The review of the 2007 I Can Do It! Conference continues.
Day 2 – Friday
Brian Weiss, M.D. - Same Soul, Many Bodies
Steve: Friday began with a six-hour workshop on past life regression therapy from Dr. Brian Weiss, author of Many Lives, Many Masters. The main reason I opted to attend this workshop (there were 9 to choose from) is that I knew next to nothing about the topic, so I figured it would be an interesting experience. I wasn’t disappointed.
First, Brian provided lots of background on past life regression discoveries — he’s been doing regressions for 27 years. He presented some of the evidence that suggests we may live multiple lives, such as people recalling identifiable info about past lives they could then look up and verify. Sometimes when people would visit the birthplaces of their former lives, they’d get an eerie sense of familiarity. Brian also cited cases of xenoglossia, where people can speak other languages while under regression, supposedly from their former lives.
Personally it doesn’t matter much to me whether or not past lives are real in an objective sense. A belief in reincarnation is an interesting lens, but I think the main value is the experiential aspect of it and what effect it can have on your outlook. Past life regression is mainly a therapeutic technique.
Fortunately this was an experiential workshop, so we did three different group exercises: a past-life regression, a psychometry exercise, and a future-life regression (perhaps progression is a better word).
During the past-life regression, about 50% of the room reported they had an experience. The other half reported no results. Some people got too relaxed and fell asleep, as noted by the snoring. Brian had told us going into it that with a large group, a 50% success rate is typical, so this was consistent with expectations.
I’d never done a past life regression before, so I wasn’t sure what would happen. I figured there was a good chance I’d get at least some results, imaginary or otherwise, since I’ve done lots of meditation and visualization over the years as well as self-hypnosis. I’ve also done a hypnotic regression years ago with a hypnotherapist, although it didn’t involve past lives. Consequently, the relaxation process Brian took us through was nothing new to me.
Something unexpected happened almost immediately. As we were just getting started with the relaxation process, I felt an intense surge of emotion. I wasn’t even visualizing anything yet, but it was so intense that I started to cry, seemingly for no reason. The feeling was like a combination of intense joy and deep sadness. Tears were streaming down my face, and I had no idea why. This isn’t my typical reaction to deep breathing exercises.
I figured maybe I was having some kind of pre-action to what was to come, so I just let the emotions run their course without resistance and continued following Brian’s instructions as best I could. As soon as we started doing the visual portion, a full scene opened up to me immediately. I had some pre-conceived notions of what kind of past lives I may have lived, but this wasn’t one of them.
I saw a scene where I was an early American white settler riding a horse alone through a small meadow in the woods, probably somewhere in the mid-West during the 1800s. There was a stream flowing nearby. I was wearing leather boots and gloves, but I wasn’t a cowboy per se. I had the sense that I spent a lot of time just exploring the countryside on horseback. I felt totally at peace, enjoying the quiet calm of nature. It was a very zen-like experience.
My disposition was probably like Thoreau while writing Walden. I lived off the land and wasn’t involved in any trade or business. I was a very quiet person and basically kept to myself. I remember feeling an almost spiritual connection with my horse and with the beautiful scenery around me as well.
Suddenly I heard a rumbling from the woods and soon saw a group of 4-5 American Indians on horseback barreling towards me. I was startled, and it took me a while to react. I wasn’t armed (I got the sense I never carried a weapon), so I pulled on the horse’s reins to turn and run, but the Indians had all the momentum. When they were nearly on top of me, they shot a few arrows at me. I wasn’t hit, but my horse was and stumbled sideways to the ground, trapping my right leg. One of the Indians quickly dismounted his horse and slit my throat with a blade. From the time I first noticed them coming out of the woods to the time my throat was slit was about 10 seconds.
As I died I floated above the scene. I remember being concerned about my horse and hoped she’d be OK. I also hoped that whoever learned of my death would not try to take revenge.
Even though my death was sudden and violent, it still felt very peaceful. The Indians startled me, but they didn’t register as a threat, and even after I was dead, I felt no anger or resentment towards them. I was surprised but not afraid. I was just swallowed up by nature. It felt like I was supposed to die this way and that everything was perfect.
This scene may not mean much to you, but to me it was a very emotionally intense experience. I can’t say it was a real past life, but it was certainly a real experience to me. It felt like much more than a typical meditation or visualization experience. The best way I can describe the feeling would be deep nostalgia. For the rest of the day, I couldn’t even talk about this experience, not even with Erin. I felt I needed more time to process it. Even writing about it 10 days later causes me to feel intense emotions. This experience still feels very significant to me, but intellectually I still don’t fully comprehend it. Even though it was just happening in my mind, it felt much more real to me. When I do made-up visualizations, I don’t have strong emotions connected to them unless I intentionally insert them.
