Book Review: Past-Life Therapy in Action by Dick Sutphen

I hadn't read any of Dick Sutphen's books so when the shelf elves delivered this one to me, I was intrigued. Sutphen is one of the original New Age personalities who helped to put Sedona on the map, and he has one of the earliest mass market books on reincarnation with "You Were Born to Be Together", published in 1978. The timing of reading this book is interesting as Sutphen is an advocate of what hypnotists call "regression to cause," going immediately to the source of the trauma. His style is very "in your face", challenging people's belief systems with the confidence of someone who has years of experience. He even jokes in one chapter that he tells people "I wish you a miserable past-life regression." His reasoning is:

"If your regression experience is vivid and real enough for you to get upset, then I guarantee you this past-life incident is still in your present life. It is programming that is still under the surface, festering and manifesting as problems. By getting in touch with the cause in regression, you can totally experience it, possibly resolving your problem... Everything you feel, every attitude, hang-up, fear, and phobia is rooted in your past. There is a past event or series of events that is causing you to experience the present undesirable effect."

That sums up Sutphen's philosophy and methodology better than I could. Sutphen is an advocate of the belief that “you create everything, that you are totally responsible for everything that happens to you.” Luckily, he also stresses that “wisdom erases karma:”

“Can you make it all right with yourself to release and rise above the past, the past of being a victim and the past of being the bad guy? Can you let go of all the past situations you’ve lived and suffered? If you are ready to truly forgive yourself, you can release all the undesirable effects right now. You can wipe the slate clean and move forward into your present life; clear, focused, in balance and harmony. The choice is yours.”

I have recently been working with this very intense practice, doing this past lives version of shadow work. This is being willing to look at the events and choices that lead to you being “the bad guy.” And its surprising to find that for all the times I’ve seen myself as the victim, further digging uncovered a life where I was the perpetrator, sometimes with the same people involved! It is extremely powerful and I am in agreement with Sutphen that it is necessary. In fact Sutphen goes further:

“If my subject has a severe physical problem which is also associated with depression or emotional troubles, experience has taught me not to be satisfied with a ‘cause’ that does not include guilt.”

The only aspect that dates this work from 1983 is that the old model was to access the trauma but full back from feeling it, working from a "detached, all-knowing level of awareness." Sutphen’s induction includes the command:

"I want you to be an observer of your own experience. Detached, without any emotion or pain." 

Now I understand that this book is based on transcripts from workshops where he was doing group work. It must have been an intense experience for participants to open themselves to exposing their issues and confronting them in a public format. But its an interesting sync that this book shows up just after I connected with George Druisman and started experimenting with his CTT method. This consists of aiming directly to the source of the trauma, not detaching but acknowledging the level of distress, then tapping on it using his unique innovative form of EFT. (More on CTT in my next post.) 

These words from Dick Sutphen will be my quote of the month in the newsletter:

Nobody punishes us but ourselves. And nobody rewards us but ourselves.

Past-Life Therapy in Action by Dick Sutphen and Lauren Leigh Taylor, Valley of the Sun Publishing, 1983

240 times a minute

Just after posting my drum nerd/shamaninc journey story, this item found me and the number 240 jumped out.

"(Two) studies — one on humans by a team at the University of California Berkeley, and another on macaques done by scientists at Princeton University — sought to pin down how many times the human brain oscillates in and out of focus per minute. Four times every second, explains Princeton Neuroscience Institute Ian Fiebelkorn, Ph.D., to Inverse, the brain stops focusing on the task at hand. That’s about 240 times a minute.

'The brain is wired to be somewhat distractible,' he says. 'We focus in bursts, and between those bursts we have these periods of distractibility, that’s when the brain seems to check in on the rest of the environment outside to see if there’s something important going on elsewhere. These rhythms are affecting our behavior all the time.'”


Just as I focus on the magic number of 240 beats per minute this study mentions '240 times a minute", the equivalent, as how often our brains check in and out of the object of our attention. The reason this is a good thing is that our ancestors who were open to signals from their environment when focusing on picking a piece of fruit or hunting survived more often than those that were so focused on the task at hand that they became the hunted. I understand that moving attention to the environment 240 times a minute is not a frequency, but I'm not grasping how NOT focusing 240 times a minute relates to being in the zone while hunting or gathering; these seem contradictory. But I offer this information to you, let me know if you have any insights. 


