Author of “The Laughing Cherub Guide to Past-Life Regression: A Handbook for Real People”

© Mary Elizabeth Raines, 2001
All rights reserved


The fundamental theory of reincarnation is that our souls are reborn many times in different bodies. We may come back as a male or a female. We return over and over again for new experiences and growth. We reap precisely what we have sown. Once we have learned a lesson, it becomes part of our soul’s knowledge, and we move on to the next lesson.

If one believes that the soul is infinite, it is no more miraculous to be born many times than to be born only once—and far more reasonable.

Reincarnation involves the law of karma, which is the most just belief system going. It boils down to this: everything we do, positive or negative, comes back to us. This is the perfect manifestation of the Golden Rule: Do unto others as you would have others do unto you.

Reincarnation offers a system of justice and fairness in a world that can otherwise appear random and cruel. It answers many of our perplexing questions, explaining why one child might be born in a comfortable home with perfect health, while another is born to starve to death in a third-world country; or why one individual is always broke, but is well-loved and nurtured, while another might be wealthy, but repeatedly has encounters with mean and destructive people.

There are multitudes of theories about the finer points of reincarnation. One such theory is that we are all one, and so we can access all memories. When we are being regressed to a past life, our soul simply selects a memory from the pool which is pertinent to our current issues.

Some believe that there is no such thing as time, and that all of our lives are occurring simultaneously. Another speculation is that we may have overlapping or even parallel lives. According to that theory, someone who was born in Chicago in 1957 may also have had a life as an Egyptian street vendor who died in 1963.


Recently a young man said to me, “I don’t believe in reincarnation…and I didn’t in my last life, either!”

Libraries today contain books written about people who have had uncanny remembrances of former lifetimes, including very specific details which can be validated. Certainly most of my clients have had experiences during past-life regression which appear to be authentic.

Sometimes this sense of reality stems from their strong emotional involvement, like the man who remembered being an Amish farmer and began to weep tears of joy while he was looking at his farmhouse and his beloved wife. Other people may have an overwhelming memory of a sensation, such as a bad odor or a vivid image, that leaves no doubt about the validity of what they are remembering.

One of my clients recalled a previous lifetime when she died from a gunshot wound. She kept wrinkling her face in disgust, because she had such an acute memory of the taste of blood in her mouth.

Other validations occur when individuals have automatic, unthinking responses during their sessions that are historically correct, responses that they would not have had the time to fabricate.

One woman remembered being a Roman soldier. She found herself in a strange foreign city, and described the way the streets and buildings looked. When asked the location of the city, she replied, “I don’t know where I am. They never tell us where we’re going.” The logic of her answer was convincing, for it is doubtlessly correct that nobody held up maps or described to the ancient Roman soldiers the destinations of their marches.

In that same memory of being a soldier, she found herself breaking the rules and pillaging in an abandoned house in the town. She remarked that she never discovered anything of value when she did that; to expect to find valuables in such humble dwellings would be absurd. Nor was she interested in intimidating or attacking the few huddled women who had not managed to escape before the army arrived. What she really hoped to find was extra food. The best “loot” she ever rooted up was a round loaf of bread in a basket.

Another client had the grisly recollection of being tortured and then pulled apart by four horses. He remembered the tremendous physical agony. Almost as soon as the horses began pulling, though, he sighed with relief. The pain had suddenly disappeared. For a few brief seconds before he died, his body was free of suffering. After emerging from his session, he deduced that the violent pull of the horses had made something in his spine snap, and this had removed all physical sensation.

The kind of information these stories contain is not something that would readily be invented, and strikes me as authentic.

Opponents of reincarnation point out that because of our present-day exposure to multitudes of films and books, our subconscious minds have more than ample material to fabricate multiple lives, which we absorb and then “remember” as our own.

Occasionally I’ll have clients whose experiences are obviously, albeit unconsciously, contrived, with scenes they may have unwittingly pulled from movies or books. Their memories have a different tone to them, and include highly improbable elements or blatant historical inaccuracies.

