Events that have the greatest impact on our lives also have the highest probability of being recalled from our memory. When an experience involves multiple senses and is composed of intense emotional or physical stimuli, we describe it as a memory cluster.
Remember a wedding, funeral, accident, or graduation. During an event of import in your life, you focused intently on the information presented to you. You are more likely to remember moments or days that carried life-changing effects than those when you were engaged in routine chores or activities that involved fewer sensory stimuli.
Overview of Sensory Modalities
We have three primary modes for storing and recalling information:
As we guide a client through the process of hypnotherapy or regression to a past life, it’s helpful to know their preferred mode(s) of experience and retention. We can better facilitate inspiring insights for our client by remaining alert to the mode, or modes, in which they’re responding and remembering during their experience.
People who are primarily visually-oriented tend to recall their memories by describing detailed pictures, colors, and images. Visual experiencers tend toward rapid speech, look up when remembering, and can easily create a picture in their mind’s eye. When intuitive, such people are often clairvoyant. You will hear phrases such as:
- I see what you mean.
- Let’s take a look at that.
- From my point of view…
- He’s such a colorful person.
- I have a vision of my future.
People who access memories primarily through auditory means are, as a rule, more sensitive to information they hear. Rather than storing a lot of visual detail, they are more likely to remember events in association with a piece of music or a catch phrase they heard. Auditory experiencers may learn concepts best by listening to a lecture; in communicating they tend to look toward their ears when recalling and to choose words that refer to auditory experience. They may say:
- That sounds good to me.
- I hear what you are saying.
- I know I need to listen to my intuition more.
- There is a rhythm to my life.
- That rings a bell.
Kinesthetically-oriented clients are “feelers” who rely heavily on their gut instinct. You may find them empathetic, have easy access to compassion, and use touch-oriented language. They tend to speak slowly, digesting information before responding, and likely look down when recalling memories. They may say things like:
- That story didn’t feel right.
- I’m a little touchy today.
- I was moved by their thoughtfulness.
- I know it in my gut.
- It struck me as a problem.
Primary Sensing Modality
Most people have both a primary and a close secondary mode through which they take in the experiences of life and then remember them. If a person’s primary mode of experience is kinesthetic and his secondary mode is visual, during a past life regression he may first become aware of sensations or emotions from that former time, and only after that become able to visualize the environment and events that gave rise to those feelings.
A person trying desperately to “see” the details of past lives will be frustrated if his naturally preferred mode of experience is kinesthetic. As counselors, we must be cautious of imposing our own preferred modalities on our clients. Search for clues in the client’s language and in the type of content remembered, and adopt that language in your open-ended questions to help them go deeper and access further useful past life detail.
To determine your own modality, think of the words you typically use to communicate your experiences. Ask yourself whether you prefer to learn hands-on, by doing something (kinesthetic); by hearing an explanation of it (auditory); or by watching someone else do it (visual).
Also notice how you remember your dreams. Are they vividly detailed? Do you remember seeing colors when you dream? Or do you tend to remember more about the conversations (auditory) you have with others than how they looked to you (visual)? Are your emotions (kinesthetic) while dreaming more memorable than the way things looked (visual) in the dream?
The more experience your client has with hypnotherapy and past life regression, the more easily his memories will flow. He may also develop stronger images or other sensations. It is as though each journey cuts a groove in the pathway between the subconscious memory bank and the conscious mind’s ability to access it.
During one of my early experiences of regression to a past life, I found it quite difficult to get any visual data. Because my very first experience venturing back to a past life had been so vivid and fascinating, I probably had high expectations; consequently, I may have been trying too hard.
After a few minutes of frustration, I began to notice a growing tension, starting at my collarbone and moving down my left arm to my wrist. I thought it was peculiar, so I paid attention to these physical sensations. Soon I realized that I was experiencing a past life memory in which I was aiming an arrow on a longbow.
The tension was the sensation of pulling back the bowstring before letting go of the arrow. I had been so intent on seeing something that I almost failed to notice the kinesthetic aspect of my experience: the muscular tension. As soon as I acknowledged my physical experience, the visuals appeared. When I recognized the image that went with that sensation in my neck and arm, the whole scene developed in my mind’s eye, and then I was able to move through the past life easily.
I was a female in that lifetime, engaged in a battle with swords and bows and arrows. In the next scene, I felt sad and frightened. Focusing on that emotion, I remembered I had received a message that my father was badly wounded.
My experience illustrates the value of paying attention to all physical and emotional responses during a past life session, even when the picture of the events is unclear. In this case, my preferred mode was primarily kinesthetic and secondarily visual. Therefore I was leading with memories of physical sensations, followed by the visual data that confirmed and helped me make sense of them.
When I am working with a client who is experiencing difficulty visualizing, I ask them to imagine viewing a movie screen in the middle of their head rather than trying to find pictures appearing on the backs of their eyelids. Oftentimes, that does the trick.
Another trick is to ask them what they would know about the scene they are in if they were wearing a blindfold. I then say something about the fact that, even with their eyes closed, I imagine they remember a lot about what my office looks like, and that there is a part of them that knows full well that they are in my office and talking with me – even though they can’t see any of that at present. When they agree, I remind them that there is a lot that they know about their past life scene with or without being able to visualize it all right now.
These strategies tend to relax them further into being able to visualize their past life experiences.