A drum nerd's take on the shamanic journeying experience (and the Bee Gees)


It seems appropriate to address this topic just after examining how psychedelic research can give insight into the workings of the human brain and how alterations to the brain, whether chemical, energetic, or spiritual, affect consciousness. So how does performing CPR to the beat of the BeeGees “Stayin’ Alive” link with the drum beat used during a shamanic journeying session, which connects with EFT tapping on meridians on the body, which, as all things in my universe, leads to past life explorations? Start with this video: here’s a rare funny public service advertisement that describes how to perform CPR properly while waiting for the EMT’s to arrive-

 I apologize for the fact that you'll be hearing that song for the rest of the day. The takeaway is that this iconic BeeGees song that most people are familiar with from being used to choreograph John Travolta’s walk down a Brooklyn street (which happens to be Bay Ridge, where I lived for 7 years before moving to Asheville) just happens to be approximately 100 beats per minute (BPM for short). So if you need to restart and maintain a heartbeat for someone who’s had a heart attack, pushing hard on the center of the chest rhythmically at 100 BPM is ideal. As a former drummer and current drum nerd, recognizing beats per minute is something my brain attuned to at an early age. “Stayin’ Alive” was so ubiquitous in the 1970’s (the first time disco music put live musicians out of work) that everyone knows it, so its easy to sing or hum the song in your head while performing CPR. Also the song is called Staying Alive, which extends the metaphor.


This alerted me to the power that a simple drum beat can have on the body and made me wonder how drum beats could affect consciousness. So when this drum nerd attended a shamanic journeying session, I heard the drummer playing a simple steady rhythm on a single drum and couldn’t believe how powerful it was. Since I’ve been trained to remember tempos since I was 14, when I left the session I took out the metronome app on my phone (ProMetronome by EUMLabs in the Apple store) and tapped in the beat. It was 255 beats per minute, which is just over 4 beats per second (4 beats per second times 60 seconds = 240 beats per minute), which translates to slightly more than 4 Hertz*, which, in terms of brainwaves, is theta. 

In theta (3-8 Hz or 180-480 beats per second), our senses are withdrawn from the external world and focused on signals originating from within…In theta we are in a dream; vivid imagery, intuition and information beyond our normal conscious awareness.” **(

That simple repetitive drum beat was integral to setting and maintaining the brain in theta, which gives our brain access to the vivid imagery that is the hallmark of a good shamanic journey. I heard a recording of the famous shamanic practitioner Sandra Ingerman and, again with my metronome app, determined that she was drumming at 230 BPM, which is just under 4 Hz (which would be 240 BPM) but still in theta range (180-320 beats per minute). I went looking for a popular song in that range and the closest I found was “Billie Jean” by Michael Jackson, which is 118 BPM. Why is that important to a drum nerd? Because once you know how a song sounds you can tap along with it. When I began drumming at my weekly shamanic journeying group here in Asheville, I could  “hear” Billie Jean in my head and tap on all 4 beats which doubles that 118 BPM to 236 beats per minute, which is solidly in Theta. I could establish a tempo in-between Sandra Ingerman’s and the previous drummer at my session and move the group towards theta. 

As I mentioned in a previous post, one of my other enthusiasms is EFT (Emotional Freedom Technique) which is tapping on meridian points on the body for emotional relief. I listened to a recording of a session where the tapping sounds were audible, compared them to the tempo that I was tapping at, and measured them on my trusty metronome app. Incredibly, the tempo was in the range of 240 beats per minute, actually a bit faster @250 BPM, but once again, THETA! One of the characteristics of EFT tapping is how it calms the body and helps you to tune in to your emotional state. Recall the quote above: “In theta, our senses are withdrawn from the external world and focused on signals originating from within.” So instinctively the tapping tends towards a tempo that induces the calm focus of theta. 

Since everything in my worldview angles back to past lives explorations, I have been experimenting with inducing theta by both rhythmic tapping and drumming in the 240 beats per minute range. But the goal isn’t getting to theta or any other brainwave state, it is directing consciousness to a previous body in a past life and seeing through those eyes and hearing through those ears. I'm avoiding making a "Staying Alive" pun here to wrap this up, you can thank me later. 


*Beats per minute (BPM) is a unit typically used as either a measure of tempo in music, or a measure of one's heart rate. A rate of 60 bpm means that one beat will occur every second. One bpm is equal to 1/60 Hz. -

** Some sites put theta at 4 - 8 Hertz, but I have found the range to be more like 3.5 - 8, which includes Sandra Ingerman's slightly slower beat (230 beats per minute) which is very effective, widely used and is @3.8 Hertz.

Further (Drug-Free) Psychedelic Adventures & a Book Review

I previously referenced Michael Pollan's book "How to Change Your Mind" back in May when articles began appearing before the book's publication. One quote jumped out for me:

"...a mystical experience can permanently shift a person's perspective and priorities."

