Daniel Ryan is a second generation hypnotherapist, maintaining a full time practice out of New York City. After our fascinating Evolve and Ascend livestream (you can watch that here) between Daniel, Jennifer, and Jeremy, we were excited to dive deep with more questions about the experience of past lives, the nature of consciousness, and what to expect in his upcoming virtual workshop on Nura Learning: “Self Discovery Through Past Life Regression: An Introductory Guided Experience” on Wednesday, December 13th at 8 p.m. See the end of our interview for a coupon code to save $5 on workshop registration.
Is it a common experience to have dreams, memories, and impressions of having lived more than one lifetime?
Yes, the subject of reincarnation has been popular and pervasive for centuries and I think the desire to be reborn in our own lives right now – while often latent — is so common and natural that it will result in dreams, fantasies, impressions, and feelings of all sorts. They will likely concentrate around the general subjects, of birth, death, and rebirth, which same philosophies consider the same moment.
Are these experiences of past lifetimes literally true, or symbolically and spiritually true? Both?
In my work I defer to the person having the experience as the expert on their experience. I do not tell my clients or students what for them is literally true, definitely a past life memory, or a symbolic journey of some kind. While the experiences may be memories of past lifetimes or they may not, it is clear that the narratives are operating metaphorically. And this points us to the way our conscious and subconscious minds communicate in dreams, archetypal or shamanic journeying, even psychedelic experiences. “Symbolic reasoning” in the human brain allows us to understand languages, transfer currencies, and appreciate art. We create layers of meaning through the same process which we understand them. Answering this question is honestly like a Buddhist’s game. What’s “real” anyway?
Different practitioners approach this differently. I engage the narratives compassionately and generally suggest we take what is useful and leave the rest. I am there to guide safely from one side of the experience to the other, to help interpret the symbols, and otherwise stay out of the way. After decades of trainings and practice, the lesson for me with a question like this has been not to pin the butterfly to the page. There is more to learn in keeping it alive, flying, and changing.
As a therapy, regression can be transformational.
What is past life regression? What does a typical session with you look like?
My sessions are 75 minutes long and usually begin with 20 to 25 minutes of conversation. My first question is always “How can I help you?” Depending on the response, we proceed this way or that. Past Life Regression in its simplest form could be described as a guided experience into what may be memories of past lifetimes using the voice, listening, the breath, nothing too fancy… My friend describes it as guided meditation with a specific agenda and a great deal of technique.
As a therapy, regression can be transformational. There are no universal prescriptions or magical recipes, so first discarding any superstitious thinking – Regression Therapy is foremost a compassionate structure for working with the past and memory. It is a marvelous tool for many people. My father was particularly gifted at working with and resolving trauma. Watching and learning from him was tremendous, though we practice very differently. My Dad was from another time and place that I think needed to break through repression and explore painful material courageously. At this moment, when there seems to be an unfathomable and insurmountable wave of feelings expressed through tweets, headlines, and status updates, I notice something more refreshing needed to invigorate the positive psychology and rise above that noise.
You’re a second generation hypnotherapist. That’s impressive! Could you tell us a little about what it was like growing up with an understanding of past lives? Did it shape your worldview?
It’s so built into my worldview, I simply can’t imagine life any other way. On the surface, perhaps the most significant gift was this other way of perceiving death. Not the subject the average person wants to discuss. Being able to conceive and ponder an expansive possibility space after that inevitable moment has certainly saved me a lot of unnecessary fear of what happens next. I still don’t know of course, I just feel I don’t need to be afraid of it, or avoid it, or pretend it’s not there.
Regression Therapy and I were both born in the late 70s and are about the same age. This is a particular detail which I feel strangely supported by, as if we’re siblings or something. We entered the world around the same time and within a family. Growing up with past life regression was like growing up with a structure for self-exploration. What was so beautiful too, was how many other discoveries rest inside regression. For instance; meditation, hypnotherapy, the philosophy of reincarnation, Buddhist and Hindu thought and traditions, psychology and counseling, advanced guided therapies of all sorts…
perhaps my consciousness never belonged to me, that it was always just ‘consciousness’ and it will be that after
It would seem that past life experiences allude to the possibility that consciousness continues beyond one incarnation. That the whole cosmos is in a state of primordial flux, recreation, and metamorphosis. What’s your take on the “big picture?”
Alan Watts posits the possibility that we are “a flash of consciousness in between two eternal darkness’s” and that the Earth creates people the way a tree creates leaves. Cycles and seasons come and go. One leaf is very much like the others, yet different too. And Voltaire says “it’s not strange that we would live more than once. Everything in nature is resurrection.” I see all around me cycles of life, death, and rebirth, and have no reason to think we operate any differently.
The other side of that coin is that I think my ego wants to believe “I” will live again. Maybe that’s a modern Western invention, the cultivation of self and individualism, being told by films, TV shows, and commercials that we are important, free, and special… That message is essentially lovely, though its relentlessness may have trained (or programmed) us to want to believe certain things, such as that we will continue in other forms, and that we were here before too.
Ultimately, I love and agree with the question: “…consciousness continues beyond one incarnation. That the whole cosmos is in a state of primordial flux, recreation, and metamorphosis.” I would add that perhaps my consciousness never belonged to me, that it was always just ‘consciousness’ and it will be that after.
Briefly, what will students be learning later this week in your class, “Self-Discovery Through Past Life Regression” on Nura Learning—what should we expect to encounter?
Self-Discovery Through Past Life Regression will offer students the opportunity to play with these concepts and their own intuitions, memories, questions, and beliefs. At its heart the exercise is a tool for learning about ourselves compassionately and generously, and discovering new resources out of old stories.
We’ll begin with some discussion on the field, the exercises, and my background. Over the course of the evening students with be led through multiple regressions having the opportunity to explore sequences of past lifetimes and the narratives within. There will be time for commentary, Q&A, reflections, and most importantly attendees will be encouraged to find and strengthen a resource that they can use in their lives right now. There are infinite reasons to be curious or try past life regression. On top of being relaxing, refreshing, and relieving, often the most surprising observation is that it is just so useful.
Thank you, Daniel! This has been an enlightening conversation.