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Posts Tagged ‘consciousness’

I got sucked into a Mary KayKirsten July 2017

session today. I spent way too much money; discovered that the same products were available online for less than half what I shelled out; and realized yet again, that I’m a sucker when it comes to capitalism, business, and trusting random strangers to have my best interests at heart. Have I learned NOTHING from my previous life? DO NOT TRUST STRANGERS when they want money, sex, or favors. Some lessons, apparently, take lifetimes to learn.

I was worried after my last couple of blog posts that some people might think that I had lost my mind. Maybe the whole Mary Kay visit was about reconnecting with what people think is normal: spending money on cosmetics. Maybe, I thought, I’ll return to myself by spending money on stuff I don’t need to maintain the illusion of youth. This was the wounded Ego desperately trying to return to equilibrium. I want people to think that I am ‘normal’ and not so far off the deep end that I lose readers or end up even more marginalized by our culture than I already am.

Of course, spending money on cosmetics and wrinkle creams did nothing for me but leave me a couple hundred bucks poorer. There is no way to go back to the old, superficial ways of relating to others and Western culture. I’m too far gone, and I simply have to accept that nothing is going to be the same as it was before. If other people are not OK with that, don’t understand it, or pass judgement on me one way or another, then I have to accept that with grace and move forward. Of course, this is all in my head. Nobody has come out and questioned my sanity. Mostly, nobody says anything at all. I get the sense that quite a few people I know are just letting this pass and trying not to say anything for fear of me taking it the wrong way. I know that some people I love think that yes, I am deluded and out of touch with reality.

The problem is that I am IN touch with reality. It’s a reality that most people don’t see or acknowledge; the ones that do are marginalized. But this is my proper place in this culture, and this historical moment. I am on the fringe. I always have been, I always will be, and I have to find my comfort level with that. I will never fit in. I could lie and say that I am OK with that, but it’s simply not true. I would love to buy Mary Kay, get a face lift, play tennis all day, do some volunteer work, read women’s magazines, and go to the movies with my church ladies; but I can’t. It’s a culture of comfort and ease, and my lot is to be uncomfortable, confused, seeking, striving, breaking apart norms and paradigms to the best of my ability, and questioning everything that most people accept as given. For that, most of my time will be spent alone.

I used to laugh at people who believed in fairies, elves, gnomes, aliens, La Llorona, the chupacabra, Big Foot, and various swamp monsters. Now, I think they all exist and are products of our ongoing co-creation of reality. All of it is out there: ghosts, people reliving their time line, people living in alternate dimensions of reality, people reincarnating, souls returning as animals or plants, souls slitting up in various levels of reality, souls in Heaven, souls in Hell, souls reliving the same moment for all eternity, souls everywhere and all over the place experiencing themselves in an infinite variety of ways. There is no one way for consciousness to continue on, but endless ways. That makes paranormal investigations extremely rich and difficult to interpret. We don’t know how the consciousness we pick up on is manifesting itself. Can we know? I don’t know.

Given all of this, how do we meaningfully conduct investigations? How do we know how to interpret the information that we receive? How do we know we’ve contacted a living consciousness on another timeline, and not a gnome or a dark-eyed child or a dark energy that was never human? I have no answers. I will attempt to work on this issue over the next several posts. I thank you all for your patience with me and this long, strange trip.

–Kirsten A. Thorne

 

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When we rented our current home, I knew it was a troubled place. The landlady was enduring a bitter divorce, and she needed to move from the house that her husband had rebuilt for her and then abandoned. There were many unhappy scenes in the house before she left; according to her, his personality had undergone a ‘complete transformation’ while living here. He plotted and schemed in his office, planning an escape to a foreign country to be with his very young girlfriend, and his illegal activities prompted a federal agency to visit this property a few months back.

She suffered here after he left. There was evidence–which I will not detail here–that she did not deal with this huge loss in the healthiest of ways. While she was here and for several months after she left, she had one accident after another and fell terribly ill for several weeks. Her life unraveled in this house. When we first saw the place, both my kid and my husband had reservations. Ty thought it was “antiseptic,” and my daughter said the place was filled with “bad vibes.” I had decided to ignore my initial impressions and my feelings, primarily because I was sick of making decisions based on emotions. That was the reason I lost my beloved home at Marmora: I had made an emotional decision that cost the family every penny we had earned. This time, I reasoned, I am only following pure practicality. The house was big, boasted all the most modern conveniences, and was well constructed, since the previous owner was a contractor.

The strangeness of the house began almost immediately, and ever since we moved in last September, I have tried to leave. My gut instinct continued to drive me to find another home, even though my intellect was horrified at my hunches. My rational brain has been in a full-out battle with my animal instincts since Day 1. I wanted to be practical, I desperately wanted to make this work, especially because my husband settled in and had zero desire to uproot himself again. Moving is traumatic for everyone, but especially for my husband. However, I could not stop myself. I have been driven to look elsewhere.

Nothing has worked. Every time I thought we could get out, the possibilities vanished. We couldn’t buy anything, so I decided to find another rental property. This constant hunt for the next place is gradually shifting in the right direction, but something–some force greater than myself–has blocked me from moving the hell out of here. Our lease is up in three months, and I think I might have found something that will work–but if not, I vow to continue the search.