Pollan's book examines the work of researchers using state of the art technology to study what happens in the brain under the influence of psychedelics. One of his surprise discoveries is how the psychedelic-ized brain matches up with the brains of experienced meditators. I wonder how the brain of someone on a past life journey would appear on an fMRI. Even more so, the brain of someone exploring the NPE (Non-Physical Experience) between lives, where consciousness is navigating untethered to a physical body, present or past.

Pollan refers to an un-named psychedelic experiencer as a "psychonaut", that is, someone who is using psychedelics for consciousness expansion, and his deep observation:

"If it were possible to temporarily experience another person's mental state, my guess is that it would feel more like a psychedelic state than a 'normal' state, because of its massive disparity with whatever mental state is habitual with you." 

A very trippy thought because in the context of past lives explorations, that is only the starting point. Some of the best past life journeys can be likened to mystical experiences because we have set our conscious intention to "temporarily experience another person's mental state", with the added layer of knowing that we ARE the person inhabiting that mental state, are aware of its back story and its justifications for its behaviors. Like the psychonaut's inner adventure, the past life journey requires some unpacking afterwards. There is the disparity between the behaviors of our present and our past life selves (especially when the previous incarnation making those decisions is acting in a way that is either evil, an asshole, or both), combined with the resonance from that past life state that is echoing into our present life. That "echoing" is the reason we are drawn to examine that previous life. Pollan's take on this-

"The long-term fate of the novel connections formed during the psychedelic experience—whether they prove durable or evanescent—might depend on whether we recall and, in effect, exercise them after the experience ends. (This could be as simple as recollecting what we experienced, reinforcing it during the integration process, or using meditation to reenact the altered state of consciousness.) Franz Vollenweider has suggested that the psychedelic experience may facilitate “neuroplasticity.”

All aspects that I believe also apply to the past and between lives journey.  In fact, except for set and setting, most of the requirements for a successful psychedelic journey apply to past and between lives work:

-setting an intention

-having a good, experienced guide

-discussing and journaling the experience afterwards to fully integrate it

Set and setting, so important to the trip experience, are of significantly less importance. Some of my most powerful sessions were online connecting with people in their living rooms.

After a particularly intense past life journey, I have often thought (and heard brave participants say) "Wow, what a trip!" That concept of a trip has been altered after reading this book. But, and this is significant, I am not entirely trusting of psychedelics as a consciousness expanding device. In fact, this book about research into psychedelics has reaffirmed my belief in the power of past and between lives exploration for the purpose of expanding consciousness. With this powerful tool, we have the ability to inhabit, with full consciousness, both another mental state and another physical state of a different race, culture, environment, and, for the ultimate contrast with our present life, another sex. That's the journey that can shift a person's perspective and priorities. 

I don't recall Pollan mentioning past lives even once, and I still highly recommend this book:

Michael Pollan- "How to Change Your Mind: What the New Science of Psychedelics Teaches Us About Consciousness, Dying, Addiction, Depression and Transcendence" 

Clearing energies with tapping

I have referred to my way of acknowledging my intuition as "following the bread crumbs" that appear in my path. So when I was inspired to start an EFT* MeetUp I initiated the Asheville EFT Borrowing Benefits** MeetUp which begins this week. For those unfamiliar, EFT or Emotional Freedom Technique is Gary Craig's incredibly powerful but simple method of healing by tapping on meridians on the body while either setting an intention or accessing a troubling emotional state.(Links to more information at the bottom of this post.)

Synchronistically (or just following the breadcrumbs that lead me forward) while doing research to prepare for the EFT MeetUp I discovered the work of George Druisman. George lives in the US Pacific Northwest and works exclusively online with people from all over the world using his own form of EFT that he calls CTT (Consciousness Transformation Tapping). I have been using EFT for 10 years now on my own issues and never thought of applying it to past lives work but this is Druisman's innovation. We talked and are now collaborating on blending my past life work using the Awareness Techniques with his CTT method of resolving trauma. Stay tuned for updates. I've done 2 sessions and hope to do more as I acquaint myself with this new technique and I'm looking forward to applying this with my own sessions. 

When compiling this post I found this quote from Maggie Munn that I'd saved. She was not referring to energy medicine; Munn is more concerned with removing entities which I am open to but have not had any dealings with in my own personal work. But she mentions past lives and clearing so it caught my attention:


"A person who has cleared more of their dense/negative energy from their negative emotional traumas from childhood, past lives and the generational curses (traumas/karma/sins) of their forefathers will have a better intuition than the average person. While everyone has the same amount of LifeForce energy coming into them, their negative energy re-qualifies it once it enters the body thus cutting them off from the knowledge that is inherent in the LifeForce/God. "

“Dense Energy Entities: The Cause Of Our Suffering” - Maggie Munn (



**Borrowing Benefits is, according to the website, "the discovery that simply watching someone else do EFT on their issues, while tapping along with them, can help you reduce the emotional intensity of your own issues."

