I will look for you in every lifetime and love you there. ―Kamand Kojouri
My mother is deep within everything I know. And she always has been. Even before she was she; before I was I. But it wasn’t until I was able to travel back that I began to understand. It wasn’t until I had seen the past that I could comprehend my present, and ultimately, accept my imminent end. Too much didn’t make sense. There was too much hurt with no obvious scars, and the traditional ways of coping with my mental issues (years of medication, talk-therapy) didn’t seem to be enough. I was still lost, still suffering, which is why I said yes when a psychic asked me if I’d like to try a past-life regression.
The idea behind a past-life regression is that by exploring memories (through hypnosis), we’re able to identify a problem that has never been resolved, and by doing so, we can begin to figure out how to overcome it. Believers in the process suggest that we carry things from our past lives into our current, and by revisiting those memories and talking through them, we can confront them, lessen the pain, and finally be able to move on. Basically, if we are stuck in some sort of hole, a past-life regression can help us out of it—and we can be happy.
A local psychic, Ann, suggested a past-life regression after a traditional psychic reading revealed a great deal of anxiety and depression in my current life. She explained how it worked—she would regress me back to the time and place where the original trauma occurred through hypnosis and deep relaxation. She would guide me through the experience, we’d analyze it, and find a way to bring closure to the event, enabling me to move forward, be in the present—be happy. Traditional therapy is similar, if you think about it—you try to identify the origin of a problem, revisit it, and find a way to cope. Past-life regression just takes it a few steps further.
I’m pretty open-minded, and have always been fascinated with psychics, mediums, reincarnation, spirits, etc., so when the opportunity presented itself to do a past life regression, I jumped on it. My biggest concern was that I wouldn’t be able to be hypnotized (because I can’t ever seem to stop my mind), so I assumed we wouldn’t even get to the regression.
I was wrong.
Before lying on Ann’s frayed beige couch, I pressed the red button on my digital recorder and set it on her desk (had I not recorded, I wouldn’t believe it happened). I took deep breaths, opened my mind as much as I could, concentrated on her old, shaky voice.
“Your eyes are focused up at the spiral. As you watch it you will find your eyes going slightly unfocused. Let them. Let the spiral soften and flow. As you watch the spiral, you’ll notice your eyes becoming drowsy. Soon your eyes will close.”
And they did.
“Okay, here we go. Ten. You’re floating backward in time.
Nine, further and further back.
Four. Further back.
Three. Now you’re almost there.
Two and one. You are now at your birthday—1986.
I ask you not to analyze because when you analyze you tend to block yourself. I’m going to ask you now to start looking back in time, from 1986 on back. You’re going to look for a year, a year that you want to go to, and then I’ll put you in that year. You’ll be able to answer questions that I give you. Start looking back. As you do, a year will jump into your mind, a year that you lived before. What’s the year?”
I told her, without hesitation, “1844.”
She then asked me what was happening then and how I felt. I told her I was inside an empty barn and I was scared.
“How old are you?”
“I’m in my twenties.”
She asked if I was a happy person, to which I quickly told her I was not. She asked if I had a family. I told her I was all alone.
“Is this the unhappiness that’s carried over to your present life, as Sarah?”
“Did you lose your family?”
After a few minutes of silence, I told her I saw a house burning with my family inside. “I’m in the barn, next to the house.”
“What else do you see?”
She told me maybe this meant I didn’t have a long life, that I didn’t live long after the fire. She said I needed to leave this tragedy in the past.
“You can do it. You can leave it all back there.”
We left 1844 and she asked me how many other lives I’ve had.
“Six,” I told her, again without any hesitation.
“What’s your purpose for coming back again? What do you want to do as Sarah Sherman? Do you want to live a long time?”
“No. I just need to save her.”
“Who? Who do you need to save?”
She asked me more questions, but I just sighed. I couldn’t answer. After a few minutes of trying, she told me, again, to leave it in the past.
“You can do it. You can leave it all back there.”
Then she brought me back to present time.
“How do you feel?”
“I feel scared.”
She told me to leave it in 1844; it was time to wake up.
I opened my eyes and noticed I was shivering. I felt like I had just come out of surgery. Ann told me I probably felt enormous guilt in 1844 because I didn’t save my mother from the fire. She thought we should try and do the regression again to find out what happened in my other lives. She guessed, though, that in each, I felt like I could’ve protected my mother, but didn’t. She assumed I carried the guilt with me, said it would keep returning until I feel I’ve rescued her, or forgiven myself for not. It’s like the experience is repeated until I live through it properly—learn what I’m supposed to learn. Ann believed this was the reason for my depression, my anxiety. I wondered if she was right. I’m still wondering.
I left Ann’s office and got into my car. I sat for a few minutes, thinking about what had just happened. My visions were vivid, and my answers projected from my mouth with an alarming certainty, but is that because of a wild imagination, or because my mind was so badly craving an explanation for my unhappiness? Or was all of it truly reminiscent of a past life?
I don’t think I had an epiphany, or reached enlightenment in Ann’s office, and I’m not even sure I believe her theory. But I had never thought of this story before, never pictured a burning house with my family trapped inside. So, if I was consciously creating this disturbing narrative, what was my motive? Why this story? And if it was indeed coming from my subconscious—how is that even possible? Have I really had multiple lives? Does it matter?
Not to me.
I could argue with people over this subject for hours, days probably, but I would never engage in the debate. Because, regardless of spirituality, regardless of science, of history, past-life regression is a form of therapy, and if someone is able to discover something while under hypnosis that makes them better-suited to deal with a present problem, what’s the harm? And even if the story I told wasn’t an actual “memory,” it is symbolic of something—I just have to figure out what.
I turned the car on, looked in the rearview mirror and saw mascara smeared under my eyes. I must’ve been crying. My mother’s face came to my mind, and I wondered if she had been the same in all my lives. Were her eyes as blue? Her mouth as small? And then I thought of her being sick, and how they aren’t sure how bad it is or how bad it could be—the aggressive autoimmune issues, the neuropathy, the other things she keeps from me so I don’t worry too much. And my mind raced with thoughts on how I could possibly save her this time.
+ + +
I will never know if I’ve had multiple lifetimes, or if my soul is old, like Ann also told me, but I don’t care. It’s beside the point. This story of the fire is representative of my greatest fears: losing my mother, and being a failure. Now the question becomes, can I use this information to better my life as I know it now? Can I come to terms with the idea that I must either save my mother from a tragic death, or forgive myself if I’m not able to?
Ann would tell me to let it go. She would tell me to be in the present—to enjoy my time with my mother now. So that’s what I’m trying to do. And I know my mother feels my love for her. I know she knows I would do anything I possibly could to keep her alive. Our energies are attached just as they were when there was an umbilical cord between us. But I also know that she would want me to live—this life—without guilt, without worry, without fear. So I will try. For her. Because that is what I know how to do—keep going for her. Maybe it’s all I know how to do, really.
I’ve always been proud to say I am my mother’s daughter. Because I am hers—just as I will be in my eighth life. Only next time won’t be because I failed. Instead, I will return to her simply because she is where I began; she is where I belong.