Societal interest in afterlife studies has waxed and waned over the years. Multiple periods of intense interest have occurred episodically, such as the era of Spiritualism, which took place during a time ranging from the mid-1800s to the 1920s. During that era, people in European and English-speaking countries frequently engaged in activities aimed at contacting people in the afterlife, such as séances and talking board sessions.
While the era of Spiritualism presented the longest period of such intense interest in these paranormal topics in modern history, popular media has created a revival of that same fascination during modern times. Television shows such as Ghost Hunters, Ghost Adventures, The Ghost Inside My Child, and Long Island Medium all contribute to a flourishing interest in the paranormal, particularly as it relates to survival of consciousness after bodily death.
Ghosts are just one type of evidence that suggests human consciousness survives bodily death and continues on into some kind of afterlife. Evidence also exists for other phenomena possibly indicative of survival of consciousness, such as near-death experiences, reincarnation, life-between-lives experiences, and medium communication. All this evidence offers intriguing glimpses into what may happen after we die.
Psychical researchers, such as Great Britain's Society for Psychical Research (SPR), have engaged in studies of the afterlife for more than a century. The SPR was founded in 1882 and has endured since then as a group that engages in scientific inquiry into paranormal claims. Other similar groups and individuals have continued in the scientific tradition, exploring causes behind claims of the unknown.
Due to the current rising interest in the paranormal and abetted by portrayals of paranormal and psychic investigators in popular media, a number of lay enthusiasts have formed paranormal investigation (or "ghost hunting") teams to examine claims of anomalous phenomena. In cases of these paranormal teams, the method of investigation varies. Many groups choose to take what they term a "scientific" approach to investigation, utilizing equipment originally designed for other, more commonplace uses in order to try and detect environmental changes that may suggest the presence of a ghost or spirit. While these teams do, indeed, use technical equipment, scientific method typically remains lacking in their research, so the term "scientific" when describing the lay teams' approaches might better be described as "technical." This is common methodology, typically demonstrated on television, in books, and in popular media.
Some teams take a more psychic/metaphysical approach, working with the energy of a situation in an attempt to understand from a spiritual, emotional, social, and mental perspective why these events occur and how they can best help. With many paranormal research teams, one will find a combination of these two methods, melding the technical aspects of instrument readings and attempts at disproving claims by demonstrating natural explanations with involvement of people who have psychic abilities. Other teams may take a less structured approach, seeking personal entertainment or satisfaction of individual curiosity instead of scientific or metaphysical understandings of events.
While there are benefits and drawbacks to each of the aforementioned populist methods of paranormal investigation, the simple truth is this: since many paranormal teams receive their training through popular media, such as books or television shows, and lack an understanding of the metaphysical and scientific aspects of the discipline, they may be inadequately equipped to provide genuine help. When a person has a paranormal or metaphysical experience that suggests consciousness does, indeed, survive bodily death, his or her first reaction may be fear. Others having these experiences may feel foolish, wonder if they are going crazy, or quickly enter denial. Others seek refuge in attempts to find logical and natural world explanations for their experiences where none exist. All of these are valid reactions arising from societal, familial, and/or religious conditioning about the socially and scientifically unacceptable and frightening nature of the metaphysical and paranormal. While paranormal and metaphysical entertainment is in fashion right now, in truth, a great deal of fear and misinformation about such topics remain.
One typical approach paranormal teams take is to investigate a location of reported activity with environmental instruments, cameras, and audio and video recording equipment. They may follow their investigation by presenting evidence, such as playing audio clips called electronic voice phenomena, relating personal experiences, or showing photographs and video clips. While this may help confirm or deny the presence of an entity, it provides nothing by way of scientific evidence, nor does it provide support for the person having the experience or the consciousness causing it. Many people have also learned via television that when one encounters some type of afterlife communications, the best place to seek help and counseling is through paranormal teams. Unfortunately, in many cases, these teams are poorly equipped to deal with experiences relating to the afterlife that do not involve ghosts, such as near-death experiences, communications with people who have died via mediums, or past-life recollections. These teams lack the theological, philosophical, metaphysical, and/or scientific background and understanding to provide genuine help in these situations. When faced with such examples of the afterlife, people encountering it often don't have an appropriate place to turn.
With such shortfalls in understanding, paranormal and afterlife research teams need to find ways to provide authentic help to people struggling with such experiences. This is where the metaphysical practitioner enters. The role of the metaphysician involved in parapsychological research and afterlife studies is threefold. First, he or she should seek to eliminate the possibility of natural causes for phenomena by using critical thinking skills and, whenever possible, scientific method to investigate claims. In cases where natural causes cannot be ruled out, it is the role of the metaphysician to provide people having paranormal experiences with spiritual, emotional, and social support. This may take the form of helping people who experience paranormal phenomena come to terms with and learn to work with latent psychic abilities that may be contributing to their experiences. It also may include helping people understand the metaphysical implications of brushes with conscious survival of bodily death, as well as using similar tactics to help provide true spiritual and emotional support for people struggling with an experience that society has deemed unacceptable, fringe, or even crazy.
The third role of the metaphysician involved is paranormal research is to provide support for those spirits whose consciousness has survived their bodily death, but who remain identified with the ego. These are what people commonly identify as ghosts. Because of the ongoing nature of the ego-identification, spirits that remain connected to their earthly personas have forgotten who they truly are as spiritual beings. The metaphysician, then, can communicate with these spirits and help them to remember that, although they once identified with a certain human, they are actually One with their Creator, and that remaining ego-identified keeps them in a place that no longer serves their spiritual path. In this capacity, the metaphysician engages in an ongoing conversation that ultimately allows the spirit to return to the Source instead of remaining ego-identified. This requires a compassionate, deeply loving, and spiritual commitment that may take five minutes, five days, five weeks, five months, five years, or even longer.
I have worked in this capacity for nearly a decade, interacting with hundreds of people and spirits with a broad array of experiences such as continued ego-identification after death, psychic awakenings, experiences of ghosts and hauntings, near-death experiences, and past life recall.
In the (admittedly very long) blog that follows, I will examine some of the literature outlining physical, psychological, spiritual, and metaphysical evidence supporting survival of consciousness beyond bodily death. It is a topic that has been of fascination since the dawn of mankind, and literature is abundant. Next, I will explore how these types of experiences affect both living people and those who have died but remain identified with ego. Finally, I will suggest an approach for working with people coming to terms with experiences suggestive of conscious survival of bodily death, as well as spirits who remain ego-identified. This approach will provide a framework for providing meaningful help to everyone involved, living and dead alike.
Any discussion of survival of consciousness following bodily death should begin with a definition of consciousness. In his book Evidence of Eternity, Mark Anthony offers this definition. "Consciousness is the awareness and intelligence enshrined within a spirit. It contains the attributes that give a person his or her uniqueness. These include personality, observations, experiences, knowledge, and love for others."
In Evidence of Eternity, Mr. Anthony discusses his evidence for consciousness survival of bodily death. Mr. Anthony is an attorney and psychic medium. He provides readings for people wishing to make contact with deceased loved ones, serving as a conduit through which disincarnate spirits can send messages to the living. During his readings, Mr. Anthony communicates with these spirits, often providing detailed information about those who have passed. After the reading, the living souls can verify the information the spirits, speaking through Mr. Anthony, provided. In the hundreds of cases where Mr. Anthony has provided readings, his clients have verified the accuracy of the specific information he has shared with them. Many feel he couldn't have known such information by any means other than talking with the spirits of the dead. Because of this independent confirmation of the details Mr. Anthony receives in spirit communications, he and many others firmly believe he is talking to spirits who have died.
According to Mr. Anthony, these spirits are predominately people who were once embodied in flesh and have now crossed over to the other side, a place known in the Christian religious tradition as Heaven. They return to communicate with loved ones in order to provide messages of hope, comfort, and caring for people grieving for their loss. Mr. Anthony is just one of hundreds of psychic mediums who provide such detailed readings, seemingly communicating with the consciousness--or souls--of those who have died and wish to send messages to those they left behind.
Dr. Gary E. Schwartz
Dr. Gary E. Schwartz has conducted numerous scientifically controlled studies on people who are psychic mediums. The term medium is used to describe a person with psychic abilities who is able to communicate with the souls of people who have died. Dr. Schwartz is a professor of medicine, psychiatry, surgery, and neurology at the University of Arizona, where he has also conducted his studies into afterlife communications.
Dr. Schwartz first outlined his methods and results in his book, The Afterlife Experiments. In that book, Dr. Schwartz described a series of progressively controlled experiments in afterlife communication between mediums and people sitting for a reading. During his experiments, Dr. Schwartz engaged the services of well-known mediums, such as John Edward, as well as mediums that have not found the spotlight for their abilities. Over the course of his research, Dr. Schwartz implemented progressively vigorous controls. For example, the research started off with face-to-face readings with the medium and his or her subject sitting in chairs facing one another. It then progressed to the medium providing readings to an unseen subject, and finally to a subject that the medium could neither see nor hear in order to avoid any visual or auditory cues that might provide subtle information or confirmation to the medium. Yet, even with these progressive controls, the mediums in the study continued to provide specifically verifiable and detailed information from spirits that far exceeded chance. For example, mediums shared names, dates, and life events that had specific meaning to the sitter. Much of the information was also verifiable through third-party sources. These events led Dr. Schwartz and his team to the inescapable conclusion that somehow the consciousness of people no longer alive was communicating via the medium with their living loved ones.
In the early 1990s in the village of Scole, Norfolk, UK, a team of psychical researchers gathered weekly to engage in what have come to be known as the Scole Experiments. Core members of the group included psychic researchers and enthusiasts, as well as psychic mediums that engaged in physical mediumship. As the experiences this group shared came to public light, the Scole Experimental Group, as they became known, invited scientific inquiry from members of the Society for Psychical Research. While several members of the SPR observed and engaged in the experiments, three in particular became a regular part of the Scole Experimental Group: David Fontana, Arthur Ellison, and Montague Keen. David Fontana was a psychologist, parapsychologist, member of SPR, and professor of psychology at Cardiff University. Montague Keen was a journalist and the Committee Chair for the Image Committee at the SPR, as well as a long-time member. Arthur Ellison served as a visiting professor at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology and was the Head of the Department of Electrical Engineering at City University in London. All three had solid scientific backgrounds, along with years of scientific psychical inquiry through their engagement in SPR, and all engaged with the Scole Experimental Group for a period of years during which exciting paranormal phenomena occurred on a consistent basis.
The work of the Scole Experimental Group has served as the foundation for several pieces of literature, including The Scole Report, published in the SPR's journal in 1999, Proceedings of the Society for Psychical Research. Montague Keen, David Fontana, and Arthur Ellison authored the report, which sent shockwaves through the SPR with its bold conclusion that the events occurring within the Scole Experimental Group were, indeed, the result of a collaboration with spirits.
With such controversy and excitement surrounding the findings of The Scole Report, Montague Keen felt it was necessary to address many of the criticisms two years later in the Journal of Scientific Exploration. In a 2001 article titled "The Scole Investigation: A Study of Critical Analysis of Paranormal Physical Phenomena," Montague Keen once again laid out some of the principal findings of the Scole Experiments and analyzed the criticisms received from the scientific community as to the methodology and findings.
The third published work dedicated solely to the findings and experiences of the Scole Experimental Group was the book, The Scole Experiment: Scientific Evidence for Life After Death by Grant and Jane Solomon. Originally published in 2006, the book was written for the masses. Skipping the deeply scientific discussion of the journal articles about the experiments and, instead, sticking to straightforward reporting of the spectacular phenomena the team experienced, The Scole Experiment: Scientific Evidence for Life After Death described the activities and findings of the Scole Experimental Group in layman's terms. The success of the book also sparked a documentary film, The Afterlife Investigations, which premiered in 2011.
What happened in the Scole Experimental Group that sparked so much discussion and interest? The SPR investigators and group participants believe that it was nothing short of communication from and mutual experimentation with the other side.
The Scole Experimental Group met weekly in the basement of the principal researcher, Robin Foy's home. Members of the group also included Foy's wife and two trance mediums, who would go into trance and begin communications with a group of deceased individuals called the "spirit team." The spirit team reported to the Scole Experimental Group that they were seeking to enhance communications with the living from their side of the veil. Society for Psychical Research members also observed and participated in these séances and experiments.
As described in The Scole Experiment: Scientific Evidence for Life After Death, the spirit team gave specific directions via the mediums as to how to enhance the communications and phenomena that occurred. As the Scole Research Group followed these instructions, the phenomena increased and intensified. Ostensibly, the group communicated with many spirits from the other side, including Mrs. Emma Bradshaw, an Irish priest named Patrick, and a South American named Manu, among many others. According to the SPR researchers, although these spirits often spoke through the trance mediums, they all had distinct voices and personalities that differed from their channels. Eventually, many members of the spirit team could also communicate with the researchers using what the team termed "extended voice communication," in which the voices appeared to come from all around the room, including, at times, deep within the walls.
Along with the specific voice phenomena and spirit communication, the Scole Experimental Group and SPR researchers noted visual phenomena, such as lights that sped around the room, appearing to enter and move through physical objects, including the researchers themselves. They also noted objects such as the table or a séance trumpet levitating and moving gracefully around the room. In one instance, observers saw a table lift up, tilt on its side, and begin to spin.
On many occasions, the group saw the spirits appear before them, either as full-bodied apparitions or partial body parts, such as a head and shoulders or a hand. Likewise, the group experienced many of these apparitions via a sense of physical touch by holding hands, touching arms and shoulders, and in one case, even receiving a hug. The experimenters describe these encounters as feeling as if they were touching flesh and blood, and not an apparition at all.
In one experiment orchestrated by the spirit team, a quartz crystal that had been set on the table began to glow. The spirit team instructed Dr. Ellison to pick up the glowing crystal and deposit it in a glass dish in the center of the table, which he did. They then instructed him to pick up the crystal again. When Dr. Ellison tried, however, his fingers went right through the crystal, as if it wasn't there at all. Finally, on another attempt to lift the crystal, it was once again a solid object. All this occurred in full view of the entire experimental group and the SPR researchers.
Another significant phenomenon the Scole Experimental Group noted was the appearance of "apports." Apports occur when a physical object, such as a coin, suddenly appears as if out of thin air. Over the course of the experiment, the group received over 80 apports, including such objects as a spoon, a Churchill crown coin, newspapers from the 1940s, and a brooch. When the apports appeared, they would make a loud bang. These things occurred in spite of repeated inspection of the chamber in which the sessions were held and inspection and search of all group members entering the chamber.
Another notable phenomena to come out of the Scole Experiments, was the ways members of the spirit team were seemingly able to influence modern electronic equipment. The team always used a tape recorder to document the sessions. In some sessions, they also used a tape recorder with the microphone removed and a blank tape inserted. While there was no physical means of anything appearing on these audiotapes, they nonetheless recorded the voices of spirits team that the group heard throughout the room, while not recording the voices of any of the researchers.
The Scole Experimental Group's photographic evidence may be the most compelling of all. Early in the experiments, the spirit team instructed the group to bring into the room an SLR camera with no flash that was loaded with film. The room was entirely without any external light, at all. At one point, a member of the spirit team instructed one of the researchers to lift the camera and take a few photographs. She did, and then set the camera down again. Next, the camera elevated by itself and began snapping pictures and advancing the film on its own. This happened during several sessions. Upon developing the film, the group discovered photographs such as St. Paul's Cathedral during the Blitz and the face of a smiling man in a turban, even though the camera was taking pictures in a dark room, had no night vision, and had no flash.
