Past Life Memories of Children and Past Life Regression: A Case for Reincarnation?
There are times when a person feels like they have been somewhere before or just “knows” things or people without having met them before. Often we write this off as the strange experience of déjà-vu or a coincidence. Imagine that the experience multiplies and an individual says they remember exact details about other people, and places they have never experienced, maybe they can even speak a language never taught to them. Some people claim they have had these experiences - and scientists have taken an interest in their cases. Research has been done to try to find if there is validity to the experiences, but there are some instances where the situation has been unexplainable by science…could it be reincarnation at play?
Reincarnation: A Simple Definition for a Complex Idea
First it is important to take a short look at what reincarnation is about. It is not a synonym for past life regression (PLR) or past life memories, although these are often used as so-called “proof” of reincarnation. Reincarnation is also not necessarily a religious belief. Although it is associated by many with specific religions, it is not necessary that a person identifying with a religion accepts the prospect of reincarnation or a person to follow a specific religion to accept reincarnation either.
One simple definition of reincarnation (there are many) can be: the rebirth of a soul into another vessel. People who believe in reincarnation may see the body and mind as two separate entities. Thus the idea is that when the body dies the mind does not die as well; instead the mind (or spirit) leaves the body and continues its journey into another life. Reincarnation is also associated with karma in most beliefs, or the idea that the soul passes on a spiritual journey where the past and future are connected by life choices.
Reincarnation. ( Himalayan Academy )
One must note that there are obviously many individuals that disagree with the concept of reincarnation in totality and see this as the only life (often doing the best they can to make it a good one!) Or see the end of this life as the means to reach a final resting place… be it “good,” “bad,” or neutral. The article here will not be focused on these ideas about the afterlife (themes for the future); alternatively, this article examines the experiences of past life memories and past life regression - two concepts that are often associated with reincarnation.
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Past Life Memories in Children: Dr. Stevenson’s Lifelong Research Project
There have been numerous cases of children spontaneously “remembering” past lives. One of the most famous doctors associated with documenting these past life memories in children was Dr. Ian Stevenson. Dr. Stevenson, who died in 2007, studied over 2500 cases of children that reported past life memories. Of these, he said that 1200 of his cases could be objectively validated.
Dr. Stevenson mostly studied cases of past life memories in children from areas where reincarnation was a dominant belief (i.e. Asia, India…). From his forty years of research he identified seven common features to the past life memories of children, which he himself stated was only evidence, not proof.
- The child begins to describe a past life experiences as soon as (s)he begins to communicate.
- The child remembers details of his/her death from a past life.
- There is enough description provided on the family of the child’s past incarnation that the past family is eventually identified.
- There is continuity in the personality traits, preferences, and habits across the incarnations.
- 90% of the time gender also remains the same.
- Physical appearance, especially facial features, tends to be similar between past and present lives.
- Reincarnation renews familial/social relationships.
The Hanan Monsour/Suzanne Ghanem Story of Childhood Past Life Memories
Perhaps the best-known story in childhood past life memories is that of Hanan Monsour/Suzanne Ghanem. In the mid 1930s Hanan was born in Lebanon. In her twenties she married a man named Farouk Monsour. The couple had two daughters, Leila and Galareh, but after their second daughter was born Hanan developed a heart condition and was told not to have more children. She ignored the warning and gave birth to a son in 1962. In 1963 Hanan’s health worsened and at the age of 36 she went to Virginia to have heart surgery. She tried repeatedly to telephone her daughter Leila before she had the surgery but was unable to communicate with her that she wanted her jewelry split evenly between her daughters if she did not survive.