The disappointments and failure of some clients motivated me to draft comprehensive guidelines for the users of hypnosis and past life regression. Some of the clients wrote to me that ‘Mr. Hypnotist’ could not hypnotize me, he/she does not know ABC of hypnosis, he/she tried hypnosis on me and I was not in his/her control even for a moment, I was aware of the surroundings in which I was put to trance, I did not feel anything extra-ordinary, I am disappointed, I did not feel relaxed, I did not like the methods of a hypnotist and the list continues.
A hypnotherapist could not hypnotize me: I remember an instance from the great work of Dr. Milton Erickson. A client presented to him with a complaint that he had been to a hypnotherapist and he could not hypnotize him. The Genius Erickson simply asked that person to take a comfortable seat as he took during that hypnotic attempt and narrate the whole procedure. The person while describing the procedure in detail passed into hypnotic trance without any added instructions by Dr. Erickson. At times, I also demonstrate hypnotic re-induction through this approach which I termed as “Hypnosis Re-induction by Description”. It is quite easy to blame and attribute failures to a therapist, but I would like to put things in scientific perspective and careful investigation of failures and attributions so that blame can be placed where it rightly belongs.
I have been encouraging clients to read this guide prior to exposing oneself to hypnosis and past life regression. This guide can help some users to clarify their own misconceptions and expectations from hypnosis and past life regression. Still there may be some users who are unable to introspect themselves for possible myths and continue to have sub-optimal experience.
Detection of Misconceptions: For me, a misconception is a conception not backed by theories. I observed that misconceptions play little role in the tests of suggestibility. If a person is positive on tests of suggestibility but fails to get into hypnotic trance then it is a clear case of some apprehensions, specific expectations and misconceptions. I then search the cognitive database of the subject for mistaken concepts and expectations and deal with it. The correction of the concepts then leads to smooth and effective hypnotherapeutic work. For example, a subject on day one told me that he had been to a leading hypnotherapist but he could not hypnotize him. Then I explored his expectations, he revealed that he should have felt a sense of relaxation, a sort of bliss feeling as he used to get in meditation previously. I explained that relaxation and lethargy do occur in hypnotic trance, but there are instances when a subject instead of relaxed becomes more tense and keep on moving limbs during hypnotic trance. Relaxation is not the defining and integral aspect of hypnosis. I told that “your expectation of bliss like feeling is unwarranted because no theory of hypnosis says that bliss like feeling is an essential part of hypnotic experience. In fact, these expectations were acting as deterrent and barrier in your trance experience because a part of your mind remained active and in comparison mode while instructions for hypnotic inductions were given to you. Your mind does not loosen up and keep you alert. Just release your mind for a pure hypnotic experience without any prejudice and preconceived notion”. This clarification resulted in a fairly good hypnotic trance experience.
Excessive Eagerness: I have found that excessive eagerness for hypnotic induction and past life regression is a barrier in trance work. In majority of the cases, it results into a failure experience. The extreme enthusiasm drains away within a few minutes. I feel that this over enthusiasm usually is the result of one or the other mistaken expectation of something extra-ordinary or great experience and when a person is administered instructions for hypnotic induction, he/she keep on looking for those great experiences and when he/she finds none, gets frustrated and feel ashamed. I now recommend that you should present for the trance work in a casual way without much eagerness.
Special Powers of Hypnotists: ‘Mr. Hypnotist’ could not hypnotize me, is one of the common complaint and blame put on a therapist by the clients. This attribution is based on mistaken theory that a person enters a hypnotic trance because of the power of the hypnotist. I explain to my clients that if we record an audio program for hypnotic induction and play it in a group of 100 persons what would be the response? This program would result in following sub-groups (a) no hypnotic induction in some persons (b) mild hypnotic induction in some persons (c) medium hypnotic induction in some persons (d) deep hypnotic induction in remaining persons. I ask you to analyze the situation. The source of instructions was one, but there were varied responses. If it was the power of the source then all 100 persons should have behaved in exactly the same manner. Secondly, the source was not a hypnotist; it was simply an MP3 script which one can get recorded even by a layperson who does not know the nature of hypnosis. So the correct concept is that it is not the power of the hypnotist but your own hypnotizability which is responsible for hypnotic experience. In case of failure, simply examine your concepts, expectations, physical condition for any pain or suffering and the environment in which hypnotic induction was conducted.
