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)