Former Lives

       "You can't do self-hypnosis until you learn to totally relax," the teacher said. Looking forward to experiencing regression, I practiced the techniques daily.
       During the next sessions the teacher talked more about love than about any other single thing -- "the true love of God, Jesus, Buddha, and other people of God." He stressed love of God, love for God, love for fellow humans, love for nature, love for animals, love for everything. Finally, here was a group of people who expressed love much the same way as I pictured the Bible advocating. I drank it in.
       "What about the Bible!" a young woman asked one evening in class. "Is it worth anything?"
       She'd voiced a question I'd wondered about. I listened closely.
       "The Bible is a good book," the teacher answered. "It has helped many people. But the Bible is thousands of years old." He paused and smiled at the young woman. "Would you want to get rid of your car and go back to riding a donkey?"
       "No," she responded. "I think I'll keep my Mustang.
       Everyone laughed.
       She looked puzzled for an instant, then realized what she'd said. "The Ford kind," she added, giggling.
       The teacher continued, "Knowledge has multiplied since the Bible was written. Society has moved forward. We know much more in science, in mathematics, in technology. We also know much more about the spirit."
       "So is the Bible wrong?" an older man on the other side of the room asked.
       "No, no. Not wrong," the teacher said. "It's fine, as far as it goes. It's just that we've moved on and now we know so much more."
       Just like a reading book, I thought. A first-grade reader has words like "the" and "run" and "what" and "look". "Every week there are new words to learn. Knowledge increases. But whether you're in seventh grade or gradruate school, the basic first-grade words are still valid. They're always spelled the same. And they mean the same thing.
       I was relieved by the teacher's response. Even though I hadn't been able to find the answers I needed in the Bible, I'd always felt it was important. Now I could continue to respect it but still grow beyond it. Is this class God's answer to my infrequent prayers? I wondered.
       Besides enjoying the love I felt while at the class, I concentrated on the relaxation and self-hypnosis techniques the instructor taught. At home, I practiced faithfully.
       "You're having trouble getting very deep, aren't you!" the teacher asked me one evening.
       "Yes," I admitted.
       "You have an analytical mind, don't you?"
       "It will be harder for you than for some, but you'll get to the place where you can go deeply enough into meditation that you can regress into past lives. Just keep practicing. Concentrate on the relaxation techniques."
       A few sessions later, the teacher looked directly at me. "Are you ready?"
       "Eager," I answered. I sat in a chair in front of his desk.
       "Always pray first," the teacher advised, "for protection." He bowed his head. "God, guide our excursion. Keep us safe from evil spirit influences. Amen."
       Then he turned to me. "You've already been practicing selfhypnosis?"
       "To experience regression, you'll need to go to deeper levels."
       "Like we've talked about before, some people see numbers in their head as they progress deeper into hypnosis. Others see rulers or yardsticks, thermometers, or there are other ways to determine the level of hypnosis. What's it been for you?"
       "Just numbers."
       He directed me to place my palms flat on the desk and my forehead on the desktop between my hands. As soon as I did, numbers flashed by me--20, 30, 32, 34, 36. I'd never before been so deep into hypnosis. A tingle went up my spine.
       "You've got to go deeper," he said.
       I tried, but was stalled at 36. The teacher touched the tips of his middle fingers to mine. A jolt of electricity burst into my fingers and shot through my body. Whoosh. I plunged deeper and deeper. Numbers raced by -- 40 ... 46 ... 52 ... 60.
       "We'll start out with the present and work our way back," the teacher explained. He suggested an age and I settled on a memory about it. Then we went back a couple years and repeated the process.
       Shortly, though totally aware of my present surroundings, in my mind I saw the house where I first lived. I looked over it, saw the house plan, and remembered some family scenes. We'd moved from that house about the time I turned four. I never saw it again. The few memories I'd had of it were vague, at best. Yet, here I was, twenty years later, taking a detailed tour.
       "Go back further," the instructor said. "Keep going back... and back."
       The scenes of the house faded. Total blackness took their place for a few seconds. Suddenly, I was falling ... off a very tall building. Red brick walls and windows with small panes flashed by as gravity pulled me down ... down ... down. ... Terror gripped me.
       I exploded straight up out of my chair. The teacher jumped. Everyone in the room caught their breath or gasped. "No!" I screamed. "Not there!" My heart pounded like it might leap out of my chest.