Whether reincarnation is actual or fantasy, however, doesn’t really matter! What does matter is that people find the answers and release/relief they are seeking. The source of the information that helps an individual’s self-understanding is useful whether it comes from a former existence in another body, or whether it arises from a person’s present-day subconscious. As long as clients experience the understanding and release that they desire, it makes no difference whether or not what they remember is the truth. The goal of a past-life regression isn’t to prove or disprove anything. The goal is to experience personal growth!


Past-life regression offers us profound insights and revelations about the journey of our soul. We receive guidance, answers and assurance.

When a person has an experience from a past life that was never fully resolved, it’s as though that person has been stuck in a time warp. Unconsciously, a portion of the individual’s psyche is continuing to deal with a problem which has long since disappeared. These problems may emerge as emotions, attachments, physical ailments, unusual fears or perplexing patterns that cannot be readily explained.

The most wonderful benefit of past-life regression is when it helps us to find clues from the past which explain our puzzling behaviors and symptoms, and through the remembrance, to accept healing, release the stuck pattern, forgive and move forward.

Many of my clients come to me because of relationships that bewilder them. One client was confused by an inexplicable sense of guilt she felt around her boss, whom she liked very much. He sometimes became unreasonably angry with her.

In her regression, she remembered a former lifetime as a man named Jack. The boss appeared in that lifetime as Jack’s closest friend. They had many adventures together, but Jack gambled and was deeply in debt. One night he got drunk, robbed his friend and ran away in shame, never to return.

After emerging from her regression, my client felt free to release the enormous burden of guilt which she had been carrying for so long—more than a century! She left the session, too, with a much clearer understanding of her boss’s reactions towards her.

A bizarre phobia, an illogical terror or a frustrating pattern which has no reasonable explanation can be an indicator of a possible past-life condition that has leaked into the present day. These issues often persist despite all efforts to stop them.

As a child, I used to be terrified whenever a small plane would fly over our house at night. I never talked with an adult about my fear; I assumed that everyone was equally afraid of airplanes. It was only when I recalled a frightening previous lifetime during World War II that this childhood terror made perfect sense.

The patterns we carry in our energy fields from former lifetimes are as varied as the people who experience them. An indicator that a past-life issue may be involved occurs when we find ourselves saying things like:

“Oh, no! Not again!”

“I don’t understand why I feel this way; it’s not logical.”

“No matter how hard I try, I always attract the same type of person.”

“Why does _______[fill in the blank] always happen to me?”


Past-life regression permits us to find the root causes of our issues. Once found, we can heal through understanding, re-experiencing, forgiveness and love.

This does not need to be complicated. Sometimes, by remembering the triggering events from past lives, we are given understanding, which might be all that is necessary for us to experience closure and move on. I, for example, am no longer frightened by the sound of small airplanes.

In other instances we may have gone through an experience in a previous existence which produced guilt, anger, pain, shock or some other powerful emotion, but for some reason we didn’t fully experience the emotion. Unexpressed and unreleased, these feelings got stuck in our energy patterns. Re-living such traumatic incidents from the past can be powerfully cathartic and unplug the blocks.

We may also have unfinished business. Examples might be a determination which we were never able to carry out, a love never fulfilled, or a broken promise.

The most common root of unfinished business involves a lack of forgiveness or a need for revenge. When we cannot forgive another person, we remain tied either to them or to the issue our relationship with them created. In lifetime after lifetime, we experience themes of the same situation—sometimes as victim, sometimes as perpetrator—until we are able to allow honest love and forgiveness to heal us. Clients frequently receive bonus gains in the form of surprise lessons and information from past-life regressions. There is often what I call an ah-ha response to what is discovered.


Probably not. It is very rare that anyone recalls being famous. One of my past friends and mentors, Henry Leo Bolduc, who conducted thousands of past-life regressions, says that in over 50 years he had never once hypnotized anyone who remembered being a famous personality!

Sometimes clients who are perhaps overly attached to melodrama arrive for their sessions with expectations of high drama or glamour, and feel let down when they remember being, say, a potato farmer with arthritis. The fact is, most of us did not have glamorous or even extraordinarily eventful past lives, at least by TV movie-of-the-week standards.