Eventually, no camera was needed for images to appear on film. Instead, the Scole Experimental Group would supply a commercially sealed box of film that was secured in a padlocked box and under observation and possession of an SPR member the entire time. The SPR member would then develop the film on site, never allowing it out of his possession. The developed strips of film had pictures, writing, messages, alchemical symbols, poems, diagrams, drawings, and other things on them. The languages used on the filmstrips included modern languages, such as English and German, as well as ancient languages such as Romanized Sanskrit.
In the five years that the Scole Experimental Group worked in collaboration with the SPR and spirit team, they experienced and shared findings far beyond what any other individual or group has been able to produce before or since. As often as they were able, they invited independent observers to participate in sessions. These people, as well as the SPR researchers that participated, are adamant that what they experienced was not trickery, but rather was communication with the other side on a grand scale.
Medium communications are just one way in which the living may get glimpses of consciousness surviving bodily death. Anyone turning on the television today can hardly escape the numerous shows about another type of evidence of survival of consciousness: ghosts. Ghost stories have existed since the dawn of humanity and have appeared in virtually every culture. Even the Bible has accounts of ghosts. For example, 1 Samuel 28 in the Old Testament talks about King Saul's encounter with the Witch of Endor, in which Saul had the witch conjure the spirit of Samuel.
Like King Saul's experience, many of the reports of encountering ghosts are anecdotal, stories told by people without any independent confirmation of the encounter. Still, as anyone who believes they have met a spirit will tell you, science be damned, they know what they experienced, and it was real. In A Paranormal Casebook: Ghost Hunting in the New Millennium, noted parapsychologist Loyd Auerbach offers this definition of ghosts:
The term 'ghost' has covered a variety of experiences in many cultures. In general, most people use the term ghost to mean a spirit or some form of a person after he or she has died...In effect, there's often no distinction made as to whether the 'ghost' is a conscious being of some kind or just a recording of past people, animals, or events.
Parapsychologists do make the distinction, and often use the term 'apparition' to refer to the concept of human personality or consciousness appearing in some form after death.
In a Paranormal Casebook, Mr. Auerbach provides case studies for a number of reportedly haunted places he has personally investigated. One of the most intriguing is Mr. Auerbach's investigation of the USS Hornet, a WWII aircraft carrier that is now a museum at Alameda Point in Alameda, CA. Mr. Auerbach began his investigation of the USS Hornet in 1999. Claims of paranormal activity aboard the floating museum included people being touched by unseen hands, disembodied voices, and full or partial-bodied apparitions of enlisted men and officers. People also heard the sounds of footsteps, and one employee at the Hornet believes that once, when he said, "Hornet, give me chain," a new length of chain appeared on the dock. This, he said, happened twice (186-187). Hundreds of people, including Mr. Auerbach, himself, have witnessed many of these phenomena when aboard the USS Hornet. For example, Mr. Auerbach has seen full-body apparitions and has felt tapping on the shoulder. Because of this, Mr. Auerbach describes the ship as haunted.
Dr. Raymond Moody
In Reunions: Visionary Encounters with Departed Loved Ones, noted afterlife researcher Dr. Raymond Moody describes his personal experiences, as well as those of his clients, in his psychomanteum. Dr. Moody set up a psychomanteum in his converted gristmill home as a small chamber with an angled mirror and a chair where one could come to meet with the spirits of people who have died as a way to resolve grief. Dr. Moody himself experienced the phenomena associated with the psychomanteum. After a time spent in there in contemplation of one of his relatives, she appeared in the room in physical form and carried on a conversation with Dr. Moody. Since this discovery, Dr. Moody has worked with many grieving people, allowing them to also experience their loved ones who have passed. In a May 16, 2013 interview I conducted with Dr. Raymond Moody for Paranormal Underground Radio, we discussed Dr. Moody's work with the psychomanteum, which he continues to this day. Dr. Moody feels that this form of afterlife communication is an excellent way to help resolve grief by enabling people to speak with loved ones who have died.
Many others report personal encounters with ghosts, as well. For example, in my three books, Avalanche of Spirits: The Ghosts of Wellington, Dancing with the Afterlife: A Paranormal Memoir, and Pioneer Spirits: Exploring the Haunted Lewis County Historical Museum, I describe my own experiences, as well as the observations of other witnesses that occur in haunted locations. These experiences are similar from witness to witness and include an array of physical sensations such as phantom scents; touches, pats, strokes, and hair pulls; disembodied voices; and anomalous visual phenomena including apparitions, strange lights, and shadows.
In House of Darkness, House of Light, author Andrea Perron tells the story of growing up in her family's haunted Connecticut home. The Perron family story was also popularized (and fictionalized) in the 2013 horror film, The Conjuring. In her book, Ms. Perron talks about the various phenomena experienced by her entire family, as well as many visitors to their home. Phenomena included sightings of full-body apparitions, disembodied voices, physical interaction such as pushes and scratches, changes in ambient temperature of rooms, and less tangible phenomena such as feelings of dread. So severe was the activity in the Perron home that it invited the interest of noted paranormal researchers, Ed and Lorraine Warren, who spent a great deal of time researching the activity there. In an interview I conducted with Andrea Perron on Paranormal Underground Radio on October 3, 2013, Ms. Perron told me her family firmly believes that what they encountered in their home, were, indeed, ghosts.
In his book The Empty Lot Next Door, my friend Arthur Mills has turned his childhood experiences with the spirit of a girl he calls Candleface into a novel. While Mr. Mills has fictionalized his account, he assures me both in person, as well as in an interview I conducted with him on the October 16, 2014 episode of Paranormal Underground Radio, that the book matches his personal experiences as a child. During Mr. Mills' childhood in Texas, he had multiple encounters with this child spirit, including physical touching, conversations, and disturbed dreams that left him with physical marks and injuries upon awakening the next morning. Often after dreams or nighttime encounters with Candleface, Mr. Mills would awake to find small handprints on his windows. Mr. Mill's brother used to have an imaginary friend he called Griffen. Doing research later, Mr. Mills discovered that a boy about his brother's age named Griffen had lived and died in the house that once sat on the empty lot next to his Texas home.
Another phenomena seeming to suggest human consciousness survives bodily death is the near-death experience. Dr. Raymond Moody was the first person to explore the phenomena. Dr. Moody describes the nascent start of his research in his memoir, Paranormal: My Life In Pursuit of the Afterlife:
"It was through a student in my philosophy class who began to question me deeply about his own experience of almost dying that I studied and named the phenomenon known as the near-death experience. Had I not allowed the student to dominate my time with his story, I might have never examined near-death experiences, a path of discovery that led me to write Life After Life and lead to my lifelong exploration of matters related to the afterlife."
Dr. Moody published his initial work on his research into near-death experiences in 1975 in the book Life After Life. Since the start of his research, Dr. Moody has talked to thousands of near-death experiencers, and many have remarkably similar stories. With the likeness between so many reports, Dr. Moody described the phases of the near-death experience, which tended to occur in nine different stages, starting with a strange sound and a feeling of peace, proceeding to an out of body experience that involved moving through a tunnel and rising to the heavens, encountering people and beings of light, experiencing a life review, and then reluctantly returning to their bodies.
In an interview I conducted with Dr. Moody on the November 7, 2013 episode of Paranormal Underground Radio, he explained to me that near-death experiences (NDEs) may only have one or two of these elements, or they may have all of them. He also shared that some people having NDEs have an entirely different experience, and that the experience may have elements that reflect the cultural and religious beliefs of the experiencer, as well. In general, however, Dr. Moody shared that the experiences were remarkably similar from person to person.
In Paranormal: My Life in Pursuit of the Afterlife, Dr. Moody also describes the shared-death experience, in which loved ones sitting at the bedside of someone who is dying also experience some of the elements of the NDE. On my radio show, Dr. Moody stated he felt this was compelling evidence as to the veracity of claims of the near-death experience as a phenomena illustrating how consciousness survives bodily death.
Dr. Eben Alexander
Dr. Eben Alexander discusses his near-death experience in his memoir, Proof of Heaven. Dr. Alexander is a neurosurgeon, and before his experience, he strongly believed that all experiences of consciousness came strictly from brain chemistry and not from the soul. However, following a rare brain illness that completely shut down all of his brain function, Dr. Alexander emerged with a new understanding of human consciousness. During his coma, Dr. Alexander encountered what he believes is the Divine, communicating with consciousness in the spiritual realm, including his deceased sister. When he awoke, Dr. Alexander no longer believed that chemicals were the only cause of consciousness. Instead, he believed that people had souls that continued, even after bodily death.
In an email to me written in May of 2009, my good friend Etta Kirk described a near-death experience she had. While her experience was not the classic NDE, it nonetheless helped her to understand that consciousness survives bodily death. In 1997, Mrs. Kirk was undergoing treatment for acute, aggressive breast cancer. Because of the nature of her cancer, Mrs. Kirk's doctors were pursuing an extremely aggressive treatment protocol that included both chemotherapy and radiation. At one point, the treatment so weakened Mrs. Kirk's body and immune system that she went into heart failure. She was revived and rushed the hospital. Mrs. Kirk went on to make a full recovery and remained breast cancer-free until her death from a brain aneurism in 2013. During the time of her heart failure, Mrs. Kirk had no respiration or heartbeat, yet her mind remained extremely active. In the email to me, she described floating in a peaceful light until she felt the light lift her from beneath.
"It felt as if I was floating on wings of prayer," Mrs. Kirk described. "I could feel every prayer everyone offered me lifting me back into myself. I had more to do in this life."
Dr. Peter Fenwick
Dr. Peter Fenwick, President of the British Branch of the International Association for Near-Death Studies, has investigated hundreds of claims of near-death experiences. He published some of his findings in his 1995 book, The Truth in the Light. In his book, he discusses case studies that best illustrate the most common phases of the near-death experience. He also outlines how NDEs may not follow any perceivable pattern at all, or they may have cultural elements. For example, he looks at three separate cases from India that appear to have patterns similar to one another, but not so similar to Western NDEs. However, as Dr. Fenwick points out, "...we can recognize plenty of parallels." While the manifestation of the elements may be culturally related, they still parallel the Western experiences. For instance, a common occurrence in the Indian near-death experience is meeting a man with a book of their life. This is similar to a Western experiencer having a life review. Likewise, Indian subjects tend to experience being sent back to their bodies due to an administrative error, while Westerners are more likely to leave reluctantly when they realize they have more to do in the flesh. Similarly, Fenwick notes that other cultures' NDEs may appear very different at first glance. However, upon examination of the individual themes of elements, great similarities exist.
Reincarnation experiences also remain suggestive of survival of consciousness after death. I covered reincarnation experiences in a previous (also very long) blog, The Reincarnation Experience as a Bridge to Higher Spiritual Truth. In it, I cited the studies of numerous reincarnation researchers including Dr. Ian Stevenson, Dr. Michael Newton, Carole Bowman, and Dr. Brian Weiss. I also examined the reincarnation experiences of many individuals, including Geoffrey Keene and Dr. Walter Semkiw, as well as my own personal experience. All of this provides powerful evidence that consciousness does, indeed, survive bodily death, and that individual consciousness may move on to other bodies following death.
Life Between Lives
Finally, life-between-life research also offers an intriguing glimpse into the reality that consciousness continues after death. In his book, Journey of Souls, psychologist Dr. Michael Newton describes how he was a firm skeptic about human consciousness surviving death. In his work with his patients, he often used regression hypnotherapy. One day, he was surprised when a client seemingly jumped into a past life during a normal regression session. He was even more surprised when that client, in a hypnotic trance, appeared to experience death, follow a pattern similar to a near-death experience, and then enter, as a consciousness, into the realm of pure spirit. Intrigued, Dr. Newton developed a protocol to allow clients to explore this realm, which he termed life-between-lives (LBL). Since then, Dr. Newton has regressed hundreds of clients. Likewise, a multitude of hypnotherapists around the world trained in Dr. Newton's techniques have also regressed clients to this space. What have emerged are remarkable similarities in descriptions of the afterlife. These come from thousands of cases all around the world, with different therapists, cultures, and life experiences.
Dr. Michael Newton
Dr. Newton and other therapists shared their client's stories as case studies in the 2009 book, Memories of the Afterlife, which was Newton's fourth book focusing on the subject. Newton also described specific locations, experiences, soul group structures, activities, jobs, and education in the afterlife in his other book, Destiny of Souls.
All these elements of afterlife research: medium communications, ghosts, near-death experiences, reincarnation, and life-between lives experiences offer intriguing glimpses into the reality of consciousness surviving death of the body and carrying on in some capacity as an individual soul. The research and experiences of the people and described herein make a compelling case for the survival of consciousness after death.
Laying a scientific foundation for the survival of the soul after one dies is currently a difficult road to travel. Scientific research groups such as the Society for Psychical Research, scientists like Dr. Gary Schwartz, mediums like Mark Anthony, and parapsychologists like Loyd Auerbach have observed, studied, and recorded phenomena for years, providing compelling evidence for survival of consciousness. Yet many skeptics still continue to dismiss these types of findings as pure hokum.
In his 2001 Journal of Scientific Exploration paper defending the conclusions of the Scole Report, "The Scole Investigation: A Study in Critical Analysis of Paranormal Physical Phenomena," Montague Keen rightly pointed out how notoriously difficult skeptics are to convince, even in light of overwhelming evidence.
"A closer look at the critics' arguments reveals some fairly fundamental misconceptions," Mr. Keen noted. "One is the confusion between evidence and expectation."
Mr. Keen went on to say that many people couldn't explain away the phenomena except by decrying fraud but remaining stuck in scientific dogmatism despite evidence of spectacular paranormal phenomena. Mr. Keen posited that perhaps because the activities of the spirits, such as ringing cowbells and moving things around the room, seemed to lack gravitas, it was difficult for them to accept such silliness as scientific.
For the living that have had afterlife experiences such as meeting a ghost or having a near-death experience, it is this persistent belief that afterlife topics outside of religion are frivolous, disingenuous, or even arising from mental instability that can make living with the aftermath so difficult. With such scientific, religious, and societal pressure to fall within certain norms and belief systems, people who have had these experiences may question their own integrity and sanity, or they may feel embarrassed and marginalized. Likewise, because there is a lack of support structure, as well as a prevailing atmosphere of denial that such incidents can and do occur, many people who have come face to face with the afterlife may experience strong feelings of fear, anger, denial, or other emotions due to the lack of social, spiritual, and emotional support. Much of this marginalization of people who proclaim experiences with the afterlife comes from powerful dogma that exists just as strongly within the ranks of scientists as religious dogma exists in organized religion.
About this scientific dogmatism, in the documentary film, The Afterlife Experiments: The Scole Experiments, Dr. Rupert Sheldrake of SPR noted:
"There's a dominant materialism in science that grew up in the 19th century. It's become part of the culture of science, but it's really a dogmatic belief system rather than a testable theory. Within science based on a materialistic point of view, the mind is the brain, so anything that suggests there might be more than the brain goes against the theory and therefore most scientists don't want to know about it."
In the same film, Emeritus Professor at the University of California and afterlife researcher Dr. Charles Tart expounded on this idea. He noted:
The idea that life after death is impossible and that we're nothing but our brains and bodies is really a function of an outmoded view in science: a Newtonian worldview. The Newtonian worldview works very well for everyday events, but one of the most interesting things about modern science --especially when you look at stuff like quantum theory--is that the world is far more mysterious than we think. And we now have experimental evidence of what Einstein called spooky action at a distance... that we instantaneously could affect something in a distant part of the universe... If consciousness has any of the qualities of this quantum level of existence, then phenomena like survival of bodily death are probably not so mysterious after all.