Issue of Clients Guide: At face value it may appear that this clients’ guide may inhibit the therapy process. But I view this guide as a facilitator because a right knowledge on the part of the client can go a long way in the process and save lots of my efforts. If knowledge of the process is a barrier, then the therapists should not be able to experience hypnosis and past life regression. On the contrary, the therapists are excellent candidates for hypnosis and past life regression. Their correct knowledge facilitates the entire process.
As a rule, a client should rely on his/her therapist and should not interfere in the procedures adopted by him/her for trance induction and regression. If you are doing so, it would be akin to telling a doctor to prescribe the medicines dictated by the patient.
Hypnotizability Index: I consider hypnotizability index as the crucial aspect in the total process. Comprehensive tests have been developed by hypnotherapists for assessing hypnotic potentials of a person. But in clinical practice, I follow simple and to the point tests of suggestibility like pencil drop; book & balloon, mantra, visualization and so on. For suggestibility testing, I conduct at least two tests of suggestibility. A client is required to remain relaxed and comfortable during the tests. A test usually last for about one minute and can rapidly be performed. At the end of the test, I may ask the client for introspection report as how he/she felt and experienced. On the basis of the tests of suggestibility, a client can roughly be classified into three types (a) analytical (b) medium suggestible (c) high suggestible. This classification is not permanent; it can vary across sessions and therapists. An analytical subject in a session or with a therapist may turn up into a good subject in another session or other therapist. Variation in the expression of suggestibility is the rule rather than the exception.
Duality of Awareness: I am often told by the clients that they were aware of the surroundings hence they were not hypnotized. A client with such concepts expects a total loss of awareness of the surroundings, a cut off; as seen in unconsciousness/coma produced by anesthesia and head injury. I simply ask such clients that if he/she becomes unconscious, then how would he/she listen to my questions related to past life and how would he/she respond when totally switched off from the environment which includes me. Total switch off from the surrounding environment is not the characteristic feature of the hypnotic trance; instead its opposite is true. There has to and must remain a partial awareness of the environment. I say that there is instead a ‘duality of awareness’ that means a person remains aware of the present reality as well as the hypnotic reality. One may conceptualize it as a state in which body is asleep but mind is awake.
The next question comes, if one remains aware of the surroundings, then how can one say that a person is hypnotized. My response is that each state of awareness has its own unique features which differentiate it from other states of awareness. A person in hypnotic trance exhibits certain characteristic features which helps me in differentiating trance awareness from other kind of awareness. There are standardized tests of trance and Arons Master Depth Rule is one of them which I routinely apply for trance testing. It is a set of clinical tests which tests for levitation, rigidity, catalepsy, amnesia and hallucinations. If even a single feature of the test is present, it indicates a departure of waking awareness towards the hypnotic awareness. The more tests are passed the deeper is the hypnotic trance.
Hypnosis vs. Sleep: Hypnosis is not a state of sleep. The dictionary says that hypnosis is an altered state of awareness which resembles sleep but it is not actual sleep. In actual sleep, a person cannot communicate with a hypnotherapist, if communication occurs the sleep would get terminated and a person would get awakened. In hypnotic trance extended communications and interactions can be done without breaks in the trance.
Fail to Exit: I have seen people expressing fear for hypnotic induction by saying that if one gets stuck and not able to come out of hypnotic trance, then what would happen. Nothing would happen. Hypnotic trance is a psycho-physiological state attained by suggestions and specialized non-chemical and non-biological procedures. A person is not transported physically to any other place in hypnosis. Because of duality of awareness, a part of the awareness remains active during the trance. When termination instructions are given, a person would return back to the waking awareness within a few minutes. I had asked this question of failing to exit to my teacher Prof. Haripad Mishra of NIMHANS, Bangalore. His response was quite cool, that if a person is left in the hypnotic trance and no termination instructions are given, then such a person would either pass into natural sleep and would wake up after having the sleep or would return back to normal waking awareness directly within a short period of time. To correct this fear, I ask a simple question to my clients, tell me how many patients, he/she knows are occupying hospital beds because they are still stuck into a state of hypnosis? Answer is none. So no one can remain stuck into hypnotic trance.