To me, this is an excellent indicator of the validity of reincarnation. If all past-life memories were merely fantasies, people would doubtlessly invent situations much more colorful and exciting than the majority of stories I hear!

Yet, each past life contains a portion of our soul lessons and knowledge, without which we would be incomplete. Each lifetime has contributed an important thread in the extraordinary tapestry of our lives.

It is not the drama of a past life that makes it fruitful and compelling. It is the choices and determinations which we made in our past that are important, for it is these that have created our patterns.

Once a middle-aged Caucasian woman came to me for past-life regression. Her issues revolved around a man to whom she was attracted. She felt extraordinarily shy and inferior whenever she was in his presence, even though socially and educationally he was not at her level.

When she went into regression, she vividly recalled being a black slave, a male. His many years as a slave were very uneventful. He was treated decently, and died peacefully at an old age The man who created such intimidation in her in this lifetime turned out to be the owner of the plantation, which explained the nervous deference she felt when she was around him.

She received an additional and unexpected revelation from her memories, a surprise ah-hah. One day as this slave stood in a field looking at the distant horizon, he realized that he would never be free. He resigned himself to his circumstances, and made a powerful decision: from then on, no matter what was before him, he would always do the best job he could.

My client admitted that this particular ethic, that of doing the best she could, was a deeply engrained and propelling factor in her present life, but up until her regression she had not been consciously aware of it. Recognizing both the positive pattern and its origins gave her a great sense of satisfaction. Such a simple story as hers would probably never be aired on TV shows about reincarnation, which use only the most melodramatic tales and condense them into brief soundbites. It probably wouldn’t make the pages of a best-seller on past lives either. Nevertheless, it was exactly appropriate for what she needed to know.


No. New clients are often surprised at how easy and natural it is to remember. Try the following experiment:

This is an exercise about remembering your own bed at home. After reading the below instructions, close your eyes and remember! (You may read the instructions all at once, or go through them individually.)

1. [See] What does your bed look like?

2. [Touch] How does the bed feel under your body when you curl up under the covers? How do the blankets and sheets feel?

3. [Smell] Do your sheets or pillow, or even the room, have a familiar scent? How do they smell?

4. [Taste] Do you brush your teeth or have a snack just before going to bed? If so, how does the inside of your mouth taste?

5. [Hear] Listen for the sounds you make when you move under the covers, or when you pull a blanket up.

6. [Feel] Recall a time when you slept deeply and deliciously, and how good that felt.

Remembering a past life can be as simple as remembering your bed! The trick is to involve the five senses and the emotions.

Usually we have one or two senses that are predominant, and a few that aren’t as easy for us. Which senses worked the best for you in the above exercise? Which were the most difficult to access?

Were you able to see your bed easily? If so, you may be like some of my clients, who have visions of their past lives flow forth in full, rich cinematic detail from the moment they close their eyes. They often report that it is like watching a movie being played right before their eyes.

For others, the scene unfolds more gradually, sometimes only after questions are asked. Impressions may be a little bit vague at first, until the client becomes accustomed to the process.

A certain percentage of people have trouble when they try to see mental pictures; for them, feeling textures, hearing, or following their emotions may be more powerful ways of accessing the past.

Once in a while, someone will actually hear a story being dictated, as if another voice is telling it to them.

There are others who simply have a sense, a knowingness. An example would be, “I don’t see or feel anything, but for some reason, I just know that I am living in the mountains.”

Scents and tastes are also excellent ways of accessing memories.

Sometimes people literally become the person they were in their past life. Their speech, expressions and mannerisms completely change. More often, however, people retain an awareness both of their past and their current lifetimes during their regression, with a foot in both worlds. On occasion, individuals will receive a small, brief glimpse of a past life, as though the curtain of memory opened for just a split second and then quickly closed again. It is much like having a long, complex dream, but remembering only one tiny fragment. If examined carefully, that snippet of memory usually provides a rich understanding, and is often exactly what the person needed.


