Regression therapy is a fascinating experience that I’ve personally been through, and benefitted from, many times.
However, before experiencing it myself, I had no idea what it was about, so to inform our readers, I interviewed at length two leading Turkish figures in this field. Tülin Etyemez Schimberg is one of the founding members of the Earth Association for Regression Therapy (EARTh), while M. Reşat Güner happens to be my regression therapist.
Hasan Sonsuz Çeliktaş:
When I first heard about “regression,” I assumed that someone would come and hypnotize me, so he or she could delve into my past lives and tell me about them. But why did I think like this? I guess it’s because years ago, I saw some people on TV shows performing hypnosis, so when I went to see Reşat for the first time, I expected something like that. However, I later found that regression was something entirely different and more profound. I now want to put a question to you masters of this field: What is regression in the real sense? Is it an attempt to go back in time through hypnosis, or is it something else?
Tülin Etyemez Schimberg:
People often ask us, “What is regression?” In a literal sense, it means “to go back.” We could explain it simply as returning to the roots of our problems and reconstructing them. Yes, it’s frequently confused with hypnosis, and when people call us to make an appointment, they often ask, “Will you hypnotize me? Will I be conscious throughout?” What they’re really asking is, “Will I lose control?” This is people’s biggest fear. In reality, not everyone (maybe 9% or less) can easily reach a deep level of hypnosis, although many people assume they will. Moreover, it’s not even necessary, because when you go into a deep hypnotic trance, you won’t be in a state where you can speak clearly or unearth some information. When people are in such a state, a hypnotherapist generally gives some suggestions to them and aims to restore things subconsciously.
Now, as we talk, what is your attention directed toward? It’s looking at the outside world, but where does it go when you close your eyes? It shifts toward your feelings, emotions and thoughts. What’s more, when we talk about past memories, it’s how we remember them, whether it’s in terms of images or the emotions and feeling they create within ourselves. In other words, memories of the past are actually nothing but images, emotions, and feelings. Therefore, in regression, going back to these memories of the past involves the images (if the person is visual) or feelings (if the person is kinesthetic) of those times. Note that the vast majority of people are kinesthetic, which means they sense things, such as through gut feelings.
For example, after you shared your session stories in derKi and The Wise, your readers thought that they would experience the past as if they were watching a movie. People called us and asked, “Will it be like watching a movie?” Hasan, you are highly visual because you’re often watching movies and so on, plus you are already experienced in this field. Regression work, however, has different effects on different people. Some sense it more as feelings, but to summarize, I could say that we return to the past and access its memories. We cannot change the past, but we can change the feelings, blockages, and negative emotions (e.g., helplessness, fear of failure, and so on) that such memories inflict on us and cause us to shut down. Would you like to add something, Reşat?
M. Reşat Güner:
Yes. People experience many problems. We have two sides. There is the conscious side that we are focused on during our daily life and the unconscious side, which is also called the subconscious. These two terms mean much the same, but I prefer to call it the unconscious. We are not consciously aware of this side, yet it constitutes a very precious part of our being, an essential part. There is relatively little that we can consciously remember, and even our childhood memories often elude us. What we do remember are various clear-cut events, while the rest seem like they’ve been erased. However, 95% of our lives is ruled by the unconscious. Unless you undertake some special effort aimed at awareness (e.g., heavy meditation and long-term awareness work), everything generally proceeds along the unconscious patterns. In mainstream psychology, unfortunately, the unconscious is limited to people’s biographical past in their current life, from birth to the present day.
However, in the light of both ancient traditions and modern research, we discover that what we call the unconscious is profoundly deep, containing everything from our current life plus the memories we can access from past lives. This means that as well as containing our present life memories, it also contains some memories that belong to our predecessors. All of these influence us, and moreover, these memories make up our identities and personalities, yet we are unaware of them. After all, what we call the self is nothing but the identity and memories of a person. Take away the memories and there is no identity, no self. Nothing is left. Therefore, these components make up our current being. Of course, not all the memories in the unconscious are rosy and perfect. When we look at the history of humanity, we see plenty of pain, suffering, hardship, conflicts, wars, and so on. The law of the world is this: everything advances within the duality and we learn within the duality… The people who read your own writings already know this. So, under these conditions, no one is perfectly clean. All of us carry many problems and issues at the unconscious level that need to be resolved, and this is generally referred to as karma.