I made the mistake of confronting my house and the oppressive, angry atmosphere. I know that one is not “supposed” to run EVP sessions in one’s own house. However, I had done this many times over in the old house to no ill effect. When the energy is positive, one can run EVP sessions without fear of repercussion. When the energy is negative or sick, it is not advisable to try to figure things out on your own. My apologies to the paranormal community: I know I broke a golden rule. As a result, there is no way for me to be comfortable in my house.

Rather than go into detail about what I heard, I offer you a few clips to listen to yourself. I was alone in the house at the time. I have a bird that you might hear screaming in the background. It was around 11:30 AM. I was in the office, the same room where the ex-husband plotted his evil misdeeds. I feel him the most, even though he is not dead. I don’t believe physical death is a requirement for a haunting; more on that later. Here are the clips, but please do turn up the volume and wear headphones. Otherwise, you won’t hear anything. I will provide detail on what I hear at the end of the audio clip posts, so if you don’t want to know my interpretations, please write down your own impressions first and then see if they match mine.

What I hear in these clips is the following:

For the “Mesa Response” clip, I hear the word “DEPART” and then a knock.
For the “Right After I Say ‘Or Not'” clip, I hear “GET OUT OF HERE”.
For the “Mesa Woman Says Two Sentences” clip, I hear “Don’t you come back, go back” and then something else afterwards that is unintelligible to me.
For the “Mesa Whispered Response” clip, I hear “Sorry”.
For the “Mesa Woman Voice” clip, I hear a woman’s voice in the background at 3 seconds, and a faint, male voice responding at 4 seconds.
For the “Mesa Man and Woman Responds” clip, I hear the male voice start a sentence with “if you blink” but I can’t tell what he says afterwards, and the woman clearly responds “no”.

LITTLE KITTY BY GRAVE

The question is: what is happening in these clips that might explain the feelings in the house? I had always assumed that these voices were directing their “get out” messages to me; but upon listening to them again, it’s clear that most of what I am hearing is a dialogue between a man and a woman. This seems now to be more of an echo of past trauma in the house, a replay of the arguments that infected the home during the break up the marriage. I was convinced, until right now, that the male energy here wanted me gone; upon further reflection, there is no way to know that by listening to these clips.

I wonder now if the house is simply a repository of unhappiness. I have attempted to ‘cleanse’ the house of this energy, but to no avail. I don’t think that one can clear houses of either intelligent activity or of residual activity. When investigators claim to have accomplished such a feat, I am always skeptical. I don’t believe that we have such powers. I think that the rituals that we engage in to “lighten” a house serve mostly to make us feel better but have little effect on the residual or intelligent haunt. Activity can decrease temporarily, but it’s hubris to assume that we can eradicate spirit energies. Nothing will erase what happened here.

I am convinced that humans can haunt locations while alive. There is evidence for this in research conducted by the Society for Psychical Research (see Phantasms of the Living). There are many accounts of apparitions of living people who return in times of stress to interact with family or friends. There are many credible reports of people seeing someone they know in one location when that person is proven to be at another location. Trauma in a certain house or building can split one’s spirit or consciousness into active fragments that play themselves out again and again. My dearest friend is convinced that she is actively haunting certain places from her childhood where she experienced trauma. When she recalls certain incidents, she feels something akin to an ‘out of body’ experience where she is back at the site in spirit, venting her anger and outrage with such force that anyone at that site might be able to pick up her emotions.

This theory would also explain why people have the experience of having been somewhere before, to the point that they are able to identify landmarks, streets and buildings that they could not have seen in the flesh. Our consciousness is unbounded by time and space. We can experience much more than we are aware of on the surface. My landlady’s divorce continues to play itself out in her old house. She doesn’t know this, but she and her ex-husband are not finished hashing out the misery of their old unhappiness. Whether or not this is a “stone tape” recording of old grief or a continued interplay of two people on another level of consciousness is a question I cannot answer.

What makes all of this so heartbreaking for me is the fact that I am the only one living here who feels this sadness. My husband and kid are rarely at home. I am the only one who is here during the day, when the energy here is the heaviest. I live in one universe, and my husband lives in another. He simply does not perceive these invisible worlds. His inner life is as mysterious to me as my exquisite sensitivity to the outside world is mysterious to him. When one person can perceive alternate realities and the other can’t, it creates certain challenges.

I’m planning on finding us another home as soon as our obligation is met here. I am paying the price for ignoring my first impressions and attempting to negate my excellent instincts. I survived one divorce. I will not expose myself to the emotional and spiritual damage of yet another one.

I welcome your comments on this post and any interpretations you may have of the audio clips. If you heard something that I did not, please write to me. In the meantime, I wish you all a blessed week and much peace and love in your homes.

—Kirsten A. Thorne, Ph.D.

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The images for this post were taken at random from a Google search for ‘afterlife’ and ‘reincarnation’. They are revealing insofar as they represent visually our belief systems.

George Anderson has my respect and my admiration for the work that he does; he is probably the world’s greatest living medium. I read his book We Don’t Die and expected to feel tremendous excitement about the life of perfect peace that awaits me after death. No matter how inspirational and lovely his vision of the afterlife appears, I simply can’t believe everything is so perfect and luminous, not only because I have a different approach to survival of consciousness, but because the world he describes is foreign and frightening to a human who defines herself through struggle and spiritual engagement that is often painful.