This is a happy exercise; don’t do it if it distresses you in any way!

1. After closing your eyes, remember the taste of your favorite candy when you were a young child.

2. Now remember the fragrance of cologne that your mother (or one of your favorite adults) wore when you were very young.


If you can become absorbed in watching a television program or reading a book, then you have all the ingredients necessary to remember a past life! One brain-wave frequency of people having a past-life regression is identical to that of a person focusing on an interesting TV show. Nearly everyone can be hypnotized. The exceptions are people with very low IQs, certain psychotics, and those on mind-altering medications. Even chickens, frogs and rabbits can be hypnotized! The key factor is your willingness to go along. All you need to do is cooperate with the instructions of the person guiding you (the hypnotist).


No, not at all! No matter how deeply hypnotized you are, no one else can gain power over your mind. You will not lose control, you will not unwillingly reveal secrets, nor will you do anything you don’t chose to do. Thus, you may safely relax and enjoy the experience!


Although it is true that we may have been seriously impacted by traumas and difficult events in past lives, keep in mind that most lifetimes are a mixture of both happy and sad experiences, even as your life is today! My clients have certainly had many joyous memories. Laughter, smiles and feelings of warmth are as common as tears during regression sessions.

A well trained past-life regression therapist cares about making your session safe and appropriate for you and should have safeguards in place to prevent you from recalling a lifetime that you are not ready to heal and understand. If reliving trauma remains a concern, ask to have a session in which you remember a pleasant lifetime. Perhaps you had a beautiful relationship, or an attribute or talent which it would be useful for you to recall today. That is a wonderful way to experience past-life regression, and can be very fruitful indeed.


Past-life work can be intimate and profound. Select your past-life regression therapist with the same care you would use choosing a doctor or dentist. Ask questions, thoroughly check credentials and experience related to past-life work, and determine how comfortable you feel with the individual providing the regression therapy. Make sure they have safeguards in place so that you will not access a traumatic past that you are not ready to heal. Be aware that no regressionist with solid training or integrity would ever conduct a past-life regression at a distance, including via Skype. That is not looking out for your safety.

You may, however, choose to work with a good past-life recording, providing the person who made it is expert not just in past-life regression, but also in how to make a safe and effective hypnosis recording.


Once in a while a client blocks in retrieving the memory of a former lifetime. There is a simple solution to this, which is outlined in the next chapter. Providing one is willing to cooperate, and providing their regressionist has received good training, everyone is capable of having a successful experience when they regress to a past life.

Sometimes blocks occur because people refuse to accept the information they are receiving. They are so sure that they’re making it up that they lose their trance state and as a result find it difficult to proceed any further.

In the same way, acute self-awareness can also interfere with the process. It removes people from the trance state that is needed to access the subconscious.

The more intensely an individual focuses on how the process is occurring, or on analyzing their experience, the more they interfere with the process. The same is true when they engage their critical or judgmental faculties.

Having desperate or false expectations is another cause for blocks. Some clients have very serious lifelong issues, and have tried just about everything without success before exploring past-life therapy. Others have built up enormous expectations about what their session will be like.

Perhaps they anticipate relieving their problems in one profoundly dramatic regression session (which can certainly happen!), or maybe they are expecting a surrealistic, magical experience. Because of their desperation or expectations, they become hyper-alert or try too hard, and as a result, they encounter disappointment.

Expectations can go the other way as well. I have encountered quite a few clients who had very diminished expectations, and were utterly amazed at the wealth of information they received from their sessions. One such man, who later admitted that he hadn’t even believed in the process, went through a detailed and vivid remembrance that ended with him being hung as a thief. Among other insights, he finally realized why he had always hated tight collars!

In regressing over a thousand people, there have been only four clients who blocked so entirely that they got absolutely nothing at all. In one instance, the regression was a gift and the individual in question really wasn’t interested in looking into his past. In the other instances, I offered them the solution, but rather than going along willingly, they focused on their frustration, which billowed out of control and cramped the process. I do not blame people when they have this self-defeating type of experience. It has even happened to me on occasion. The more we try not to struggle, the more we do struggle! It’s like being instructed not to think of an elephant!