It's true that the scientific field has set a very high bar in order for something to qualify as scientific fact. It is also true that research into survival of consciousness after bodily death fails, in many ways, to clear the bar that is currently set for such research. The question we should ask ourselves, however, is this: Are the experiences of thousands of people over thousands of years incorrect, or do we need to make room within science for afterlife research? Due to the nature of paranormal phenomena, it is very difficult to find ways to control variables, generate repeatability, and create falsifiable and testable hypotheses using scientific method. However, many researchers, including members of the Scole Experimental Group, Loyd Auerbach, Michael Newton, and Dr. Gary Schwartz believe they have done just that. They have produced compelling evidence of the afterlife under rigorously controlled conditions. While many scientists decry this as pseudoscience, evidence of the afterlife continues to pile up at a prodigious rate.
According to science, one must discard all of the aforementioned research and experiences because they do not meet very specific, provable, repeatable, and falsifiable principles. However, how can one discard the sheer volume of evidence of the afterlife? Is the world really that full of charlatans, fools, and the mentally ill? The people whose research and experiences I've shared would very likely answer that the evidence shouldn't be disregarded, but should be addressed as a whole. In a January 2, 2014 interview I conducted with Loyd Auerbach on Paranormal Underground Radio, I asked Mr. Auerbach about discarding evidence like personal experiences. In response, Mr. Auerbach told me that personal experience is key in studying the afterlife because of how notoriously difficult it is to utilize scientific method to prove paranormal phenomena. Mr. Auerbach also pointed out that the SPR has conducted a number of scientifically valid studies into the nature of the afterlife, and that they, indeed, have reached the scientifically sound conclusion that survival of consciousness phenomena are very real.
My friend, Darren Thompson, of Washington State Paranormal Investigation and Research, has something he always says when he speaks. To paraphrase Mr. Thompson, one will never convince a true disbeliever that the paranormal exists, nor will one convince a true believer that it does not.
I have found Mr. Thompson's sentiments to be quite true. I've worked in the field of afterlife research as a psychic medium, paranormal researcher, magazine writer, author, radio host, and journalist for nearly a decade. During that time, I've talked to hundreds of believers and disbelievers about the paranormal. In such conversations, I've been called a genius and I've been called a fool. People have respected me and laughed openly at me. However, no matter what evidence I've offered, research I've shared, or experiences I've related, I've never changed the mind of anyone who was truly entrenched in his or her position. Of course, there are always the fence sitters. I was one of those for many years. I've had psychic and mediumistic abilities all of my life, but chose to ignore them for many years because my logical brain just couldn't seem to mesh with what I called my "woo woo brain."
I was kind of a spooky kid. I knew things I had know way of knowing, I felt other people's feelings, and I saw people who nobody else saw. As a child growing up in a religious family in the Christian church, I quickly learned just how unacceptable this was, and I learned to suppress those abilities. Now, more than three decades later, I understand that what I experienced and shut down as a child were my abilities as a psychic medium, clairvoyant, and empath. I ignored those abilities to my own detriment from my 'tween years through my early forties. As a result, I experienced increasing anxiety as I moved into my 20s and 30s. This anxiety is common among many of my psychic medium friends who denied or ignored their own abilities, and it seemed to grow more severe the longer one suppressed his or her gifts. This was my experience, as well.
When I was 22 and living in my first apartment out of college with my new husband, I started having strange experiences. My husband was in the Navy. He went out to sea on a Trident submarine for three months at a time, leaving me alone in the apartment. When he was gone, strange things happened there. Latched doors opened and closed, faucets turned on and off, and I frequently experienced the presence of an invisible person, who would sit down on the bed next to me and whisper, "I love you," in my ear. These were very real experiences, although I convinced myself I was simply nuts. I spent a lot of time worrying that I was losing my mind. Then, one day I came home from work and found a six foot inflatable Godzilla that we normally kept in the living room sitting up tall on the middle of our bed. No one had been in the apartment all day. I fled to the Super 8 Motel, where I spent a sleepless night certain I'd completely lost my marbles. As soon as my husband came home from his patrol, we moved. I spent the next 20 years denying I'd ever had that experience and doubting my own sanity. Looking back now I realized that this was because of the social and religious conditioning I'd had as a child. It's really hard to shake that off.
This is a common experience with people who experience the afterlife. In the past several years, when people who have discovered that I work in the metaphysical and paranormal fields, they often take me surreptitiously aside and whisper their own experiences of the afterlife to me. For many, I am the first person with whom they ever have shared this information, and they swear me to secrecy. Like me, they fear the social and/or religious stigma associated with people who believe in a non-religious afterlife. Like me, they have been societally and religiously conditioned to believe that these experiences are utter nonsense, fraud, or the first signs of mental illness.
After my experiences in my apartment, I remained effective at shutting down my abilities, or so I thought. However, at the same time, I was attracted to everything supernatural and spiritual. I read books and watched television shows about afterlife topics. I scoured the Internet (once it was invented) for research about afterlife studies. Due to social embarrassment, however, I kept this hobby to myself and felt ashamed of my activities. In my early 30s, I started attending the Unity Church, believing that because it was still technically a Christian church, it would get my family off my back about my lack of church attendance. It didn't. My family made fun of it, calling it "The Church of What's Happening Now," and a friend pointed out that I was attending a Satanic church. Once again, I cast all of that "woo woo" stuff aside and continued on my life. My anxiety continued to grow.
When one ignores the pull of what the soul wants, however, the universe grows more insistent. This certainly happened in my case. About eight years ago I was approached to write for Paranormal Underground Magazine. I jumped at the chance, and it opened the floodgates. Everything I had been suppressing came roaring back. At first, I thought I'd keep my participation in the magazine to myself, not telling anyone what I was doing. However, as I began the research and writing I was so energetically pulled to what I was doing that it grew into a large portion of my life. Writing for the magazine gave me the excuse I needed to legitimize my exploration of the paranormal and metaphysical, and with that excuse at hand, it was suddenly socially acceptable for me to participate in afterlife research I'd always longed to try, such as paranormal investigation, psychic readings, and past-life regression hypnotherapy. As I did this, my joy and enthusiasm grew while my anxiety faded away to nothing. As I embarked upon a number of paranormal investigations, my long-suppressed psychic abilities returned. I realized that while investigating, I received specific and verifiable information about people, places, and events in the locations I researched. I also discovered that spirits would talk to me, and when I looked into the things they told me, it frequently bore out in research.
Two events involving my friend Robyn were extremely convincing. I was in my studio making some jewelry. Doing this is a form of meditation for me. It clears my mind. While I was working and thinking of nothing in particular, the names, "Robeano" and "Robbie" kept popping into my head. Finally, I texted my friend Robyn. Her mother had been dead for several years. In the text I asked if her mom ever called her Robeano or Robbie. Robyn indicated that both had been her mom's nicknames for her. I was overcome with the urge to get a pen and a notecard, and as I put pen to paper, I wrote what was in my head. As I wrote, the same voice that was saying "Robeano" kept admonishing me to watch my handwriting, and to carefully form my letters and not be sloppy. When I was done, I photographed the message on the notecard and texted it to Robyn, since it was addressed to her. According to Robyn, the message it contained were words her mother had spoken to her many times throughout her life. When I told her about the nagging about my handwriting, Robyn laughed and said her mother was a stickler about handwriting, and that she'd always nagged Robyn about hers.
A few days later, Robyn's name once again popped into my head, but this time it came from a male voice. I called Robyn and asked if there was a young male who might want to talk to her, too - someone like a cousin, friend, or brother. It turned out Robyn's brother had died, as well. I described him to her, and she said it sounded like him. As I was describing his mustache, the word "pornstache" kept popping into my head. Out of political correctness, however, I refused to say the word. However, the voice kept saying it louder until he finally shouted, "Dammit! Say pornstache!" When I uttered this word aloud, Robyn burst into laughter. It was, apparently, a private joke between the two of them. He'd always told her that if his mustache was as thick as her hair, he'd have a pornstache.
Incidents like these and many others grew my confidence, and I began working with South Sound Paranormal Research as a psychic medium. In my years in that capacity, my role has evolved as I've expanded my understanding of metaphysics and life after death.
I was on the fence, but personal experiences and my own research convinced me that consciousness did, indeed, survive bodily death. I know others with similar stories that were never disbelievers, but it took personal experiences to help them believe. On the other hand, I've met many people who do not believe in the afterlife, and nothing I've ever told them could convince them otherwise. It is very hard to move people who are firmly entrenched in any belief system, something borne out in research performed at Dartmouth University, in which sending educational materials counter to deeply held beliefs about vaccinations actually caused people to dig even deeper into their own belief system.
This dichotomy between scientific proof and belief or disbelief continues to plague the field of afterlife research. Many researcher point to Occam's Razor, a problem solving principle, as the best way to judge things that can't be adequately proven by scientific method. Occam's Razor (also known as the law of parsimony) essentially states this: all things being equal, the simplest explanation is the most likely. As members of the SPR have frequently pointed out, physical and social sciences can be as dogmatic as religious belief, making it very difficult to bridge the gap. Even extreme phenomena experienced under controlled circumstances like that experienced by the Scole Experimental Group can be "debunked" by people determined to stretch Occam's Razor to its very limits in order to prove fraud. Still, as Montague Keen noted in his article in the Journal of Scientific Exploration, when you have to twist things even harder to find a logical explanation for a phenomena, perhaps the simplest explanation is that the phenomena is real.
Most paranormal teams don't use scientific method in their past life research. Some do employ critical thinking and use technology to take measurements and readings, but there are very few non parapsychologist-led teams out there today who are utilizing scientific method to form and test hypotheses. Instead, they seek a piecemeal approach, measuring atmospheric conditions such as temperature and electromagnetic frequency, using recording and photographic equipment in an attempt to capture audio and visual anomalies, recording personal experiences, engaging the use of psychic mediums, and attempting to "debunk" claims of activity.
For many people who have shared their personal experiences with the afterlife, the word debunk is inflammatory, because it implies they are making up their experience or perpetuating fraud. To a person who is already in spiritual and emotional disarray due to such an experience, being told that someone is coming to "debunk" his or her claims seems to be a form of gaslighting, albeit unintentional. This can cause further emotional distress to someone who is already concerned about the social or mental implications of sharing his or her experience. In his January 2013 interview on Paranormal Underground Radio, Loyd Auerbach took issue with paranormal teams using the word "debunk" in their investigations, because the definition of debunking indicates that some fraud is present. While investigators may certainly wish to try and find natural causes for phenomena, assuming the perpetration of fraud on the part of the person reporting possible afterlife experiences is not a constructive approach to investigation. Instead, attempting to find logical explanations by seeking natural conditions that may lead to the experience is more constructive.
The multi-pronged approach to paranormal and afterlife investigation and research doesn't come so much from science or parapsychology as it does from popular media. Television shows like SyFy's Ghost Hunters, Travel Channel's Ghost Adventures, and A&E's Paranormal State all demonstrate investigators following the methods that teams now use. Many paranormal research teams copy their methods, touting this as taking a scientific approach. What they are really doing, however, is using technology and critical thinking in pursuit of the afterlife. Unfortunately, in the name of what they believe to be science, many of these teams discount important indicators of afterlife experiences: psychic communication and personal experiences. On Paranormal Underground Radio, Loyd Auerbach stated that these experiences were of paramount importance in paranormal investigation. However, the push towards scientific dogmatism causes many to render these experiences unworthy of note because they don't fit within the framework of what current skeptics say will convince them. Ironically, however, as Montague Keen noted in his article in the Journal of Scientific Exploration, even extremely compelling and scientifically controlled evidence failed to convince the skeptics in the case of the Scole Experimental Group.
Unfortunately, all of this debate about what is scientifically valid and what is not only creates noise that draws attention from what is truly important in paranormal research: helping the living deal with these activities, and helping any souls who are disembodied but remain ego-identified to move on so they can follow the true path of their spirit.
From all my experiences in my years of afterlife and paranormal investigation and research and being a psychic medium, as well as from the research and experiences shared by those quoted in this paper and others to whom I have spoken, I am firmly convinced that there is sufficient evidence supporting survival of consciousness after death. I also realize my belief is unlikely to change the larger discussion between believers and disbelievers. This is why my role in the afterlife research has changed, and why I believe that other metaphysicians involved in afterlife research should re-evaluate their roles, as well. While I certainly advocate for people to continue striving to collect evidence of the afterlife through careful research and personal experiences, I also realize that, as a metaphysicians, we have a much more important roles to play. We are here to help.
Over the years, I've talked to hundreds of people involved with paranormal research teams. I have met them at conferences, interviewed them on my radio show, answered their emails, and interviewed them for the magazine. Nearly every person I've talked to says their main goal of paranormal and/or afterlife research (aside from satisfying personal curiosity or proving ghosts exist) is to help others. One of the television ghost shows is notorious for investigators showing up at the door of their clients and saying, "We're here to help."
Since I started talking with these investigators, one question kept coming up in my mind. "How do you help?" With that question ringing in my mind, I began asking it aloud. A majority of the people I talked to said they helped by finding natural explanations for what is going on in a reportedly haunted location. When asked, "How does that help?" the response was typically either, "I don't know," or something along the lines of, "Because now they know it's not paranormal." Providing explanations--especially natural explanations that show activity isn't paranormal--is certainly helpful. Knowing that the creaking of floors or opening of doors can be caused by natural wood expansion and not disembodied spirits can alleviate fear. However, how does a team help if the house has a genuine spirit? How do you help the living? How do you help the spirits?
During the course of their investigations, some teams use a technique commonly referred to as provoking, in which they enter a home and demand the spirits show themselves and interact, often using insulting or profane language, aggressive posture, and a loud tone. How does this help either the living or the dead, particularly if they leave a home or business with a bunch of angry or insulted spirits left behind after their treatment at the hands of the investigators?
These questions weighed heavily on me during my first few years as an afterlife researcher, until I one day found myself in the office of hypnotherapist Howard Batie. I was interviewing him for the local newspaper about his life-between-lives hypnotherapy practice. Howard was as fascinated by what I do as I was by his work, and after peppering me with a series of questions, he asked me this: "How do you help?"
There I was, faced with the question I'd secretly been asking myself. At the time, I was going to locations, documenting activity and experiences, providing natural explanations, offering any audio or visual evidence, and then leaving. Howard's question hit at the very root of my concern that I wasn't doing enough to help the living or the dead to deal with the aftermath of true brushes with the afterlife. With the question now burning in my mind, I went home and thought about it. I prayed and meditated. I offered affirmations that, in my work, I genuinely helped. I offered gratitude to the universe for providing me with a way to help. It changed everything. It changed how I chose to work with people who have experienced the afterlife, as well as with the spirits in the afterlife themselves. It also changed my role on the team. Determined to be of actual help, I returned to my work with a new sense of purpose.
As always, as soon as I was ready to make a change, the universe provided me with the means to do so. On our next several investigations, I began working with the living who had brushes with the afterlife in a different way. My approach became much more consultative. I started doing walk-throughs independently of the team and having long discussions with the home or business owners who'd reported the experiences. During the walk-throughs, I spent a great deal of time first talking to the spirits to learn if they were there, why they were there, and what (if anything) was keeping them there. I would then have long conversations with the home or business owners about their fears, expectations, and personal lives. From the living, I quickly discovered that in many cases, the activity occurred because there were one or more people in the home with latent psychic abilities.
In those cases, I spent time talking to them and helping them learn to come to terms with and work with those abilities. I also taught them techniques for grounding, centering, shielding, and filtering. Typically, I also offered them techniques for meditation to help tune in to the messages they were receiving from their higher selves. In cases where latent psychic abilities didn't appear to be present, I spent time discussing with the people their feelings of social pressure or anxiety to not have this happening, and their fears or concerns associated with their personal religion, and their fears about death and the unknown. I helped them better understand from a metaphysical perspective what was going on and what it might mean for them.