I read constantly, every day, the research on and related to the survival topic. I believe this is necessary for a writer on this subject to be taken seriously. However, in the end, what I study must match my intuitive experience of life and consciousness for it to become incorporated into my understanding of how life works. I have rejected the theory that consciousness is a result of brain processes not only because no one has proven it to be true, but because it doesn’t match my experience of conscious awareness and memory.

I think that we need to return to our experiences as children to answer our questions, or we need to incorporate them into our overall life philosophy along with the research. When I return to my childhood understanding of life and death, I realize that as I child I understood intuitively the realities that I am now attempting to both remember and recreate. The glorious visions of the afterlife that many religions and some mediums promote as our final destination do not make sense with my childhood wisdom. The afterlife is not static, consistently positive and life-affirming, free of negativity or an eternal resting place for the weary soul. I doubt that it looks much different from the current reality you and I are living.

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As a society (Western, in general), we do not take children seriously. With a few notable exceptions, such as Dr. Ian Stevenson’s work with children who remember past lives, we ignore what children say, remember, and how they experience death and rebirth. What I remember and what most children I know experience is nothing like Mr. Anderson’s trouble-free afterlife. In fact, although I don’t dispute that there could be a comforting zone between lives, much of what we experience before and after this life is fairly mundane and occasionally, terribly painful. If we truly listened to our children as they recount scenes from a life already lived, we would learn more about life than through the reading of countless books. To read and absorb information is one thing, but to watch reincarnation in action in your own child is an existential awakening like no other.

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The following is a brief list of what children know that adults ignore, suppress or ridicule:

1: The living creature doesn’t die with the body.

When I was a child, I remember knowing that a dead body had no identity as the person or pet that I had loved. The first death that I recall was that of my rat, Sir Bell. Sir Bell died, as rats are wont to do, after a few months with us. I saw his body one morning, and I knew that Sir Bell had left. The stiff little carcass in the rat house was not my pet. Yes, I was sad, because I couldn’t hold, pet or play with him anymore, but not because Sir Bell had died in his body, but because my rat didn’t HAVE a body anymore. I knew the difference completely, at age four.

Even though my parents desperately attempted to keep me away from death (probably because I had had several brushes with death myself by age 5), I managed to glimpse it anyway. More recently, when we lost Kenny the Sphinx, I had a similar experience that reminded me of my long-ago lost pets. Kenny was the most adored feline on the planet, and when he succumbed to heart disease in July of 2010, I was terrified of seeing his body. I suppose that I had forgotten the earlier lessons of childhood; but when I did see what was left of him, it was immediately, instinctively apparent to me that Kenny was not in that cold cat body. He simply was NOT there; that didn’t mean that he wasn’t ANYWHERE, but that I was looking at lifeless flesh, not Kenny.  On many occasions, our other cats will play and chase Kenny around the house. Their behavior is clearly, for anyone who understands cat behavior—playful, and they are playing with Kenny where he used to hang out.

Can I prove that my two living cats are playing with the spirit of Kenny? Of course I can’t; but over two and a half years of watching this behavior, I am very comfortable affirming that Nod and Bingo are playing with the Kenny without the body.  Every time I saw the dead body of an animal as a child, I knew without anyone telling me that the spirit of that creature no longer resided in that flesh. I could not have explained where the spirit went, or even what a spirit was; but I knew that my pets were not alive only in my head or in my memories of them. My sadness and frustration was about not being able to find them, not about losing them forever. This was in contradiction to what my parents taught me about death. They maintained that we—everything that we are, including anything like a soul, in addition to our consciousness—dissolved into the earth recycled itself through another life cycle. My parents were not religious; there was no afterlife for them. They also did not expand their spirituality to include survival of a spirit.

What I knew was intrinsic to me, learned through experiences I could not consciously recall.

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2: You don’t have to stay with your body all of the time. You can leave and come back.

As I have written about before on soulbank, I left my body during surgery when I was five years old. I was up near the ceiling and saw, quite contrary to my wishes, that I had a mask over my face. Before this surgery, a nurse asked if I wanted the needle or the mask to put me to sleep. I had been adamant that I wanted no mask over my face. She had agreed. The nurse had lied to me. I don’t remember anger over this, but I was planning on bringing this up later. I experienced no internal contradiction over the fact that I was two places at once. I knew that the little girl on the table was me, but the ‘real’ me was up near the ceiling; of that there was no doubt. To this day, the strongest lesson from that experience was the fact that my identity and consciousness were in no way connected to that body on the table.  I was not afraid of that fact, nor anxious in any way about the fate of the girl below. I was safe up on the ceiling and very calm.

Later, I did bring up the mask issue to my doctor, to the nurses, to anyone who would listen. Beyond a few strange looks, they never addressed my concerns. In fact, everything I said to anyone regarding that incident was written off as a hallucination. After that incident, I would occasionally glimpse people and images that others couldn’t see, as if I had been granted temporary access to another world. Every single time I attempted to explain who I was seeing, I was told that I had an overly active imagination, that I was prone to fantasy, or that I was getting sick. Sometimes, the adults would accuse me of manipulating reality for my own entertainment, or as an aggressive game that no one else could play. I learned to shut up whenever I saw, felt, heard or experienced anything out of the ordinary. What a sad lesson.

