In November 2019 I had the opportunity to attend a Past Life Regression ceremony at Maha Rose in Brooklyn. My friends and I made a little date of it, one of our quarterly "woo woo" outings where we got to do weird things that other people probably wouldn't do with us.
This time we explored the lives our souls had lived in the past. Cool, right?
It was led by a pair: a woman who leads the sound bath to get us deep into a meditative step, and a man who was a working hypnotist who helped us create the visualizations that represented our past lives.
He asked us to visualize a spot in which we felt safe. That spot could be real or imagined but needed to feel warm and comforting and somewhere we could return to again and again to recenter. He then asked us to picture a door. Every detail of the door, down to it feel of the texture of the material, the shape of the knob, the sound it made when you opened it. We then proceeded to open the door and step into....well, whatever your saw was your past life. We'd spend time there, getting to know it, to feel how familiar it felt. Snd then we'd step back out, back to our safe place. We repeated that exercise five more times.
For some, the experience was emotionally intense and cathartic. For others, cool. For others, underwhelming.
Here's a look at what I felt and experienced. And what it helped me understand about myself.
My first safe place was the agriturismo in Tuscany I lived in for a week. I found myself basking in the sun, hearing the crunch of the earth beneath my feet, tasting olives fresh off the trees, and taking in the rolling hills of Italy spread before me. I pet the farm’s cat, feeling it’s scratchy fur and the burrs along its back. A door appeared, ornate and golden. I picked up the cat and continued to pet its head as I walked toward the door to look through the window panes. I could almost see through to the other side.
I opened the door and stepped into a cozy cabin. It formed slowly around me. First an armchair. I set the cat, Charlie, down, and he leaped directly onto the armchair and curled up, purring. A fire was crackling in the fireplace. The wooden floor creaked beneath my booted feet. I was an old woman, with gray hair tied into a braid. I felt that I lived alone, but wasn’t lonely. I had loved and been loved, but my life was quiet now, in my snowy corner at the edge of the woods. I ran my finger over a spoon, maybe an heirloom from a mother or even grandmother. A black and white picture sat within a shiny silver frame. I couldn’t see the faces but got the sense that they were loved ones no longer with me. I turned toward the door and walked back into my safe place, leaving the cat behind, purring on his chair where he belonged.
I sat on a bench outside the door to reacclimatize myself, letting the sun catch my upturned face and warm it. I stood up and approached the door. I grasped the handle and it was cold to the touch. I pushed through and stepped into what first felt like a dense forest. I soon realized it wasn’t a forest, but a cornfield. The stalks were stiff and almost cutting. But they felt safe and familiar. I picked up a stick from the ground and used it to guide myself safely through the corn. I stooped down and scooped up a fistful of dirt, letting the moist earth sift through my fingers. I lay down and looked up through the stalks, barely able to see the sky the field was so thick and lush. I stood up and walked on, suddenly bursting out of the cornfield and onto the edge of a yard, the grass green and vibrant. I saw a brown horse in a pasture beside a white barn. An old farmhouse was to the left of the pasture, and on the top stair leading to the front door stood a man in overalls. My husband. I got this overwhelming sense of love and joy and deep connection, and it felt like that man was Jay in another life too. We hugged, and my present/real-life body cried. I watched him walk away to put the horse, Joseph, back in the barn. I was so in love with him, and at peace with our solitary life. I walked into the farmhouse and found myself in a simple, well-loved kitchen. I looked out a window over the sink for one last glimpse of the golden field of corn. Then I walked back through the golden door.
I sat again on the bench at the farm in Tuscany, raising my face to the sun, before moving quickly back toward the door. I opened it and at first, just got this sense of cavernous space. It was wooden like a barn but sacred like a church. I looked down at my hands. They were chapped and white and rough, a man’s hands. I was dressed in black, with a beard, maybe white or gray or light-colored. I sat in a pew and looked down at my hands. I felt I should be praying, but didn’t think I was deserving of redemption. I felt I had not always been alone, but the reason I was alone now was my own fault. A priest walked in and told me I did deserve love and redemption, but I didn’t believe it. I walked back out the golden door and into the agriturismo. I sat at the edge of a hill on the gravel road and watched the sunset, the orange cat once again at my side.