General George Patton and Reincarnation Video Clip

Pivoting to video with this addition, I saw this on the Book of Faces and thought it was interesting. Its a clip from the movie "Patton", and in a stellar performance George C. Scott absolutely channels the World War 2 warrior General George Patton. Apparently Patton was a poet as well as a student of warfare who wrote a powerful poem in 1922 titled "Through a Glass, Darkly." An brief excerpt of the poem was included in the film, further stanzas are included below, plus a link to the complete poem. 

What is interesting to me about this is not that a powerful historical figure believed in reincarnation; the film clip captures his sense of himself as more than his present physical being. What is striking is his spiritual fatigue at repeating the same battles, literal battles, over and over, from both sides of the conflict: being the commander, being the foot soldier, being the attacker and the defender. 

Through the travail of the ages
Midst the pomp and toil of war
Have I fought and strove and perished
Countless times upon this star.
In the form of many people
In all panoplies of time
Have I seen the luring vision
Of the Victory Maid, sublime.
I have sinned and I have suffered
Played the hero and the knave
Fought for belly, shame or country
And for each have found a grave.
I cannot name my battles
For the visions are not clear,
Yet, I see the twisted faces
And I feel the rending spear.
Perhaps I stabbed our Savior
In His sacred helpless side.
Yet, I've called His name in blessing
When after times I died.
So as through a glass and darkly
The age long strife I see
Where I fought in many guises,
Many names - but always me.
So forever in the future
Shall I battle as of yore,
Dying to be born a fighter
But to die again once more. 

More info about Patton’s belief’s in reincarnation here and the entire poem-



"We must bear in mind that what was mystical a thousand years ago is no longer so, and what is mysterious now may become lawfully intelligible a hundred years hence. It is the Infinite, the Ocean of Power, that is at the back of all manifestations.”

–Sri Ananda Mohan Lahiri, grandson of Lahiri Mahasaya (Paramahansa Yogananda's guru)


Spell Check Spookiness

Sometimes our computer overlords seem to be looking over our shoulder while we are working. I had the creepiest moment the other day while working on the review for Many Mansions. Since the book was first written in 1950, some of the language seems so archaic that it makes you realize how much we have changed since the middle of the last century. At one point the author, Gina Cermonara, refers to Edgar Cayce as a "Reincarnationist" and it made me laugh out loud. I had never heard that phrase and it sounded so charmingly old-fashioned, like the way psychiatrists were once called 'alienists'. I thought, "I have to get new business cards printed that say 'Bobby Baranowski - Reincarnationist." So I opened Pages, the word processing application on my iPad to make a note of it. Pages has a spell check function that offers 3 different spelling possibilities in a bar above the text, with the middle one being the most likely. As I typed R-E-I-N-C-A-R, I was stunned to see the word "REINCARNATIONIST" appear in the most likely position above my typing. Now I'd never even seen or heard this word used before but my iPad suggested it. (I just tried to again to see if I was hallucinating and it again offer it but in the 3rd, less likely slot.) It felt eerily like my mind had just been read by the Artificial Intelligence monitoring my spelling. I know that's not the case, well, its probably not the case, but it felt... invasive in my thought processes. We don't yet have a word or phrase that describes this, like we how "the uncanny valley" poetically captures the creepy feeling toward things that appear human but aren't quite right. I'm working on it. Any suggestions?

Book Review - Many Mansions by Gina Cerminara

At my local library I found a copy of "Many Mansions - The Edgar Cayce Story on Reincarnation", a 1991 paperback reissue of the 1950 book. It has historical significance to my research since its the earliest mass market book on reincarnation that I've found. Unfortunately, it reads like it was written in 1900; this book has not aged well. For those not familiar, Edgar Cayce was a photographer who was cured of the loss of his voice through hypnosis. He discovered the ability to put himself into a trance state that allowed him to answer questions and give advice that brought him worldwide attention and the nickname "The Sleeping Prophet." Many cures were attributed to his advice and some of his recommendations, like osteopathic adjustments, colonics and castor oil packs were very much outside the mainstream for the time. In his later years, and in conflict with his Bible training, he started giving advice based on past lives and this is the material on which "Many Mansions" is based. 

Cerminara on Reincarnation:

"The soul is like an actor who takes on different roles and wears different costumes on different nights; or like a hand, that puts on the glove of a material body for a little while, and when the glove is threadbare, slips out and later dons another glove."(Another awesome costume reference!)