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3: Most adults and most of your peers will think you’re crazy or odd if you say anything about perceiving animals or people who supposedly aren’t there.

The adjective that everyone used to describe me—both family members and friends—was “weird”. That epithet clung to me like a dark cloud. I could never shake the accusations that I “made stuff up,” “lived in a fantasy world,” “created reality,” or “had a vivid imagination.” Every single time I attempted to communicate how I saw the world, I was shot down. If I felt that a passed relative or friend had communicated with me, I was told that I was engaging in wish fulfillment. Unless you have lived through this yourself, you can’t know how painful it is to see the world differently and be told that you are stupid, crazy or deluded.

Much of what was leveled at me was based in fear and ignorance. My memories of a past life were so vivid that much of my behavior as a young child was driven by them. To this day, I have phobias and behaviors that are traceable to a past life. At this point, I don’t care if I can “prove” that to anyone; it’s simply a part of my reality that I have to accept, just as I have to accept my experiences as a child, a teen and an adult as part of who I am. There is no difference. I certainly didn’t choose to be involved in drugs and prostitution as an ideal past incarnation, but we don’t always get to choose, or maybe we never do; in any case, I remember—I will always remember—the shame and sadness of that life, a life that I have spent 47 years attempting to reconcile with my current life. Anyone who tells me that past lives don’t exist has not spent her entire life attempting to overcome the last one. I don’t care what the scientists say, or the academics, or the average Joe: my evidence for reincarnation is, quite simply, who I am.

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4: Children come into the world with baggage.

Genetics and heredity do not explain what most parents experience with their children: they come into the world with complex emotions, inexplicable behaviors, preferences, personalities and desires that often confound and confuse their bewildered parents. Almost every parent would say that their child was unique in ways that were not explicable by random combinations of genes. No one has been able to prove that what makes us who we are in terms of personality, memories, identity, sense of self, values, beliefs, attitudes or ideas can be reduced to genetic codes. Where is the code for an intense fear of substance abuse in a four year old?

When I first looked into my nephew’s eyes, I saw a world weariness and a sadness that was centuries old. This was not the infant as blank slate, which was in fact what I was expecting before I looked into his eyes. What I saw, what my sister saw, was a soul that had already lived many times before, and was back for another round. We used to joke that he cried so intensely and with such emotional pain because he couldn’t believe he was a baby again, that he was ‘back’ again. It really isn’t a joke; not to those of us who still remember the long-ago struggles of our lives. It’s easy to laugh, but what is more heart-wrenching than seeing your baby and your toddler struggle with traumas that you had no hand in creating and can’t fix?

So: when mediums write about the afterlife as glorious and trouble free, or when religion paints Heaven as a place of eternal repose and joy, forgive me for remaining skeptical. My experience tells me that life is one, giant recycle bin where consciousness expresses itself over and over again in different bodies. It’s common and constant. We think it’s such a big deal to be born or to die, but consciousness neither comes into being nor goes out; it simply changes venue.

This is neither comforting nor upsetting to me. It just is. Even though I welcome struggle and transcendence, I certainly do not welcome the ugly realities of inhabiting a body that is riddled with disease or addictions. I don’t look forward to a life whose pains and pleasures I cannot predict or even understand right now. Maybe there is a ‘life between lives’ that is pure bliss, but I don’t remember experiencing it. Eastern religions teach that eventually, the cycle of birth and death is overcome and Nirvana awaits; for me, that is wishful thinking. There are infinite lives, in infinite time periods, in infinite circumstances, that one can move through. There is no ‘before’ or ‘after’ when you are discussing consciousness and identity, so ‘coming from’ Heaven or ‘returning to’ Heaven is a meaningless concept.

Listen to your children when they tell you stories of who they were ‘before’. Attentive parents understand the difference between children’s creative fantasy play and real memories. They are essentially different modes of expression. If you are struggling with this as a parent, please go here: http://www.childpastlives.org/

If you are struggling with this issue as an adult, well, that’s the point. It’s all part of your journey.

soniathorpe.com

soniathorpe.com

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I created a persona awhile back named “Ms. Kitty”. She existed then and continues to exist now as a guide and mentor for teenagers. I work with teens all day long and am the parent of one, as well. Although Ms. Kitty was created for teens, she also speaks to adults. The reason I decided to post something my alter ego wrote was simply because she speaks to the soul. We all have an ongoing consciousness that will continue on after our current incarnation has ended. My goal and my hope for those I love is that we are all engaged in a spiritual evolution that will lead us to the next life. Our job in the here and now is to learn how to speak the truth without fear, love without barriers, fix what is broken in us, and reach out and heal the wounds of others in our human community. If we can do that well in this life, the next one will not wound us nearly as profoundly. We come into the world destined to experience pain; but the purpose of pain is to teach, not cripple. I try to tell teenagers that their suffering is real, but not defining or permanent. There is resolution to all unhappiness through action and “reperception;” sometimes, a simple realignment of our perspective and thoughts can create a complete breakthrough in our emotions. Although for most teens their emotions become their reality and identity, they (and we) can learn to change that and see emotions as a temporary result of often misguided thoughts and perceptions. We can, and do, change our reality day by day; choose to see the solutions and they will present themselves as if by magic.

