What happens during a past life regression workshop? Our writer braves a group session to find out.
TO start with, the logical mind is primed for past life experiences. Past life regression (PLR) therapist Selina Chew explains to our group that there are several ways in which people can “access” their past lives. It can happen spontaneously through vivid dreams or a sense of deja vu at certain places. Or one can undertake breathing exercises, psychic readings by mediums, intensive meditation, and, finally, hypnosis.
Chew uses hypnosis for her PLR therapy, and reassures us that it’s not about some magician with a handlebar moustache swinging a pendulum.
Kevin Tan, 20 (left), and Ng Kong Joo, 27, trying the ‘moving the paper clip’ exercise. – VICTOR K.K. NG / The Star
“That’s just Hollywood hypnosis,” Chew smiles. “Hypnosis is merely an altered state of mind, when we tune out other things.
“It can occur naturally when we daydream, when deeply engrossed in an exciting novel or when driving on (a monotonously straight) highway. Advertising is also a mild form of hypnosis, as branding is imprinted in the subconscious.”
Chew explains that we are using our conscious mind when we think, analyse, and criticise, “whereas the subconscious mind is where emotions and intuition come from”.
Far from being sinister, the American Medical Association has accepted hypnosis as a medical tool since 1958, she says. Nowadays, it is used to help people quit smoking, increase confidence, and to train top athletes.
“Hypnosis is not mind control. All hypnosis is ultimately self-hypnosis, and a therapist only acts as a guide to relax and focus the person,” she emphasises.
Before getting into hypnosis, our motley group – businessmen, salesmen, an engineer, a pilot, a yoga teacher and one sceptical journalist – do warm up exercises to “integrate” our left (analytical) and right (creative) brains.
We are asked to close our eyes and use our senses to visualise three specified items and, later, to draw pictures of those items and describe what we saw, smelt, tasted, touched, heard, and felt.
Next, we are asked to hold a piece of thread with a paper clip suspended from its end.
“Okay, I want you to move it in a left-right direction, without moving your hands. Use only your mind power,” she instructs.
No way, I think, is this some ESP thing? To my amazement, my clip starts moving left and right....
Thus suitably piqued, it’s time to regress – to our childhoods. We sit or lay down on the floor, lights are dimmed, and we are asked to imagine a pleasant early childhood experience. Easy enough. Then comes the crunch. With a soothing voice, we are asked to imagine descending a long flight of stairs and then opening the “door of our birth” and going beyond that into our previous lives.
When it’s time to get “back” and share our experiences, I can only say I had some blurry, dreamy sort of images. Then again, Chew had warned us beforehand that people who are “too analytical” would find it hard to “let go”. Okay, so that’s a problem right there for this journalist.
Two or three other people say they had seen more vivid images but they lacked that “I know it!” feeling that it really was their past selves. A woman who had earlier said she has momentous dreams (including of winning 4-Digit lottery numbers!) believes that she “glimpsed” herself getting killed. The yoga teacher “saw” her past life as a sumo wrestler with a demanding ring manager – who is her boss in her current life!
Chew clarifies that it’s more difficult to “see” past lives in a group session and recommends one-to-one therapy, where she can give more personalised guidance.