Life can only be understood backwards, but it must be lived forwards.
Life can only be understood backwards, but it must be lived forwards.
"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)
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?
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.
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.
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.
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.
"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.
"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: http://bethedream.com
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 http://www.paulbrunton.org/eteachings.php
"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."
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 (http://www.papergreat.com/2018/04/30-classified-ads-from-june-1971-issue.html). Interesting sync- the present incarnation of Fate Magazine is based in Hendersonville NC, 30 miles from Asheville.
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.
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, pastlifetherapycenter.com, 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)
Sometimes it feels like I'm following a path laid out for me and a trail of breadcrumbs is showing me the way forward. I made a list of books to read to research various practitioners doing past life work. The Kindle list on Amazon was getting too large and too expensive, 10 books at @$10-$15 each, so I looked into Kindle Unlimited but it requires a 6 month membership for $59. The next day I opened my Amazon browser and received an offer for Kindle Unlimited, 3 months for $1.99. After reading the Amy Shapiro book on Isabel Hickey, "Never Mind", which mentions her meeting with Swygard, the next book I was lead to was "Exploring Reincarnation" by Hans TenDam. There I found the perfect quote about Morris Netherton's work for a blog post about past lives therapists who don't use the standard hypnotic induction. I was researching Netherton and Roger Woolger, whose work inspired the "circling the globe" induction I use in the MeetUp group. I did a Google search for Netherton's website and found a link to a YouTube video, "Why Regression Therapy", featuring, wait for it..... Morris Netherton, Roger Woolger, and Hans TenDam. That's like winning a game of Past Lives Project bingo on the first card. Follow the yellowed book road....
This article came cross my news feed and of course I saw the link to my past and between lives work. The article, "The New Science of Psychedelics"by Michael Pollan, referenced recent studies that showed promise for sufferers of depression, anxiety, and addiction and how therapeutic use of LSD and psilocybin is changing long held beliefs on how the mind works. Now I am not advocating using drugs for spiritual development (though the concept of micro-dosing as a nootropic is fascinating) but this sentence about the mystical experience after a high-dose LSD session jumped out:
"Typically described as the dissolution of one's ego followed by a merging of the self with nature or the universe, a mystical experience can permanently shift a person's perspective and priorities.* The pivotal role of the mystical experience points to something novel about psychedelic therapy: It depends for its success not strictly on the action of the chemical but on the powerful pyschological experience that the chemical can occasion."
I propose that a much more direct method of experiencing the "dissolution of one's ego" is by an immersive past life exploration and following one's consciousness through the transition from the physical to the NPE, the Non-Physical Experience between lives. While the ego may sometimes linger past the death of the body, it eventually releases to the continuity of consciousness in the between lives state that is the ultimate "merging of the self with... the universe." The past and between lives journey offered by using the Awareness Techniques can be a profound mystical experience, it is reliably reproducible and there are no drugs involved. And once we have integrated our physical self with our higher self that has lived many lives, our perspective and priorities can shift if we allow them. The answers indeed are within.
Update - 5/14-
Salon's Laura Miller reviewed Pollan's book and this quote popped out that made me appreciate this book even more. Referring to the Default Mode Network and the cognitive patterns that psychedelics temporarily overturn:
"As Pollan explains it, these disorders are the result of mental and emotional 'grooves' in our thinking that have become, as the DMN's (Default Mode Network) name suggests, default. We are how we think. The right psychedelic experience can level out the grooves, enabling a person to make new cerebral connections and briefly escape from 'a rigidity in our thinking that is psychologically destructive."
I propose that exploring our past and between lives experiences are an effective way to make new cerebral connections and escape rigidity in our thinking.
*The most interesting aspect of the research is that "they were surprised that the chemical, which they assumed would boost brain activity, actually reduced it." Quoting Aldous Huxley on his psychedelic journey in 1954: "For the moment, that interfering neurotic who, in waking hours, tries to run the show, was blessedly out of the way." Pollan's article is an excerpt from his upcoming book "How to Change Your Mind: What the New Science of Psychedelics Teaches Us About Dying, Addiction, Depression and Transcendence."
Like a character in a historical novel, this mysterious woman of past lives work becomes more fascinating the more that I research her. Thanks to my friend and incredible researcher Afonso Silva in Portugal, I received the pdf of a book, actually another pamphlet, Hoag wrote and published in 1969, "Technique of Past Lives Recall". To recap, Hoag and Swygard were obviously working together at some point, they were doing the exact same explorations in consciousness in the same city (Miami, Florida), but neither mentions the other in their published works. And Hoag published earlier than Swygard, in 1968 and '69, Swygard not until 1970. This 1969 pamphlet is only 28 pages long but filled with these tidbits. On the first page, Hoag says,
"This might be the first time you have heard of the awareness techniques."