Ms. Kitty hopes that you will find some wisdom in what she says, even if you think the Teenagers’ Dilemmas don’t apply to you.

Dear Ms. Kitty,

I think I have an eating disorder. What do I do?

First and foremost, see your doctor and tell your parents.

Here are my thoughts on the matter: an eating disorder is a form of self-punishment and expresses a need for control. It is also about denying emotions that are painful and somehow unacceptable, especially anger. Starving, binging, alternating between the two, even cutting yourself or using drugs and/or alcohol are different heads on the same monster.

What is the monster? Overwhelming feelings that demand to be understood and acknowledged, but are, instead, ignored. Anger is a big part of the problem: women are taught, usually by example, that expressing anger is unacceptable. However, anger is a natural emotion, and inevitably situations arise that rouse your anger: your friends betray or reject you; your parents have expectations of you that you don’t feel you can manage or achieve; you want yourself to be perfect, to please everyone, and you can’t; you try to ‘save’ a friend from destructive behaviors, and he/she refuses to listen to you; and the list can go on and on.

Imagine how difficult it could be to confront friends who have hurt you and say, “I am angry with you for ignoring me, for making me feel insecure and unhappy, for not being there when I needed you the most”. That’s hard to do. You risk upset and more rejection. Imagine saying to your parents, “I know you want me to be a straight-A student and go to a prestigious college back East, but I can barely manage to survive school every day, much less plan my entire academic future”. You risk facing their disappointment or possible disapproval; or worse, you might end up arguing with them about the ‘reality’ of what you know you feel. Imagine having to admit to yourself that you have let people down, that you are so imperfect that you have hurt others without meaning to. It’s a risk confessing your own imperfection, your inability to be who they want or need you to be, and your fear that they will reject you if you don’t manage to be the person that they expect. Finally, imagine having to admit to yourself that someone you loved, someone you tried to save from her/himself is beyond your help. Admitting that you cannot save someone who you love is difficult, sad and frustrating. You might even feel angry towards this person, and then immediately feel guilty for feeling angry.

So what do you do instead of facing all of these challenges head on? You create a distraction, a way for your mind to focus on something that you can control. Once you realize that you can’t control anyone else, and that your anger about that fact is unacceptable to those who love you, you skip lunch instead and go hungry. That will hurt those who love you, and hurt you: perfect for someone who can’t directly express her anger or other strong emotion, or who doesn’t want to face a painful situation head-on. Or, you can eat three bags of chips, get sick, barf, and start over. You will be so preoccupied with your particular cycle that you won’t have time or energy to deal openly with the people and situations that hurt you. You could also cut yourself, and substitute physical pain and injury for emotional pain and injury. You might opt to take drugs or get drunk, thereby temporarily numbing your anger and pain. There are probably many other ways you could accomplish the task of distraction: stuff your feelings with food until you are obese and physically ill; gamble until you’ve lost your savings; have sex with multiple partners to ensure no one, single person ever really gets close to you; or even decide that you are going to lose yourself in work so that you never see the people that you say you love. 

The monster has many, many heads. We can cycle between self-destructive behaviors, but don’t get distracted by what creates the distraction in the first place. Understand WHY you are running from your emotions. If you’re afraid of your own anger, realize that you must find the truth in order to help yourself, and that sometimes, you have to get angry in a useful and intelligent way in order to get to the bottom of things. Perhaps an example from my own life will help you to see what I mean. Ms. Kitty has trouble still expressing her anger. She thinks that if she gets mad, the people she loves will reject her. That’s not a rational thought, but that’s what her ‘fear body’ has fooled her into thinking. Ms. Kitty was wandering the aisles of a Halloween store with her husband looking at the ridiculous costumes that they sell to adult women. One picture showed a woman with impossibly skinny and long legs wearing a maid’s outfit. Ms. Kitty wondered if she was expected to dress up like this for Halloween. Her husband laughed and said, “You don’t have the legs for it.”

After that, I refused to wear skirts and only wore jeans. I also convinced myself that I needed to stay at a certain weight, or my husband would find someone else. For years, I didn’t buy skirts or wear them, always remembering that “I didn’t have the legs for it.” Also, more importantly, I was furious that my husband would make such a remark and force me to stay at an unreasonable weight and not wear what I wanted to. Secretly, I feared he was intolerant and too focused on looks, and I wondered if our relationship could last if that were the case. Pondering that caused me to panic, thinking I was about to be abandoned. That, in turn, sent me to the gym in the quest to make my legs good enough for a skirt. Finally, one day, my husband asked me why I never wore a skirt. I told him the story I just told you. He was horrified. “That’s not what I meant!” he cried, “the legs on that model were freakish and Photo shopped! NOBODY HAS THE LEGS THAT SHE DOES!! I NEVER wanted you to look like that!” I think he cried when he finally understood why he never saw my legs.

I had changed my wardrobe, worked out my legs until my knees ached and occasionally skipped meals (although, to be honest, Ms. Kitty loves to eat, so she would usually make up for a skipped meal later with a bag of stuffed jalapeños) so that I would ‘have the legs’ to wear a skirt. More importantly, I re-defined myself as someone with ‘bad legs’ all due to a remark that I had MISUNDERSTOOD. If had expressed my anger at the time it was appropriate to express it, if I had said: “What do you mean I don’t have the legs for this skirt? That’s rude and cruel; how DARE you tell me something like that?” my husband would have immediately corrected my misperception, and I would have been spared years of insecurity about my body.