As for the spirits, I began talking to them in depth. I discovered that not all souls I communicated with were stuck here as ghosts. Many had crossed over to the other side but came back in order to offer information, comfort, or love to those left behind. These spirits could be just as insistent as those who were actually ego-identified, causing ghostly phenomena just as the spirit team did for the Scole Experimental Group. Those cases were easy to resolve, because all I needed to do was pass on the message, and the souls on both sides of the veil were satisfied and happily went about their business. I discovered just how important this communication was for people on both sides of the veil.
For the living people receiving the message, they often had fears about what had happened to loved ones after they died. They might also have felt the presence of deceased loved ones, but thought it was their imagination. Some of the living harbored guilt about unresolved relationships, or worried that their loved ones had not made it to heaven. On the side of the disembodied consciousness, they often wanted to communicate love and comfort, to offer forgiveness, or to help alleviate the worries and fears of loved ones. Facilitating this type of communication quickly helped resolve many of these negative or fearful feelings so that the spirit could go about his or her path while the living soul could begin to fully engage in his or her life again.
Spirits that remained ego-identified presented more of a challenge. I worked with them to understand why they were staying in the space and helped them to resolve any issues that might be keeping them identified with ego. The reasons they presented were many, from worrying about living loved ones or possessions to fearing their misdeeds would send them to Hell. Even in the case of souls who are no longer living, I found that religious teachings and belief systems could result in ongoing fear that caused these spirits to remain ego-identified instead of moving along their souls' paths. My role was to talk them through these issues so they understood it was safe and in their best interests to let go of ego identification and move fully over to the other side. In some cases, this became an ongoing conversation that continued to occur over a period of days or weeks until the spirit had resolved what he or she felt was necessary and finally moved on to the afterlife.
Once proving evidence of the afterlife to skeptics is off the table, if the primary goal of the paranormal or afterlife researcher is to help, then taking a metaphysical approach to working with the living and the dead is essential in accomplishing this goal. As I discovered in my own work, metaphysical paranormal researchers can help both the living and the dead through education, emotional support, energy manipulation, and counseling.
Providing education for living people having experiences of the afterlife--whether reincarnation memories, ghosts, medium communications, or near-death experiences--can help them replace fear with knowledge and understanding. The type of education provided depends largely upon the needs of the client. Some people with strong religious indoctrination, for example, may fear that any of these experiences are not consistent with Christian belief systems. Others may fear that ghostly activity is a sign of a demon. For these people, sharing others' experiences, exploring the nature of life after death, and finding explanations that fit within their religious framework may help ease these fears.
For spirits that are still ego-identified, education includes helping them to understand the implications of having chosen to remain attached to the human realm instead of moving along on their spirit's path. Discussion of moving on, life on the other side, Heaven and Hell, moving through doors, and the ability to see missed loved ones can all help the spirit to begin to consider moving forward on his or her path.
For both the living and disembodied spirits, counseling goes hand-in-hand with education. With the living, it is important to ask questions about fears and experiences. Metaphysical practitioners should attempt to discover social, mental, emotional, or psychic reasons behind haunting experiences, for instance. In many cases, what the client experiences is not a true haunting, but rather a manifestation of physical, mental, or emotional stress. In these cases, the metaphysician can offer resources such as psychological counseling, or they may be able to work with the clients in order to understand how these factors may be affecting their physical environment.
In cases of true afterlife experiences, regardless of the type, the metaphysician can offer counseling in the form of reframing experiences so they are no longer frightening. To determine the best way to help, metaphysical practitioners should actively question their clients, determining what type of resolution they would like to see and how the client best feels the practitioner can help. Being supportive and letting the clients know you are there for them and that they are not alone can also help them deal with any difficult emotions they may be experiencing as a result of their brushes with the afterlife. Sometimes all they need is for someone to support and believe in their experience to no longer feel so alone.
Counseling disembodied spirits who remain ego-identified is quite similar to counseling the living. If the metaphysician is a psychic medium, he or she can enter into a conversation with the spirit. If he or she is not, then he or she can work with a medium that can facilitate such a conversation. During this conversation, the practitioner should attempt to learn why the spirit has chosen to remain ego-identified. Through active listening and careful conversation, the metaphysician can help remove any fears or resolve issues that are blocking the spirit from moving on. While this can happen instantaneously, in some cases it may take ongoing conversation to resolve the issues. Likewise, the metaphysician can engage the spirits and guides of loved ones who have already crossed to come aid in the crossing.
Working with the energy of the situation can help spirits transition, and it can calm the energetic field of the client, helping them through what they may see as a frightening situation. Metaphysicians can use any type of energy healing that works for them, whether providing metaphysical treatments, offering affirmations and visualizations, using energetic crystals, burning herbs, engaging in prayer, or offering energy healing techniques such as Reiki, Chios, Quantum Touch, or other modalities. The energetic healing approach works with both the living and the dead, because on the soul level, we are all beings of light and energy.
In some cases, a metaphysical approach may not help in spite of one's best efforts. In these cases, the clients may require some other type of assistance. For example, if a very religious person believes he or she is dealing with a demon and nothing can be done metaphysically to help that person, then a referral to clergy in their religion is the best possible choice. In cases of suspected mental illness, referral to trained mental health professionals may be necessary. In cases where a physical illness may be causing perceived afterlife or ghostly experiences, then referral to a physician is likely indicated. In cases where environmental conditions such as high levels of electromagnetic frequency, radon poisoning, or carbon-monoxide may be contributing to the perceived activity, referral to a home inspector and/or contractor is vital to the health and safety of the occupants.
Providing help to spirits and people experiencing them requires a delicate touch. Practitioners of metaphysics in these situations must be grounded, centered, and compassionate. They must rely on their higher creative power to attain individual solutions depending on the needs of the client. All of the aforementioned techniques are mere suggestions, and each practitioner must seek guidance from their higher self as to how to best help in any given situation.
Over the past century, afterlife research has provided intriguing data suggesting that the human soul does survive bodily death. Researchers with the Society for Psychical Research, the Scole Experimental Group, and many others have shared findings and experiences that clearly indicate that something is occurring that exists outside of the bounds of traditional science. Unfortunately, there remains a prevailing dogmatic belief that if things don't completely mesh with material science, they must not be real. This leaves people who have these experiences worrying that they may be mentally ill or mistaken. It also pushes people who continue to attempt to learn from such experiences in the margins of society, often working in the dark with little social, emotional, or spiritual support.
From the other side of the veil, this societal, scientific, and religious atmosphere of disbelief about survival of consciousness phenomena such as reincarnation, ghosts, medium communications, and near-death experiences renders it extremely difficult for spirits to pass important information or loving messages onto the living. Since the messages many of these spirits have are messages of love, inspiration, and comfort, it is extremely important to the bodied and the disembodied that such messages get through. It also may contribute to ego-identified spirits remaining in the earthly plane, either unable or unwilling to move on. These types of spirits require the compassionate assistance and guidance of a metaphysical practitioner, who can help them reunite fully with their higher self.
In order to resolve these issues, it is essential that there are metaphysical practitioners that facilitate these communications, helping souls both living and dead to understand their experiences. Many living people, seeking help for such experiences, turn to the "experts" they see in popular media, which are typically ghost hunting groups who have been inadequately trained in providing support to bodied and disembodied souls. While it appears that these paranormal teams are here to stay, the groups would do well to find metaphysical practitioners to assist or consult in their investigations as a regular part of the team. Aided by their higher selves and using metaphysical understandings, healing methods, and communication techniques, these practitioners can provide the true help that the souls of the living and the dead need to continue to move forward on their soul's path.
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When my son, Tanner, was three years old, I asked him a question.
“Tell me about before I was your mom,” I said to him one night as we snuggled in his bed after story time.
His eyes widened and his entire face lit up.
“Ohhhhhhhhhh!” he exclaimed happily, as if he had been waiting for me to ask him that question for years. “I was a doctor on a boat to Africa!”
“Really?” I said. “Tell me about it.”
For the next ten minutes, he did. He talked in a matter of fact tone about sailing routes and patients. He discussed feeling good about the people he could help, as well as his frustration and sadness in the cases he wasn’t able to help.
Hearing the thoughts and feelings of a mature man in the high-pitched and enthusiastic voice of a three-year-old boy was surreal. It seemed he had a story to tell, and he’d just been waiting for someone to ask.
Tanner is now an 18-year-old college freshman. While he has heard the story of this conversation over the years, he has little to no recollection of participating in it.
I don’t know what led me to ask that question, but I believe Tanner answered as he did for a very specific reason. At the time, I wasn’t so sure humans had souls. In fact, I’d characterized my entire life up until that point as a struggle to find faith, something I always seemed to lack in spite of my traditional Christian upbringing.
This conversation opened up a glimmer of possibility in my mind and heart that humans had souls. My son was the catalyst that brought me to where I am today, and for that I am very grateful.
An Intro to Reincarnation
Reincarnation tales flow through many different cultures and faiths, raising questions about what happens to human consciousness after death, as well as from whence human consciousness arises before birth. Metaphysics, at its heart, seeks to explain the experience of humanity from a spiritual standpoint. It is an exploration of human consciousness and the soul as we seek to learn who we are, who we have been, and who we will become. Likewise, past-life recall can provide insight to some of the biggest questions we have regarding our ultimate purpose, as well as explaining the karmic nature of our lives.
The study of reincarnation can help us begin to answer some of the foundational questions that underlie metaphysical science by exploring the indestructible nature of the human soul. Reincarnation memories can prove to us that we are much more than the shells we carry around as bodies. Most importantly, they can remind us we are eternal souls who not only arise from God Consciousness, but also have the Divine as a critical part of our makeup. In this way, the reincarnation experience can serve as a conduit to higher spiritual truth. When we open our hearts and minds to understanding past-life experiences, we can enjoy a rapid expansion of consciousness as we begin to grasp our own Divinity.
A number of researchers have studied reincarnation. Such research begins with past-life recall, which is gleaned from various types of experiences including spontaneous waking recall, past-life regression hypnotherapy, psychic information, meditation, and dream visions.
Such information, while often profound to the one who experiences it, is not considered hard science because the information is anecdotal. However, careful researchers can then verify specific details in these anecdotal stories of past-life recall in order to create hard data that builds a scientific case for reincarnation.
For many, scientific verification is essential before one is willing to expand beyond humanism to matters of the soul. While such data is invaluable in helping people recognize their Divinity, ultimately what is metaphysically important in past-life recall lies in each individual’s interpretation of it. It becomes a bridge from agnosticism to spiritual truth. Once someone realizes he or she has lived before, then the mind opens to the implications of being an eternal soul.
In this blog, I will outline the work of several past-life researchers. I will also introduce a number of people who have experienced past-life recall and share the important metaphysical insights they have gained as a result of their discoveries. Finally, I will show how past-life recall can be utilized in metaphysical science to help create a conduit through which metaphysical teachings can flow.
Two-thirds of the world’s population believes in reincarnation, although the idea receives less support in the Western world than in the East. Many researchers have sought to prove the validity of reincarnation, and many have reached the same conclusions as more than 66 percent of the global population: Reincarnation is a reality.
It is not unusual for very young children to share information that sounds suspiciously like past-life recall. For researchers seeking information about reincarnation, it is advantageous to talk to these young children, who seem to be more able to spontaneously recall details of past lives than adults.
Dr. Ian Stevenson
One of the most well-respected researchers into past-life recall in children was Dr. Ian Stevenson, who investigated more than 3,000 cases around the world into children’s spontaneous past-life recall, writing books including Twenty Cases Suggestive of Reincarnation and Life Before Life. In his research, Dr. Stevenson interviewed thousands of children who made statements that suggested past-life recall. He then followed up with meticulous research, verifying names of the alleged previous incarnation, interviewing family members from the alleged past life, visiting places, and even discovering physical birthmarks on the children that matched scars or other markings from their previous incarnations.
In many cases, Dr. Stevenson took the children to visit their former incarnations’ homes, and they identified critical landmarks, people, and events during these visits.
In his book Life Before Life, Dr. Stevenson noted that the children he researched who were making past-life statements did so when they were very young. “Most who talk about a past life begin doing so between the ages of two and four,” Stevenson stated. “The children almost always stop talking about the past life around the age of six to seven.”
With children so young providing information about people and places they had never experienced, Dr. Stevenson reached the conclusion that the children’s cases strongly suggested they were, indeed, relaying information from past lives.
Dr. Jim B. Tucker
One of Dr. Stevenson’s colleagues, Dr. Jim B. Tucker, continued with his own research into children’s spontaneous past-life recall after Dr. Stevenson’s death in 2007. In his book Return to Life, Dr. Tucker described the conclusions at which he arrived as a result of his comprehensive reincarnation research. Like Dr. Stevenson, Dr. Tucker found the evidence of spontaneous past-life recall in children compelling. However, Dr. Tucker also offered insight onto why reincarnation experiences may occur. “Our attitudes in this life may affect what we experience after we die and perhaps even whether we come back here for another life at all,” he stated.
Carol Bowman has also dedicated her life to reincarnation work. She has practiced as a past-life regression hypnotherapist for adults since 1989. Likewise, she has spent many years studying children’s spontaneous past-life recall, which she wrote about in her books, Children’s Past Lives and Return from Heaven. What’s unique about Carol Bowman is that her research has focused on children’s spontaneous past-life recall in the West, while Dr. Stevenson and Dr. Tucker predominately focused on cases in places in the East where the culture is more accepting of reincarnation.
Carol Bowman’s work tells of numerous Western parents whose children have come to them with uncanny stories suggesting they were recalling a past life. Because many Western parents have a Christian background, they may be quite disconcerted by these experiences, which don’t fit with traditional Christian beliefs of what happens after one dies. Carol Bowman seeks to provide a safe space for parents to discuss and understand these issues while forwarding research into spontaneous past-life recall in children.
From the stories parents shared, Ms. Bowman identified four major signs that the child is relaying a past-life memory in her book Children’s Past Lives. These include speaking in a matter-of-fact tone, relaying consistent information over time, sharing knowledge beyond experience, and displaying corresponding behavior and traits.
Dr. Brian Weiss
Unlike the aforementioned researchers, Dr. Brian Weiss didn’t set out to discover anything about the human soul. A practicing psychiatrist, Dr. Weiss stumbled onto reincarnation and life-between-lives research while working with a female patient who was struggling with severe anxiety and phobias.
It was during a regular regression hypnotherapy session to delve into these anxieties that Dr. Weiss’s patient slipped spontaneously into a state of past-life regression, and then later into a state of the soul as it exists between lives. While in a hypnotically induced soul state, the patient provided many details about Dr. Weiss and his family that she couldn’t have known on her own. Many of the details were of a very private and personal nature, but they served to convince Dr. Weiss that his patient was, indeed, communicating from a higher soul dimension.
Weiss chronicles his year of work with that client in his book Many Lives, Many Masters. In the book, Weiss describes his client’s explanation of why humans reincarnate. She made the statement during a hypnotherapy session while she was reportedly in a soul state. “Our task is to learn, to become God-like through knowledge. By knowledge we approach God, and then we can rest. Then, we come back to teach and help others.” Later, the same patient spoke to Dr. Weiss in a soul state, affirming the existence of the Divine in each person by telling him, “They tell me there are many gods, for God is in each of us.”
After about a year of such regression sessions, Dr. Weiss’s patient’s lifelong deep anxieties and fears calmed, and she stopped therapy. Because of these sessions, Dr. Weiss has gone on to write many books and teach classes about the power of the human soul. He credits his change in philosophy, spirituality, and work to his year of sessions with that patient.
