Back In Time
Glo's Editor Tries the Latest Spa TrendBy Shannan Rouss
"Bring your awareness to your feet," Clare says. "Just notice what your feet look like. Let me know what you see."
"Bare feet," I say after a moment.
"And how big are those feet? Are they grown or are they small?"
When Clare asks me where I am, I tell her I'm outside, standing in front of a large, stone building. A church or a museum, perhaps. I scan the area looking for more clues, but everything appears gray and quiet.
The images in my mind vague and hazy, but the sensations associated with them strong. Even weeks later, as I'm listening to a recording of the exchange above, they surface again—a sense of aloneness, of abandonment and of loss.
At the end of my session, Clare had given me a CD labeled with my name and the letters PLR. Past life regression. The purpose of PLR is to help you gain a deeper understanding of yourself and certain patterns, fears or anxieties that might be burdening you in your life. It is just one of the services offered at RakSa where Clare is a practitioner. Located in Los Angeles, RakSa is more wellness center and spa with a menu that includes eyebrow waxing, Reiki and astrology reading.
I know what you're thinking. Only in L.A. But similar "non-traditional" services are becoming more and more prevalent at spas across the country.
At Canyon Ranch in Lenox, Mass. (where Hilary Clinton has been known to unwind), guests can choose from a selection of "metaphysical" options that include a tarot card reading and handwriting analysis.
Meanwhile, Tucson's Miraval has an entire menu of both "Chill-Out" and "Clue-In" treatments, along with private sessions in meditation, breathwork and "holographic memory resolution," which from the description ("healing the memories that induce emotional and physical blockages") seems to be as close to therapy as you can get.
And Golden Door Spa's Boulder location recently added something called "Meditation Journey Into the Tipi." Part of the spa's "Mind Body & Soul Connection" offerings, the session is led by a shamanic healer who guides you through "a meditative journey into 'non-ordinary' reality."
Back listening to my PLR CD (now Track 01 in my iTunes), Clare counts me down again, taking me back to another moment in the same past life=. Three, two, one... I'm younger and seated at a table. Nearby a woman stands with a baby on her hip as she stirs some pot. I feel unseen, maybe because I'm just here as an observer, which is one way Clare says we can remember past lives, as if watching from the outside. I have a sense that I'm somewhere in France, although I can't say for certain where this notion comes from.
"How do you feel?" Clare asks.
"I'm scared. But I'm not sure why." My answers are brief and tentative as I struggle to accept the idea that this young girl I'm picturing is not merely something conjured by my imagination.
As a writer, I'm prone to invention. So a big part of me feels as if I'm just making things up as I go along, weaving together memories with things I've read or seen. Still, another part of me thinks that even if I am "making things up," so what? It doesn't preclude the possibility that these thoughts and images are somehow linked to a past life.
Now seems like a good time to mention that I'm not particularly New Age-y. If I do yoga, it's usually to get a workout, not to find my Zen. I don't meditate, and I rarely talk about anyone's aura unless I'm being ironic.
But I do believe that the absence of evidence is not the evidence of absence—a line originally said by someone much smarter than I am. I believe there are things we don't know or fully understand, including the very idea of the mind, of consciousness; whether it exists outside the brain or not; whether something, some energy for lack of a better word, survives death. When you consider what we do know—that time is relative (thank you, Einstein), that our Earth is just one of 46 billion (yes, billion!) Earth-size planets in our galaxy—then anything seems possible.
Toward the end of the 44 minute recording, Clare leads me to "the death experience," where I will learn how I left this previous life. She wants to know what I see, hear or feel.
I am silent for a long time before I tell her I think I fell. "It's quiet," I say. "Early in the morning." I see myself as young, no older than 20, standing on a ledge in the same gray and abandoned space I'd been in before.
I start to cry as I lie in this zero gravity chair in Clare's office. I'm not sure why I'm crying but it feels like a relief, a letting go, which I suppose is often the way crying feels. Clare asks me if I feel I could have unfinished business in this past lifetime. I understand the question but it doesn't resonate with me. It seems too easy, too pat an explanation for what's happening.
I wonder if what I'm crying about is not so much a past life, but a past self. I have an easier time thinking of the barefoot girl in France as a younger version of me rather than someone entirely different. The sense of sadness I feel is almost like a mourning for who I once was, at the peak of my adolescent angst, a peak that lasted longer than it does for most. I feel indebted to that girl for enduring what she did so that I could end up here, today, in a pretty good place.
Maybe that's what past life regression is. For me, at least. An chance to remember the people we once were—not necessarily a lifetime ago, but 10 or 20 years ago. Which can often feel like a lifetime.