Fortunately, the solution to blocking, regardless of its origin, is simple!


…is to use the imagination. Make something up! There will be no failure if you do so. Using your imagination can provide exactly the answers you require.

Clients who do not have a sense of what is on their feet, for instance, or don’t know whether they’re male or female, can simply improvise. They can use their imaginations.

Remember, the information is equally valid whether it is fantasy or real, because it comes from the inner self. When healing and release occurs of blocks which have been long held in a person’s energy patterns, the authenticity of the material triggering this healing is unimportant.

Beyond that, imagining can actually help create the scenario that will spark a real memory!

One of the most amazing examples of this is a woman I knew who had a great fear of sharks. She was positive that her fear was related to a past life. She wanted to access this information so intensely, however, that when she was regressed, she blocked and got no images or impressions at all.

Realizing that it was okay to imagine and invent, she lightened up and said to herself, “All right. Sharks. Hmm. Let’s pretend I’m a sailor. In fact, since I’m pretending, I might as well be a pirate!”

With thorough enjoyment and even some giggles, she gave herself an eye patch, a wooden leg, a parrot on the shoulder—the whole nine yards! But then something interesting happened.

“Wait a minute,” she said to herself. “Maybe I’m not a pirate. Maybe I’m…I’m just a frightened kid. I’m 14 years old. And maybe I’m not in a ship. I’m in a boat, like a long rowboat. And there are a bunch of drunken older guys with me, and they’re rocking the boat. Stop rocking the boat! Oh, no…!” The boy was thrown out of the boat and had a fateful encounter with a shark. This vivid and useful memory emerged because the woman was willing to allow herself to use her imagination.


Take plenty of time to do this. Have paper handy to record your impressions afterwards.

If you were to imagine a past life regarding a particular issue or relationship in your life today, what would that past life be? Now close your eyes, use all five senses and your emotions, and imagine.


It is laughable to think of seeing a traditional therapist and resolving one’s issues in a single session. While past-life regression is a much faster and incredibly effective process, for the majority of people, multiple sessions are the best way to find all the missing pieces of the puzzle. Relying on only one session to retrieve, relive and release one’s pent-up and deepest issues in a highly-charged melodramatic regression places a lot of pressure on a person to perform. This can definitely occur, but sometimes multiple sessions are in order.

For past-life regression therapy to be fully effective, we need to explore the roots of our negative patterns. Almost always we will find a whole marching band of lifetimes connected to a troublesome relationship or issue. Each lifetime offers its own unique contribution to understanding and releasing the issue.

Because of the law of karma—that we reap precisely what we sow—it is often the case that we have not only been victims; to our chagrin, chances are that we may also have been perpetrators.

Often the deepest healing occurs when we uncover our more sordid lifetimes, those in which we made a limiting decision or even did some kind of harm which perpetuated the chain of events which is now so bewildering to us. Such lifetimes do not readily surface until a person has become comfortable with past-life regression, and is ready to face her or his own deepest truth. We are naturally more inclined to access memories where we were the “good guy” than the villain. This takes time, persistence and trust.


This is an experiment in exercising your mind to be spontaneous. You may be surprised at the results. After reading these instructions, close your eyes and imagine the following, remembering to use your sense of touch, smell, sound and even taste, as well as sight:

You are standing in a bedroom which has an immense closet. In fact, behind the closet doors is a revolving rack holding every single garment ever worn by any human who has ever lived on this planet! You are rather tired, but before going to bed, you open the door of this closet. Without looking, reach in and pull out a garment at random from the rack. Then examine it, using as many of your five senses as possible.


“Your hearts know in silence the secrets of the days and the nights.
 But your ears thirst for the sound of your heart’s knowledge.
 You would know in words that which you have always known in thought.
 You would touch with your fingers the naked body of your dreams.
 And it is well you should.”

Kahlil Gibran, The Prophet

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