Dr. Michael Newton
Another researcher who found his way unwittingly to past-life and life-between-lives research is Dr. Michael Newton. Like Dr. Weiss, Dr. Newton discovered his life’s work accidentally when a patient spontaneously slipped into a past life during a traditional regression session.
Although he was quite skeptical, this session piqued Dr. Newton’s interest, and he began experimenting with past-life and life-between-lives hypnotherapy. Over many years, Dr. Newton conducted hundreds of past-life regression and life-between-lives regression hypnotherapy sessions. During these sessions, he discovered startling similarities in the experiences clients relayed from the soul state, where they went after they died in a previous life but before they were born in their current life.
To facilitate his work, Dr. Newton created a non-leading hypnotherapy protocol to induce the deep states of hypnosis required for past-life and life-between-lives work. He also provided a stunning and beautiful glimpse of the human soul as it exists both inside and outside the human body. Dr. Newton has chronicled these sessions in his books Journey of Souls, Destiny of Souls, and Memories of the Afterlife. From his hundreds of cases of these regressions, Dr. Newton reached what he feels is the inescapable conclusion that the human soul reincarnates many times, and that the soul has a rich and ongoing learning experience while on the other side, as well.
“Spiritual discoveries that come from the inner mind allow for the exposure of personal truths that no outside religious intermediary or institutional affiliation can duplicate,” Dr. Newton said of his research in Memories of the Afterlife. “People who have this kind of spiritual experience see a universal consciousness that is not indifferent to the actions and fates of human beings.”
Dr. Walter Semkiw
Another skeptic turned reincarnation researcher is Dr. Walter Semkiw. Dr. Semkiw’s interest arose from his own personal experiences with past -life recall. When he was a medical student, Dr. Semkiw visited a psychic on a lark at the suggestion of a friend. During that session, the psychic told Dr. Semkiw he was the reincarnation of American revolutionary, John Adams, who was George Washington’s Vice President. Dr. Semkiw immediately dismissed the information and went about his life.
Eleven years later and now a practicing physician, Dr. Semkiw heard an unseen voice command him to study the life of John Adams. He began doing just that over the next two years, and discovered a number of similarities in his personality and life to those of John Adams – far beyond what he felt to be coincidence. Through his research, Dr. Semkiw grew less skeptical, and he began identifying others in his life that had also been part of the American Revolution with him. Dr. Semkiw chronicles his story in the book Return of Revolutionaries: The Case for Reincarnation and Soul Groups Reunited.
During his research, Dr. Semkiw reached the conclusion, via personal experiences, synchronistic events, and research that reincarnation was not only a reality, but that people carried many traits from one life to another such as personality, facial structure, interests, and even loved ones. In Return of the Revolutionaries, Dr. Semkiw states of people from one incarnation to the next, “One’s mind appeared to remain the same, in that people seemed to think in similar patters and have consistent interests, motivations, values, and even writing styles.” Since his own discovery of his past lives, Dr. Semkiw has researched a number of other cases. He chronicles all of those on his website, IISIS (Institute for the Integration of Science, Intuition, and Spirit).
While the topic of reincarnation has always interested me, my first personal contact (outside of one conversation with my three-year-old) with someone who believed he was the reincarnation of a specific individual was with a man named Jeffrey Keene. Mr. Keene is the author of Someone Else’s Yesterday, which tells the personal story of his spontaneous recall of a previous life as Civil War General John B. Gordon.
Jeffrey Keene was in his 50s when he experienced spontaneous past-life recall on a visit to the Antietam battlefield in Maryland. With his experiences, he began researching the life of General John B. Gordon, someone he’d never heard of before. What followed at first seemed like a series of odd coincidences and synchronicities, which ultimately led to Mr. Keene’s conclusion that the similarities were too great to be coincidence and that he was, indeed, the reincarnation of General John B. Gordon.
Some researchers, including Dr. Walter Semkiw, who is President of the Institute for the Integration of Science, Intuition, and Spirit (IISIS), have called Keene’s case one with some of the most compelling evidence of reincarnation ever.
In an interview I did with Jeffrey Keene for the September, 2008 issue of Paranormal Underground, he shared his beliefs about the importance of the past-life memory experience. Mr. Keene feels that he was led to his experience by his soul for a reason: to share the messages of the soul with others. In Someone Else’s Yesterday, Jeffrey Keene stated he believes that his experience taught him that we are all One, and that love never dies.
Jeffrey Keene also believes this serves as both a comfort and as a call to action.
In his interview with me in the September 2008 Paranormal Underground, Mr. Keen said the following: “We’re here as teachers, we’re here as students, we’re here to pay back debts,” he told me. “Maybe we have karma we need to work out, or maybe we need to help someone else with resolution of their karma. We’re all just trying to get back to where we started.”
Keene isn’t alone in his belief that reincarnation experiences have a karmic element to them. Dr. Paul Leon Masters, founder and president of the University of Metaphysics, also suggests that karma plays a large role in the reincarnation experience. According to Dr. Masters, along with karmic reasons, the purpose of reincarnation is the growth and evolution of the soul. Dr. Masters noted, “…the purpose of one’s physical existence is to manifest the perfection of the Infinite God through the vehicle of the physical body.” He notes that the karmic aspect of reincarnation serves as an impetus for people to be kinder and get through life with greater compassion in order to minimize the karmic aspects of coming back in yet another life.
Melissa Watts, who is a past-life and life-between-lives regression hypnotherapist and the author of Lessons of Many Lives, agrees. Along with regressing others to allow them the past-life experience, Melissa Watts has, herself, been regressed many times. I co-wrote Melissa Watts’s book about her own past-life experiences. Recently, I emailed to ask Ms. Watts about what she felt was the purpose of the past-life recall experience. In an email response, Melissa Watts said the value of the reincarnation experience is to help wake people up to the true nature of who they are.
According to Melissa Watts, once we have seen ourselves as someone outside of our current ego-identified self, it becomes more difficult to retain that ego-identification without also allowing for recognition of the Divinity of one’s soul. “The value in remembering allows one to begin to break free of old paradigms and start the journey of awareness that leads to complete connection in of spiritual nature,” Ms. Watts wrote in her email to me. She feels that reincarnation memories allow people to connect to the wholeness of the universe. “It connects us to our universal heritage as loving beings of the entire universe.” Past-life recall, Melissa Watts contends, gives us a sense of who we are and the responsibilities to ourselves and others that entails.
The Reality of Reincarnation
The works of Dr. Ian Stevenson, Dr. Walter Semkiw, Dr. Brian Weiss, Dr. Michael Newton, Dr. Jim Tucker, Carol Bowman, Melissa Watts, and others like them build a strong case for the reality of the reincarnation experience. Dr. Stevenson’s work in particular builds powerful cases of children’s spontaneous past-life recall, using meticulous research to verify the statements and memories of very young children.
Dr. Newton’s work holds up well based on the similarities of stories clients share of the afterlife while in a deep hypnotic state. Newton himself worked with hundreds of cases that reported stunningly similar landscapes, activities, and feelings in the afterlife, as did the clients of many other therapists Dr. Newton trained to perform this hypnotherapy around the world. The consistency in stories across hundreds of clients makes a sound case for the existence of both reincarnation and the experience of souls between lives.
Dr. Walter Semkiw’s work tackles the questions of past-life recall in adults. In the cases he details on his IISIS website, Dr. Semkiw seeks physical and spiritual evidence of reincarnation. In Return of the Revolutionaries, Dr. Semkiw states what he believes will be the impact of reincarnation experiences on society as a whole. “As the reality of reincarnation is accepted, and as we better understand the mechanism of how human evolution occurs, significant changes will take place in our worldview and approach to life.”
One of the cases Dr. Semkiw researched was Jeffrey Keene’s. In Dr. Semkiw’s article on the IISIS website, “Past Life Story of John B. Gordon | Jeff Keene,” he outlines an evidentiary case that links Jeffrey Keene to General John B. Gordon. The evidence Dr. Semkiw cites includes similar birthmarks and scars between the two men, similar facial structure, similar talents and interests, emotional spontaneous recall of past-life experiences, synchronistic events, similar linguistic and writing style, and ongoing relationships among the same group of souls throughout lifetimes.
Jeffrey Keene bears scars on his body that match where John B. Gordon was wounded in the Civil War. Side-by-side photographs of General Gordon and Mr. Keene reveal a striking similarity of appearance. Both also worked in similar professions, and many of the people in Jeffrey Keene’s life bear a strong physical and social resemblance to many of the people in General Gordon’s life.
Likewise, Mr. Keene experienced a profound emotional reaction during a visit to the Sunken Road at the Antietam battlefield in Sharpsburg, Maryland before he ever had a single memory of General Gordon’s life. It was this reaction that sparked Jeffrey Keene’s research into General John B. Gordon, as well as additional spontaneous memories of that life.
In her book, Lessons of Many Lives, Melissa Watts discusses how people may carry phobias, illnesses, or other physical and psychological manifestations from past lives into this life. She relates her own experiences of physical ailments in this life that traced back to a past-life experience, and points out that her clients may experience relief of physical or psychological symptoms after discovering their source in a past life.
Dr. Brian Weiss offers a similar view in his work in Many Lives Many Masters. Indeed, his client’s profound anxiety and phobias disappeared as she worked her way through the past lives in which they had originated.
My Personal Experience with Reincarnation
Reading about past-life research is one thing, but experiencing it for oneself is another. Fascinated with my forays into the research of others, I sought to find my own past-life experiences. Believing spontaneous recall wasn’t on the horizon for me, I sought experience through past-life regression hypnotherapy, instead.
My first past-life regression session occurred with Rita Ballard, a hypnotherapist in Chehalis, Washington. I approached her as a skeptic, intending to write an article about my past-life regression hypnotherapy experience for an article in Paranormal Underground. I had that session with Ms. Ballard in August of 2008 and wrote about my experiences in the September 2008 Paranormal Underground.
In March of 2009, I sought Ms. Ballard out again for a follow-up session, also for an article for Paranormal Underground. I wrote that article in the June 2009 issue. After both sessions, I performed extensive research into the things I’d seen and experienced, seeking historical comparisons to determine how likely it was that I truly was revisiting past lives.
Then, in July of 2009, I had a life-changing experience. I was inexplicably drawn to a historical location (Wellington, Washington, the site of the worst avalanche disaster in the history of the United States, which occurred in 1910) nearly to the point of obsession. I knew nothing about the location when I first went there, but I returned repeatedly to it (and continue to do so to this day). So strong was my connection with the location that it became the subject of two books I wrote and a documentary I filmed.
In my mind’s eye, I could clearly envision the events surrounding this location. In one case, I truly felt as if I was experiencing them myself. Because of these experiences, several people suggested I return to Rita Ballard to see if I could discover the source of my connection to Wellington. To that end, I returned for a third past-life hypnotherapy session with Ms. Ballard in the spring of 2010.
With my interest in reincarnation growing, especially given my experiences at Wellington, I determined that I would like to try Dr. Michael Newton’s methodology for life-between-lives hypnotherapy. I was seeking a greater understanding of the events of my life, as well as understanding my growing interest in spiritual matters. Likewise, I felt there was something – some life’s purpose – that was right there before me that I just couldn’t see.
Through Dr. Newton’s organization, I received a referral to a local hypnotherapist, Howard Batie. In the summer of 2012, Mr. Batie led me through a fourth past-life regression hypnotherapy session. A few weeks later he conducted a life-between-lives hypnotherapy session for me. Along with my research, all of these experiences are important factors in the findings and conclusions I have drawn about the value of the reincarnation experience in spiritual and metaphysical growth.
In each of my past-life regression sessions, I had the very odd experience of feeling as if I had little control over certain aspects of my mind during the hypnotherapy sessions. For example, I had always kept my emotions around other people under fairly tight control. I seldom cried in front of any other person, including my family. Yet, in every single past-life regression session I had, I sobbed unabashedly in sadness or joy. I had no control over it, yet it occurred every time. Once I cried over the death of a spouse. Another time, I cried over the birth of a child. A third time, I wept at the beauty of a piece of music. A fourth time, I cried when my daughter got married.
Likewise, the pictures I saw and things I experienced came into my mind during hypnotherapy occurred regardless of any effort of my conscious mind to control them, and I tried very hard to control them. Finally, my historical research showed me that the things I experienced and saw, such as fashions, vocabulary, houses, and events, were extremely accurate for the time period I was seeing and experiencing during my hypnotherapy sessions.
These hypnotherapy experiences allowed me to overcome my inherent skepticism, leading me to the conclusion that something was, indeed, happening during my past-life regression sessions that was outside of the realm of my ego-identified self. It was something inside of me that had little to do with my current personal self-identification. With both my research and personal experiences of past lives pointing in the same direction, I have reached the conclusion that reincarnation is a reality, but what does it mean and why does it matter? To answer that, I turn to my own personal experiences, the experiences others have shared, and the words, findings, and experiences of those who work in the field.
While all of Jeffrey Keene’s past-life memories were spontaneous and he sought no past-life regression hypnotherapy to learn about his time as General John B. Gordon, he researched his memories of General Gordon in a manner similar to how I researched the past lives I had seen in my hypnotherapy sessions. Mr. Keene found that the details matched far beyond what one could ever consider coincidence.
In my interview with Jeffrey Keene for the September 2008 Paranormal Underground, he told me that one of the most important things he learned from his past-life recall experiences is that love lasts forever, and that once we know this, we have no choice but to change the way we live our lives. This has been Jeffrey Keene’s personal experience as he’s sought to make sense of his recall of the lifetime of General John B. Gordon. Dr. Masters relates the knowledge of past lives to discovering our purpose, noting, “The most important of these would be the explanation of the purpose of the individual life.”
Melissa Watts, who has participated in more than 100 past-life regression sessions for herself and others, also feels that the ultimate purpose of these experiences is to discover our soul’s purpose, as well as the purpose of those around us. “This recognition can give a deeper understanding of these relationships as well as how over many lifetimes they help us learn, love, and move forward in our soul progression,” Ms. Watts noted in her email to me.
My past-life regression hypnotherapist, Howard Batie, added his own take on the reincarnation experience, telling me in an email, “A single past-life regression (PLR) is only one data point, one piece of the larger puzzle you're trying to understand. If you experience several PLRs and there is a common thread or theme (e.g., betrayal by a best friend, dying of starvation, etc.) that pattern gets imprinted into your soul record until it's released.”
As for me, my conclusions are similar to those to whom I spoke, but more personally profound. What started as an interest sparked by a conversation with my three-year-old son set me the path my soul was longing for me to take. While much of my young adult life was a struggle for faith, as I began my reincarnation journey I found that the reason faith was so lacking in my early life was because I was seeking it from a source outside of myself. Once I discovered Divinity within me, faith became a no-brainer, and I have never struggled with it for a moment since.
Convincing the Skeptics
My exploration of reincarnation and life-between-lives led me to know beyond a shadow of a doubt that I am an eternal soul that is one part of the Divine. Without the reincarnation experience, I quite simply would still be searching outside of myself for faith and never finding it. With my relatively faithless life up until my reincarnation experiences, I was a tough nut to crack. If the reincarnation experience helped a hardened skeptic like me find the Divine, then it can help others, too.
In fact, I’m far from the only skeptic who has been convinced of the validity of the human soul from reincarnation experiences. Dr. Brian Weiss was a medical doctor and psychiatrist who was a self-identified skeptic, as well. Yet, today he spends a great deal of time in pursuit of the soul. Another medical doctor, Dr. Walter Semkiw initially dismissed his information about past lives. However, after synchronistic events he couldn’t ignore, his past-life experiences led him to found IISIS to carry on reincarnation research. Dr. Michael Newton was also a man of science and a skeptic whose life turned around due to the past-life recall experience. Jeffrey Keene was also skeptical, as were many others like him. So was Melissa Watts. So was I. However, after each touched of us touched our infinite souls through the past-life recall experience, it fully changed our lives and spiritual landscapes.
