In addition to the financial hardship and anxiety, these past long weeks of isolation have also provided us with a few pleasant surprises. To begin with, we’re getting to know ourselves better. We’re seeing beauty and goodness in places we overlooked before. Life seems a bit richer.
Hopefully, you’re experiencing some of the same benefits.
A quieter world and periods of contemplation have also offered us a chance to rethink certain attitudes and beliefs we’ve been hanging onto. One of those areas of close-mindedness was brought to light when a copy of Past Lives with Pets landed on our desk; we have long been skeptical, but we understand that there are a variety of takes on reincarnation, collective consciousness, and past-life memories.
So, being true to ourselves, we asked reviewer Matt Sutherland to bring some tough questions to this interview with Dr. Shelley Kaehr, the author of Past Lives with Pets. And, in return, we promised to keep an open mind—all thanks to our new COVID-19 perspective.
In case you missed it, here’s a link to Matt’s review of Shelley’s book for the May/June issue of Foreword. He ends it by writing, “If you wonder why you love your animals so fiercely, Past Lives with Pets might just offer an unexpectedly satisfying answer.”
Thanks to Llewellyn Publications for publishing another thought-provoking title.
Matt, you’re on.
First of all, doctor, for the skeptics out there, please put your scientist cap on and talk about the elephant in the room. Can you tell us whether science is getting closer to showing irrefutable proof that some essence of the us that is us is somehow carried forward after a physical death into a new body? Short of scientific proof, what do you believe?
I wish I could say science is catching up, but no, sadly, science is no closer to discovering actual proof of life after death. Near-death experiences are considered “proof” to some, especially since so many of the people who have NDEs describe similar experiences that seem to go beyond the realm of coincidence. I experienced an NDE years ago myself, and for me, that was all the “evidence” I will ever need to believe. Because these accounts are so subjective, they still fail to pass the criteria within the scientific method of verifiable, consistent, and measurable evidence.
For those who have not had an NDE, faith fuels belief for most people because we need to believe we’re continuing on from here. Studies show that belief in the afterlife is key to overall happiness in life. Since the dawn of time, mankind has attempted to make sense of something that, well, makes no sense at all!—conjure images in our minds of what our utopian heavenly realm will be like when we arrive in order to comfort ourselves about our eventual end.
Near-death experiences offer clues and glimpses of heaven for those who believe. Through the vehicles of religion, spirituality, and metaphysics, I’m sure we will continue to dig for answers and work to find that proof, although I’m doubtful we will ever succeed to answer that question to the satisfaction of the scientific community. We’ll find out when we get there!
How do you explain a 1000 year old memory?
There are a couple of possible explanations for the 1000 year old memory. I subscribe to the idea of both a collective shared ancestral memory akin to Carl Jung’s “Collective Consciousness” where we store the history of mankind, as well as personal memories, embedded deeply within our own individual consciousness and that continuation of consciousness explains the 1000 year old memory. We can tune into events that happened to our ancestors.
The other way to explain the 1000 year old memory is through belief in reincarnation. The imagery of times long gone that appears in people’s minds (including my own) while undergoing regression makes me believe that again, we’re tapping into times long gone.
One aspect of this I like to mention though, is the fact that just like trying to prove an afterlife, we can’t prove we’ve lived in prior lifetimes either. It’s another faith-based belief. My belief in reincarnation has greatly helped me process many aspects of my life in empowering ways. If I made mistakes in the past, I can uncover those and make effort to do better.
You’ve spoken to hundreds of people with past-life remembrances, including many people with memories of their pets. Is there similarity between the stories? Is a traumatic incident an important part of why a past-life memory might be both stored away and also remembered in future lifetimes?
Normally people don’t seek regression or any kind of therapy or counseling when things are going well. Humans are programmed to usually operate under a premise that if it’s not broke, leave things be. In Past Lives with Pets, the discovery of a pet from a prior lifetime is often a secondary afterthought or pleasant surprise that comes up when they’re there to work on deeper issues.
Many of those who identified their animals in regression are those who have a deep soul calling to work for animal welfare and the experience deepens the client’s understanding of that purpose which is an awesome reason to seek out a regression. Discovering why we’re here and searching for deeper meaning for our own being is as deep a question as wondering about an afterlife, and it’s one of the many gifts that can emerge from a past-life regression.
In my earlier book Meet Your Karma: The Healing Power of Past Life Memories, I included studies of people who overcame extreme cases of anxiety, depression, and trauma. In that book, most case histories were fear based. Clients were faced with painful survival issues regarding physical safety in the world. Strangely, thanks to the current world pandemic, the issues expressed in that book are startlingly similar to those case histories as everyone on the planet is currently experiencing a larger collective trauma over what’s happening.
