By Anna Olson
Unfortunately nothing in our culture prepares parents for this moment. On the contrary, everything in our culture teaches that children’s past life memories are impossible.
from Children’s Past Lives by Carol Bowman
IN THE BOOK, Children’s Past Lives: How Past Life Memories Affect Your Child, author Carol Bowman proposes instructing parents and childcare givers on how to listen to children’s past life memories if and when they emerge. She feels that scientists (details below) have adequately proven the validity of past life memories, and now the question is how to put this knowledge to good use.
Bowman suggests that remembering past lives could be “a natural part of our soul’s development, an opportunity to clear issues from the past.” She details cases where a person’s problems in this life refused to clear up until a relevant past life was revealed. Perhaps “parents are part of the plan for helping our children benefit from spontaneous past life memories,” she says.
But first, how do you know when a child is having a genuine past life memory versus spinning a tale? Bowman gives four signs to look for: a matter-of-fact tone, consistency over time, knowledge beyond experience, and corresponding behaviour and traits.
Bowman, mother of Chase and Sarah, describes how she stumbled into the surreal world of past life memories. Four-year-old Chase had an intense fear of loud noises that had no relation to trauma in his life so far. When Carol met a regression therapist who helped clients remember past lives, she asked him to work with Chase in case there was a past life aspect to the boy’s fear. There was. Chase recounted a time when he was a soldier and was surrounded by canons going off. After reliving that past life, Chase’s fear of loud noises diminished.
That was the start of Bowman’s immersion into the subject of reincarnation. She read all she could, and took a week-long workshop on receiving and assisting regressions. She saw how her past lives reflected some of the difficulties she had in the present, and she also became more adept at helping others access their memories.
If past lives are real, then reincarnation, whereby the soul returns to earth in a different body over and over again, is real. Reincarnation is a touchy subject as the Western world is largely Christian with its belief in one life only; you die, and then your soul goes to heaven or hell for eternity. It’s a challenge for parents who believe the Christian dogma to be suddenly confronted with a child claiming to having lived before.
Bowman doesn’t go into depth on the religious aspect in her book; she focuses instead on the proof for reincarnation, how to handle children’s revelations, and the healing aspect for children and grown-ups alike. (On her website, www.childpastlives.org, click “library” for Bowman’s article, “Reincarnation and the Early Christian Church.”)
For proof, Bowman points to the work of Dr. Ian Stevenson, head of the psychology department, University of Virginia School of Medicine. He wrote Twenty Cases Suggestive of Reincarnation and Children Who Remember Past Lives. Dr. Stevenson limits his investigation to cases in which the child starts talking about memories without anyone asking. Up to 1997, he and his colleagues had collected more than 2,600 cases from a wide range of cultures and religions around the world.
To qualify for a “solved” case, Dr. Stevenson wants to hear detailed memories of the past life from the child, a match to the life of one (and only one) predeceased individual, and no way the child could have known the details other than having lived as this individual. If there are traits, skills, phobias, and preferences that are out of place for a child’s natural family, but that match the life of the previous personality, those details would reinforce the verbal memories and strengthen the evidence for reincarnation, Stevenson contends.
In thirty-five percent of his verified cases (309 of 895), the children had birthmarks or birth defects that matched wounds from their previous lives. ”They are important because they offer physical evidence for the link between past and present lives,” claims Dr. Stevenson. He found that memories often appear for the first time when the child is between the ages of two and five.
Most spontaneous past life memories in children involve memories of death – especially a violent one. Dr. Stevenson suggests: “It seems reasonable to suppose that the intensity of an experience such as a violent death can in some way strengthen or ‘fixate’ memories so that they are more readily preserved in consciousness.”
Prepare for the shock
Now for the heart of the topic: advice for caregivers when a child announces shockers like, “My other mommy had curly hair” or “I died before.” One 18-month-old toddler, who had spoken in single words only to that point, told her stunned mother, "I am going to take my vows tomorrow. My name is Rose but tomorrow I will be Sister Theresa Gregory."
Bowman offers five suggestions to help you cope with what could be one of the most memorable moments of your life.
· Stay calm. Especially if you’re the driver in a moving vehicle! Many children reveal past lives as they slip into an altered state due to the vibration of the car. Pull over if you can and turn off the car. Take a deep breath and pay attention to the child’s words and tone of voice.
· Acknowledge. Use a loving voice and assuring words to help your child continue with the revelation.
· Allow emotions. Allow the memory to unfold naturally and the child to express his or her emotions.
· Clarify past and present. Help your child to understand that the past life is over and that his or her present reality is safe.
Bowman encourages caregivers to trust that their love for the child will come through. “Respond by affirming, allowing, encouraging, acknowledging, explaining, clarifying, assuring – and always with love,” she writes. “More important than any technique,” she adds, “allow your child to lead the way.” Simple phrases like “Oh, I see,” or “That’s interesting,” or echoing the child’s statement, can help the child to stay focused and continue with the story.
Children’s Past Lives abounds with stories of children (and adults) healing after a relevant past life was revealed. Here’s another story involving her son, Chase. He was upset after a “Ninja” slumber party with games, videos and pizza. After that night, he got anxiety attacks at bedtime. “He felt sick to his stomach, got very pale and quiet, and was anxious about not being able to get to sleep,” Bowman says. This went on for six weeks. The parents tried everything to comfort him but nothing worked.
Then Chase, who by now was familiar with past lives, suggested doing a regression. His mother helped him to stay with the feelings from the Ninja party in order to find the relevant past life. He traveled in his mind back to “castle times” where he was trying to steal something, got caught, and put in a dungeon where he died. He explored his feelings from that life and could see how the Ninja party triggered the memory. His stomachache left, and he slept peacefully.
* * *
Reincarnation is real to me because I have experienced past lives myself. About 25 years ago, I went to a regression therapist out of curiosity. The lives that I relived seemed credible because of the physical sensations involved. For example, in one life, I was a young soldier shot in the lower back. As I described the incident, I felt a shock at the base of my spine that went to the top of my head and to my feet at the same time. I have never had that sensation in this lifetime.
In another past life memory, I died in a fire. I could feel three stages to the death: I was conscious and in pain; I was unconscious but still alive; then I felt my spirit leave my body. Needless to say, I have not experienced that in this life. The good part about reliving past lives for me is that if I have lived before, I assume I will live again. This present life is just one of many. I'll do my best and know that I can complete things in other lives if necessary.
As I was preparing this article, I asked friends for their experiences. Here’s a sampling:
· Pat says her four-year-old grandson Anders asked her, "Do you miss Christopher?" She told him "Yes" whereupon he replied, “You don’t have to worry about Chris anymore. He’s in my body.” Pat’s son Chris had died at age eight. Anders knew about the death of Chris but the concept "he's in my body" was totally his own thinking. Pat told me, "I don't understand it, I just accept it."
· Maria told me her five-year-old daughter announced she had lived in Atlantis. "The reason Atlantis disappeared," she told her surprised mother, "is that the people abused their psychic powers. They could kill others by using their thoughts."
Anna Olson is a freelance writer and editor living in Winnipeg, Manitoba. If you would like permission to reprint this or other articles, email her at email@example.com.