Reincarnation led me to my soul, and with what I understand from my research, it has done the same thing for many others, as well.
Why Reincarnation Is Important
It is time for the discussion about reincarnation to move beyond asking whether it exists and instead focus on why our souls lead us to past-life recall, either spontaneously or through past-life regression. Leaders in the field of research, such as Dr. Ian Stevenson, Carol Bowman, Dr. Michael Newton, and Dr. Jim Tucker have done an excellent job of making a solid evidentiary case for the existence of the reincarnation of souls. If one chooses to read the research, it is difficult to overlook the conclusion that souls reincarnate.
However, as we move forward spiritually as a species, we need to delve more deeply into the topic, asking ourselves not if the experience is real, but why we have it. Discovering the reasons for the reincarnation experience remains pivotal in truly coming into our own as Divine spiritual beings.
A Personal Experience
A few years ago, I was drawn to a ghost town in the mountains called Wellington, Washington, which is the site of the worst avalanches in the history of the United States in terms of human lives lost. As previously noted, I was so taken with the subject and the location that I have written two books and made a documentary about it. Although Wellington is about 3½ hours away from my home and only accessible in the summer months, I visit dozens of times every year.
As I dug deeper into the people involved in the Wellington avalanche, I was drawn to one woman in particular, Nellie Sharp McGirl. She was a 26-year-old college-educated female who was separated from her husband. She was aboard the train, traveling from Spokane to Seattle because she wanted to write an article about train travel in the Wild West for McClure’s magazine. She was one of 96 people killed in the avalanche on March 1, 1910.
I felt an instant connection to Nellie, and I was compelled to learn more about her. It took a great deal of time and effort to do so, but ultimately I discovered much more about Nellie. Not only was Nellie a writer, but she was a musician, as well. She also loved golfing and was a reporter for newspapers. She was in San Francisco during the 1906 earthquake there. She was killed in the Wellington avalanche of 1910 as a passenger aboard Local No. 25, a passenger train that the avalanche pushed off the railroad tracks on which it perched, and swept it down the mountainside onto the banks of the Tye River.
Nellie Sharp McGirl and I share a number of similarities. I am a newspaper reporter. I am a musician. I love to golf. I was divorced in my early 20s. All of my life, I have had realistic and frightening dreams about train derailments. I am geo-sensitive and can frequently sense earthquakes before they occur. For example, I was visiting San Francisco in October of 1989 and left the city the day before the Loma Prieta earthquake, even though my husband and I were planning on staying there another week. We left because I had a strong feeling an earthquake was imminent.
I searched for a picture of Nellie Sharp McGirl but was unable to find one. Fortunately, a good friend of mine is much better and finding these types of things than I am, and she was able to procure a picture of Nellie from her college enrollment application. When I first saw the photograph, I thought Nellie resembled my paternal grandmother, but I also felt there was something else that was strangely familiar about her. After a few days of looking at the photograph, it hit me. The picture of Nellie looked almost exactly like one of my high school senior pictures.
I dug the photograph out of storage and scanned it into my computer. Then I gave it a sepia tone like Nellie’s photograph and put the two side by side. She looked exactly like me at around the same age. Also inexplicable to me was the intense reaction I had when I first saw Nellie’s photograph. I burst into tears.
With these developments, I contacted Dr. Walter Semkiw, who is well known and respected for his work in the field of reincarnation research. I told him my story and submitted the side-by-side photos of Nellie Sharp McGirl and me. It was Dr. Semkiw’s opinion that I was Nellie in a past life based on many similarities, both physically and socially.
For further confirmation, Dr. Semkiw consulted with Kevin Ryerson, a respected psychic who channels the spirit of Ahtun Re. Dr. Semkiw and Mr. Ryerson have collaborated frequently on past-life matches, with Dr. Semkiw presenting names and Mr. Ryerson’s channeled entity, Ahtun Re, naming their past-life match. In this consultation, Ahtun Re confirmed that I was, indeed, Nellie Sharp McGirl in a past life.
Dr. Semkiw wrote about the case on the IISIS website in his article, “Reincarnation Case of Nellie Sharp | Karen Frazier and the Wellington, Washington Avalanche and Train Disaster.” According to Dr. Semkiw’s article, my ties with Nellie Sharp meet a number of the criteria consistent with cases believed to be reincarnation including innate talents, psychical resemblance, and relationships renewed through reincarnation.
While my story alone may not be enough to convince a skeptic, it was enough to convince me about the reality and validity of the reincarnation experience. More important than convincing me, however, was what the knowledge did for my life. Once I stopped asking whether I had been reincarnated and instead asked why I had come across my own past-life memory experiences, my spiritual world began to open up. It brought me to my knees in wonder at the intricacy of the universe in which we live and set me on the path to metaphysical growth and understanding in a way no amount of searching, reading and studying could have done on its own. Instead, I was able to experience my Divinity through the past-life experience, which allowed me to come face to face with my soul.
Fortunately, many researchers have tackled reincarnation with very convincing results. However, I’ve learned that reading the results and experiences of others still only generates a series of interesting stories until one experiences it for oneself.
According to Dr. Paul Leon Masters, the purpose reincarnating into physical existence is to “manifest the perfection of the Infinite God throughout the vehicle of the physical body.” Once we do this, we remember that our true nature is Divine.
A Search for Greater Spiritual Truth
My experience with my three-year-old son was just the start of a long journey. While the story he told me at that age sparked my interest, it was my own experience that released me from my agnosticism and sent me in search of greater metaphysical truth. I am far from alone. Many others like me have sought greater spiritual truth in the wake of the past-life recall experience.
Whether through spontaneous recall or past-life regression, the personal reincarnation experience serves as an important catalyst for metaphysical realization and spiritual growth.
Dr. Semkiw’s reincarnation experiences led him to establish IISIS and pursue reincarnation research in order to educate others about the human soul. Jeffrey Keene’s reincarnation experiences caused him to re-evaluate his every belief, leading him to significant spiritual growth. Melissa Watt’s reincarnation experiences led her to become a life-between-lives and past-life regression hypnotherapist so she could participate in the spiritual growth of others. Dr. Michael Newton’s experiences led him to develop a revolutionary new type of life-between-lives hypnotherapy that practitioners around the world use to help others connect with their own Divinity. Dr. Brian Weiss’s experiences led him to a lifetime of spiritual teaching.
All of these people, because of their own experiences with past-life recall and reincarnation, are making significant spiritual and metaphysical contributions to the world. They all serve the important purpose of reminding others that they are more than just a bag of flesh and bones. They remind them that they are Divine, and that God lies within everyone.
My own experiences led me to my work as a Reiki practitioner and energy healer, as well as the work I do as a psychic. It is also leading me to the next step for which my soul has been longing. By opening up my own understanding of my Divinity, it has allowed me to work in the capacity of helping others find theirs.
With so many people seeking to change the world for the better as the result of the reincarnation experience, it’s clear that seeking such an experience can serve as a catalyst to set others on a metaphysical or spiritual path. People seeking to recognize, acknowledge, and truly believe in their own Divinity can only benefit from the past-life recall experience, whether they seek it through meditation, past-life regression, or some other avenue.
Pursuing the past-life experience can ultimately lead us to our soul’s deepest desire – the call to serve.
While many different paths exist to get to this place, the reincarnation experience provides humanity with one way to get there. Therefore, any metaphysical teacher or student seeking to help open their own or another’s heart and soul may do well to suggest or engage in a past-life regression experience. It may serve as the first step they take on the path to Divinity.
Sometimes in life, we feel hurt by the actions of others. In fact, sometimes these hurts feel like such betrayal or the pain runs so deeply that we get stuck in our negative emotions about people, places, or events.
I recently experienced such a betrayal in my life. In fact, I experienced two very similar betrayals from people I thought I could trust within a period of a few weeks. I abruptly ended both of those relationships. As I looked back on them from my place of pain and anger, I could suddenly clearly see the red flags that had been waving in my face all along. Knowing that the signs were there the entire time that these people weren’t really my friends made me even angrier – at them, but even more so at myself because I had turned a blind eye and allowed myself to be blindsided.
For weeks I struggled with my anger, hurt, and sense of betrayal. I understood these feelings were natural, and I needed to allow myself to experience them instead of quashing them, but as time passed I started to realize something else, as well. Me holding on to those feelings wasn’t harming the people who had hurt me – they couldn’t care less. But holding onto those feelings was hurting me and leaving me in a negative space. It was time to move on.
Who Is Forgiveness for Really, Anyway?
When I hear many people discuss forgiveness, they describe it as an act they engage in for the good of the person they are forgiving. I think they’ve got it backwards. Forgiveness is never about anyone else but you. When you forgive another, you are freeing yourself from the burden of the pain you have chosen to accept based on the actions or words of another. When you forgive, in essence you are saying, “I choose to no longer accept pain and negativity as a result of your actions.” Abuse, therefore, is about setting yourself free by choosing to no longer allow those past actions to continue to cause pain in your life.
I once heard someone explain it thusly to an adult survivor of child abuse who was having trouble forgiving their abuser: “That person stopped beating you and causing you physical pain years ago. You’re the one who is continuing to pick up the stick and beat yourself with it.”
It may sound harsh, but it also contains a great truth. Abuse – of any kind – occurs in the moment. When the moment passes, the abuse is over. It’s what we do with it in our hearts and minds that continues that abuse on into our lives, and we become our own abusers.
Put Down the Stick
We all know forgiveness is something we should do. But often, we are unable to find a path to actually make it happen. I believe much of this arises from the mistaken thought forgiveness is about the other guy, and that by forgiving someone else, you are excusing their behavior or saying what they did was okay. When we look at it that way, it renders it difficult to come to a place where we can let go.
Often, we feel like there’s no justice when it comes to how others treat us. The fact they can behave so badly towards us and get away with it feels unjust. But we have no control over the behaviors of others. The only person I can control is me, and the only person you can control is you.
Therefore, the first step in forgiving is reframing the definition and intent of the act. It’s important to understand that metaphysically, forgiveness is an act of self-love and self-care. Forgiveness is all about you, and not about the other guy at all. You are forgiving because of the energetic impact it has on you. When you forgive, you are letting go of the hurt and anger and not allowing yourself to move into that vibrational state any longer. Instead, you are making the supremely self-loving choice of putting down the stick you’ve been beating yourself with and allowing yourself to move on with your life, unfettered by negativity.
Take Positive Steps
While forgiveness can happen in a single moment of choice, more often than not it is a process. Here are some steps to take to help you forgive.
1. Allow yourself the anger and hurt. It’s okay to feel these things in the immediate wake of abuse or betrayal. To quash them and pretend to be happy is being untrue to yourself, so you need to allow these emotions to pass through you. In fact, allowing yourself the full force of the experience helps them to pass more quickly. So in the immediate aftermath of the precipitating incident, do what you’ve got to do. Yell. Scream. Cry. Talk to a supportive friend about your feelings. Write it all out in your journal. Do what it takes to allow yourself the full force of your emotions.
2. But not for too long. Give yourself some time, but realize that at some point, the negativity becomes a destructive force – not towards the other person, but in your psyche. After you’ve allowed the full force of your emotions, start taking tentative steps towards forgiveness.
3. Expect resistance. It’s human nature to want to exact revenge; to want to hold on to your anger and resentment; to want the object of your anger to feel your wrath. So as you start to explore the concept of forgiveness, expect pushback from your ego in the form of a big “HELL NO.” This, too is natural.
4. Forgive yourself first. If we’re being completely honest, when we are betrayed or hurt by another, we always turn on ourselves at least a little. We seek to blame ourselves for the incident that has arisen. We blame ourselves for feeling angry when we should be positive. We blame ourselves for trusting. Therefore, before you can let go of your anger towards another, you must first let go of your anger towards yourself. Surround yourself with the light of love and treat yourselves kindly.
5. Love yourself. Since forgiveness is always an act of self-love, it’s important to remember as you work your way towards forgiveness that you are doing this for you – so that you can be free and move forward in your life. Forgiveness always starts from a place of self love.
6. Look for the lessons you’ve learned. In every act of betrayal, every time we are hurt, every time we are angered – there is a lesson there. So when you’re ready, look at the lessons you have learned from the acts that require forgiveness. Somewhere in there is a tiny kernel of light for you if you are willing to find it. Once you do, even though it’s hard, experiment with gratitude for the lesson you learned or the positive changes it has brought about in your life.
Help for Forgiveness
Forgiveness is a deeply personal act, and we all go about letting go in our own way. However, there are some things you can try to help assist you as you seek to forgive yourself and others.
Do It for You
Forgiving another is the ultimate act of self love. It sets you free and allows you to move on with your life without dwelling in negativity.
Life can be pretty brutal. Just ask anyone who has ever lived as a human being. Still, even in the worst of circumstances, you can cultivate joy. In fact, it is the darkest times that make the moments of joy seem so bright, because, in life, you can't truly appreciate the sweet without the bitter.
I have had anything but a perfect life. I am twice divorced (three times married). One of my ex-husbands has taken me to court for nuisance lawsuits several times (he never wins). I had a less than idyllic childhood. I lived in poverty for most of my 20s. I've been fired and laid off from jobs during rough economic times. I have had health problems for most of my adult life, including a chronic condition resulting from an automobile accident when I was 21 that leaves me in pain every single day. I have extreme food allergies that leave me unable to eat anything with gluten or dairy. My life, on the surface, is far from perfect.
And yet, I am perfectly content. In fact, I am more than content. I'm extremely happy. That's not to say I don't have bad days or bad moments. Sometimes, things suck beyond all measure, and in the moment I experience that emotional pain, I allow myself to wallow in its grip until I choose to be happy once again.
That's what I am most of the time. I'm happy, and it is a deliberate choice I make. When it comes to happiness, I am a ride or die kind of chick. In general, it is my natural state of being.
I understand that to many of you who are experiencing dark times, it may seem like I am trying to blow sunshine up your hind end, but nothing can be further from the truth. Happiness, in any circumstance, is possible if you simply choose it.
The formula for happiness is quite simple. In each moment, choose who you wish to be. I've talked before (in this column and elsewhere) about the one true fact in the universe - that this moment is all we have. We can't do a darn thing about the past, and we have no way of predicting the future. Both are illusions. But this moment, right now, it is the only real thing you have. So why, in this moment, would you choose anything but happiness?
Do you know how I know the past is illusory? I'll answer that with a question. Have you ever heard two different people describe the same event? If you have, you've probably noticed a big discrepancy in the varying descriptions of the exact same thing. This discrepancy arises from the fact that, as soon as a moment has passed, we immediately begin to process it through our own set of filters, which give us each a unique point of view. Those filters are made up of attitudes, past experiences, self-image, and a myriad of other factors that influence how we think and experience the world.
In the moment, when an event is occurring, before we've had a second to process it through our minds and egos, we all experience it in the same way. Immediately after the fact, however, we begin to tell stories about what we saw. We assign motives that we can't possibly know to be the truth. We add our own feelings and prejudices. We begin the process of interpretation and justification that allows us to shape what we have just experienced to suit our own world-view and self-image.
In the moment, however, all we have is experience. We have no judgments about what it might mean, nor do we have any concerns about how it may affect our futures. We just have this moment right now, which is pure experience.
Sometimes in the moment, that experience hurts, it's true. But I always believe this: I can experience anything for just one moment. So I allow the hurt until I'm ready for it not to hurt any longer. I find that if I give myself the full experience of pain in the moment, it wanes quickly and I am once again ready to cultivate joy.