(Interesting side note - Swygard always capitalizes "Awareness Techniques".) So Hoag was using the same name for her work. Then she says:
"You can "run" your past lives, as the process is called because it is like a motion picture "running" through a projection machine..."
(Another tidbit. Hoag refers to "running" past lives as did Swygard. Afonso found references to Swygard being in the film business in Miami in the 1960's, so its interesting that a film reference was used to describe the process.)
There are scattered internet references to Swygard (but little biographical information) and he is generally credited with being the innovator of the Awareness Technique. But Helen Hoag had The Awareness Research Foundation in Miami at the same time as Swygard, the late 1960's. Hoag's published material was in pamphlet form and never compiled into trade paperbacks like Swygard's, possibly that is the reason she is even less known. But both "running" and "the awareness techniques" were mentioned in print previous to Swygard's publication in 1970. And Hoag's publication date of 1968 matches the earliest book that I have found about past lives in the modern era, Ruth Montgomery's "Here and Hereafter."*
Curiouser and curiouser.
*Ian Stevenson published "Twenty Cases Suggestive of Reincarnation" in 1966, but this is reincarnation research based on accounts of children recalling details from their previous existence, which I separate from exploring past lives without conscious memories.
I was reading Awareness Techniques Book 1 and noticed this in the Preface by William Swygard:
"Most of the work involved in the book... its writing, publication and distribution, was done by the delightful members of the Miami group. They will put out more books such as this one...I thank them for being with me over the years."
This "Miami group" is intriguing, I assume Helen Hoag was a part of it, but the above is the only mention of others involved. And this is the first time I noticed that others were involved in the "writing, publication and distribution" of the original pamphlet. I mentioned this to Wendy Nethersole, who I hope to have an interview with shortly. She learned her method, Past Life Soul Regression, from Linda Backman who, according to her website, "studied and co-taught with Dr. Michael Newton, author of the seminal books on Life Between Lives regression therapy, and co-created and served on the Founding Board of the Society for Spiritual Regression (now The Newton Institute) as Membership Chair and President" before leaving to establish the Ravenheart Center to continue past and between lives research. But Newton never mentions Backman's participation, and the mention of Newton is only on the web page for Backman's book, "Bring Your Soul to Light." So maybe Swygard and Hoag's situation is not uncommon, but its still curious. At least in Backman and Newton's case, their work continues, even after Newton's passing in 2016.
I had the pleasure of talking to Amy Shapiro last week, and I'd like to share my experience with you. Amy is a priceless resource for this work, not only because of her 18 published books and the fact that she uses the Awareness Techniques in her counseling practice, but she actually met William Swygard. (The only other person that I know who met him was Miguel Paredes, and I did not get the chance to speak to him before he passed in 2016.) I will include the audio of Amy's description because meeting Swygard was such a big part of her personal journey. But I also got to talk to Amy about her work and her use of the advanced techniques from Books 2 & 3.
Amy is one the few people I know who use the Awareness Techniques in addition to hypnosis in the practice:
“This made me very curious: if this (the Awareness Technique) isn’t hypnosis, then what is hypnosis and how is it different. And so back in 1993 I signed up for a seminar series at the New England Society of Hypnotherapy, and that was a week long training. And from that I learned a lot of hypnotherapy principles and techniques, and saw that there was a lot of similarity in terms of the work I was already doing in guided meditation and guided visualization. And what was similar is that both hypnotherapy and the Awareness Techniques were ways to access unconscious information, unconscious material, deep soul level material. That’s where they were the same. But they differ in that the Awareness Techniques are such that the person undergoing the experience has full control over it; at no point are they un-conscious. And that’s why its important to me to continue to use the term 'Awareness Techniques' as opposed to other names... that’s been given to the techniques. Because 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. Where with the hypnotherapy, you can help the person access their unconscious material and also instruct them that they will not remember when they come back to their conscious (state). And that is where there is a very big separation between hypnotherapy and the Awareness Techniques, is you’re always in control. You can stop the session at any moment and then come back to it later at your will. Where in hypnotherapy, typically, people are guided by someone else. I always say to my clients, once you’ve come for a session, and you’ve gotten the basics of the technique, its perfectly safe to do this for yourself. You don’t have to worry about getting caught somewhere, trapped in a time warp. You’re never going to lose yourself. Nor are there any 'parlor game' tricks with the Awareness Techniques, as you find sometimes with people who do hypnotherapy for entertainment purposes, where they have you take on a persona of a duck, or whatever manipulated thing they have you do. There’s never that kind of shenanigan with the Awareness Techniques."