Regression therapy was specially developed after the 1960s. Pioneering therapists in this field found that not all the problems that afflicted people could be solved with established therapies. People were unable to transform in a real sense, and some people went through a psycho-spiritual crisis. By this, we mean that they experienced such compelling things in their lives (in a spiritual sense) that they couldn’t cope with them. Let’s say they felt they were under the influence of some energy, they had some past-life memory suddenly surface, or they began to experience strange, recurring dreams. They couldn’t cope with these. Stanislav Grof is one of the leading figures in the field of transpersonal psychology. Grof carried out some impressive work in order to transform and to dissolve the blockage material in the unconscious by taking people into an altered state of consciousness through the holotropic breath method and LSD. Work such as this later inspired regression therapy. Later on, Roger Woolger, Hans TenDam and our first teachers Jeffrey Ryan and Janet Cunningham, as well as other therapists, worked and trained in the USA and started experimenting with a new approach. They tried to see how far they could reach when they looked for the roots of a problem. They began to see that clients would recall past-life memories when asked about the root of their problems. Once such memories were unearthed, it became obvious that revealing them was not enough. These memories needed to be worked on with suitable methods, which we call reframing.
To varying degrees, changes occur in people’s lives. For some, however, the changes can be major, even in a single session. For others, it may take several sessions or even longer. Shortly afterwards, the problems that couldn’t be transformed or solved through other methods can be dealt with easily. This then allows a person to progress in his or her spiritual development. We’ve personally experienced this, and we’ve also witnessed other examples.
This field is also growing. The European Association for Regression Therapy, of which we are both members, has changed its title to The Earth Association for Regression Therapy, because within a short time, its membership has become global. We now have many esteemed colleagues working in many countries, although the Netherlands, Portugal and Brazil stand out. The two of us here work in Turkey and provide training through Unicorn, which we founded in 2011. Yes, it is a very powerful tool, and as you’ve already said from experience, there’s no need for a deep trance with this method. On the contrary, it is possible to access past lives from within a very light trance, and there’s a simple reason for this. When people suffer from carrying the memories of a past life, the root of these memories is already within their psyche (i.e., their own unconscious). For example, if a person says, “I feel an overwhelming fear whenever I need to speak to a crowd, and I have no idea why,” this person actually carries the root memory of when this fear first occurred in his or her energy field, and he or she carries it to the here and now. From that emotion, we rewind to its root and find the cause through a shortcut. Of course, much depends on whether people are ready for it or not. Regression is not always about going back to past lives; it is often used to go back to the past of the current life as well. For example, it is also used to reframe some memories of our time in the womb.
Hasan Sonsuz Çeliktaş:
What’s the importance of the therapist during a regression? Moreover, how can we find a competent regression therapist? Imagine that I found someone who promoted himself as a therapist on the Internet. I mean, will he be able to do it? Does he have the necessary qualifications? How will I know whether he does? It’s possible to fix a problem, but it’s also possible to make it worse, and we see this frequently in spiritual practices. In fact, this also occurs in many other fields: People can inflict harm on others with their pseudo-knowledge, and many may be unaware of their lack of skill.
Tülin Etyemez Schimberg:
Let me begin with your first question: Does the therapist hold a magic wand, and when he touches you with it, everything becomes rosy? Ah, if only! In fact, there is a magic want, but the client holds it rather than the therapist. The client is just not aware of it yet. The path through regression therapy is actually walked by the client, and the role of the therapist is to provide companionship. When I meet clients for the first time, I tell them, “This is a path you will walk, and we will walk it at your own speed. I will merely accompany you.” Indeed, the more people open themselves, and the more they want to be healed, the shorter the journey will be. One, two, or three sessions can bring radical changes and breakthroughs in such cases. Let’s say you have a window, and you can only see outside through a gap in the left-hand corner. Through the work you do, this gap gets increasingly larger. Sometimes, this opening is reflected suddenly in life, and sometimes it takes longer to achieve this opening.
