This category of experience raises the question of why we think our life begins with conception and ends with death. Regardless of how we respond, we need to prepare for the need to seriously address the experience material that emerges in certain life situations and which has a clear record of memory. Similarly, we can remember clearly what we were doing a week or a year ago. One who has had such an experience usually "knows" and we can believe that he/she "knows".
We should sensitively differentiate assumptions constructed on the basis that no explanation was found in the biographical memories. Spontaneous emergence of incarnation memories can heal but the externally-imposed hypothesis that the cause of present problems is in past lives can hurt. It can provide an explanation that becomes an unchangeable burden.
Our attitude is often very important. Working with experience as reality can lead to the recognition of recurring elements that are a challenge. A good aid in this work is the concept of so-called coex (experience), ie experiences that can occur in different forms in the biographical, perinatal and transpersonal parts of the consciousness map (see Grof, 2000).
So we can help by accepting the fact that we may be affected by something that has not happened in our lifetime, as we have understood so far. Furthermore, our work can be directed towards finding a common denominator between what we know from our lives and what has appeared elsewhere.
Additional information about this category /quotes from the book: Grof, Stanislav. Grof, Christina. Crisis of spiritual development. Prague: Chvojka Publishing, 1999. ISBN 80-86183-09-2/
Among the most dramatic and colorful transpersonal episodes accompanying extraordinary states of consciousness are the experiences of situations occurring in other historical periods and other countries. They are usually associated with strong emotions and physical feelings. People, circumstances and historical environments are often portrayed to the smallest detail. Their most remarkable aspect is the convincing sense of personal re-experience of the events we once experienced long ago.
It is this type of experience that inspired India's belief in reincarnation and the law of karma. According to that, every one of us lives a long chain of lives; the quality of our present life is then conditioned by our merits and debts from past lives, and at the same time predetermines the nature of our future incarnation. These concepts play an important role in all forms of India's great religions as well as in the spiritual systems of other parts of Asia influenced by Buddhism in various forms. However, similar ideas existed independently of each other in many other cultures and historical periods.
Although it is not clear to what extent the model of past lives accurately describes the source of these experiences, their healing potential challenges us to take these episodes quite seriously, no matter what we think of their origins and roots.
If the content of the karmic experience fully emerges in our consciousness, it may suddenly "explain" many otherwise incomprehensible aspects of our daily lives. Strange problems in relationships with certain people, gratuitous fears, special inclinations, as well as unclear emotional and psychosomatic symptoms now find the explanation as "karmic remnants" from previous past lives. Very often they disappear after the concerned karmic model is fully and consciously experienced.
Experiences from past lives can present various problems. Before their content fully emerges into consciousness and reveals itself, one can experience strong emotions, physical feelings and visions in everyday life without knowing where they come from and what they mean. Being out of context, they naturally seem incomprehensible and utterly irrational.
Another kind of complication may arise when a particularly strong karmic experience begins to become conscious in the midst of everyday activities and interferes with life. The person may feel compelled to perform some elements of the karmic pattern before fully experiencing and understanding or "completing" them.
In emerging experiences from past lives, people from one’s present life seem to have played an important role in their "past incarnations" and may seek to confront family or friends based on their experiences of "past life" relationships. This kind of activity can cause serious and long-lasting difficulties and complications in relationships with other people who have no understanding of such behavior. The problem may persist even after the past life when the experience is over and it’s content and profound meaning are fully known. The individual must compare their experience with traditional views and values of Western civilization, but this has no explanation for this phenomenon.
But for a person who is not firmly committed to the conventional worldview, this is not difficult. The experiences are so convincing that they simply accept their messages and even feel pleasantly encouraged by them. People deeply influenced by a rational view of the world and a traditional scientific perspective, after encountering such a disturbing but highly convincing personal experience - threatening their worldview - are thrown into long-term confusion and doubt.
Interesting information about these experiences and work with them is offered by Roger Woolger's publication Other Lives, Other Selves or C. Bach's Lifecycles.