It’s mind-boggling to think about, but do you believe that all the memories of all of our past lives are stored away and potentially accessible? Why does hypnotherapy trigger past life memories?
I definitely believe all of our thoughts, memories, deeds, and actions are stored in the inexhaustible storehouse of soul memory. We can draw upon these memories by simply creating the right state of mind through guided imagery and hypnosis and by asking the right questions.
The state of hypnosis is simply a slowing down of the brainwaves so pictures, thoughts, and feelings can more easily bubble up from within. In the trance state, you can access memories similarly to the way you pull a document from your computer: find the path using questions and pull up the document you need. Our database of memory stores answers to our most challenging questions such as “Why am I here?” or “What lessons am I learning through my current situation?” In regards to your earlier question about the afterlife, experiencing our past lives and time in between lives and afterlife through hypnosis helps solidify the belief that we do indeed go on from here. We have soul memories of those times.
Please explain your work as a past-life regression therapist? And, please tell us a typical story about how pets factor into these memories?
Clients normally seek past-life regression when they’re faced with serious challenges in daily life. Often, they’ve tried lots of other things to get answers to their questions. Many find that either nothing works, or they believe they’ve made limited progress, but still feel they’re not quite getting to the root of their problems.
When I take someone back in time, I’m always asking them to go to the true source event, the first in the series of events that led to the current challenge. Through repeated questioning, I make sure we have indeed arrived at that initial event, and from that place, we do healing around various challenges that resolves challenges that have often been really tough to overcome. It’s like the difference between mowing over a weed in your lawn and watching it return, verses pulling it out by the root. Once the source event has been ascertained, real and lasting change can be achieved.
The work with pets is more of a surprisingly pleasant byproduct of a longer session. People don’t come in because they’re having issues with their dog, for example. Our animals are actually some of our greatest teachers. They show us how to love and receive love, how to care for others, and so the realization that we’ve known our beloved companion in a prior time is a real joy for most people. The pets typically factor in as allies on the soul path—teachers and supporters.
You know better than just about anyone that losing a pet can be very, very difficult. In Past Lives with Pets, you explain that our pets often follow us from lifetime to lifetime—or, perhaps, we follow them—whether in the form of cats, dogs, horses, etc. How do we find each other? It just seems so unlikely when you think about the randomness of how we acquire pets (want ads, Facebook, the Humane Society).
Despite the apparent randomness in this vast universe, many of the souls we encounter, including those of our pets, are those whom we’ve encountered before. We travel in soul groups and we come together repeatedly for support and learning throughout time. When you think about a pet, it’s an incredibly significant relationship. You will often have your pet for a decade or two (or even longer, depending on the animal). When you think about it in that way, you realize that your pet is a major player during various chapters of your life. It makes sense to think that the soul who loves you and supports you in such an unconditional way is a familiar energy from the past, or at least it makes sense for the many people I’ve encountered who truly believe they’ve known their pets before. There’s something familiar there, the same way you feel about certain people you meet. The love is real and profound.
In the book, you offer exercises to help readers use guided imagery to explore our relationships with pets and all animals. Can you talk about various situations in which these exercises might be helpful?
The most helpful exercise in the book is probably the one dealing with the grief recovery over the loss of a pet. Losing our little fuzz balls can be a terrible time for everyone. This easy-to-do guided journey is based on a similar process I use with clients who are suffering from grief over the loss of any loved one.
The past-life regression processes can be fun to do also. At times, real insight can be gained about soul purpose and identifying that special connection to the animals that seems to carry over lifetime to lifetime for so many of us.
I also include more whimsical experiences so people can go meet an animal spirit guide or totem, and a quick process to learn how to become a better animal communicator.
Are you working on another project? Where are your past-life interests leading you next?
Yes! Thanks for asking! I am super excited because I have another book coming out from Llewellyn in 2021 called Heal Your Ancestors to Heal Your Life! I’m thrilled about this one! It’s based on a process I’ve used with clients for twenty years where instead of healing your own past lives, you travel through time, into the past via guided imagery, and visit challenging events that happened to your ancestors. This is something I’ve done for years to help clients who suffered from unusual circumstances when that source event I mentioned earlier was not originating in their own past lives.
This book will show readers why it’s so important to send healing to your ancestral line, and to all people on your family tree. It’s a super powerful process! Like my other books, Heal Your Ancestors to Heal Your Life has lots of case histories, along with tons of guided journeys for self-exploration and healing.