Now, imagine that the consequences are much bigger than hiding your legs. Let’s say that you tell your friends something very important about you, you confide a secret to them, and they betray you by telling someone else or by not supporting you. That’s much worse than a misinterpreted remark. You have the right to be angry; very angry. You must confront those who hurt you, and tell them why you feel the way you do. You must do this in an intelligent fashion; no need to be aggressive or nasty. You must tell them the truth and let them ponder it. Once the truth is out, there is no need to create a monster for yourself; there is no need to cut, starve, binge, barf, pierce everything, avoid everyone or gamble your life savings. The truth creates freedom, because you shift the burden of your emotions from you to the people who need to feel what you feel, because they, in part, have created the crisis. Sometimes people are utterly clueless that they have created a crisis or hurt you; your job is to let them know, sometimes gently, sometimes with force. If those people don’t want to understand or react poorly, then walk away and consider yourself fortunate that toxic friends or family are out of your life for awhile. If they can face their part in your pain, then maybe you can let them back in. If they can’t, turn the other cheek, don’t hate or turn on yourself, and find that community of people that will not judge, criticize, label or ignore you. Those people are everywhere. You are more loved, by the way, than you probably fully understand or realize.

Every time you face the truth and feel the appropriate emotion for the situations you find yourself in, you will slay the monsters of self destruction. Those monsters only turn on you, because you are not turning to the people who can help and turning away from the people that hurt. Sometimes, the truth can make other people uncomfortable. Well, that’s just too bad. We all have to face reality and come to terms with the fantasies we create in order to protect us. Adults have to realize that we create more subtle monsters, such as losing ourselves in an obsession that we call a hobby, or becoming zombies in front of the television or computer. We’re afraid of the world out there and of the power of our own emotions and thoughts. The world out there will find a way in, and our emotions will find a way out; let’s make sure that we’re healthy enough to handle both.

And, by the way, I bought a bunch of skirts. I discovered that I don’t really like skirts, because I like to sit in unladylike positions. I NEVER skip a meal unless I have the flu, and I go to the gym only to stay reasonably strong. I have the legs and the guts to take care of myself, and maybe help you, dear reader, as well.

–Ms. Kitty

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Oh, how I hate reading articles like this one by Steven Pinker (http://www.time.com/time/magazine/article/0,9171,1580394-1,00.html). Not because they threaten my poor,  all-too-human hope that life continues after death, or we are more than the meat in our brains, but because such articles decide A PRIORI, with no in-depth research into survival of consciousness and no knowledge of the work that was done in this area beginning in the 1800’s with the Society of Psychical Research and continuing today, decide that all studies suggesting survival are flawed, rife with fraud, or impossible because we ALL KNOW, deep down, in our rational minds, that the soul is a silly, primitive fantasy of the undereducated masses and religious zealots. Consider this quote:

“Whatever the solutions to the Easy and Hard problems turn out to be, few scientists doubt that they will locate consciousness in the activity of the brain. For many nonscientists, this is a terrifying prospect. Not only does it strangle the hope that we might survive the death of our bodies, but it also seems to undermine the notion that we are free agents responsible for our choices–not just in this lifetime but also in a life to come. ”

First of all, the idea that only scientists can understand consciousness–or, better said, only neuroscientists–is an elitist assumption by a privileged few. Yes, it’s obvious that neuroscientists are in the best position to understand the workings of the brain, but the assumption that eventually we’ll be able to explain all conscious experience as a function of chemicals and transmitters is NOT JUSTIFIED and not scientific. Declaring that “eventually we’ll solve this problem” is not proof of anything. It is no different from me affirming that “eventually I will be able to prove the existence of the soul, just wait it out and trust me”.

Explaining how the brain works and how its perceptions can be altered by disease, injury, drugs or other factors does not mean that consciousness itself has been “located” in the brain. The article itself uses the analogy of radio transmitters and devices that receive waves: “They [certain brain waves] may bind the activity in far-flung regions (one for color, another for shape, a third for motion) into a coherent conscious experience, a bit like radio transmitters and receivers tuned to the same frequency.” But why must the radios and receivers tuned to the same frequency be necessary IN the brain or a function of the brain? A great deal of work has been done in the field of consciousness studies that suggest that consciousness is EXTERIOR to the brain–you can call this bank or field where consciousness (and perhaps memory) is stored whatever you wish–the fact remains that in order to explain the mysteries of consciousness, you have to look at the brain as the receiver, and the signals it receives as the originator and generator of consciousness. That explains ESP; remote viewing; telepathy; clairvoyance; verifiable after death experiences (see the works of Dr. Brian Weiss) and NDEs; communication with the “dead”; mediumship of all kinds; and all anomalous transfer of information. To simply declare that ALL of the above is either false or fraudulent reflects a lazy, uncritical mind unwilling to do the necessary homework to make such claims.

