at the idea that past lives might uncover fascinating details about the Cathars.
They were an ancient Christian sect who rejected the “flesh” and materialism. Their beliefs were considered heretical by the Catholic Church and some of them were burned en masse in their Montsegur fortress when they refused to renounce their faith.
When people who believed they had been Cathars revisited this site for the programme “many of them found the experience very upsetting” Kathy says. During one regression a woman vividly recalled being a Cathar herbalist who had prepared a hallucinogenic concoction that helped the head Cathars, or Perfects, march into the fire. Historical records imply that many had done this voluntarily, which is one of the things that makes their story so fascinating. . . Another person Kathy regressed echoed this statement by saying he had been a Perfect and that they had found a way of preparing themselves for their deaths
The existence of past lives is hard to prove scientifically but reincarnation is now a subject of serious academic research. America's leading past-life regression expert is Dr Brian Weiss, who trained as a psychiatrist. He is also a bestselling author on the subject and says “For me it's a daily experience. I'm watching people heal from physical, psychological and emotional illness. They often become very psychic. They lose their fear of death, their grief at the death of loved ones, because they finally see they are immortal”.
As for soul mates, Dr Weiss says “We have many soul mates, because we're all connected” and soul-mate connections do not need to be romantic. For example our love in this life could be our child in the next. Kathy recently had a client who wanted to investigate a great love who had died.
“He felt she must have been a great love of his in many lifetimes” she says “But in the past life she was his daughter.”
Of course, many people do not believe in past lives and feel that the “memories” Kathy speaks of are imagined. But even cynics will probably admit that her work is very intriguing. Some past- life therapists have even had clients who suddenly started speaking a foreign language they've never studied. So far this hasn't happened to Kathy, but she is frequently amazed by the historical details her clients share with her.
“I had a client who came from North Wall in Dublin. He had a past life in France.” she recalls. “He was coming out with names and correct pronunciations of names in French and a lot of description of the period and the army.”
Kathy has also found that many young children recall past lives without any assistance and speak quite openly about them. She did this herself and says “when I was about three I remember telling stories about when I was a big woman. I told them in great detail.” One child she met “was able to speak of the town where he had lived. He had memories of his wife and children.” She advised his parents to write these past life memories down because they fade as children get older.
But why do we reincarnate?
“The only reason to reincarnate is to have a learning experience in the physical realm that you can't have in spirit form,” Kathy believes. And because we have free will our choices “determine how much of our life lessons we are going to learn”. She believes her work helps people to forgive themselves and others and that this forgiveness helps them to love themselves and others more.
Before she trained with the UK based Past Life Regression Academy Kathy was a successful business woman who worked in retail design.
Born and brought up in Clones, Co Monaghan, she describes herself as “very grounded”. For the moment she is based in Burgundy in France and regularly sees clients in Paris. One person even flew from Japan for an appointment.
She frequently travels to Dublin to see clients here and she is also doing a degree in psychology with the Open University.
And though she finds past lives fascinating, she emphasises that the life she is in right now is the one that is the most important.
You can contact Kathy on email@example.com or via www.holisto.com