July 15, 2013
In response to many questions about how I got into past-life work, here is the short version of my story, from the pages of You Were Born Again To Be Together (Simon & Schuster Pocket Books). This was my first past-life regression experience.
A well-known southwestern hypnotist put me into a deep trance and guided me backward in time…within minutes I was watching myself, almost like seeing a move in my mind, running along a jungle path at the age of ten. It was me, but it wasn’t. My skin was brown and I had black hair. I was wearing only a breechcloth, and as the pictures progressed I emerged into a village of structures such as I had never seen before.
The hypnotist carried me forward in time to the age of fifteen, and I was standing in a great plaza at sunset, the sun reflecting off the front of a huge temple. He asked me where I was, and I answered, “Copan.” As he carried me forward, I watched myself grow up. As we moved through time, he asked me questions which I easily answered. Copan (Honduras) was the southernmost lowland Mayan site and was a cultural center of art and astronomy. It was the time of the Spanish conquest, and there was much fear and unrest among the people. The regression ended when I saw my own death in the midst of a conflict, as a Spanish soldier stabbed me in the back with a sword.
The last pictures I received were of myself lying in the arms of a woman, with a young boy standing close by…then they faded away.
Although I was lying on a couch in a comfortable office in Phoenix, Arizona, I was literally yelling. “They’re tearing down our gods, they’re tearing down our gods!” Tears were rolling down my cheeks, and I was trembling with emotion. The hypnotist then gave me strong instructions to calm down. While I was still in hypnosis, he carried me through death and into spirit and I was instructed to look back upon the Mayan life I had just come out of, to gain insight and understanding of the reasons for that life.
When awakened, I felt calm, but I was obviously shaken by the experience. Not only had I never heard of Copan, Honduras; I had virtually no historic knowledge of this time period. The only obvious surface link was my love of the statuary and art work of the Mayan people.
In the library I found books which substantiated several of the situations I had experienced in the trance. Geological records showed that the main temple in Copan did indeed face west, so the sun reflecting off the front was valid. The timing of events was correct, as were known facts about the activities of the people at this time. In the exact place I saw myself stabbed, I presently carry a light brown birthmark. It is thin and just about the width of a sword.
At the time of this first regression I was actively involved with self-hypnosis and a couple of metaphysical groups in the Phoenix/Scottsdale area. Reliving the Mayan lifetime was the beginning of several more regressions into other incarnations, and the beginning of a long study of hypnotism. I worked with established hypnotists and at first experimented with myself, using my knowledge of hypnosis, self-hypnosis, yoga, and metaphysics to work with trance levels and techniques, and the experimental regressions of other people.
In 1971 I began group sessions with between fifteen and twenty-five people at a time. This experimental work resulted in the development of a technique that proved far more effective than any other I know of. At least eighty per cent of those attending would go into a hypnotic trance (later I increased that to 95 percent). I was told by everyone with any knowledge of the subject that there was no way to regress more than one person at a time. In a larger group one of the subjects could experience a traumatic situation that would require the hypnotist to calm him down or remove him from the trance immediately. This would cause everyone else to come back, too.
This objection was easily overcome by developing a “play it safe” regression, a technique which gives exact instructions for a self-release mechanism. The participants are also instructed to have their subconscious minds choose a lifetime in which they lived at least thirty years. They are told to re-experience only positive events which took place during that time. They are asked to see the situations in their mind and answer the questions to themselves which I requested. Before coming out of the trance, they are given a posthypnotic suggestion that they will remember every detail of everything they have experienced, and that they will continue to remember more and more about the previous lifetime after being awakened.
Through the group regressions it was easy to find the best subjects for individual regressions; I could then guide them through the past, asking questions and recording the results.
As knowledge of the sessions spread, I started to work in colleges, schools, clubs, and with metaphysical groups. Regardless of the size of the assemblage, the results were always the same. The participants experienced a past life. While I did a group regression with a night class of forty-five people at Phoenix College, forty-two experienced past lives. Among the class members was a Superior Court judge and several civic leaders.
In 1973 the Hypnosis Center was established in Scottsdale, Arizona, as an intensified research project. We worked with groups and individuals, taught classes and developed new regression techniques. Part of the Center program was an open session every Wednesday night, which always brought us new subjects. The most interesting cases were then followed up individually.
(An ebook of You Were Born Again To Be Together: Fascinating True Stories of Reincarnation that Prove Love is Immortal! is available at www.richardsutphen.com /or at Amazon.com / iTunes /Barnes & Noble).