People mostly expect things to change right away, but the patterns we have carried to this life have come about over a very long period, possibly many lifetimes. Despite this, we want everything to change immediately. The major obstacle to this desire comes from our own unconscious, because it does not want to change so easily. No matter how bad the situation is—even if you’re living in an abusive marriage, suffering physical abuse or insults, and so on—we don’t want to let it go because the situation is familiar to us. We are way too attached and dedicated to our pain, and over time, we become addicted to the hormones produced by our brain in response to the suffering and pain we experience. After all, it’s easy to see how our society feeds on pain and suffering; it is reflected in our songs, television series, movies, and other media. We hear and watch these things, and in doing so, we satisfy this emotion and become increasingly addicted to the feelings that such emotions evoke. We become addicted to the emotional states created within us. We therefore need to understand that this process varies from one client to the next. At the point you say, “That’s enough!” major changes occur. In other words, before the point when the last drop makes the water flow out of the cup, people need to go through many processes.
So, what is the role of the therapist? It’s to accompany the client by asking the right questions at the right points, because the client has identified himself with his pain so much that he cannot separate himself from it. He has become one with it. The role of the therapist is to remove him from the thing he identifies with. The therapist disassociates the client, so he can look at this thing from the outside. By doing this, he can gain some insight. This does not happen during hypnosis, because the client cannot see the connections at such moments—he can only receive suggestions from the therapist, such as a suggestion to quit smoking or another bad habit. However, the person must first know why he started smoking.
Often, people come to us and ask, “Why do I always attract the same kind of men/women?” or “S/he makes me feel unimportant.” We always blame others with statements like, “S/he makes me feel that way. S/he always does that to me. S/he makes me angry.” However, all of these things happen within us, so the role of the therapist is to disassociate clients from these things, allow them to look at things from the outside, and later upload a resource (because within our being we have these resources) to the client. This system, therefore, exists within the most efficient and suitable transformative therapies: disassociate, perform necessary cleaning (i.e., discover and understand the root reason and its connections), upload the resource, and reintegrate it, because that part is our own part. You could call it a past life or like Jung, you could say we draw it from the collective unconscious. You could even say it is a fabrication of our subconscious or unconscious. Many people ask, “Did I make this up?” and we tell them, “Even if you did, it’s no problem! If this anger of yours were made into a movie, what kind of scenario would it have?” We find that no matter whether it’s fact, past life, or a fabrication, when we properly address and resolve it, the client’s problem dissolves. The point is not the story itself but rather the message that the unconscious is trying to relay through that story.
Now, in order to become a regression therapist and carry out such work, a person certainly needs to be properly trained and educated. In 2006, the European Association for Regression Therapy organized a meeting with 30 therapists and consultants working in this field in various European countries. Together with another friend, I attended this meeting. While we originally planned to meet the experts and learn from them, we suddenly found ourselves becoming founding members and the first board members of this association!
This process was very educational for us. I worked as a board member for six years. We started with 30 members, and now we have 300 members from all over the world. The aim of this association was, and still is, to establish certain criteria and a code of conduct for therapists working in this field and provide continuing education, because this is certainly not child’s play. As a therapist, you touch very sensitive and very private areas of people, and this must be done competently and consciously. This is why EARTh members get together every year for an annual convention and for a world congress every three years. In 2011, the fourth world congress was organized in Kusadasi, Turkey. I was the panel chair, and 130 professionals from 29 countries attended and shared their methods. By learning various methods as a therapist, you widen the range of tools in your toolbox. Not everyone needs to hop from one past life to another, and sometimes what impacts us the most comes from episodes in our current life, and regression is important to this as well.
To reach out to professionals, there are two organizations. The International Board for Regression Therapy (IBRT) lists on its website (www.ibrt.org) the various IBRT-certified therapists around the world. They also offer training. In addition, EARTh started as a European association, but it’s now truly global. It’s website (www.earth-association.org) lists all student and professional members under their respective countries. In this list, we can proudly say that we have many professional therapists in Turkey, all of which are properly trained and certified. We suggest that everyone refers to these lists when looking for a therapist.
Hasan “Sonsuz” Çeliktaş:
Is regression therapy suitable for everyone? Is it a useful method for every person?
Tülin Etyemez Schimberg:
It is not for everyone, especially not in cases of schizophrenia and heavily psychotic cases. Actually, the people we work with are generally just like you and me: ordinary people who want to progress in life but experience obstacles, relationship problems, and issues in business or family life. They are generally not experiencing extreme or profound personality disorders. After all, there are other experts for such cases.