The psychometry exercise mostly came up blank for me. With the future life experience though, I imagined myself living 500 years hence. I didn’t pick up much detail, but I knew that human beings had physically evolved in some way. It felt very different being in a human body, as if I had other senses and abilities that I didn’t have now, such as being able to float above the ground in addition to walking around. It was like gravity had no effect on people unless they wanted it to. Physically we weren’t quite the same species anymore, although I can’t say whether the changes were biological or technological in nature.
Interestingly, Brian said that there was about 80% correlation in what human beings reported about their future life experiences in certain time frames. For the next 150 years, we continue advancing without major surprises. The population continues to grow, environmental concerns become major issues, technology advances without any shocking surprises, and we still have armed conflicts and natural disasters but nothing major from a global standpoint.
Go out 1000 years though, and the planet is very, very different. The population is much smaller, the planet is totally green and pollution-free, and human beings enter and leave their bodies at will. They even have museums to show what deserts used to look like. This reminded me of the description of the future from Robert Monroe’s Far Journeys in the section on astral projecting to the future.
How we get from A to B is a mystery. Brian says that sometime 300-600 years from now, we supposedly undergo a period of massive change, including major population reduction. But it’s unclear whether this happens due to war, disease, natural disaster, or simply a reduction in the birth rate.
I thoroughly enjoyed Brian’s workshop and felt very changed by the experience. My main suggestion for improvement would be for him to use more vocal variety and to stand up and move about more. His normal speaking voice was very hypnotic and was at risk of lulling people to sleep even before the regression. But to his credit he was aware of that and even pointed it out a couple times during the workshop.
Erin: I attended the Gordon Smith workshop on Friday. Gordon is a medium from the UK who is hailed as one of the most accurate mediums in the world as he regularly gives full names, dates, street addresses, etc. I was able to witness this first hand during the morning session. During one reading with a woman, he was naming members of her family right and left! And at the end of her reading said, “Your mum is telling me you have an appointment next Wednesday at 10:30am. She will be there during that appointment.” All accurate. All amazing. He leaves a swath of grateful teary-eyed sitters in his path.
During the second half of the workshop he focused on helping us develop our own medium skills, which was the main reason I went to see him. Why not learn from one of the best, right? He confirmed so many things I was already experiencing and taught me a few more to boot.
Gordon was a great presenter, adding all kinds of humor into his presentation. By the end of the session we were all poking just a wee bit of fun at his thick Scottish accent as he kept saying, “gayde” instead of “guide.” What was really funny was hearing him drop into a Boston accent for a few sentences as he attemtped to speak more clearly for our benefit. I’m really glad I got a chance to see him in person since it saved me a trip halfway across the globe. I would love to see him again or interview him.
Wayne Dyer - Change Your Thoughts, Change Your Life
Steve: Dr. Wayne Dyer delivered the Friday night keynote on the material in his new book Change Your Thoughts – Change Your Life: Living the Wisdom of the Tao, which will be released in July. I especially loved his self-deprecating humor and his heart-warming stories, especially those of interacting with his family. I still wish he’d take advantage of a speech coach to help eliminate the excessive ums, ahs, dropped sentences, pacing around the stage, and repetitive hand circles while he speaks, but his content and authenticity still manage to overshadow his delivery skills. Like last year I also felt he could have done a better job organizing his material. He told a lot of great stories and delivered some interesting insights on how to remain centered in the face of turbulence, but the overall presentation structure seemed very disjointed and rambling. He went 30 minutes overtime and said he’d give us a meditation that to my recollection never materialized. Overall I enjoyed the content, the stories, and the humor, but I’d love to see him put more effort into his organization and delivery skills; it’s a bit disappointing to see such an experienced speaker making the kinds of mistakes that can be largely corrected with basic practice in Toastmasters. I’d never want to see him lose his authenticity and spontaneity, but the delivery issues do detract from his message and make it less impactful than it could be. Fortunately such problems are absent in his books.
Erin: I too quite enjoyed Wayne’s heart-warming personal stories. However, by this time of the evening my energy was beginning to wane (no pun intended) and I found myself falling asleep in my chair. So I got up and went shopping through the exhibits in the back of the room for a while, which was great because there were no crowds or hordes of people getting in my way. I could still hear him very easily so I didn’t technically miss much. After 20-30 minutes, I found my way back to my seat. I too found his circular gestures odd and unusual. And I agree with Steve that Wayne would benefit from some Toastmaster training. But heck, he’s Wayne Dyer, and his message is so wonderfully uplifting and inspirational that he could be speaking in the buff from his bathtub and I’d listen to him. :) He spoke about trying to get our world leaders together to teach them compassion and non-violence. He wasn’t sure any would come but he is apparently putting something together. More power to him! If they listen to Wayne I think our world would be a much better place. In the future, I’d love to see Wayne speak in the morning when I’m fresh. He’s a brilliant, compassionate, caring individual and also an inspirational leader.
Overall Friday was a very stimulating and immersive day, allowing us to grow in skill and awareness.
Read the rest of the conference review: