Further Explorations, Part 1

The next time I found a coupon for a hypnotist I felt less anxious, but also less focused. I called him and asked if he did past lives. He said he did, but that some people had a hard time finding them right off the bat.

By now I was looking at these hypnosis coupons as the equivalent of oil-change coupons: They lured you in to the garage, and if you liked the work, you came back. But if you didn’t come back, then they really would have given you something for free, and too many instances of that would be bad for business.

The way the oil-change guys handled this, often, was to find something else wrong with your car – something they could charge for. Generally it was the air filter. “See this?” they’d say, holding it out to you as you sat in the waiting room, “It’s dirty” – as if a device that filtered air for your car could ever look clean. The less-scrupulous garages would invent even larger problems.

This ‘past lives are hard to find on the first try’ line may well have been true, just as, sometimes, air filters really do need changing.

But I gave the second hypnotist the impression that if he wouldn’t at least try to help me find a past life, I wouldn’t be coming in. I said I’d been practicing with a tape and already found one past life with a different hypnotist and was it okay if I used the coupon to see if I could find some more. He said that would be all right.

His office looked as if it was dusted more regularly than the office of the first guy, and his personality was less comfortable, too. He had a higher-pitched voice and a brusque manner that made me want to sit a little further away. On the other hand, he was actually using hypnosis to help people therapeutically, he said; he said he did a lot of work with people who had been sexually abused.

I had mixed feelings, hearing that. On the one hand I had seen from my work in the psychiatric hospital that sexual abuse leaves deep scars, and I was glad that someone was doing his best to heal those. On the other hand, I had noticed in the same place that some therapists have what I would consider an unhealthy interest in sexual abuse, seeing it even in places where it may not be. In addition, reports were starting to hit the press then – it was the very early 1990s – about therapists who were implanting false memories of sexual abuse in their patients. Hypnosis, especially, lent itself to this sort of thing – it was possible to suggest to a person that they had been abused and, in so doing, spur that person’s mind to create a memory of abuse that would then seem real.

Suggestion of abuse?

I became worried that this guy, with his interest in sexual abuse, might suggest to me under hypnosis that I had been abused, and in my relaxed state I might be vulnerable to the suggestion. Coming out of the gentle trance, I might believe that I had been abused, and might start to shape my life around my victimhood, as I had seen others do. I didn’t know how to defend against this other than to say something directly, so that’s what I said.

“I think that’s important work that you do,” I said. “I’ve worked with some people who have been damaged by that sort of abuse.”

He nodded, almost smiling; he seemed pleased that he didn’t have to defend his work to me, and flattered that I’d said it was important. I was glad to see this change in his expression; it seemed to me that once he took that expression, he’d be less likely to view me as a subject for experiment.

Now I wanted to seal the deal. “It’s very serious stuff, but I want to let you know that I’ve had a lot of therapy, and I know that I have not been a victim of that sort of abuse. I’m here mostly out of curiosity; I want to see how the world may work, and so I want to see what else may be back there in my past. But I don’t think it includes sexual abuse – at least not in this life.”

He nodded. He looked me in the eye, which I appreciated, and said that he had just wanted to let me know that the work he did with sexual abuse was one of his areas, and that he did not find it every time.

Now that we were square, I was ready to be hypnotized.

My life as an Arabic woman

The first past-life I ran into with this guy was a life as a young Arabic woman. I saw myself living with a father who molested me.

Well, that was okay, I guessed; we had just been discussing the topic, and it would make sense that I had been a victim of such treatment, if I had lived on Earth even a few times before now. As long as he didn’t seem to find such abuse in my current life, I’d give him the benefit of the doubt.

The life as an Arabic woman was lousy. I had seen images of this life a few months before, when I had listened to my own past-life regression tape. At that time, I had not dwelt on them; the whole process had been fairly new to me, and besides, my voice on the tape told me to move on to some other thoughts.

Now, though, with this guy guiding me, I was able to really stay with this life, and really feel its unpleasantness. It wasn’t just the molestation that bothered me, although that was certainly a problem. What got to me was that the molestation was part of an overall helplessness. I had no control over my life whatsoever.

I was not a slave, exactly – my father was a merchant of some sort, and I lived with him – but I felt like a slave, because I was allowed no choices, no movement. I stayed in the tent and kept house; when my father came in looking for me, I could not even run from him. Looking at him, as he approached me with a gleam in his eye, I saw that he did not even believe that what he was doing was wrong. He was a pure narcissist; nothing beyond his desires seemed even to exist to him. I hated living in such a confined way, but did not even have anyone to discuss that with.

The hypnotist asked me to go forward to the day of my death in that life, and describe what was happening to me.

“I’m on the sand,” I said. “I’ve been stabbed. Robbers came, and stabbed me for no good reason. I’m bleeding and sore, and I’m too weak to stand. I feel alone on the sand. I don’t know where my father is. Maybe they got him, too, or maybe he was away. I can’t tell.”

The hypnotist asked me to go forward to the time when I left my body. I saw myself rising up, leaving behind the body of an Arab girl bleeding into the sand.

“What did you learn from that life, that you might be able to take forward into future lives?” he asked.

“That I can survive anything,” I said. I surprised myself with the speed of my answer. It hardly made sense to me, consciously. I had been controlled, and abused, and had died young — a victim all the way through. Nonetheless, having risen out of my body and felt my immortality, I saw that it was true. I had suffered, certainly, but had never given up. Life had been hard and unpleasant, but I had kept trying, and could do so again.

The next life

Exploring that life hadn’t taken long, so he took me to another one. This time, I saw myself as a midget, working in a carnival.

In this life I was not so much a victim as an asshole. I told the hypnotist that I could barely see beyond myself, literally, because at that time I could barely see beyond my own needs. I had been completely self-centered. Rude to others, focused only on what I wanted, I saw myself as a grouchy little man. I had no philosophy to justify my bitterness, and felt no need to justify it; other people mattered very little to me.

So, at some point, I got into a fight with someone, and he shot me in the head. I didn’t even know my enemy enough to know why it had happened, but it didn’t matter. I knew that, unlike in my life as an Arab girl, I had brought this death upon myself.

“What did you learn from that life?” the hypnotist asked.

“I don’t know, to be honest,” I said. “Maybe I learned why it’s bad to be so self-centered?

I felt like I was a very primitive person, and I don’t know why it was necessary to live that way, but maybe it was just part of growing up.”

He tried to show me a few other past lives, but the images were fleeting. The only one that stuck, maybe because it was related to the carnival life of the midget, was when I saw myself as a sad clown — quiet, shy and lonely.

Originally published by The Guy Code, August 3, 2001. 

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