Who Have You Been? Learning from Your Past Lives

My mother is still fond of telling stories about the temper tantrums I used to throw at age three. In a matter of minutes, she says, I would turn into a screaming little monster; an hour later, I would be back to my cheerful toddler self with little recollection of what had happened. There was nothing wrong with me, the doctor said. Eventually, I would grow out of it. He was right.

These tantrums happened when my child mind gave way to the consciousness of an old man. This individual had been used to a position of power and authority; finding himself in the body of a toddler, he felt extremely frustrated. When my young parents tried to rein him in, he would take offense at their impudence, erupting in outbursts of rage.

Later in life, I was able to recall additional details about this man. A wealthy landlord in north India, he had practiced advanced yoga meditation techniques. He had not been able to attain the liberation he had hoped for. However, he had managed to expand his consciousness enough as to transfer fragments of it to his next incarnation.

For those who have explored the literature on reincarnation, situations such as this are hardly unusual. Small children occasionally relay memories of their previous life, which they often lose as they grow up. Adult meditators, however, may be bestowed glimpses into previous incarnations.

Most spiritual teachers warn against the attempt to explore one’s past lives. Our trajectory in the physical world is to be shaped through the challenges we overcome; therefore, it needs to be projected towards the future. However, those who are easily impressionable may be tempted to romanticize a character they impersonated in a previous lifetime. When this happens, they may end up re-living—rather than overcoming—the hurdles posited by their attachment to an identity, a time, and a set of circumstances that no longer exist. If spiritual evolution shuttles you away from lessons learned, these individuals get caught in a backward spiral that traps them in self-repeating patterns.

For more mature seekers, however, a glimpse into their previous lives can be a healthy exercise: one that teaches them a thing or two about their habits, their quirks, and above all their challenges. That fear you have about not being loved enough, for example, may have been haunting you lifetime after lifetime. Shouldn’t you address it once and for all? And the complicated relationships you have with people around you may go all the way back to a time when your children were your brothers, your sister was your mother, and you were somebody else altogether. Isn’t it time to let go?

If you are capable of properly handling them, past life regressions will point you to those karmas that, having shaped your experiences in previous incarnations, are back to teach you more of the same. Identifying these patterns will give you valuable opportunities to learn—and, most importantly, a chance to move on.

If you are not afraid of witnessing multiple iterations of your own death, a regression to past lives can be not only an enjoyable experience, but also a way to learn more about yourself. Approach it as a window into a deeper level of reality where what you are transcends the circumstances of your current gender, race, and nationality. Developing awareness of the multiplicity of your being across time and space is an empowering exercise. After all, your destiny as a human being is to play all the characters in the cosmic drama: none of them encompasses who you really are, but they all contribute a new facet to the constant unfolding of your consciousness.

Image by Дмитрий Хрусталев-Григорьев via Unsplash