Let me give you an example: A client had constant aching in her back, ankles and knees. She had been to all kinds of medical experts and gone through all kinds of tests, but because no physical cause could be found, they said it was psychological and sent her home. When she came to me, we returned to the root of these aches and pains, and she found herself in a past-life scene. Her village was being raided, and the men of the village were gathered in the square. The women and children had already fled the village before the attack, and my client was the wife of the village’s leader. The raiders begin to kill the men, but some of them escape. The raiders then capture my client and torture her to learn the whereabouts of the escapees. She does not tell them, so they choke her and throw her into a river. As she lands, her back hits the rocks, and this was the trigger for all my client’s aches and pains, which had started suddenly on her 30th birthday. Well, in that past life, she was 30 when she died, so an age trigger occurred. When my client became 30 years old, her body began to express the pains because of this age trigger. So, what did we do? After learning the whole story, we returned to the moment of death and by applying psychodrama at this moment (where the client assumes the past-life personality’s body posture and so on), we lifted her up from the rocks by saying, “You are dead now. You are not in that body anymore. Whatever happened there is over now!” We then allowed her to go to the other side. That person was already within that memory, and her memories, thoughts and emotions had reflected in her body as well. Her helplessness and hopelessness literally clung to her back, and her body remembered the rocks hitting and the moment of death. At that moment, as the therapist, you say to the body, “Now you are dead and not there anymore!”
Then, she takes this part and integrates it, and you allow her to react in the way she wanted to back then but couldn’t (we have methodological dialogues for doing this) because the body couldn’t defend itself. It was helpless and couldn’t do what it wanted to do, and all the other villagers were dead. There are so many cycles there to work on, and once you complete the whole story, you ask the body, “Do you really need to carry these aches and pains any longer?” The unconscious then says, “No, there’s no need anymore!” because the problem has been solved.
Alternatively, you ask, “What did you bring from that life? What did you carry over? How does that life influence you now?” Let’s say that a woman refuses to start a family out of fear of losing children. Let’s say that in a past life, her children died and that person decided to never have more children to avoid losing them again. Such cycles influence your relationships and choices in your current life. When you resolve them, so that the unconscious cannot continue that cycle anymore, the physical aches and pains go away by themselves.
M. Reşat Güner:
Exactly. The unconscious is a multi-layered structure and so are our minds. We have somatic minds, which means our bodies have their own memory and nervous system. There is also another “brain” in our intestines and hearts, called the enteric, and it carries memories as well. None of our emotions come out of thin air. Some people hone their talents to perfection, and this doesn’t arise from nothing either. I’m a musician, so I notice many examples in the field of music. Children at a very young age can sometimes play with such maturity and ardor that it is inconceivable that they learned within such a short period. It follows that behind such talents there is also the effort spent in past lives, and these are somewhat connected to each other. Therefore, the emotions, feelings, thoughts, beliefs (i.e., the unconscious material, the material that constitutes our identities) is not known to us. Even though we are unaware of it, it influences our lives nevertheless. It follows then that if a person experiences some obstacles in his current life due to remembered experiences from a past life, then regression therapy may hit the target. Many examples prove the efficacy of this work.
Let me put it this way: I have personally conducted at least five sessions with a client where we do not talk about topics such as regression or past lives. He or she comes to seek advice about various problems, and during the first session, he or she sits down and at the moment the client’s eyes are closed, whoosh! He or she is experiencing the past-life memory related to the problem. This has happened directly before I could even say anything…
To evoke past-life memories, we normally use various methods and techniques that are specific for each client, but in cases like the above, we don’t need to do anything. The client closes his or her eyes and is in the memory. What does this tell us? No conversation has taken place yet, and there was no introduction or information given. This shows that memories are at the root of some people’s problems. Such memories are evoked or brought to the surface with various techniques, where they are then worked on and ultimately dissolved. The effect of this continues to work in the client’s life. Occasionally, we work with clients for only one session if the energetic change (which occurs slowly at the unconscious level) is deep enough to continue transmitting its energy. When the change at the energetic level is allowed to occur, after a while, the brain, nervous system, and the enteric nervous system digest this change and begin to adapt to it. We call this transformation.
Hasan “Sonsuz” Çeliktaş:
We are somehow like computers, and this sounds like software we carry over from the past. Think of how your computer starts to slow down over time because too many programs are working at the same time or you’ve inadvertently installed a virus. You spend your energy, but you still can’t get the intended performance from your computer.
I think we can summarize regression work as identifying these unnecessary programs working in the background. They pointlessly waste energy, so they need to be shut down.
Thank you both for the invaluable information you have shared with us in this interview. I’m sure it won’t be the last.