I compared notes with Amy on my experiences in running people between lives and those of the Michael Newton LBL process, specifically my issue of a "checklist" of experiences: the life review, meeting the guide, the soul group reunion, the life planning session and putting it to the council; all of which have occurred but not in that order and not every time:
"Think of it this way. When you’re learning to cook, it helps to have a recipe, and a recipe is a checklist. But when you’ve mastered enough recipes, and you understand the concept of ingredients and what works well with what, you get to make up your own recipe… So look at it like that’s just one recipe, it doesn’t mean its the only one."
Amy has worked extensively with the Multi-Plane Awareness in Book 2:
"The concept of a ‘council’ might actually be all of your plane consciousnesses. ..I do believe the Akashic records, or soul records, are stored on the 7th plane, so probably that’s where we do go when we’re reviewing our records."
(That syncs with the information from Helen Hoag's book that I mentioned in a previous post. Hoag postulated that we begin our between lives journey on the 4th plane, and work our way up to the 7th before returning to the 3rd plane to incarnate.)
When I remarked that it is called “The Awareness Techniques”, plural:
“To me its like house cleaning. I like to use analogies… so if I’m having company coming over, of course I’m going to get my house cleaned. So its like, clear out your soul record, get your house cleaned, and then meet all your higher consciousnesses (in the Multi-Plane technique)… People have so much junk that they have to get rid of. “
On utilizing the connection to our higher planes:
"I think we are seeing evidence of integration with higher planes all around us in this information age. Because all of these warp speed rapid pace breakthroughs going on with cyberspace, technology and applications, they’ve all filtered down from the higher planes. So there are people who are receptive even if they haven’t gone through the recipe; they are still connecting to their higher planes where these ideas are coming through and coming from. I think even unwittingly, people are starting to have awakenings to higher plane experiences even if they haven’t become aware that they have these specific higher plane consciousnesses with a name and a function. I think the filters are really thinned out right now."
BB: The implication is, that by consciously pursuing these higher planes we can access that knowledge and bring it back down to the 3rd plane with us.
AS: Exactly, we can participate more actively and mindfully and fruitfully here. ..You know the old cliche, “an idea whose time has come”, well anybody can be the vehicle for these ideas whose time has come. But you have to be open, and you have to clean your house first, to have the mental and psychic space to be open."
Amy's website is http://newagesages.com. I will be doing some sessions with Amy and will update you when they occur.
PS: Audio takes a few seconds to load.
“We are all in boarding school. Earth is the school, and our bodies are our uniforms. When we die, all it means is that we get to take off our uniform and go home.”
I have been exploring the concept that the clothing that you've chosen to cover your body at any point in your vast history can be seen as a costume. And if this physical existence really is "just a play", as one participant described her experience, then we might just be actors on a stage. And the clothing you put on this morning is as much of a 'costume' as a medieval jester, a 16th century monk, a 20th century soldier, an ancient Egyptian priest, or even the skins and hides covering a caveman's back. All of these are the costumes I have worn in previous lives I've explored recently. So when I dressed this morning and put on jeans, a t-shirt, and hiking shoes, I have to wonder how today's 'costume' will appear when I'm looking back at this from the far distant future when we're all wearing form fitting Star Trek uniforms. In our MeetUps, we have been doing a group meditation to acquaint people with the costumes they are wearing, first with eyes open and then practicing a closed eyed awareness of the cloth, plastic, rubber and hide covering our modern bodies.
This process is something I've been doing in my presentations but you can start where you are. Eyes opened, look down at your feet and describe what you are wearing, as if you are giving information to someone who can't see you but is sketching you. Then close your eyes and feel what is covering your feet, your lower body, your waist, your upper body and arms, and around your neck. Becoming aware of our present day body is a good warmup for the running process, especially for people who are not especially visual. If you can't see what you're wearing with your eyes closed, maybe you can feel what you're wearing. If you can't feel, trying asking for verbal prompts and see if you get a reply; sometimes that will kickstart the visuals.
Now go about your day, and notice how much of a costume a suit and tie is. Can you tell the difference between the tourists and the locals by their costumes? After a long career in the music business, with way too many promotional pictures that will outlast a nuclear event along with cockroaches, I can't criticize the modern hipster uniform of beard, plaid shirt and hiking boots, not when there are band promo pictures of me from the 70's and 80's out there on the inter web. But its a costume, along with outfits chosen by Goths and jocks and hippies, and our costumes are both socially defined and socially defining, plus they are crowd-sanctioned, with social credits for participating and knocks for defying the norm. Look at Renaissance Fairs and Civil war re-enactments, look at them as socially acceptable opportunities to wear costumes from a previous era. But this is not an exercise in fashion; it is in service of step 1 in running a past life: Looking down at your feet, describing it in detail, then doing the same with the rest of our body coverings. Eventually a personality emerges from the clothing and the person behind those clothes is acknowledged. It is the pathway to the inner life of the actor on the stage.
