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Coming Back - A Psychiatrist Explores Past-Life Journeys

Moody, Raymond

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Dr. Raymond Moody’s pioneering research of near-death experiences changed the way we perceive dying. Now, in Coming Back, he examines the new field of regression hypnosis to discover if we can indeed recall “past lives”–and what such memories tell us about the possibility that death is not the end.

In Coming Back Dr. Moody presents the startling findings of research conducted of psychologically healthy patients who, under deep hypnosis, could describe in vivid detail episodes from other historical periods they could not possibly have known— unless they’d lived before! Once a confirmed skeptic, in April 1986 Dr. Moody himself underwent a deep hypnotic trance that dramatically changes his belief about past-life regression. Inside you’ll learn:

•How almost anyone can experience past-life journeys.

•How past-life regression can help you overcome phobias, compulsions, addictions, depression, and guilt.

•How to recognize and identify the twelve traits common to all genuine past-life regressions.

•How recent findings in science, psychiatry, and sociology contribute to our understanding of past-life regression–and what they say about life after death.

•Plus a special self-hypnosis script to guide you on your own past-life journey.

Dr. Moody takes a provocative look at the possibility that we have lived before birth and will go on living after death—and shows how this knowledge can help improve the lives we’re living here and now!

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About the Author:

Raymond Moody, Jr., M.D., received his B.A., M.A., and Ph.D. from the University of Virginia. After teaching philosophy at East Carolina University, he received his M.D. from the Medical College of Georgia in 1976 and then served his residency at the University of Virginia Medical School. His works include Life After Life, Reflections on Life After Life, and The Light Beyond.

Excerpt. © Reprinted by permission. All rights reserved.:

Chapter One



The Nine Other Lives of Raymond Moody


My lecturing on the subject of near-death experiences has always led to questions about other extranormal phenomena. When the time comes to take questions from the audience, a good percentage of them are likely to involve things like UFO abductions, spoon bending, hauntings, and past-life regression.

Not only were all of these subjects out of my realm of study, but they were somewhat embarrassing for me. After all, none of them have anything to do with near-death experiences. To begin with, near-death experiences (NDEs) are profound spiritual events that happen, uninvited, to some individuals at the point of death. They are generally accompanied by one or more of the following symptoms: an out-of-body experience, the sense of zooming up a tunnel toward a bright light, seeing long-dead relatives at the other end of the tunnel, and having a life review that is guided by a Being of Light.

NDEs have little to do with the many other paranormal phenomena that I was frequently quizzed about after lectures. They represented other fields of study in which I had truly little interest.

That included past-life regressions. I had always presumed that these voyages back through time were a product of the subject's fantasy and nothing more. It was my guess that people daydreamed them or that they represented some bizarre kind of wish fulfillment. I assumed that most of the people who were successfully regressed found themselves to be an exotic character, such as Egyptian royalty. When asked about past lives, it was difficult for me to hide my skepticism.

I first heard about past-life regressions from Ian Stevenson, a professor at the University of Virginia. He is a psychiatrist and an expert in psychosomatic medicine who has investigated reincarnation tales gathered from around the world. Typically they are tales told by young children who spontaneously "remember" past lives.

Stevenson had at one time performed some hypnotic regressions and decided that they were very unreliable methods of looking into the question of reincarnation. He believed that the patient was reproducing something he or she had learned or heard about in years past and was now–while under hypnosis–merely projecting it outward.

There the matter stood until I met Diana Denholm. She is a lovely and persuasive psychologist who used hypnosis in her practice. Originally she used it to help people stop smoking, lose weight, and even to find lost objects. But some strange things had happened, she said. Every once in while, a patient would start talking about experiences from a past life. Most of the time these events occurred when she took people back through their lives to recover a lost, traumatic memory, a process known as age regression therapy. This technique would help them find the source of phobias or neuroses that were creating problems. Their intent was to take a person back through their current life, layer by layer, to uncover a psychological trauma in much the way an archeologist digs through the layers of time at an archeological site to uncover relics.

The intention of regression therapy was not to go beyond the date on the patient's birth certificate, just far back in their current life.

But occasionally, patients would slip back even further than seemed possible. They would suddenly begin talking about another life, place, and time as though it were right there before their very eyes.

For instance, a woman who was having trouble responding to her husband's sexual needs might go to a hypnotherapist like Denholm to see if there was any sort of forgotten abuse in her childhood that would make her sexually reticent. But in the process of regression, she might suddenly begin describing a past life in which she is a sexually abused slave girl in the roaring Roman Empire.

These were the sorts of odd things that were happening to Denholm as she conducted hypnotic regressions.

At first the experiences frightened Denholm. She thought she had done something wrong in her hypnotherapy, or perhaps she was treating someone with multiple personalities. But when this happened a few times, Denholm began to realize that she could use these experiences to help treat the patient's disorder.

With research and practice, she became quite proficient at eliciting past lives from people who would allow it. Now she uses regression therapy regularly in her practice because it frequently cuts through hours of therapy by plunging right to the heart of the problem.

What Diana had to say about regressions intrigued me. Up to that point in my life I had dismissed these experiences. But here was someone I respected, talking about a phenomenon that had not been invited, but simply happened to patients in her practice.

Believing that each of us is an experiment of one, I wanted to experience past-life regressions myself. I expressed my desire to Diana, who graciously offered to do a regression that very afternoon. She seated me in an overstuffed recliner and led me, slowly and skillfully, into a deep trance. Later she said I had been under for about an hour. At all times I was aware of being Raymond Moody and of being under the guidance of a wonderful hypnotist. But at the same time I went back through nine civilizations and was able to see myself and the world in many different incarnations. To this day I don't know what they meant–or even if they meant anything. I do know that they were very intense experiences, more like reality than a dream. The colors were as real as life and the events unfolded from their own inner logic and not through any "wishing" of my own. I was not saying, "What do I want to happen next?" or "How should the plot go?" These vivid lives just happened of their own accord, like movies on a screen.

A couple of general notes about the lives I passed through in this fascinating voyage of the mind: Only two of them took place during time periods that I could recognize, both in ancient Rome. The others gave no evidence by which I could date them in terms of modern Western history. They were either prehistoric, in primitive societies, or had no historic context at all.

When I began to see these episodes they had such a familiarity that they were drenched with nostalgia. It was truly as though I was remembering actual experiences. Some were fragmentary; others were so complete and real that I felt as though I was remembering my own life by watching family films.

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