Barbara Lane, a clinical hypnotherapist who is leading a reincarnation program today in Bowling Green, believes that present-day "soul bruises" can be healed by becoming aware of problems carried over from previous lives.
A person who is afraid of heights, for example, may have fallen to his or her death in a past life, she said, and someone who fears the water once may have drowned.
"Hypnotherapy takes you out of your frame of reference and you can go through something relatively traumatic, deal with it, and heal it. The healing can be almost instantaneous," she said.
Ms. Lane, a Michigan native now living in Alexandria, Va., earned a doctorate in metapsychology from Westbrook University in New Mexico and has written two books about reincarnation and re-enactors, Echoes from the Battlefield: First-Person Accounts of Civil War Past Lives, and Echoes from Medieval Halls: Past-Life Memories from the Middle Ages, both published by the Association for Research and Enlightenment.
Those books resulted from researching her theory that people who are virtually obsessed with re-enacting historic events could be drawn to that era because of a previous life.
"Why do people do what they do? My point was that they re-enact because they have an interest in it. They may have had a life in the Civil War or in the Middle Ages."
She said she first began to investigate reincarnation during a trip to India.
"I was always interested in religion and philosophy, and I had been working as an international flight attendant and toured the world," Ms. Lane said in a phone interview this week. "A group of us were sitting on a veranda in New Delhi, sipping iced tea after going shopping, and it was hot and we were complaining because the pool wasn't open, it was being rebuilt.
"Then I saw a woman about my age, from India, who was helping to rebuild the pool and was carrying bricks on her head," she recalled.
Ms. Lane was startled by the inequity of the situation - a group of spoiled American flight attendants complaining about not being able to take a dip in the pool, while an Indian woman labored in the hot sun with a load of bricks atop her head.
The only way she could make sense out of the situation, she said, was by thinking that souls must return to bodily form over multiple lifetimes, as taught in the Hindu and Buddhist traditions.
"If there's only one life, maybe it doesn't seem fair to us," she said, "but in a larger continuum, it balances out and it does seem fair."
A 2003 survey by the Harris Poll found that 27 percent of Americans believe in reincarnation, and Ms. Lane concurred that the traditionally Eastern spiritual belief has been gaining acceptance in Western cultures.
She said she uses hypnosis for "group regression" and guided imagery to help people discover past lives, integrate their experiences, and learn from the past.
"There are all kinds of healings that take place," Ms. Lane said.
Some have to do with relationship problems, some are physical. One woman had to forgive herself for not being able to save the life of a child who drowned, she said.
"I do think our soul comes back again and that we go through many lifetimes," Ms. Lane said. "It's like a classroom. Ideally, we learn lessons and we go from grade school to high school to college. Eventually maybe perhaps we don't have to come back unless we choose to be of service. We get off the karmic wheel."
Barbara Lane's workshop, "Echoes from the Past: A Journey into the Sacred Times of Your Soul," is being held from 9:30 a.m. to 5 p.m. today in the Holiday Inn Express, 2150 East Wooster St., Bowling Green. Information: 419-353-5500.