My new safe place became my current apartment. I was curled up in my reading chair, Gracie purring and trying to find the best place beside me. Louise was at my feet, quiet and content. I had a book in my hand, and looked out the window to my right to take in the blue sky and the warmth of the sun. A wall appeared that connected the kitchen peninsula to the wall that holds the map now. Within the wall was a mossy-colored green door with an old brass doorknob. The door felt as if it had been painted. It was matte, and kind of soft yet chalky to the touch. I grabbed the doorknob and walked through.
At first, all I got was this impression of sunlight and children’s laughter. I walked forward and the setting clarified. I was a nun in a cloister that encircled a vibrant garden. Young novices were running around me, joyous. The sun shone down upon the peaceful scene. The bottom of my habit rested upon the tops of my feet, scraping gently across the ground as I walked. I smelled a rose and smiled. I felt the rosary beads at my waist as I turned a corner, nodding at another nun. I didn’t feel the need to talk. I felt as if I had always been silent. I walked into the nave of a church and sat down at a pew. I nodded at the nun beside me and felt at peace within the larger group. I was a part of something bigger than myself, a member of a community, but still solitary. And at peace with that. I stood up and walked back toward the cloister, stepping through the green door and back into my apartment.
I sat back down with Gracie, stroking her and looking out the window into the sunshine. I stood back up and walked toward the door. I ran a finger down it before taking the brass handle. I pushed it open and walked into a howling blizzard. My braid blew with the wind, and I walked at an angle, trying to force my way through the storm. I heard a lamb bahhing in the distance, scared. I walked toward the sound and found the little creature. I pulled on a rope around its neck, dragging it into the safety of the barn. I shut Bessie up with the other sheep in its pen and told her everything would be fine. Then I went back out into the storm. I kept catching glimpses of a cabin in the distance, one window lit bright yellow with the warmth of the fire. But I could never get quite close enough to be inside myself, safe and warm. I eventually pushed back through the green door and into my apartment, shedding snow and winter clothing as I did so.
I held my hands over my electric heater, trying to warm up as I stared out the window at the city before me. I turned around and approached the green door for the last time. I opened it to darkness. I got the feeling I was in a cave. The air was thick and humid and warm. I saw a crackling fire and sat down beside it. I was a man, with long, lean, brown legs. I was in nothing but a loincloth. I sat with my knees pulled to my chest in the dark before the fire. It was night and it was pouring rain. I had the watch. I could sense my sleeping family behind me, warm and safe. It was my duty to protect them. I had the feeling that I was on the edge of some kind of transformation, on the cusp of something big. I stood up and walked to the mouth of the cave. A spear appeared in my hand. I was afraid, looking both ways. I turned around and approached my sleeping family. They looked so at peace there in the dark. I bent down and caressed my child’s cheeks, and my wife’s too. I had a sudden, overwhelming feeling that I would do anything to protect them. I stood back up and went to the mouth of the cave. Another tribe came rushing at me through the dark. I stabbed and killed them with my spear, the sounds loud as death and the rain continued to pour. I heard my child scream behind me as I continued to stab and kill, blood washing down my hands and torso and legs with the rain. I turned around when my enemies had been slain, and stepped back through the green door, shedding blood and water onto the floor as I did so. I was crying, tears falling down my cheeks in real life as I came back into the present moment, heart racing and breath shallow.
Afterward, on my train ride back home to my home that had been my safe place, I pieced together some of the things that most resonated with me. The fact that not once was I in a city - even though I now live in the biggest city in America. The fact that I lived very solitary lives - and how I still struggle with balancing out my loner self with what society says is an acceptable number of friends and social engagement. The fact that animals figured so prominently in my lives and in my safe space.
All these trends helped me put my current life into perspective. Even if those visions I'd had in my mind were just my imagination, they still showed me what I longed for.
And helped me work toward making those longings more prevalent in my current life.