I’m confident of a higher power and felt reincarnation had merit, but I wasn’t sure at first. Like many in the U.S., I was the product of a branch of Christianity, and in my youth attended a Presbyterian church with my parents. I had never heard anything in church about reincarnation growing up. I realized later as I approached adulthood, if I just took the words of what the minister was saying to heart without researching myself, I was doing myself a great disservice and would be no better than a simple follower, with no original or well-thought, and researched opinions of my own.
I decided to begin a self-exploration and looked up the number of the hypnotist I had watched on television and made an appointment. To someone on the street, unaware of her hypnotherapy background, she appeared as a kind, gentle grandmother, in her early seventies, someone that seemed well-versed in baking tasty, chocolate chip cookies, as opposed to someone who could help a client explore their subconscious and bring forth the hazy memories of an earlier life.
After driving to her house, situated in a well-kept middle-class neighborhood, her husband greeted me at the door and welcomed me into their den. She came in with a smile and after a little small talk why I wanted to explore a past life we started the session. After a brief hypnotic induction, I began to find myself in a mild trance. During her starting questions, in my mind, I wasn’t confident whether the information I was receiving felt accurate or was even real, so initially, her questions didn’t elicit many answers. I just never felt sure. So, she guided me more deeply into the recesses of my subconscious with stronger in-depth induction techniques. I found myself even more relaxed, in a deepened hypnotic state, and as if from a distance, her voice instructed me to picture a dwelling. After awhile, I found myself in a dark cabin surrounded by handmade furniture, crude cooking utensils, some homemade by their appearance, and a big-bellied pot hanging over the fireplace. She asked me to open the door and go outside. Pushing the wooden plank door open, and stepping outside, the sun nearly blinded me.
Once my eyes adjusted, I saw only green fields going into the horizon dotted with the occasional tree before spotting a woman in the yard. The hypnotist asked if the woman I saw was me. “No,” I answered immediately, “I think that is my wife.” After looking at her for a while, I knew her name was Elizabeth. I watched her, noticing her attired with a small cap on her head and wearing a simple blue and white checked dress. She appeared to be making butter in an old churn. I stood there just observing, knowing she couldn’t see me. I noticed a young girl of about eight run quickly past Elizabeth, and I knew she was our daughter. Her red hair was styled in two pigtails that sailed behind her as she whipped around the front yard playing. I knew her name was Amy Catherine. Eventually, I remembered my name in that life, John Adam Miles.
It was like watching an old, colorized family home movie, and knowing I’d seen it firsthand since they were the memories I had locked in my subconscious of that life. I knew it was me despite looking and acting remarkably different than I do in this life. The longer I watched, the more familiar everything seemed to me, and I began to realize things about myself. I’d become orphaned when I was about eight and was left abandoned in New York City. By the 1850s, I was in my mid-thirties and toiling over some pretty good soil as a farmer in Kentucky, judging by the health of the crops and abundance of rain that year. I lived thirty miles west of Lexington. My frame was tall and slender and capped with dark, long hair. My nature was to be distrustful of most people, and I was not much of a talker. In my current life, I’m outgoing, and so I was surprised to find myself with such a reticent personality.
At first, the images had a hazy and unfocused feel to them, but as the session went on, the images, thoughts, and feelings began to grow clearer in my mind. I was bewildered; was that me?
I visited twice more, each session spaced about six months apart, wanting to see if the same life would appear. During the next regression, I was the same man in the same life, but I was able to see other snapshots of the life. The hypnotist nudged me to recount a memorable time in that life that someone else might not find as remarkable. I “saw” myself winning a long-rifle shooting competition; my prize was a nice sized turkey. I saw myself in a long black coat and top hat standing with ten other men dressed similarly, all of us drinking a pint of homemade beer served from a wooden barrel on the back of a wagon.
After those first two past life regressions, I assumed the life I’d see during the third session, would be the same life as the first two sessions, and the most recent one before my current life. Expecting more of the same life, I set up a third appointment. The hypnotist induced me into a deep hypnotic trance and asked me once again to picture a house and describe it when I was ready, adding on a reminder that I was there to observe and not participate.
As the gray faded, it was as if an old, dusty veil was pulled back, revealing a window into a different life than before, the memories stored somewhere in the dark, locked-up annexes of my subconscious. I described to her what I saw. I stood on the right side of a beautiful white house edged by a wrap-around porch situated to face the beautiful blue waves of an immaculately kept beach just fifty yards away. The sun winked in the sky, partially hidden at times by passing clouds and the temperature was wonderful, a perfect beach day.
I immersed myself in enjoying this reverie until her voice as if from a great distance cut into the scene and asked, “Do you see yourself?” “No,” I said. She followed with, “Why is that? It sounds like a perfect day.” Suddenly, I understood why the house was empty. Viewing inside the house from a distance, as if my eyesight had taken on that of an eagle, I noticed linens covering all the furniture, the ghostly reminder of a family who wasn’t there. In a somber tone, I shared, “I think I died.”