Dr. Stephen Royal Jackson, Ph.D. - America's Premier Stress Doctor
If after reading what follows you'd like to try or find out more about aSoul Expression Therapysession, go to the 'Contact Information' page. The process involves focusing on a present stress and using the look through technique (step 3 in the8 Steps to Love). Instead of going back to a hidden hurt of childhood, people go back to what they experienced in a past life. This may be a relatively recent life within the same century that they are currently living, or a life going back several centuries. Reliving and releasing the past hurt(s) helps people find freedom, peace, and happiness in their present life.
Stress & the Soul
"The soul needs to undergo a kind of healing process in order to be cleansed of stains caused by sin in the present life, virtue is the remedy applied to heal these scars. If they remain incurable in the present life, then the healing treatment is continued in a future life." (Christian Theologian St. Gregory of Nyssa [circa 334-391 A.D.], The Catechetical Orations VIII, 9).
It is widely known that many of the worlds great religious and spiritual traditions espouse the doctrine of the soul returning again and again. But it is not as widely known that early Christianity held a similar belief until the Council of Constantinople in 553 A.D. (See section below on Why are so many of us have resistance to the concept of the soul returning?) (The Following is excerpted from Love Conquers Stress)
Sometimes the look through technique (step 3 of the 8Steps to Love) leads to memories we didn't think were possible. Among such memories are experiences of ones infancy. Nancy, in chapter thirteen, recalled an experience of herself as a tiny infant being breast-fed. Other people, myself included, have recalled experiences as a fetus in our mothers womb. A female social worker, whom I mention inA Matter of Love, looked through her current anxiety and felt and saw herself in her mothers womb. She could hear her mother crying and heard her mother say to her father: "I don't want this baby! We can't afford this baby!" This was the origin of her always feeling ill at ease and mildly anxious throughout her life. She started out her life feeling unwelcomed and unwanted. InA Matter of Love, I relate the bizarre experience of feeling my little fetal body seized with hunger. Every cell of my body was on fire with the desire for food and I felt fear. And yet, right alongside of this fetal consciousness of hunger was a larger adult consciousness witnessing the event. Like Nancy, I had a participant/observer awareness of an early preverbal experience.
What are these preverbal memories? Some of these memories involve recalling statements people made when we ourselves did not understand words and their meanings. Our cognitive and brain development and verbal memory are not sufficient at this stage of life to record this kind of information. So what are these memories? I believe they are soul memories. In looking through a current situation of stress, people sometimes find themselves in another time and place that they experience as a past life. Often it is a different century and a different country. As I mention in both8 Steps to LoveandA Matter of Love, I have had patients who had experiences of what seemed like a past life. In all instances, the important thing to me is that the feelings are very real and the stress that the person having the experience is suffering from clears up.
Francine, a retired executive of United Airlines, was receiving Reiki from me for the arthritis in her hands and knees. I asked her to speak to the arthritis saying: "Stop hurting me like this!" She looked through the arthritis to see who it was in her current life that she could say this to. She saw a woman with whom she did volunteer work. Then she looked through and saw her mother. When I simply asked her subconscious mind if there were any other experiences that might help with easing the pain of her arthritis, something totally unexpected happened. She suddenly saw herself as a young Cherokee child. The setting was a prairie somewhere in the West. Everyone was running. The U.S. Cavalry was bearing down on her tribe. Francine saw herself as a four- or five-year-old child with long braided black hair. There was an arrow piercing her blood-stained back. "Ive been shot by my own people! Why are you hurting me like this? What have I done to deserve this!" she cried out to her Cherokee mother. As she saw herself die and felt her soul leave her body, she looked back and saw her little body lying lifeless on the ground. She then saw some of the soldiers raping and murdering not only women but little girls like herself. She instantly knew that she had been killed by someone in her tribe to spare her a worse death at the hands of the soldiers. She cried out, "They killed me because they loved me! They didn't do it to hurt me!" When the session was over, her hands and knees were free of the arthritis; she remained pain free for six months. The stress component of the disease was addressed but she has continued to need a Reiki session every so often. The arthritis contained a conflict between her desire to reach out for love and her fear of doing so. I have seen this with other people with arthritis. The nearly frozen state of the hands seems to fit Freuds description of symptoms as a compromise between a wish and a fear. In this case, there was a wish to reach out for love and a fear that doing so would lead to being betrayed by the ones you love. Her soul had remembered. Was this an actual documentable past life? I don't know. Perhaps it is a genetic memory of an ancestor who felt hurt and betrayed by her loved ones as Francine did in her childhood. Maybe she tapped into a layer of the heart that Carl Jung called the collective unconscious where we are one with all humankind—past and present.
For over four decades, Ian Stevenson, a professor of psychiatry at the University of Virginia, documented the cases of two thousand five hundred children who had memories of past lives. From a scientific perspective, his research into the past lives of these children is painstakingly thorough. The results are very impressive for establishing the reality of our soul living more than one lifetime on earth. Despite my own experiences of what appeared to be past lives of my own, I have not been concerned with whether these lives were literal documentable lives. The feelings of pain and heartbreak were so real even as the well-developed faculties of my critical mind kept saying: "How do I know this really happened?" My training as a therapist would simply override my questioning graduate-school- trained critical faculties. I would just let myself honor the feelings. I am not sure how much my background of being raised as an Episcopalian has influenced my unwillingness to fully embrace the concept of past lives.
