Woolger, Dr Roger - Other lives, Past Selves - The despair 'I' seemed to have died with in 1933
Type of Spiritual Experience
Note that the experience Roger describes here is not a rebirth event. The term has very unfortunately been hijacked by a number of people unaware of its strict meaning. As Roger explains this method is:
“a highly intensive process of quasi-yogic breathing which has the effect of releasing emotions, attitudes, memories and physical holding patterns said to originate with the trauma of birth”
A description of the experience
Other lives, past selves [A Jungian Psychotherapist discovers Past Lives] – Dr Roger Woolger
At the same time, since three of us in the group were omnivorous readers, we set out to read everything we could find on past lives or reincarnation, ranging in our search from The Tibetan Book of the Dead to Seth to Dick Sutphen. We also tried out the various methods and techniques for regression that psychologists and hypnotherapists have described in the small number of books that had then been written on the subject.
In my own case, once I had cleaned out all the visions of my medieval storm trooper I got a more benign and peaceful memory of being a feudal lord in fourteenth-century Brittany.
Next, I recalled a number of military lives and lives of travel which alternated with monastic or priestly lives. There even seemed to be a pattern in the remembered lives: a swinging between opposite themes of engagement and retreat. This certainly appeared to fit my own emotional dynamic as well as explaining many of my interests and pet aversions.
A new dimension was added to our informal experimentation as a group when we all decided to undergo the very powerful therapeutic technique called rebirthing, the discovery of Leonard Orr in California. Rebirthing is a highly intensive process of quasi-yogic breathing which has the effect of releasing emotions, attitudes, memories and physical holding patterns said to originate with the trauma of birth.
Although I had myself previously done a certain amount of therapy designed to release physical energy blocks associated with emotional attitudes-an approach derived from the brilliant pioneer work of Wilhelm Reich back in the 1930s-I was to find that, for me, rebirthing went even further.
My own shattering experience of letting the breath take over completely had me spluttering, choking, and weeping my way out of the birth canal as tingling streams of energy burst through my head, arms, and legs. I seemed to be taken to a crucial new level of residual emotional patterns that psychoanalysis and Reichian therapy had failed to touch. But most surprising of all, I found myself muttering the desperate words: "I don't want to be in this world."
My rebirthing guide said: "Why not?" and immediately I had a vision of a mutilated body lying on a pile of emaciated corpses in a burial pit of some kind. And I began to weep bitterly and uncontrollably again, as though racked with some cosmic suffering on behalf of not just my own but of all human suffering.
For what I instantly knew was that I was seeing a body that "I" had in some sense just left, the body of a German Communist dissident who had died in one of the early concentration camps in the early I930s (before the Jewish persecution, as it turned out).
Later reworkings of this painful theme led me to the astounding realization that I had been born depressed and that all later childhood experiences, so carefully unraveled in psychoanalysis, were not the origins of my depressive temperament but rather the reawakening of a deep pessimism and despair "I" seemed to have died with in 1933.