 Cayce did find the cause of many illnesses and impediments in previous incarnations but I was very surprised to discover that much of the advice he gives in speaking from his channeled source (and using the royal "we") sounds exactly like the man doing the channeling: a Sunday school teacher who for his entire life read the Bible once a year. The problem may be that the author, Gina Cerminara, quotes Scripture to reinforce advice given in the readings. Plus I should have recognized that the title references a Bible verse: "in my Father's house there are many mansions."  But I did not realize that Cayce relied so heavily on Scripture in his readings such as :

Cayce - "Did the Master heal all people alike? Didn't he use mechanical applications with some? Didn't He tell others to pass the word along? Didn't He simply use the spoken word in others? Remember this basis, this first principle: "The Lord thy God is one.'"

The problem may be that many people approached Cayce seeking advice beyond matters of health, asking about work, romance, and family matters, including questions like "Who should I marry?" While his channeled information tells of past lives in many eras, the advice sounds more like Cayce than an enlightened Other. 

This points to the issue of getting your information second hand, through someone else's filter. When you run a past life, ideally you are in the body, seeing though the eyes and hearing through the ears, and we provide our own filter. But when someone else is accessing your personal history for you, it is imperative to be conscious that your history is being filtered through a belief system. It can matter greatly when that filter is a Bible reading Sunday school teacher. *

Maybe it shouldn't have been surprising to me that when Cayce ventured into giving counsel based on past lives, his responses were so traditional. Less New Age and more old school, his advice tends to be, to use a phrase that leapt out of the book,  "theologically platitudinous." (That's the part of the book that hasn't aged well, along with some ideas about women in society that sounds very 19th century.)

Cerminara- "The use of affirmations, meditation, and prayer, the study of scripture, the practice of the virtues, and the rendering of service to one's fellow men are methods often recommended by the readings for the attainment of changed consciousness." 

That's good old fashioned mid-century Middle American advice; its just not as revolutionary as some of Cayce's advice on health and healing. Cayce does deliver some excellent advice very much influenced by the New Thought movement of the early 1900's and its emphasis on Mind as the Builder:

“Note that in whatever state you find yourself – of mind, body, of physical condition – that is what you have built, and is necessary for your unfoldment...Know that in whatever state you find yourself, that, at the moment, is best for you. Do not look back upon what might have been. Rather lift up, look up, now, where you are.

Know first that no urge, no influence, is greater than the will of the self to do what it determines to accomplish in any direction – whether physically, mentally, or spiritually. Know that no urge – astrologically, numerologically, symbiotically – surpasses the will of the entity in any experience."

Read this book with the warning that you may have to wade through Scripture to get to the fountain of new age wisdom. 


*From my past lives perspective, if you are taking advice from a Scripture-quoting Sunday school teacher who claims contact with a higher source, ask yourself whether that person's filter needs to be cleaned.


Quote of the Month

Christopher Bache mentioned the work of David Cliness of Youngstown State University in his book "LifeCycles." It is fascinating research that may not have been published, I haven't found anything online except this mention in Bache's book:

"Cliness’ understanding of the dynamics of reincarnation is that our present life represents a composite of issues, abilities, foibles, and tasks drawn from not one but numerous former lives, assuming that we are dealing with someone who has had a few. He likens the process to playing cards. The deck includes 52 cards from which we are dealt a considerably smaller hand. The cards we are dealt are those lives that the Oversoul is now moving forward for work. Their issues are collected and organized into a new hand, and we are that hand. We are born into existence not free but deeply programmed from lives that, in one sense, we never knew.

...Each lifecycle is a reshuffling of the deck, bringing to the surface issues (and relationships) from different centuries and different lifetimes.

I love how Cliness brings the enormity of our experience and all our past lives that got us to where we are now to a finite graspable concept - a few cards representing our history, held in our hands. 

Running a past life by yourself

Something that came up at this month's MeetUp needs to be addressed here. I was describing my running experience that I'd had a few hours before, so it was very fresh in my mind. I was telling of my life as a ruler, and a pompous ass of one, in the Middle Ages, who pushed his people too far pursuing his own appetites but was not providing for his people. They overthrew me, and I found myself in a stone walled prison cell awaiting execution. This was a wake-up moment for me; I realized the error of my ways and made a deal to get my wife and daughter out safely. (The bishop knew where the money was hidden, and he was my go-between.) Once they were safe, I surrendered to my fate. When I asked, "What happens next?" I received the answer verbally: "You're going to be beheaded." 

