As you probably know, I'm fascinated by what makes us happy and so that comes, hand in hand, with an interest in what's preventing us from being happy - kind of stands to reason, really. Therefore, ever since a few friends - some of them relatively sane - have sung the praises of past life regression therapy I've been intrigued to know more and when I heard of a workshop being run locally for a tenner, obviously I was on it like a car bonnet.
And so I rocked up at Brunel Museum in Rotherhithe on a Tuesday night sporting an open mind and leggings (I had a sense some of this would take place on a yoga mat). The evening was led by Doug Buckingham, a therapist whom I've met at various workshops and who looks and behaves, well, normal. He doesn't wear an Afghan coat and sandals, has no visible tattoos and can hold intelligent conversation. Put it this way, if you took him home to meet your mother she'd nod approvingly. (Well, right up until the point you tried to explain what he does.)
Doug explained what past life regression is, the different theories of how it works, how he came to it himself and he told us stories of (anonymous) case studies. We were helped to relax with a short meditation and were encouraged to ask questions. We were then offered the chance to experience a taste of past life regression, and out came the yoga mats and blankets.
Comfortable on the floor, we were led on a hypnotic journey into our subconscious and encouraged to discover one of our positive past life experiences - well, we didn't want to go digging up something negative in a group workshop; can you imagine? And so I stepped out of a large country house into a rose garden, a four year old girl with long curly blonde hair and bare feet, and was sucked into a colourful ball of energy above the fountain. Moments later I emerged as a wrinkly Native American grandmother with great hair and terrible teeth. I was wearing trousers and a waistcoat made from animal hide.
I found myself standing by a huge lake surrounded by tall trees. I felt calm. Beside me was a small fishing boat, and a little boy probably five years old, with big dark eyes and straight black hair - my Grandson! Looking down at my hands I could see small arrowheads and I was threading something onto a fishing wire. When Doug asked us to imagine ourselves demonstrating the skills we had at the time, I was sewing shoes. We were then asked to go to a later happy occasion in the same lifetime and I could see across the lake a large log cabin, where my Grandson was getting married, and I felt contentment.
Shortly after we this, we were brought back to the room, wide awake and refreshed. I was surprised at what my "imagination" had brought forward, considering I know absolutely nothing about Native Americans and am vegan so wouldn't normally think about wearing animal hide and making weapons with which to kill animals. So where did these images come from?
I want to believe in past lives, I really do. To me, there's comfort in the notion that "this isn't all there is" but obviously this workshop isn't solid proof of that. But what it did demonstrate to me is that there are other worlds inside our minds ready to be tapped into. And if an issue is simply too raw to address or difficult to understand in our present reality, stepping into a past life, real or imagined (it doesn't matter) could be the way to do it.