If you're going through something painful right now, how do you cultivate joy? You do so by giving yourself moments that bring you joy. Engage in an activity about which you are passionate and allow yourself to be there in that moment without allowing your thoughts to wander to the past or the future. Spend time with someone you love. Laugh. Wrestle with a puppy. Smell a flower. Sit outside with the sunshine on your face. And for those moments, allow yourself to experience joy, in spite of the circumstances.
Someone--I can't for the life of me remember who--once gave me an example of cultivating joy in the moment that I found extremely profound.
"Imagine," he said, "Sitting on the grass in the sunshine. Listen to the birds chirp. Tilt your head back and look at the cloudless blue sky. Allow the sunlight to warm your face, your arms, your hair. It's perfect. It's beautiful. Now, imagine you are in the exact same spot, but this time, imagine that you are homeless. If you stay in the moment, it is still beautiful regardless of the circumstances. The sun is still shining. The birds are still singing. The air is still perfumed with the scent of freshly cut grass. Does your larger circumstance of being homeless make that moment - you, sitting on the grass in the sunshine - any less beautiful than if you have a big house to go home to?"
My answer to his question was no, as long as you stay in the moment. Here's an example from my life.
I was married to a huge douchebag. He had recently told me that he'd slept with our next-door neighbors (the man and his wife) while I was away visiting my parents. Suddenly, my life had the very real possibility of becoming an episode of the Jerry Springer Show. I was furious, hurt, hostile, terrified, and everything in between. My insides felt like they would just chew up my entire body until I disappeared completely.
Still, I had a child and I had to maintain some type of normalcy for him. So there I was, in the kitchen, fuming, hurting, crying, and everything in between. It was a beautiful spring afternoon, and I had the kitchen window open. A slight breeze was blowing the curtains back and caressing my cheek as I stood at the counter shelling peas. The sunlight slanted in through the window and shone on my hands, which were engaged in the satisfying snapping of opening the pods. The sweet, earthy scent of the peas surrounded me, along with the smells of springtime that arrived on the gentle breeze. As I centered myself in these sensations, everything else faded away. The tears stopped, and peace descended. In that moment, in some of the deepest turmoil I had ever experienced in my life, I felt joy.
This was the moment that I discovered the secret of inner joy in spite of outer circumstances. To cultivate joy in the midst of darkness, do this: engage in something you love and be fully present for the experience. Let the past fade away and just be here now. Don't filter. Don't think. Don't justify. Just be. Do this as often as you can, no matter what your circumstances. In doing so, you just may cultivate a happier life.
See what I did there with that title? I do enjoy a good pun….
But seriously, this may be my shortest and simplest metaphysics article ever for PUG. People ask me all the time, “I want to make a change, how do I do it metaphysically?”
What they are asking me about is how to make things happen – such as a shift in perspective, a change in vibration, remembering dreams, receiving a message from guides, conversing with loved ones who have passed, discovering your path, learning the lessons of karma, or even just manifesting something that is really, really important to you.
It seems like each might have their own super complicated process, right?
I have good news. There’s a single, simple answer for all of them – and the process is exactly the same. Get your pen and paper ready so you can take notes, and the next time you find yourself looking for an answer – or for change – you can follow these steps.
Step 1: Intend it and tell the universe that’s your intention.
Step 2: Nope – that’s it. Intend it.
Intention is the start of every process. It’s how you let the universe know you’re ready for – well, whatever it is you’re ready for. It’s how you ask the universe for a sign. It’s how you make sense of things. It’s how you discover your lessons. It’s how you slip into your contract – that is, what it is you came here to do. You intend it and state that intention aloud to the universe (you can whisper it in the shower if you don’t want anyone to hear you).
Then, step back and allow the process. Eliminate expectations about how your intention will manifest – just trust it will because you have intended it to be so.
It’s a powerful secret for leading a powerful life, but I have one admonition. Don’t state your intention unless you are absolutely certain it is what you desire, and you are willing to accept the outcome of your intentions in any way it comes to you. When you state your intention, be ready because it will come to you exactly as it should, and it may not look a thing like you think it will. It may not come instantaneously; there may be what you perceive as a lapse of time between asking and receiving, but unless you cancel out your intention with opposite intentions, trust that its on its way.
State it and the universe will send it. That’s how you make shift happen.
At several times throughout my life, I’ve felt adrift and as if my life was lacking in purpose. Most often, these periods of what I felt were aimlessness were actually the periods that immediately preceded me finding a new, greater sense of purpose.
It’s natural from time to time to feel like you’ve lost your sense of forward movement; your feeling of contributing to something greater than yourself. These feelings may arise during times of contentment, when you’re feeling safe in secure within your overall life situation. They may come when your children grow up and move away. They may come when you’re working a job that just doesn’t seem to allow you to contribute anything meaningful in the world (one of mine was when I was doing marketing writing for a company that made industrial automation equipment – I was utterly bored and knew that my work truly had very little value).
What I’ve discovered in my own life, however, is that a sense of purposelessness isn’t necessarily me driving a rudderless ship. Instead, it is a state of openness, where I am ready for something new and significant to enter my life. And typically, it doesn’t take much time after I’ve identified that feeling before something new enters that allows me to feel directed and driven as I move forward towards something important.
Do you feel your life lacks purpose or meaning? Here are some strategies to try to help as you move forward.
Acknowledge the Feeling
If you’ve read my articles before, then you’ve probably seen me say this before: just the fact of acknowledging something brings it to light and begins the process of change. Instead of ignoring it, allow yourself to truly feel your purposelessness, noting how it feels in your body, mind, and spirit. Be with the feeling with no requirements other than the experience that it is there.
Once you’ve been with the feeling for a while, redefine it. Is it purposelessness you are feeling, or are you in a state of open readiness, willing to accept what the universe brings next? Being in a state of open readiness lets the universe know you are ready and willing for something new and significant.
Set Your Intention
Intention is the precursor to action. Deliberately (aloud, in writing, in prayer, in meditation, or however you talk to the universe) state your intention for new purpose to come into your life. In other words, ask for it. Express gratitude that before you have asked, the universe has already answered, and it is on the way.
Don’t Force It
Being without purpose can feel empty, but that doesn’t mean you should force yourself into something new just for the sake of having a purpose. Events in the universe take time to unfold sometimes, and it would be a shame to be tied up with busywork and totally miss it when THE THING you’ve been seeking comes along. Likewise, trying to force purpose may limit the universe, which is prepared to bring you the very thing you need if you allow it.
When you exist in a state of open readiness, the universe will bring you exactly what you need, but it’s still up to you to say yes when it arrives. How will you recognize it? Because inside, there will be a knowing that, whatever it may be, this is the right thing for you to do, the right path for you to follow, the exact place you need to be. Don’t let fear of the unknown hold you back. When the opportunity arises, grab it with both hands expressing gratitude that the universe provided you with exactly what you needed, when you needed it.
Embracing the Space
It’s natural from time to time to feel like your life lacks purpose, but these times don’t need to be difficult. Instead of feeling lost or empty, know the universe is conspiring in your favor to bring you the perfect opportunity you need to move forward in the interest of your greatest and highest good. In the meantime, move into the space in gratitude, knowing you are sitting in a place of readiness for the perfect opportunity to come along that will support you on your path.
I write about the power of affirmations quite a lot, and in many of my metaphysical columns, you’ll find I recommend affirmations right alongside other forms of energy work to help people create positive change in their lives. That’s because affirmations are powerful statements to the universe about the things you’d like to have become realities in your physical existence. While there’s no “magic” to affirmations, they do help you set intention and communicate clearly to the universe the life you’d like to live.
So, if you want your affirmations to work, you need to speak, write, or think them once a day, right? Actually, there’s a bit more to it than that. Let’s take a look at some of the things that may serve as roadblocks to affirmations.
1. Continuing to think negatively.
You’ve probably heard the old axe, “Thoughts become things.” This is true whether you are consciously making positive statements and affirmations, or if you continuously have negative words flit through your mind without giving them much of a thought at all. Whether you know it or not, you’re constantly sending affirmations out into the universe, even when you’re not making a conscious effort to do so. For example, every time you say, “I’m so broke,” or, “I can never catch a break,” you’re sending a specific request into the universe, which has no choice but to respond. These subconscious or barely conscious thoughts and statements are just as powerful as consciously spoken, written, or thought affirmations. In some cases, they may be even more powerful because they become the running dialogue you have with yourself without even thinking about it.
So what’s the solution? It’s important to monitor your thoughts and catch yourself thinking negative things when they arise. Every time you catch yourself thinking a negative thought, stop immediately and say in your head or aloud, “Cancel that….I am…..” and make a positive statement instead. For example if you catch yourself thinking, “I am always broke,” immediately think or say, “Cancel that. I have all the money I need to live the life I desire.”
2. Doing your affirmations only once a day.
Affirmations are an active process, and they require concentrated effort to overcome the volume of negative thoughts you are thinking. I believe in active affirmation, or using affirmations not only as a meditative ritual once or twice a day, but also using them throughout the day as negative thoughts arise.
Let’s look at an example. Say you want to lose weight, but every time you put on clothing, catch a glimpse of yourself in the mirror, or eat something you know isn’t conducive to weight loss, you think something like, “I’m so fat,” “I’m never going to lose weight,” or, “even if I do lose weight, I’m just going to gain it back.” Even if once a day, you’re closing your eyes and uttering with conviction, “I am losing weight,” or “I am thin and healthy,” the sheer volume of your negative thoughts about being overweight will outweigh the once per day you think or speak your affirmation.
The solution here is the same as the previous one. Monitor your thoughts, catch negativity, and immediately cancel it out with a positive statement. You can also take a few moments several times a day to re-set your affirmations in your mind. For example, you can carry them in a document on your smartphone and read them whenever you have a break.
3. Making statements of want or need.
The combination of the word “I” plus whatever statement you make about it afterward, such as “I want,” “I am,” or “I need,” is a very powerful combination, and the universe responds in kind. So, if you say to yourself, “I want more money,” the universe will very literally give you what you just said – the experience of wanting more money. Likewise, if your affirmation is, “I need to find a significant other,” the universe will give you the experience of needing a significant other.
What should you do instead? Remember the combination of I plus the second word is powerfully creative. Instead of saying, “I want,” or “I need,” make a statement as if you already have that which you desire. Let’s look at the significant other affirmation as an example. Instead of saying, “I need to find a significant other,” use the affirmation, “I am in a loving and joyful relationship with my significant other.” While this may not be true at the moment, know that the universe has already set the wheels in motion.
4. Failing to express gratitude.
I make gratitude part of my affirmations, because it strengthens them and is an important component of what I like to call, “acting as if.” When you act as if you already have that which you desire, including thanking the universe for something, it strengthens the power of the affirmation. Therefore, all of my affirmations either start or end with gratitude. For example, you might want to say, “I am grateful I am in vibrant health,” if your affirmation is about your health and well-being.
5. Not visualizing.
Visualization is another tool that combines powerfully with affirmation. Visualization helps you see and experience yourself after you’ve achieved what it is you desire. I recommend closing your eyes for a five-minute visualization session as part of your meditation after you’ve done your affirmations. When visualizing, try to picture yourself already having achieved that which you seek, and allow yourself to bask in the emotions of how it would feel to be, do, or have those things.
There is no magic to affirmations. It’s abut setting intention and maintaining focus on that which you choose while expressing gratitude to the universe for providing it. Thoughts are creative, and focusing them more carefully can help shorten the time before you put something out in the universe and when you receive it.
Your chakras connect your physical and emotional bodies to your etheric (spiritual) body. Energy flows through the chakras. However, when they are blocked or overactive, you may experience emotional, physical, or spiritual issues associated with the blockage of energy in that location.
Your first chakra (Muladhara) is located at the base of your spine. It is also known as your root or base chakra and is the foundation of your chakra/energetic system. Its color is red. This is where your mental, emotional, and physical health are built. Emotional issues associated with first chakra issues include having a sense of safety and security, standing up for yourself, honor, abandonment, and others. Physical issues involve the feet and legs, lower spine, immune system, and your bones. Blockages or overactivity of this chakra may cause health problems like lower back pain, immune disorders, addictions, or depression, among others.
If you are having physical, mental, spiritual, or emotional issues associated with your first chakra (see previous post), you can use various energy healing methods to help balance the energy in this location. Crystals: Use red or black crystals, such as garnet, black tourmaline, ruby, or obsidian. Place them near or on the root chakra and meditate on the color red. You can also use the musical tone associated with the root chakra, which is C or C#. The solfeggio is 396 Hz. There are great solfeggio smart phone apps (my favorite is from Glenn Harrold). The mantra for the first chakra is Lam. Essential oils for this chakra include cinnamon, patchouli, and nutmeg.
In general for all chakras, if the chakra is underactive, physical and emotional issues tend to be congestive - or blocked. If it is overactive, they tend to be flowing. For example in the first chakra, blocked nerves (numbness and tingling or neuropathy), constipation, circulation issues, or spinal misalignments/disc protrusions are all indicative of an underactive chakra. Emotionally, depression and excessive fear or worry about safety are indications of blocked energy. If the chakra is overactive, you might experience physical issues like diarrhea or varicose veins and emotional/mental/spiritual issues such as hyper vigilance, OCD, or anxiety. If your immune system is in hyper drive (as is often believed in autoimmune disorders), this may be the result of an overactive first chakra. If immunity is underactive or impaired, it may be the result of an underactive root chakra. When working with crystals, choose opaque colored crystals (like obsidian) for overactive energies (opaque absorbs) and clear crystals (like red garnet) for underactive energies (clear amplifies).
You can also eat and move to nourish and support your first chakra. Since this is your grounding chakra, grounded foods, such as root veggies (think parsnips, carrots, onions, sweet potatoes), are beneficial. Red foods (naturally occurring red - not Kool-Aid red or red dye) such as radishes, red meat (pastured, not factory farmed), berries, red apples, and red carrots are also nourishing for this chakra. As for movement, seek grounded, earthy movements. Walking and dancing (especially barefoot) are great for the root chakra. Tai chi (done barefoot) is another good practice, as are other forms of martial arts that encourage you to work from the ground up. Yoga with lying and seated asana, as well as grounded asanas like Mountain Pose or Savasana are also beneficial to this chakra. Lower body work is also helpful - working leg muscles and pelvic floor muscles (think kegels).
Also known as Swadhisthana or your sacral chakra, your second chakra is orange in color. It is associated with emotional issues like belonging (your place in a tribe), oneness, prosperity, family loyalty, and connection. Physical issues associated with your second chakra might include problems with the stomach and intestines, pelvis, and reproductive organs. Emotionally, second chakra issues might include sexual problems or eating disorders.
For an over- or under-active second chakra, you can use orange or brown crystals, such as carnelian or smoky quartz. Remember, clear crystals help clear blockages (amplification), while opaque crystals help tone down overactivity (absorption). The mantra for this chakra is "vam," and the corresponding note is D or D#. Try using a tuning fork or singing bowl in this frequency. You can also use a solfeggio of 417 Hz. Essential oils that can help with this chakra include orange, tangerine, and bergamot among others.
Remember, an underactive second chakra will be congestive. For example, anorexia and amenorrhea may result from a blocked second chakra. In general, overactive issues will be flowing - so heavy menstruation may be due to overactivity of this area.
Nourishing foods for the second chakra include citrus fruits (particularly oranges), as well as other orange fruits and veggies like orange peppers, nectarines, and carrots. Salmon is beneficial for this chakra, as well. Movement that helps the second chakra involves core strengthening and flexibility. Yoga twisting postures are particularly helpful, as are activities like planks or balancing movements.