Being Hypnotized is not an Indication of Weak Mind: A mentally challenged person, a brain damaged individual or a person with chronic schizophrenia may be considered as the person of weak mind because they demonstrate deficient neuro-cognitive functions. Such persons are difficult if not impossible to hypnotize and may not get any benefits out of direct trance work. A person with average or above average mind is a good candidate for hypnosis and trance work.
Hypnotherapy is not a Cure for All Diseases: People are approaching me with an expectation to get cure for incurable ailments and disabilities. It certainly does not work in each and every illness and disability.
Deep Hypnotic Trance is not Necessary for Therapeutic Effects: The deepest level of trance is required for surgical procedures where the goal is to induce anesthesia. Psychotherapeutic work can be done in lighter state of hypnosis. When a person passes into deeper level of hypnotic trance, I am required to lighten the trance depth so that I can communicate effectively with such a person in trance.
Nature of Hypnotic Trance: Hypnosis and trance phenomena are quite natural. A hypnotic trance may be reflected in absorption, focal concentration, enhanced suggestibility, altered awareness, and reduced awareness of periphery. A sense of relaxation, sleepiness, sense of being control by the hypnotist, getting lost in oneself are not the defining features of a hypnotic trance. If you are seeking these or similar trance experience then you should correct your concepts prior to exposing yourself to the hypnosis based treatment because you would not get these feelings and conclude that the hypnotist could not hypnotize you or you were not in the control of a hypnotist even for a single moment and remained fully aware of the surroundings, hence not hypnotized. Discuss these and similar concepts freely with your therapist before undergoing trance based healing. You are also partly responsible for having mistaken concepts; hence you should actively participate in corrective process in your own best interest because if therapy is continued with myths it may act as a barrier leading to the sub-optimal utilization of the healing opportunities. You need to have a correct and scientific understanding of the concepts and the procedures.
Recommendations for Analytical Persons: If you find yourself in an analytical mode, then you should remember that this designation is not of permanent nature. The suggestibility component may appear and manifest itself later on. For shifting towards suggestible, my recommendations are (1) procure a self-hypnosis audio and listen to it for a few weeks (2) be more open, co-operative and collaborative with your therapist so that your mind comes to trust the process (3) try to explore if you are harboring any myth towards hypnosis and get it clarified (4) freely discuss about your understanding, concepts and expectations from hypnosis with your therapist (5) try to cultivate “samarpanbhav” to your therapist (6) try to refrain from applying your logic and analysis during the process of hypnosis as it can be done later on after hypnotic experience. This is also necessary because you are not seeking hypnosis and past life regression services for your active analysis and comparisons during the hypnotic trance. The context of hypnotic trance and regression narrows down your concentration and active critical faculties, hence you may not be able to analyze the situations completely at that point of time. So try to experience the session and describe your trance experiences in their pure form without applying much logic to them (7) try to get absorbed in your feelings, sensations and visualizations during hypnotic trance keeping your evaluations and judgment aside (8) take a break for a few weeks and present again for trance work. Remember that analytical mindset may be inhibitory to the process of past life regression and you should not expect a deeper level of hypnotic trance.
Therapeutic Relationship: You should quickly develop a rapport with the therapist, because it is the rapport which makes it possible to open yourself more and more during trance work. A relationship of trust and mutual understanding can do wonders in the world of healing. Always remember that your therapist is a human being whose services are being sought because of his understanding, training and experience. He is there to assist you in solving your problems. You do not have to be afraid of him and engage in any power game.
Presenting Problems: You should disclose each major problems to your therapist to enable him/her to develop an effective plan for healing. It may be possible that a therapist forgot or could not attend to a problem area which you think as important; in such events, you should tell about the problem to the therapist by your own. The therapist may continue to use already developed healing plan or revise his/her plan in response to the additional problems and details revealed by you.