       I'd been there before. As a toddler. One night I was lying in my crib. Just starting to doze. All of a sudden I was falling off a huge, very tall building. Red brick walls and windows with small panes flashed by as I tumbled down ... down ... down.... Terror gripped me. Heart pounding, I jumped up, grabbed the crib railing, and screamed at the top of my lungs.
       The fall had haunted me. Terrified me.
       Now, the teacher reached up for my hand. "Relax," he soothed. "No harm will come to you."
       Trembling, I folded back into the chair. My heart pounded in my head. The teacher motioned toward his assistant. Jeff, a slim, professional-looking man probably in his early thirties pulled a chair up on my right side. "Jeff and I will travel with you into your memories as protectors. If you need us, we'll be there to warn you of dangers or to help you understand what you see."
       I leaned forward, my pulse still racing.
       "Can we go back to that memory as long as Jeff and I go with you?" he asked.
       "No! Not that one!"
       "OK. That'll be fine," he said. "Just go past that memory. Past all the blackness. Keep going back until you settle on a happy, peaceful time."
       After a short period of darkness, I saw myself looking down at my feet. I wore scruffy cowboy boots and dirty old chaps. To my left, old wild-west-type buildings lined the wooden sidewalk. On my right, horses and buggies swerved around mud puddles in the dirt street. A gas lantern topped an octagon-shaped wooden pole.
       As the vision continued, I described part of what was happening. But I purposely left out significant parts. The teacher had said he and Jeff would go with me. Would they really see everything I saw? Was this for real?
       It certainly felt real. I walked down the sidewalk to the corner, stepped onto a square wooden step down into the street, and crossed to the restaurant on the far side.
       An attractive waitress, probably in her early twenties, with light brown hair pulled into a bun at the back of her head came to take my order. I flashed her a smile. She gave only a business-like response. I tried to make small talk. Nothing. "What's a pretty girl like you doing in a place like this?" Zip! I felt miffed that she didn't respond. Defeated, I ordered stew and ale.
       Since nothing much happened while I waited for my meal, I had a chance to think from my present perspective. Why was I expecting her to be attracted to me?
       Immediately a picture popped into mind. I was in my late twenties to early thirties, muscular, about five feet ten inches tall, with slicked-back jet black hair, dark eyes, and a somewhat pointed nose. Frankly, I was rather handsome.
       When the waitress brought my meal, I pulled out all the stops. Zilch. She was probably one of those finicky people who insisted everyone be clean and odorfree, anyway, and not ready for a cowboy used to lots of physical work. I ate my meal, paid for it, and retraced my steps to the place where I entered the vision.
       From that spot, I turned right into a hotel and climbed a narrow staircase. At the top of the stairs I turned right again and entered the first door on the right. In my room I walked over to a wooden-framed, oval mirror. The reflection perfectly matched the picture that had come to my mind earlier. Dumbfounded, I stared at my image.
       Then I turned and walked over to the bed, lay on it with my boots up on the footboard, and went to sleep.
       At that point, the vision faded.
       "What were the lampposts like?" I asked.
       "They were wood," the teacher said, "and octagonal. They were large at the bottom and top and tapered to a smaller diameter in the middle." He was right.
       "What was the restaurant shaped like!" I asked.
       "The side walls ran straight along the wooden walks," he said, "but they didn't come clear to the corner. It was like the corner of the building was snubbed off and there was a diagonal wall back ten or twelve feet from where the sidewalks met. That left a covered, triangle porch. The door was in the middle of the diagonal wall."
       "Uh-huh." This was eerie. "Would you describe my hotel room?" I asked.
       "From where you entered," he said, "on the left wall was an oval, wooden-framed mirror. Under it was a wooden stand with a bowl and pitcher. The bed's metal headboard was up against the outside wall. On the right was a small window and then a chair."
       That night I went home with more questions than I'd considered in a long while. The fall off the tall building. It was the exact thing I'd seen and felt as a toddler. And I'd never told anyone about the experience. What was it? Why has it affected my life so profoundly?
       And who was I in those former lives? Was this experience for real? Did God lead me to this class to help me make sense out of my life? Why didn't the Bible classes teach me about these things?
       Earlier I had said that if I ever experienced a former life, I'd believe in reincar- nation. Now what?


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