Also known as the solar plexus chakra or Manipura, your third chakra is yellow or gold in color. This is the chakra of self-esteem and self-confidence. It's also where you develop a sense of self as separate from your tribal and/or family identity. Additionally, it's a chakra of law and order, social/societal rules, and function within a group.
The third chakra vibrates at 528 Hz (you can choose this solfeggio to help balance it), which is the note of E. You can also balance it using the mantra "Ram." Golden or yellow crystals work with the third chakra, such as citrine (pictured), amber, pyrite, and yellow tiger's eye. Perhaps not surprisingly, lemon essential oils are fabulous for your third chakra, as is lemon grass and tea tree oil.
Physical issues associated with the third chakra include disorders of the upper GI system, arthritis, impaired digestion, liver and kidney disorders, and breathing issues (such as asthma). As with other chakras, if the chakra is underactive, the physical and emotional/spiritual issues will be congested or poorly flowing (such as a gallbladder obstruction), while an overactive chakra will be issues that have greater flow, such as excessive self-esteem or having a big ego. Opaque gold crystals (pyrite, tiger's eye) absorb excessive energy to create balance, while clear crystals (amber, citrine) will increase flow.
As for nutrition and movement, enjoy yellow foods (naturally occurring yellow - not processed dyed foods), such as squash, lemons, yellow peppers, melon, pineapple, and poultry. Nuts and seeds are also great sources of nutrition for this chakra, as are whole grain foods like quinoa and millet. For exercise, yoga balancing poses are great for the third chakra (such as tree pose), as well as poses that build heat in the body and require deep breathing from the diaphragm. Twists serve this purpose well. Martial arts are also excellent for the third chakra, particularly strikes and blocks. Dance in which you isolate the rib cage, such as modern dance, belly dance, and jazz dance are also excellent workouts for helping the energy move through this chakra.
Your heart chakra, or Anahata, is the center point between the lower and upper chakras. It's color is green. It serves as a bridge between body and spirit. The main issue associated with this chakra is love (unconditional love for self and others). It's also associated with balance, grief, forgiveness, loneliness, and self-centeredness.
The mantra for balancing this chakra is "Yam." To tune it with frequency, it vibrates at 639 Hz, which is the note of F or F#. Crystals that help balance the energies here tend to be green, such as peridot, green calcite, green tourmaline, malachite, moss agate, or emerald. Rose quartz is also balancing for the heart chakra. Jasmine and rose are traditional essential oils that can help balance heart chakra energy.
Physical issues associated with this chakra include heart problems like arrhythmia and blockages, rib and middle back pain, respiratory disease, or breast cancer. As with other chakras, blocked or poorly moving energy will tend to result in congestive types of issues (for example, COPD) while overactivity of this chakra will result in flowing issues (such as high blood pressure).
Foods for the heart include anything that is naturally green: leafy greens, broccoli, zucchini, green bell peppers and green chili peppers, avocados. Green algae is also good for the heart chakra, as is seaweed. Energetically, cardiovascular types of exercise are good for the heart chakra (and they are physically good for your heart, as well) - anything that causes a sustained heart rate of about 120-140 beats per minute for 20 minutes or so - like walking or dancing. You can also enjoy yoga poses that open the heart, such as upward facing dog or back bending poses.
Your throat chakra, or Vishuddha is the color blue. It is associated with issues such as speaking your truth, expressing creativity, surrendering to Divine will, following your dreams, having integrity, and expressing yourself.
Blue crystals can help balance this chakra. This would include crystals like lapis lazuli, blue zircon, tanzanite, blue kyanite, sodalite, sapphire, and turquoise. The mantra for this chakra is "Ham," and it vibrates to the frequency of 741 Hz, G or G#.
Physical issues that may arise from the throat chakra include thyroid issues, GERD, tooth and gum problems, respiratory issues, or jaw pain. A blocked throat chakra may cause congestive issues, such as hypothyroidism, while an overactive throat chakra may lead to issues of excess, such as hyperthyroidism. Opaque blue crystals (sodalite, lapis lazuli, turquoise) will absorb excess energy of an overactive throat chakra, while clear crystals (celestite, sapphire, fluorite) will amplify underactive energy in this chakra.
You've probably noticed a trend of eating foods in a naturally occurring color to match the chakra. Unfortunately, there aren't a lot of naturally occurring blue foods (and blue Otter Pops don't count :( ). Blueberries are good for this chakra. Fruit and vegetable juices are, as well, as are tart fruits. Foods that soothe the throat, such as broths and soups, are also excellent for this chakra. For movement, gentle vocal exercises (like singing and chanting) are great for this chakra, as are deep breathing exercises and breathwork.
Your sixth chart, also known as your third eye or Ajna is located in the center of your forehead. You may see people call the color of the chakra indigo or violet. It is associated with intuition, reasoning, intellect, mental health, psychic ability, open-mindedness, emotional intelligence, and the ability to learn from experience.
Most often, you will see violet or purple crystals associated with balancing this chakra (although some people also use blue crystals). These might include amethyst, sugilite, purple fluorite, iolite, and tanzanite. The chakra vibrates to the frequency 852 Hz, which is the note A or A#. Essential oils for balancing this chakra include peppermint, clary sage, lavender, rosemary, and sandalwood.
Physical issues associated with the sixth chakra may include headaches, mental illness, sinus and ear problems, pineal gland disorders, and vision problems. As with other chakras, blockages or under activity may lead to congestive types of disorders, such as a sinus infection, while overactive energy may lead to disorders of excess flow, such as migraines or cerebral hemorrhage. You can balance over-assertive energy with opaque crystals like sugilite (which will absorb) or balance under-active energy with clear crystals, like purple fluorite, which will amplify.
Foods for this chakra would be those considered "brain foods," like fish, nuts, and seeds that are high in omega-3 fatty acids, as well as purple foods like plums, eggplant, and dark chocolate. Meditation and pranayama (yoga breathing) are excellent third eye workouts. Child's pose is also an excellent third eye pose. Other exercises for this chakra include mental exercises, or any type of workout that involves intense focus and concentration, including martial arts.
Your 7th chakra is also known as the crown chakra or Sahasrara. You will typically see two colors associated with this chakra - white and violet. Issues associated with this chakra include connection to the Divine, ethics and values, universal trust, compassion, spirituality, and understanding your greater/higher nature.
Crystals that work well with this chakra are clear or white, and include clear quartz, moonstone, labradorite, selenite, phenacite, petalite, and many others. There is no mantra for this chakra - the mantra is silence. The chakra vibrates at the frequency of 963Hz, or the note of B. Essential oils that are helpful in balancing this chakra include sandalwood, rose, frankincense, jasmine, and neroli.
Physical issues associated with the crown chakra include neurological disorders, pituitary disorders, nerve pain, stress, and cognitive function disorders.
This chakra is all about connection to Divine and spirit, so foods don't affect it as they do lower chakras. When working to balance the seventh chakra, eat lightly and choose light, nutritious plant foods. Likewise, physical exercise doesn't impact this chakra like it would lower chakras. Instead, engage in meditation or prayer, and use breathing techniques such as alternate nostril breathing.
Smoky Quartz - Positive Energy
Smoky quartz is one of my favorite crystals. I often use in when I am trying to bring positive energy or change the energy flow from negative to positive. This is a stone that is excellent for grounding and centering and for amplifying first chakra energy. It can protect you from negative energy and transmute it to positive. This works for people - and also for locations. For example, if you've had a high-impact negative event occur in your home, you can sprinkle smoky quartz pieces around to change that negative energy to positive. If you have an excessively negative co-worker, place a piece between you and that person to turn that frown upside down. If you have a smoky quartz point, then place the wide end (non-pointed) at the place where you want the energy to be absorbed (so towards the place of negativity), and put the point pointing towards where you'd like the positive energy to flow.
Citrine - Prosperity
Looking for a little help in the prosperity department? Then citrine is your stone. This golden stone is widely known as the prosperity and abundance stone. Put a piece in your cashbox or wallet. You can also place a piece in the prosperity corner of your home, which is the back left corner of the house as you enter through the front door. Citrine can also enhance self-image and can strengthen your solar plexus chakra.
Apache Tears - Grief
Apache tears, which are rounded pieces of obsidian, are a crystal that can help you with grief and sadness. They can also aid in the process of forgiveness and letting go. This is actually one crystal I carry with me in bulk to give to people, particularly when I am doing readings with them. Carry a piece with you in your pocket, meditate with the stones, sleep with them next to your bed or under your pillow. You can even hold them in your hand and use them as a worry stone when you feel sadness or grief overwhelming you.
want to take a moment to clarify here, because I feel it is important. I don't believe you should suppress grief - and using apache tears won't suppress it. But it can help you move through it in a healthy way. Grieving (and other negative emotions) aren't "bad." They are an essential piece of life - part of the balance and duality we experience when our souls are embodied that help us experience wholeness and completeness as human beings. The problem arises when we get stuck in those negative emotions (often from trying to suppress them or judging ourselves for having them) instead of allowing them to express fully as they move through us. So apache tears are a facilitator to help us process the emotions as we experience them. They won't make you stop being sad. But they will help you move through it in a healthy and complete way.
Peridot - Manifestation
Peridot is the August birthstone. It is also a gemstone of manifesting. Therefore, this is an excellent gemstone to work with during affirmations and visualization - just hold it in your hand as you speak your affirmations or visualize. It can also help you overcome negative emotions towards others like jealousy (or protect you from their negative emotions. Keep a piece in your pocket if you feel like someone else's jealousy, anger, or negativity is affecting you in a negative way. I wear a peridot ring to keep others' negative emotions at bay.
Amethyst - Sleep Issues
If you struggle with insomnia or experiencing a restful night of sleep, then amethyst can help. This purple crystal is helpful for people with sleep difficulties - put a piece under your pillow or place it on your bedside table. It can also help you with remembering your dreams and encourage lucid dreaming.
Blue Calcite - Anxiety
Feeling anxious or stressed? Having heart palpitations? Prone to panic attacks? Blue calcite can be your go-to crystal. It has a lovely, waxy finish that is not only pretty but also works well as a worry stone, and the color and vibe of this crystal is incredibly calming. If you have a high-stress job, keep hunk of blue calcite on your desk at work. Anxious driver? Keep some in your car. If you have generalized anxiety, carry some in your pocket, or even wear it around your neck to help you stay calm. When you feel your anxiety flare, hold the stone in your hand, close your eyes, and breathe deeply. Unless you're driving. Then, eyes open!
Baltic Amber - Happiness
Baltic amber is one of my favorite crystals (though not technically a crystal). It's a warm, happy stone that can improve mood and bring some sunshine into your day. It always lifts my mood. It's also anti-inflammatory and can help with pain. Babies sometimes wear teething necklaces around their necks made from Baltic amber - because it can dull the pain associated with teething. If you have arthritis, particularly in your hands, arms, or wrists, try wearing a Baltic amber bracelet or ring.
Choosing a Crystal
How do you choose the best crystal? Sometimes it chooses you! If you're drawn to a crystal, then chances are it is one that will be beneficial for you. You can also choose crystals by holding them and see which have the best feel for you.
Cleansing and Charging
I want to mention how important it is to cleanse your crystals. Cleanse your crystals when you first bring them home because they may contain energies from people who have touched them at the store, etc. You want to make them yours and compatible with your energy. You can also hold the cleansed crystals in your hands and set focused intention that they work for your greatest and highest good.
Ways to cleanse your crystals:
-Set the crystals out in moonlight overnight.
-Put them in a bowl of sea salt for a few hours.
-Use incense, sage, sweetgrass, or palo santo smoke to cleanse them.
-If you do some form of energy healing, you can hold them in your hands and channel the energy into the crystal for a few minutes.
-Reiki level 2 practitioners can use the Dumo symbol to create a perpetual cleansing in your crystals (this is my preferred method).
-You can also set them on a quartz cluster or in the center of a quartz grid (with the points pointing at the crystals).
-Cleanse crystals with sound, setting them in a singing bowl and ringing the bowl for a few minutes.
Some people suggest saltwater for cleansing. I don't, because some crystals are very soft and the saltwater will damage them, so using any of the above water-free methods is a better choice to protect your stones.
Cleanse crystals every week or so, depending on how much you use them.
Crystals are just one of many tools I recommend for transforming energy in your life. You'll notice I often recommend crystals in conjunction with essential oils and herbs, diet, movement, meditation, affirmation, visualization, energy healing techniques, and other components - like focus on the present, laughter, fun, and compassion for self and others to truly achieve balance in your life. Your body, mind, spirit, and emotions are communicating with you, telling you what you need. Your dreams, higher self, spirit guides, and and every other aspect of the Divine also combine to get your attention and help gently guide you along your life's path. The entire universe is conspiring in your favor (and yep - I know it often doesn't feel like that is true - but it is). Are you listening?
There are a number of ways to work sound healing into your life, from using mantras to working with singing bowls.
One method I like because it is so affordable is the solfeggio. There are six main solfeggio frequencies that roughly correspond with chakras. They are as follows:
396 Hz - can help you work with guilt and fear
417 Hz - can help you to make changes in your life
528 Hz - is said to be the solfeggio of DNA repair, and can help you work with transformation
639 Hz - this is the relationship solfeggio
741 Hz - is the solfeggio of intuition and can help you awaken psychic energy and connection to your higher self
852 Hz - this is the solfeggio of spirituality and connection with the Divine.
I really like Glenn Harold's solfeggio apps for smartphones, which have guided meditation and really beautiful solfeggio based music, and they are pretty affordable.
Another affordable sound/vibrational healing tools is the tuning fork. There are two types of tuning forks - weighted (like the two on the far left in the image) and unweighted. In general, weighted tuning forks have a better resonance for physical ailments, while unweighted tend to work better with mental and spiritual. Tuning forks resonate with various chakras. To use them, strike the tuning fork on the tines with a mallet and hold it by the handle near the chakra/area you are trying to affect, allowing the vibration to die out on its own.
C/C# - First chakra
D/D# - Second chakra
E - Third chakra
F/F# - Fourth chakra
G/G# - Fifth chakra
A/A# - Sixth chakra
B - Seventh chakra
Singing bowls are another excellent method for creating vibrational healing through sound. You can purchase either brass or crystal singing bowls. The brass bowls are more affordable (and less fragile) than the crystal singing bowls, but the crystal singing bowls are louder with a more powerful vibration and a clearer tone. To play the bowls, you can ring them by striking with a mallet or by running a mallet around the outer edge of the bowl, causing it to ring. Allow the ringing to dissipate naturally. Like tuning forks (see yesterday's post), different tones can tune different chakras.
Mantras and Chanting
Another way to use sound for healing is through chanting of mantras, such as om mani padme hum (written in the image), which is a traditional Buddhist mantra. You can also chant Om, which is the sacred sound of the universe, or use single syllables for each of the chakras. The chakra mantras are:
First chakra - Lam
Second chakra - Vam
Third chakra - Ram
Fourth chakra - Yam
Fifth chakra - Ham
Sixth chakra -Om
Seventh chakra - silence
Here's a guide to pronunciation: http://www.gnspy.org/accurate_pronuncia…/_chakras__n343.html
The Power of Music
In any discussion of sound for healing, it's important not to underestimate the power of music. If you're feeling down, listen to music that uplifts you and makes you feel happy. You've probably heard about the experiments Masaru Emoto did with water crystals where he exposed them to words, thoughts, and music. If not, you can check out some of the images in the link and see how sounds and thoughts can manifest physically, and how the way we think about and talk to ourselves is incredibly important for our physical, spiritual, and emotional health. It's fascinating research complete with images worth checking out. If thoughts and sounds can do that to water, what can it do to the human body (which is, after all, at least 50 percent water)?