I have read in various places and have been told by renowned psychiatrist Dr. George G. Ritchie, Jr., that the doctrine of the soul returning for many lifetimes was part of the original teachings of Christianity. Dr. Ritchie is a devout Christian who was raised as a Southern Baptist and so it was interesting to me to hear him tell me that all references to reincarnation were taken out of the Christian Bible by the Roman Emperor Justinian at the Council of Constantinople in 553 a.d. The implication was that the early Christian Church did not believe people would be likely to follow the moral teachings of the church if they had more than one chance at salvation. Of course, this has had the opposite effect on the devout followers of Buddhism and Hinduism. The concept of karma keeps people from behaving as if anything goes since the followers of these two religions believe they will reap in their next incarnation what they sow in their present one. And besides the goal is to become enlightened so that one does not have to return to live, suffer, and die over and over again. Dr. Ritchie had what is perhaps one of the most impressive near death experiences ever reported: it inspired Dr. Raymond Moody to do extensive research into the near death experience, part of which he presented in his bookLife After Life.
From my clinical training and experience, I strongly believe that when past life scenes come up, we need to feel the feelings of the drama that unfolds. At the same time, we need to make sure we don't bypass our childhood feelings in this lifetime. People into the New Age who have consulted me were using past lives as a defense against confronting the truth of their personal emotional history. The mystical tradition of the Kabbalah teaches that our sole purpose on earth is what Kabbalists call theTikkun HaNefeshwhich translates as "the correction of the soul." This soul correction takes more than one lifetime to accomplish. We are in this very life that we are currently leading for the growth of our soul. We are here to learn to embody love, kindness, patience, acceptance, compassion, and empathy in the face of the stress and conflict of life. The lessons of love that occur during the recall of these scenes from other lives are what impresses me. Given the difficulty people experience in relationships, it would seem quite reasonable to assume that we may need many lifetimes to get love right. In one lifetime, we leave our love. Then, in the next, he or she leaves us. Our heart is expanded. Some souls seem to seesaw back and forth over the centuries reversing the roles of the heartbreaker and the brokenhearted until they learn to truly love. Our true self, our innermost heart, can never be broken. It is the outer layer of our heart that, like the hard shell of a walnut, breaks open to reveal the soft, yet unbreakable and immortal core of our innermost heart. Presumably, with each lifetime, we get closer to developing the ability to love freely from the depths of our innermost heart. We can allow our loved ones to be as they are and we don't need them to be a certain way for us to feel good and be at peace. No clinging. No dependency. Just pure unconditional love. The conquest of stress is a matter of love. Love is the journey and the destination—the means and the end.
• For the purpose of your soul growth, try doing a daily soul review before going to sleep. "Did I treat others with love, kindness, patience, acceptance, compassion, and empathy? How well did I actualize these soul qualities today when I began to feel stressed?"
• After your review, you can purify your soul by repenting for the words and actions you regret. Visualize the people you wish you had been more loving and patient with in the empty chair. Express how sorry you are for your words or actions. Then tell the person you wronged what you would have loved to have said and/or done differently. "Im sorry that I hurt you by saying or doing_____. And I would have loved to have said and/or done_____."
• After you review and repent, you release judgments against others and yourself by using what I call the mantra of compassion. When someone attacks you with angry words, it helps to remember that he or she is suffering and resorting to anger to express pain. Visualize the person and silently say: "I know in my heart that you would have done differently if you could have done differently but you couldn’t so you didn’t." Now extend the mantra to yourself for the words and actions you regret from the day. "I know in my heart that I would have done differently if I could have done differently but I couldn’t so I didn’t." Resolve to speak or act in similar situations in the future with the soul qualities you want to actualize in your life.
Why are so many of us have resistance to the concept of the soul returning?
So many us, myself included, have a hard time embracing the truth of our coming back to earth again and again so we can evolve spiritually. And even though I have had some compelling experiences that seem to be soul memories and despite people I have worked with having their own soul memories, I find my mind not completely able to embrace the doctrine of reincarnation. However, as a therapist, I honored my experiences and followed out the stories that emerged by giving full expression to my feelings. I also encouraged the people I worked with in therapy to honor and express their feelings. So you do not have to fully embrace the doctrine of reincarnation to benefit from what I callSoul Expression Therapy (SET). Just as in any emotionally expressive therapy, there is therapeutic value in expressing ones feelings. I relate examples of soul memories of my own and that of patients inA Matter of Love.
One reason people dismiss the concept of past lives is that we don't readily remember having them. Sure we have déjŕ vu experiences, especially when we fall in love. Sacred spiritual traditions suggest we have a veil of forgetfulness descend over our memory.
The other reason is that most of the references to the cycle of rebirth was taken out of the Christian Bible by the council of Constantinople in 553 A.D. by the Emperor Justinian. Religious scholar Hoger Kersten reports that Justinian's wife had been a courtesan before what Kersten described as a "meteoric rise" to marrying the emperor and becoming Empress. In order to present an impeccably moral image, she wanted to separate herself from her blemished past. She set out to sever any connection with her courtesan days. Therefore, she ruthlessly had 500 of her colleagues executed. Fearing for the karmic consequences she would suffer in future lives, she implored her husband to have any references to the soul returning in another body striken from the Bible. She sincerely believed that an official church edict declaring reincarnation a heresy, an anathema, would save her.