It is fashionable in academic circles to refute all such work in the “paranormal”, declaring it–in a paternalistic, Freudian manner–a reflection of our collective survival fantasies and equating it with religion or superstition. There is nothing more insulting than this paternalism to those scientists, philosophers, doctors, and so many others who dedicated their lives to unraveling the mysteries of consciousness. Many undertook the journey because the evidence forced them to; many started as skeptics and ended up believing what was obvious enough to shake the very foundations of their prior understanding of life and death. I have lived my entire adult life among academic super-skeptics, who will not even consider the evidence readily available for anyone to consider. There is not one text or experiment that will “prove” survival, but taken as a whole, the information garnered over the last 150 years or so leads the intelligent and thoughtful scholar to the serious consideration of survival of consciousness. However, a great many academics will automatically and instinctively reject ANYTHING that suggests the existence of a soul or an afterlife since it seems unseemly, a product of the religious lower classes that cling to fantasies in order to explain their existence. Academia is elitist in the extreme, always suspicious of any knowledge that it did not create or generate. Academics inhabit a closed system that  often doesn’t play by its own rules, since “knowledge” is their domain, and it is a power game: he who defines reality owns the keys to the kingdom.

The race to define reality as originating in the brain has as much to do with prestige and power as it does with seeking the truth. If science can deny the validity of human experience and declare that we can know nothing about ourselves and that free will is a fantasy, then a select few control the very notion of humanity. There is nothing “scientific” about that; it’s demagoguery and absolutism based on theories that have not yet been proven, and probably never will be. Science is not headed towards proving the location of memory and consciousness–yet, by telling the rest of us that they inevitably will, a chosen few are attempting to control our identity, our experience, and the vast amount of data that leads towards the opposite conclusion–our brains are excellent receivers of memories, information, emotions and experiences that exist SOMEWHERE ELSE. There is abundant evidence for that assertion, and although I won’t pretend to define the location of consciousness–no one can claim to do that–I will say that I trust our human experience. I believe in the validity of our collective observations and deductions regarding the existence and nature of the soul, our contact with those who have died, our continuing awareness after bodily death, and the individual consciousness that is interpreted through our bodies, but is not dependent on it.

Think, I ask, about what it means to equate science and logic with one view of how the brain works. Think about the assumption that those who disagree are illogical, unscientific, superstitious, fantasy driven, undereducated zealots. It’s a profoundly insulting characterization that is simply false. Those who propagate such unflattering propaganda need to do their homework and delve into the so-called “paranormal” research that is strongly suggestive of survival of consciousness. Most of all, however, those men of science who claim to own the truth or will figure it out “given enough time and resources” need some perspective on their own biases and prejudices. That distortion in and of itself is enough to cast serious doubt on the validity and objectivity of their conclusions.

To see the other side of the issue, please take a look at Mario Beauregard and Denyse O’Leary’s The Spiritual Brain – Neuroscience of Consciousness. For some sense of the furious and impolite debate that rages on in this field, read the Amazon.com reviews of the book and the intense emotions that those reviews generate. That in itself is fascinating and worthy of study.

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The Tulip Staircase Ghost (1966)

“Rev. Ralph Hardy, a retired clergyman from White Rock, British Columbia, took this now-famous photograph in 1966. He intended merely to photograph the elegant spiral staircase (known as the “Tulip Staircase”) in the Queen’s House section of the National Maritime Museum in Greenwich, England. Upon development, however, the photo revealed a shrouded figure climbing the stairs, seeming to hold the railing with both hands. Experts, including some from Kodak, who examined the original negative concluded that it had not been tampered with. It’s been said that unexplained figures have been seen on occasion in the vicinity of the staircase, and unexplained footsteps have also been heard.” (http://paranormal.about.com/library/blclassic_ghost_on_stairs.htm)

The above photo is one of my favorite anomalous pictures. There is something so melancholy, so desperate, so tragic in this figure’s abandoned gesture. If we are to take this as a true representation of a spirit, then there is a tremendous sadness to the afterlife, or at least to the life-in-death that this soul is experiencing day after day, year after year, decade after decade.

In the previous post, I touch upon the research that defines people in search of their past lives as tending to be depressives with problems sleeping and an active imagination. Perhaps that research would say the same thing about ghost hunters or paranormal investigators. Do we tend to be depressed? Are we prone to insomnia? Do we exaggerate our findings due to lively imaginations? I have no idea; I rather doubt that we are all that different from the general population, although I would like to know what other investigators think about this issue.

During the most difficult time in my life–watching my ex-husband drift away and eventually move out–I started to devour books on life after death. I had so many tomes on the spirit world that they formed a huge column by my bed. They gave me comfort, solace, for reasons that I didn’t understand at the time. Now, when my life is stressful or sad or difficult, I still turn to those tomes–although now, I am choosing to disentangle difficult theories that seek to add scientific backbone to the quest for the afterlife. However, perhaps the emotion that drives this passion of mine is the same as it was then–an unresolved depression and dissatisfaction with the circumstances of my current life. I am not unhappy with my family or my job–quite the contrary–but I have emotional wounds that never healed from years, decades ago. Is it that pain that drives the obsession with life after death? Am I thinking, albeit not always consciously, that the next life will be better? Do I hope for enlightenment and optimism after the transition?