I am so glad I told this story, as it opened my running process to examination as I tried to describe my experience. Someone asked if it was a male or female voice that I heard, and whether it was my own voice? Someone else noticed that I used the 2nd person: "You're going to be beheaded" not "I'm going to be beheaded." What was interesting was that I couldn't answer the questions about my process from outside the process; it wasn't until the next day when I re-visited the experience that I was able to recognize that it wasn't a voice the I "heard." I described it in my notes as more of a verbal prompt, and that it was male but not my own voice. I never would have investigated my own running had I not tried to explain it, and in trying to explain it, uncover aspects of my running that might assist others who are new to this past lives work. One more example where the group moves the work forward, and another reason for me to be grateful for everyone's participation. 


Controversial thought of the day

Listening to a podcast* with Peter Smith, Director of the Newton Institute who recommended as a starting place reading Michael Newton's books, namely "Journey of Souls". Which makes perfect business sense as that is their brand but it occurred to me that is not where I would recommend people start. We've all experienced going to see a movie based on a book we've read and judging the film based on our knowledge of the book and the way it tells the story. Some of that judgment is because of the difference in story telling, whether fiction or non-, in book form compared to the 90 minute to 2 hour running time of a film. Reading two or three 250-400+ page books about the Life Between Lives process can only set unrealistic expectations for the session, and skew someone towards having their expectations fulfilled instead of pursuing the unique personal journey that each of us will have when we allow it to unfold. Dive in; book a past lives session, follow it to the conclusion of that life & explore the between lives state. Then read the books as a 2nd opinion, not a road map.

*Divinely Inspired Living with Debra Moffitt, May 28, 2018 w/Peter Smith as guest. This is an informative and entertaining interview once you're familiar with the process. 

Great Tom Robbins quote

"Our greatest human adventure is the evolution of consciousness. We are in this life to enlarge the soul, liberate the spirit, and light up the brain."

Interesting, because the Swygards recommends to "turn the light on inside" as a way to initiate returning to past life work. And I'm presently practicing Wisdom Healing QiGong* after taking a workshop here in Asheville. One of their visualizations is to "light up the brain." Of course the author of "Even Cowgirls Get the Blues" would be aware of this. Tom Robbins books have definitely lit up my brain and helped to evolve my consciousness. 


Zen Benefiel quote and advice

"There is something very important about talking to yourself out loud. You get to listen. When you are inside your head and the monkey mind is chattering away, there is little to no listening unless you are very practiced at meditation. Most of us aren't.

There is another example that fits. When we engage another for advice, counseling or therapy the real insights come from listening to the words that come out of us, not necessarily the reflection of the other listener. We have a tremendous capacity to process and transform accordingly, and although it's nice to have someone to talk to it isn't always necessary."

Excellent advice I have incorporated into my personal work. Zen calls himself a "Possibiities Coagulator". 

Zen's website:

Paul Brunton

According to researcher Winnifred Lucas:

“No longer is (achieving deep inner states) limited to the elite in the Mystery Schools, nor is it necessary for a skilled Yoga meditator to work for years to retrieve a past lifetime, as was true in the 1920's, as documented by Paul Brunton (1937) when he reported that remembering former embodiments required years of concentrated meditation using a technique of going backward in memory.”

Granted, "remembering former embodiments" is a lot less catchy than "running past lives", but I used the above quote in my workshop this week under the heading ,"Why we'e so lucky to be doing this fascinating work now in 2018". 

And a 2nd Paul Brunton reference came up in my research this month. 

Interestingly, as reported at

"In the Fall 2017 Newsletter from the PBPF, there is a brief section titled “Secret Room Found in the Great Pyramid.” A drawing of the rooms inside the Great Pyramid shows the new cavity recently discovered. Under the drawing is the following caption: “Using radiography, scientists have discovered a corridor over 100 feet long with a slope and cross- section paralleling the Grand Gallery passage to the King’s Chamber." Brunton described such a corridor in the book, published in 1936. He wrote: 

“The walls were built up with a glowing, pinkish, terra-cotta coloured stone, slabbed with the thinnest of joints. The floor sloped downward at precisely the same angle as the Pyramid entrance itself now descends. The masonry was well finished. The passage was square and fairly low, but not uncomfortably so. I could not find the source of its mysterious illuminant, yet the interior was bright as though a lamp were playing on it. 