Assessment: A brief or comprehensive assessment of your conditions and environment may be conducted before proceeding to hypnotherapy work. You need to co-operate in the process and should not hurriedly jump and request for the regression session. An adequate assessment is in your own interest because it would give a clear idea to the therapist what model of hypnotherapy should be used in your case. The assessment may cover details like your biographical information, presenting problems and issues, development and evolution of your problems, significant major events in your life, your suggestibility index, your dreams, your family, your expectations and so on.
Methods of Hypnotic Induction: Every therapist has his/her own preferred method of hypnotic induction. There are hundreds of methods being used by hypnotists to induce hypnotic trance. These include: eye gaze methods, relaxation based methods, confusion methods, levitation methods and many others. Method is not important as the therapist can develop innovative methods for you on the fly to address your unique needs and combine several methods to induce hypnotic trance in you. You need to remain in a co-operative mode for your own good to have successful trance and regression experience.
I am reminded of an instance where a lady presented to a hypnotist for hypnosis. She was having a specific expectation of the method of hypnosis. She was not passing into hypnotic trance. When hypnotic induction suggestions were being given to her, she asked her hypnotherapists that at what point of time he would take out his watch for hypnotizing her. Such is the effect of specific expectations. The specific expectations may be more a barrier than a facilitator.
Session Duration: A session of past life regression may last from one hour to three hours. You may take more time in attaining hypnotic trance or you may get lots of ideas to experience and explore during the regression which may lengthen the process. So do not present yourself for hypnosis and past life regression in hurry. Keep a full day or evening aside for regression experience. A regression session may be scheduled once a week. It is a misconception that all the ailments would get relieved by a single session of past life regression. If you read Many Lives, Many Masters by Dr. Brian Weiss, you can appreciate how many sessions it took to Catherine for getting healed. Do not expect to jump to regression work in the first meeting itself. The first consultation may be set aside for assessment and subsequent sessions can be devoted to the regression work.
Mode of Revelations in Regression: Wide variations are observed in regression experiences across individuals. The possible modes are – full visualizations like a movie; partial visualizations like a slide show; fragments and partial glimpses of past life, feelings as if the experiences are being imagined actively; not sure whether it was a true regression or simply a creation of imagination, comparisons of revelations with one’s known and past experiences; an experience of simple ideas with or without any visual images; altered feelings; just sensing. All these forms are normal and natural. You don’t have to trouble your mind with any of these experiences to justify or negate regression experiences.
Every person has one or more dominant sense modalities. Usually, visualization is the dominant modality in which regression experience is released but there are instances when a person is more or less fail to have a visualization experience. A demand from oneself to have visual experiences is unwarranted. Such persons instead should get their dominant sense modality identified and attend to the release of the regression experience in that modality.
Excessive Emotional Discharges: There are some subjects who become deeply engrossed in their regression experience and become too emotional manifested by weeping, crying, shouting, excessive actions. Theoretically, all these discharges are therapeutic. I may want to interrupt such discharges because of severity. You need to allow me to do so because these emotions can be released in divided and small doses over sessions. For screening of the potentials for emotional discharges, I explore the dream behavior of a client. If a client screams, moves or shouts during frightening dreams, then it is quite likely that such a person would show such reactions which are called as abreaction during the trance experience. Also, highly hypnotizable persons have greater potentials for abreaction.
Side Effects: There may be some minor and temporary side effects of hypnosis and past life regression. Feelings of anxiety, fear, sadness, irritability, guilt feelings and pain may appear after a session. If these feelings are within tolerance level you may wait them to subside, if marked you may like to consult a psychiatrist or a medical practitioner for getting appropriate prescription. If there is any major condition, as a rule you should get appropriate medical consultation. I also advise clients to get medical consultation before undergoing past life regression therapy. If you have any hangover after hypnosis session you may like to travel by public transport system or another person drive your vehicle; you should avoid places and objects that can cause a threat to your safety.
Life Threatening Condition: If you have any life threatening condition like cardiac problems, I recommend you not to experiment with past life regression or you should contact a medical practitioner who specializes in past life regression to address your both the needs.