I think it’s a valid question for all of us who work in this field or find ourselves tracking ghosts with fervor. Do we do this because we hope to find something to inspire us in the next life? Is there angst and sadness that we work out through the spirit world? Of course, I don’t mean to suggest that this is the case for everyone, or even the majority–but I have to wonder. Contemplating the above picture, I start to think that perhaps the afterlife is only a reflection of our current life, and that any thought of future happiness in the spirit world is doomed to failure if we don’t find that happiness in the here and now.

As we sow, so shall we reap. If we see through a glass darkly now, that glass will become none the clearer after we exit this world and enter the next.

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In the interest of objectivity, I have decided to include an article that seeks to debunk reincarnation memories in adults as a result of faulty recall or a “source monitoring error,” as the memory specialists call it. Here’s the brief article (my comments on this follow):

“People who believe they have lived past lives as, say, Indian princesses or battlefield commanders are more likely to make certain types of memory errors, according to a new study.

The propensity to make these mistakes could, in part, explain why people cling to implausible reincarnation claims in the first place.

Researchers recruited people who, after undergoing hypnotic therapy, had come to believe that they had past lives.

Subjects were asked to read aloud a list of 40 non-famous names, and then, after a two-hour wait, told that they were going to see a list consisting of three types of names: non-famous names they had already seen (from the earlier list), famous names, and names of non-famous people that they had not previously seen. Their task was to identify which names were famous.

The researchers found that, compared to control subjects who dismissed the idea of reincarnation, past-life believers were almost twice as likely to misidentify names. In particular, their tendency was to wrongly identify as famous the non-famous names they had seen in the first task. This kind of error, called a source-monitoring error, indicates that a person has difficulty recognizing where a memory came from.

Power of suggestion
People who are likely to make these kinds of errors might end up convincing themselves of things that aren’t true, said lead researcher Maarten Peters of Maastricht University in The Netherlands. When people who are prone to making these mistakes undergo hypnosis and are repeatedly asked to talk about a potential idea — like a past life — they might, as they grow more familiar with it, eventually convert the idea into a full-blown false memory.

 

   

This is because they can’t distinguish between things that have really happened and things that have been suggested to them, Peters told LiveScience.

Past life memories are not the only type of implausible memories that have been studied in this manner. Richard McNally, a clinical psychologist at Harvard University, has found that self-proclaimed alien abductees are also twice as likely to commit source monitoring errors.

Creative minds
As for what might make people more prone to committing such errors to begin with, McNally says that it could be the byproduct of especially vivid imagery skills. He has found that people who commonly make source-monitoring errors respond to and imagine experiences more strongly than the average person, and they also tend to be more creative.

“It might be harder to discriminate between a vivid image that you’d generated yourself and the memory of a perception of something you actually saw,” he said in a telephone interview.

Peters also found in his study, detailed in the March issue of Consciousness and Cognition, that people with implausible memories are also more likely to be depressed and to experience sleep problems, and this could also make them more prone to memory mistakes.”   (http://www.msnbc.msn.com/id/17982545/)

OK, I can certainly accept that adults who undergo hypnosis seeking past-life answers to current predicaments are prone to be creative thinkers more open to suggestion than the average person. “Vivid imagergy skills” and “suggestibility” indicating difficulty recognizing where a memory comes from are pitfals for the past life seeker, but certainly not any  kind of refutation of the theory itself. Adults who seek to uncover who they were in a past life are walking into a minefield if they hope to prove to themselves or anyone else that what they “remember” is actually originating in a past existence. By the time we are adults, our memories are so crowded with information that it is virtually impossible to “prove” that our memories represent objective recollections of an actual past life; even if we could locate the history of the person that we claim to have been, there is no way to know for sure that the information we possess didn’t come from a written or oral source that we glanced over or heard in passing. That information can bypass conscious awareness and lodge itself in the unconscious brain, only to be brought out under hypnosis as an experience we believe we had before. Then, of course, we have to understand how our unconscious wishes, desires and repressed emotions play a role in the past life we might create for ourselves. We can’t forget the influence of our experiences, fears and fantasies that might not be adequately expressed in a conscious state.

For all of those reasons, the most important researchers in reincarnation memories–the late Dr. Ian Stevenson and the current Dr. Jim Tucker–discount adult memories of reincarnation as impossible to corroborate. Note that this does NOT mean that such past lives did NOT exist; simply that to prove their existence scienfically is a daunting and probably pointless task, since the contamination of our present lives cannot be excluded from our memories of a past as someone else. There is no “pure” adult who can claim that he/she was not exposed to information about the person he/she claims to have been decades or centuries ago. That is why reputable past life research focuses on children’s past life memories, since children have not had the opportunity at the age of four to have read some obscure article with information on the person they used to be. Also, children’s past life memories are not coming from the rational, conscious brain that fabricates other lives based on a wealth of information that the adult has collected over decades; children show behavioral traits, emotional characteristics, that are out of synch with who they are now. A parent knows when her child is behaving in ways that are beyond what is logical or understandable for their age. An adult, on the other hand, can be anyone he chooses to be, or needs to be.

What really interests me about the above aricle is the statement that “people with implausible memories are also more likely to be depressed and to experience sleep problems”. I want to explore in more depth the possible reasons for that, and what someone interested in such research should do BEFORE he or she decides to embark upon the regression journey. There should be a sign posted at the entryway to the hypnotist’s office: “BEWARE: do not seek answers in the past that require solutions in the present”. More on this later . . .

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