The High Priest bade me follow him a little way down the passage. ‘Look not backward,’ he warned me, ‘nor turn thy head.’ We passed some distance down the incline and I saw a large, temple-like chamber opening out of the farther end. I knew perfectly well that I was inside or below the Pyramid, but I had never seen such a passage or chamber before. Evidently they were secret and had defied discovery until this day. I could not help feeling tremendously excited about this startling find, and an equally tremendous curiosity seized me as to where and what the entrance was. Finally, I  had to turn my head and take a swift look backward at what I hoped was the secret door. I had entered the place by no visible entrance, but at the farther end I saw that what should have been an opening was closed with square blocks and apparently cemented. I found myself gazing at a blank wall, then, as swiftly whirled away by some irresistible force until the whole scene was blotted out and I had floated off into space again….  I heard the words: ‘Not yet, not yet,’ repeated as in an echo and a few moments later saw my inert unconscious body lying on the stone.

‘My son,’ came a murmur from the High Priest. ‘it matters not whether thou discoverest the door or not. Find but the secret passage within the mind that will lead thee to the hidden chamber within thine own soul, and thou shall have found something worthy indeed. The Mystery of the Great Pyramid is the mystery of thine own self. The secret chambers and ancient records are all contained in thine own nature. The lesson of the Pyramid is that man must turn inward, must venture to the unknown centre of his being to find his soul, even as he must venture to the unknown depths of this fane* to find its profoundest secret. ‘Farewell!’” (pp. 81-82.)

*(“Fane” is an archaic word for temple, Brunton was writing in the 1930's)

The discovery of an actual secret passage is a breakthrough in the study of the Egyptian pyramids, but the message Brunton got from his guides over 80 years ago is contemporary: Turn inward, there you will find "something worth indeed... the mystery of thine own self." 

Diane Swygard conversation

Once again thanks to the valiant efforts of Afonso Silva who gave me an email address and  a recommendation, this week I spoke by phone with Diane Swygard, co-author of the Awareness Techniques books. I emailed Diane and told her about the work I was doing and to my surprise, she called and left a message. We connected for over an hour by phone. Due to technical issues, I wasn't able to record the call but I did get answers to many of the questions I had about the birth of the Awareness Techniques. 

The most interesting bit of new information from Diane was that William Swygard had been stationed in India when in the service so there are some Eastern influences in the method of accessing past lives. No specific guru is mentioned, but many use the third eye as an initiation point. I myself had my third eye touched with a peacock feather when I received a blessing from Swami Satchidananda in Los Angeles in the 1980's. 

I also got the official story about the distribution of the original instructions that I posted on this website. Diane told me that they elected to copyright the books but not the instructions, choosing to mail them for free to anyone who sent in a stamped, self-addressed envelope. Ads were placed in the classified section of Fate magazine*, which amazingly is still being published, and whose website states "65 Years of covering the strange and unknown." (Yes, I will be searching for a copy of Fate circa 1970 to find the original ad. Below is an ad for Books 1, 2, & 3 from 1973 issue of Fate.)

I learned the back story from Amy Shapiro's meeting with the Swygard's when on a trip to Florida for an astrology convention with Isabel Hickey. The Swygard's had a bookstore located next to a 24-hour laundromat. Since there was street traffic late at night, the bookstore stayed open late for browsers who were waiting for their clothes to dry. So it was not unusual for someone to come to the store after midnight, as Amy claimed they did, although getting William to do a past lives session at that time might have been. 

According to Diane, William wrote his part of the books by hand, and she edited, typed them and even did the typesetting prior to publication. Bill Riley, who lived in Boston, helped with the publishing until his death in 1995. Book 1 was written and published along with the first of the "Waldara Answers", which were the FAQ (frequently asked questions) for the technique. Then Books 2 and 3 with their accompanying "Waldara Answers." I recently found a copy of Books 1 through 4 compiled into one trade paperback that was published in 1978. 

Diane was kind enough to tell me the story behind William's untimely death at 58 in 1981. The Swygard's had moved to the Boston Massachusetts area to be nearer to publisher Bill Riley when Willam's health issues forced them to return to Miami. William previously had a heart attack and it was a stroke that ended his life. Between them, they had 11 children, with 6 still at home when William passed. Somehow she kept doing workshops and worked with Stephen Learnerd, who helped release the audio cassettes that I have been digitizing. 

Diane had an interesting take on her work with he Awareness techniques. She only had 5 previous lives on this planet, so she very rapidly learned and released all of her unfinished business with multi-level awareness, and moved quickly into the deeper aspects of the work. She sees working with the Techniques as leading to "self-realization," an opinion I share. But she did have a surprise for me when I asked what she would tell someone just starting this work. "You've been good, bad, and indifferent. Just run and finish it so you don't have to do it again." Great advice, y'all.


*Fifty cents a word as of 1971 ( Interesting sync- the present incarnation of Fate Magazine is based in Hendersonville NC, 30 miles from Asheville.