Models of Hypnotherapy: After thorough assessment of your conditions and issue, a therapist, may use any one or a combination of following and other healing models to resolve your problems. (a) direct suggestion model (b) metaphor model (c) age regression (d) past life regression (e) life between life regression (f) future life progression (g) personification model (h) Joseph Murphy Model.
Self-hypnosis and Regression: A person who wants to have self experience of hypnosis and past life regression is advised to use audio assisted hypnosis and past life regression. Pre-recorded audio programs are available for the purpose. The other method is to use resolution based meditation. For that you can pick up any of your psychological issue and meditate over the issue for several days. You may have glimpses of past life in meditation. In general, therapist assisted regression is superior because a therapist can address on the spot needs and facilitate resolution of past life traumas.
Gateway to Opportunities: In some subjects, I observed that they got extra opportunities in their life and career after having past life regression sessions. I call it ‘unlocking of the luck’ due to past life regression.
Jheel Baba Model: Please remember that Jheel Baba is not any living physical form in this universe; just take it as a personification of your own higher self. Jheel Baba is faith friendly; you do not have to have any changes in your existing belief and faith system. Take it as a specialized healing procedure.
Posthypnotic Amnesia: Posthypnotic amnesia is a failure in remembering experiences of hypnotic trance. It may be partial or complete. In partial amnesia, a person remembers some of his trance experiences, whereas in complete amnesia there is total retrieval failure of trance experiences. Amnesia is a characteristic of deeper levels of trance and seen in a few cases only. Normally, you are likely to remember most trance experiences. If there is amnesia, you do not have to try hard to retrieve trance experiences. Some subjects get spontaneous memory of trance experiences after some time gap and others may not remember them at all. Amnesia is a normal and natural phenomenon. There is nothing abnormal in it.
Gender Issues: If you are a female receiving hypnosis and past life regression services from a male therapist, it is recommended that you take a confidant along with you who can watch the entire process from a distance for your own good. There is nothing hidden and secret in the procedure.
False Memory Syndrome: In some subjects, it is observed that in age regression some memories emerge which appear to be quite true to the subject particularly molestation by family members in childhood. I remain neutral and objective in such events keeping the possibility of ‘False Memory Syndrome’ in mind and recommend reading of this syndrome to the subject on Wikipedia. I do not take such memory at their face value as valid and true even if appear to be very genuine in hypnotic trance.
Belief in Reincarnation: Belief in reincarnation is not required for past life regression. Your willingness, co-operation and suggestibility are the requirement. Past life regression is independent of belief system.
Media Cases: The media present best cases after comprehensive screening for obvious reasons. One cannot expect a similar regression experience in each and every case.
Validity of Past Life Recall: Evidences are yet to accumulate to empirically demonstrate that the regression experience represent valid recall of past life experiences. Till then it is just provisional.
Concept of Spirit Attachment and Releasement: According to one of the leading proponent of this concept Dr. Edit Fiore, spirit attachment is a working hypothesis and it has potentials for healing. One cannot say for sure that spirits exists and do attach to human beings. I use ‘Personification Model’ for this purpose.
Remote Healing: I consider the concept of remote healing as provisional and experimental; it may or may not work. In remote healing, also known as surrogate healing, a volunteer is put under hypnotic trance and one or the other healing model is applied to the client through the volunteer. This healing can be helpful for young babies, persons who are medically or otherwise unfit to undergo regression experience or a distantly located client. I generally use personification therapy, and remote healing in the context of life between lives regression.
Standard Medical Treatment: As a rule you should first consult a medical professional of any established system for your ailment. Hypnotherapy and past life therapy are not alternative therapies. An alternative therapy is the one where A or B can be used for the same ailment. Allopathy, Homeopathy, Ayurveda, Unani can be alternative to each other for certain ailments. The therapies like past life regression should be conceptualized as complementary and as an adjunct procedure which should be used for complementing or as add on procedure with standard medical treatment.
Extended Release of Regression Experience: Having completed a regression session, you may continue to have additional glimpses or dreams related to previous lives. This process may continue for minutes to days. It is quite natural. There may be activation of recurrent dreams after regression experience and a next regression session can reveal additional details related to the recurrent dreams.
Which Type of Subjects are Good Candidates for Past life Regression: The suggestible subjects are the best candidates for regression experience. However, analytical persons may also experience regression with techniques like Third Eye Scanner, but I advise all persons in analytical mode to remain patient and open minded. I also recommend, self-regression audios and more sessions with collaborative attitude.
Indications and Contra-indications: Past life regression is still a developing procedure and its exact indications and contra-indications have not yet been catalogued. In general, it may not be much useful for non-reversible conditions. I recommend that this procedure should be followed with an open mind and exploratory attitude that if it produces desired healing results it is alright else one can always move on to other treatment modalities. The isolated cases of miraculous cure cannot be cited as applicable in all instances. For example, if asthma of a few people is cured through this method, then it cannot be generalized that this procedure can cure all cases of asthma.
Some Possible Reasons for Failure in Hypnosis and Past Life Regression: I have identified following reasons of failure in hypnosis and past life regression. There could be many more. (a) analytical mindset (b) excessive eagerness (c) expectation of total loss of awareness (d) expectation of something mysterious and unknown (e) unconscious resistance. Hypnosis and past life regression are not power games between clients and therapists. A therapist by virtue of his training and experience tries to help a client, hence it is an essentially a collaborative and co-operative approach. If you are met with a failure experience (a) Try to explore above myths and concepts and discuss the matter with your therapist in detail (b) You may opt to get a referral for another therapist because I have seen that sometimes changing the hypnotherapist can do wonders in your regression experience. The success with other therapist does not necessarily mean that your previous therapist was incompetent because there may have been instances in which the therapist with whom you have success; his/her failures were dealt with effectively by your previous therapist.
Handling Disappointment: There may be total or partial failure in hypnotic trance, past life regression and desired outcome of such procedures despite best efforts on your and the therapist’s part. You should remain prepared for such an experience. If you think that the disappointment or failure would be overwhelming to you and it would be difficult to cope up with the failure experience, I would recommend you not to expose yourself to such procedures because I have seen a mind with failure experience reacting too severely to the disappointment. It results in added emotional wound because of the failure. Just assess yourself prior to trance experience for your adverse and critical reaction potentials and deicide accordingly. You need to take charge of your hyper negative reactions and cool down as quickly as possible and try self-methods or other healing approaches.
Nature of Regression Experience: A few clients get into the conflict if regression experience represented valid past life or an act of imagination. No definite answer can be given at this point for this conflict. But I can give you some clues so that you can make up your own mind. The content of regression experience emerges from the unconscious mind like a dream. Unconscious mind can release valid or fabricated or mixed information. If you have a doubt that means your mind was probably producing totally fabricated or a mix of valid and fabricated information. The same set of past life regression techniques can produce both valid and fabricated material. There is no guideline which can predict in advance whether your mind would produce fabricated or genuine experience. It is your own mind producing whatever you are getting. If you think it was imagination, it is alright as your own mind produced it. A therapist or the procedures of the therapist have nothing to do with it. It may also be possible that because of some psychological mechanisms your mind is interpreting a valid experience as an act of imagination. Keep on introspecting and come up with your own conclusion. Generally, if you get an insight into your issues of present life, or karmic links of your issues or you get healed then you may like to think in favor of a genuine and expected experience of past life regression.
Integration and Debriefing: After a hypnosis and regression session, a therapist would expect you to share the experiences of the session and help him/her in relating the regression experience to your issues. After the session, a therapist generally allows a client to reorient himself/herself in the present time, and then gently ask exploratory and open ended questions with an intent to develop insight between regression experiences and the current life issues. The questions such as how this experience relates to your current life, how this experience adds to your understanding can do wonders in healing.
Skeptic’s Viewpoint: Skeptics and Rationalists do not believe in reincarnation and past life regression to the extent that they condemn the whole procedure of past life regression, mostly because this phenomena cannot be explained through known scientific theories. I also place these procedures under unexplained procedures even though the obvious implication is in favor of reincarnation concepts. I say so because the exact mechanism of reincarnation has not been discovered yet. I hypothesize that with advancement of scientific methods these concepts may get established in future time.