Become aware of the costume you are wearing today, and use it as a bridge to examine your role in the play that is your present life.
My research into William Swygard and his innovative work with the Awareness techniques has uncovered an interesting and mysterious woman doing similar work in the same city at the same time. Helen Hoag is the author of a series of books on past lives, including "What Happens Between Lives" and "Technique of Past Lives Recall.' Helen Hoag may be the missing link in this story, even if there is no record of her. A huge 'thank you' to Af Slv, my friend and an amazing researcher in Portugal who found Helen's work and made scans of her books available to me. What makes Helen so mysterious is, she references the awareness technique, multi-level and multi-plane awareness, and running, and she established "The Awareness Research Foundation" in Florida in the late 1960's. Adding to the mystery, her publications pre-date Swygard's by a year or so. (Hoag published the above books, actually 50 page pamphlets, in 1969, Swygard published "Awareness Techniques Book 1" in 1970). In the acknowledgements to "What Happens Between Lives", Hoag says "My sincere thanks to the more than one hundred students whose experiences in viewing their past lives furnished the examples for this book. Without their interest in, and their 'running' of their past lives, we would not know so much about life after death.", dated "Copyright 1969". In Swygard's preface, he says "The technique 'multi-Level Awareness', has been tested in all its aspects upon persons of various races, religious backgrounds and ages for over eighteen years in the Miami, Florida area.... Most of the work involved in the book you are holding, its writing, publication and distribution, was done by the delightful members of the Miami group." It is signed: "William Swygard, Miami Florida, December 1968"but the copywriter date is "1970 & 1975".
Hoag and Swygard apparently worked together in the Miami Florida area for some time, enough for Helen to do "more than one hundred" sessions, yet they published separately, within months of each other. And Swygard references "the Miami group" of which Helen Hoag may have been a member. And Hoag's book teases "other titles planned, some by new authors", maybe implying Swygard's own book? But neither refers to the other by name. I would love to have access to the monthly bulletins from "The Awareness Research Foundation, Inc." that Hoag mentions in the end pages of her book. The "Awareness Research Foundation" is no longer active, and repeated attempts to locate living relatives have been unsuccessful. If there is anyone who has any information on Helen Hoag and her work, please contact me and I will pass it along.
"Whenever you meet someone with whom you will be closely involved—a mate, boss, children, in-laws—it is wise to look at who you have been to one another. Take the time to follow your memory of that energy back through the veils of time, and discover the depth and true nature of the energy between you."
I can't think of a better description for this past lives work than to follow that energy that connects us back through time. This is why I am such a fan of Labay's and recommend this book to people looking for further information. Her 30 years of doing this work resonates in her writing, and even though she is a hypnotherapist, her work syncs with the Awareness Techniques more than anyone else I have researched.
In "Exploring Past Lives", Labay elegantly lists the benefits of doing past lives work :
-the resurgence of a strong sense of self;
-honing our skills in working with the subconscious mind;
-finding our Spirit Purpose, our overarching mission in life;
-understanding the Big Picture and how we fit into it;
-getting new perspectives on life and death;
-finding a new appreciation for history and geography; and most of all:
"The greatest benefit of discovering our past lives is that we begin to see the divine in all of life. With the understanding that each person we encounter may have been our parent, child, sibling, or spouse, we come to recognize the precious nature of every human contact. Each person carries the potential of having served some important role in one or more of our lifetimes."
Another sync with Swygard's work is her version of the Creation:
“There is speculation that at one time, eons ago, there was one massive unit of homogenous energy. At some point, it split apart into many pieces. From each piece’s perspective, they were now separate. They had become individuals, capable of incarnating into their own bodies. Now they could play the fascinating game of rediscovering all the other pieces of their original Self as they manifested into a multitude of interesting forms.”
That's not to say that I agree with everything in this book. I already expressed reservations about her concept of a spirit being extinguished by remaining out of the physical place for too long; I have not come across that in my work. Here is Labay's take on "merging into one-ness":
"On a stressful day on the Earth plane, returning to oneness can sound appealing. However, imagine locking yourself in a closet for a year or two without stimulus, change, or contact with other people. That is the metaphor for the return to oneness...if oneness were to occur, each soul’s individual consciousness would extinguish...Rather than repudiating life and seeking to merge back into oneness, we serve our spirit better when we engage each moment fully and enjoy it completely."
I respectfully disagree, since I and the Past Lives Project participants have described this merging into oneness as the highlight of the between lives experience. But I acknowledge her expertise and will keep that concept in mind when processing the between lives experience in the future.
The Kindle version of "Exploring Past Lives" is only $5.60 on Amazon this month, I highly recommend it.