        Ad from the January 1973 issue of Fate

       Ad from the January 1973 issue of Fate

Helen Hoag mystery solved

Thanks to fellow researcher Afonso Silva, I have an idea of the back story of Helen Hoag, this mystery woman of past lives exploration. Afonso found a relative of Helen's who sent us some of her booklets, which are out of print and very hard to find. I was scanning them for the archives when I came across the acknowledgements to "Dawn of Creation" in which she thanks William Swygard "who perfected the "Awareness Techniques" and also Diane Swygard. So in 1968 when she wrote this text, she was acknowledging their contribution to the work, but not in later editions, maybe assuming that people knew about this? So, no longer a mystery woman but a member of the Miami group that Swygard referred to and thanked for their participation in Book 1.

Asking questions and following bread crumbs with Afonso Silva cleared up one mystery and gave us insight into what was happening in Miami in the late 1960's that birthed this amazing technique. 

Non-Hypnotic Induction Part 1

When I was describing my work with the Past Lives Project to people at the Illuminate Expo recently, I realized that I needed to clarify my position on what is unique about my approach: that it is based on guiding people to an immersive past life experience without using the classical hypnotic induction. I feel that this is the strongest and most notable aspect of William Swygard's innovation with the Awareness Techniques, and its even more impressive that he came up with this breakthrough in the 1960's. According to his wife and co-innovator Diane Swygard, William Swygard started doing this work in the 1950's but stopped because he was getting so much resistance. It was only when William and Diane met in 1966 that they resumed the work that lead to him publishing "Awareness Techniques Book 1" in 1970. The interview I just posted with Amy Shapiro reaffirmed the differences between the Awareness Techniques and most other methods:

"I do want people to know that they’re not going to lose any awareness in the process of this, they’re only going to expand their awareness." 

So I'm going out on a limb and say that I believe the main advantage of exploring past and between lives with the Awareness Techniques is that by running, you are "integrating" your consciousness by, in Swygard's words, “adding more levels of awareness to your being.” And since I am one of those people for whom hypnosis doesn't work, I welcome others who are "minimally susceptible" to hypnosis (up to 25% of the population*) or who choose not to be hypnotized to contact me to try the Awareness Techniques.  

Since I started researching methods of accessing past lives, I found others who have used non-hypnotic inductions, most prominently Roger Woolger and Morris Netherton. In fact, Netherton describes his work as the "Past Life Therapy Center De-Hypnosis Method."  His website,, claims “Past Lives Therapy (William Morrow, New York, 1978) was the first published book in the field of Past Life Therapy.” (The first book released by a major publisher, maybe, but Hoag and Swygard were released in 1968 and 1970.) From his offices in Beverly Hills, California, Netherton practiced his non-hypnotic method for 45 years before retiring and Dr. Thomas Paul took over. I'm sure any hypnotherapists reading this are yelling at the screen when Netherton says:

"PLTC (Past Life Therapy Center) utilizes a focused state of de-hypnosis, unlike hypnosis that often entails suggestive methods, which rarely works long-term, if at all. "
But there is wisdom to his method. According to Hans TenDam's "Exploring Reincarnation" which will be the subject of an upcoming book review: 

"Netherton uses 'postulates', ingrained programs, vows, promises, ingrown attitudes, verbally fixed in the mind and sometimes repressed, as triggers for past‑life recall. When we describe our problems or fears, these postulates come up as repetitive statements. The point is to pick out these ritual formulas, preferably giving them an expressive character. For example, 'I have to get out of this!' or 'Nobody likes me,' or 'I don't need anybody.' Repeating, or having us repeat these key sentences a few times, elicits their suppressed emotional charge and focuses us. Directly following this, we are asked to picture ourselves in a situation in which this sentence is literally true or actually spoken, with all its corresponding emotions."

This is an interesting technique which I have successfully used myself.  But I can't talk about Netherton without mentioning the hole in the center of his work. Astonishing for someone who did past life regressions for so long, Netherton says:

“Between lives therapy or space between lives is consulting with spirit guides and masters that likely do not exist."

Sigh. Its hard to reconcile past life therapy with scientific materialism at its worst. I'll take the high road and say that Netherton bridged the gap between mid-1900's psychological therapeutics and the shifting paradigm that is bringing past life therapies into the mainstream. The low road would be sometimes progress in science proceeds one retirement at a time. 

Update:  I found the quote I was clumsily referencing by quantum physicist Max Planck:

"A new scientific truth does not triumph by convincing its opponents and making them see the truth; but rather because its opponents eventually die and a new generation grows up that is familiar with it."

Now life between lives is far from becoming a "new scientific truth" and will probably never be one, but a new generation has come along that is accepting this possibility and incorporating it in their work. 

(to be continued)