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The Healing Power of Repetition

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The Healing Power of Repetition

Why we repeat and relive our traumas and stories.
Doris E. Cohen Ph.D.
Doris E. Cohen Ph.D. More by this author
Jul 20, 2009 at 10:00 AM

I decided to familiarize myself with the process of accessing past lives by discovering my own relevant ones. I began this endeavor almost 30 years ago. For a year and a half, I attended three psychotherapy/hypnosis sessions a week, each lasting two to three hours. This intense work resulted in my developing a great deal of understanding about the nature of my relationships with the people in my life, including my siblings, and even my ex-husband.

This memory came to me in the very first session when I began to delve into my own past lives:

I am hanging on to the sails with all my might. We are somewhere in the Indian Ocean in the a.d. 900s. A sudden storm rages, and the seas have become tumultuous with little warning. My pantaloons are a second skin as the waves crash over me and the pounding rain slashes at me.

Unable to maneuver the boat to safety alone, I beg the princess, my mistress, to help with the sails. She adamantly refuses, shouting, “How insolent can you be?! You are just my servant! Don’t ask me to participate in something so demeaning!”

As the storm grows angrier, I go reeling over the side of the boat, cursing the princess for her arrogance. The powerful pull of the waves instantly swallows me up, and I drown.

I discovered that the person sitting in that boat was one of my siblings in my current lifetime. Having two sisters who are older, I was often asked to bring them a glass of water or fetch something from another room. Interestingly, I always resisted helping my sister whose soul was that of the princess in the lifetime in which I was her servant. I would inevitably say to her, completely spontaneously and without any conscious awareness, “I am not your servant! Go get the glass of water yourself!” She also happened to be the sister with whom I had the most repetitive pattern of conflict and disagreements, which were steeped in ongoing sibling rivalry. That wasn’t the case, however, with my other sister.

After the regression was completed and I’d cried intensely during the experience of dying so frightfully, I recalled that this sister who had been so cruel to me in a previous lifetime almost drowned in the Mediterranean Sea in Tel Aviv in our current lifetime when she and I were 19 and 15 years old, respectively. She didn’t know how to swim, went into the ocean, got caught in a whirlpool, and began to wave her hands and cry for help. I couldn’t swim either but felt compelled to follow her in and pull her out, only to be caught up in the whirlpool myself. Luckily, we were both rescued by a lifeguard who dragged us onto the beach and saved our lives.

The core of this repetition became clear: Unconsciously, my sister and I are, in essence, repeating the stories of our current and relevant past lives because we’re trying to heal from past trauma. This time, when we re-created the scene of a possible drowning, she was the one in danger and I was the one in the position of potential rescuer. On this occasion, rather than re-creating our dynamic of two rivals who are so spiteful that one lets the other drown, I made a different choice—I sought to help my adversary so that we could stop repeating our deadly rivalry in lifetime after lifetime.

I went from being the reactor to being the initiator, from damning her for putting me in mortal danger and not risking her life to save me to risking my own life to save hers. My choice brought us closer in to balance, lessening the dramatic swings of the pendulum. Now it’s true that our rivalry would continue to be played out in this lifetime and probably in future ones, but it would do so in a much gentler fashion than it had in the past.

My relationship with my sister improved significantly. Once I was conscious of the origin of my resentment toward her, I could let go of that feeling. At last, I was able to experience genuine love and forgiveness in my heart for what had happened in the past and apply it to the present. My sister and I were then able to enjoy trust and closeness. Of course, we still had our differences, but the quality and nature of our relationship changed so that we could now open our hearts to each other.

I was able to reach out and get past any feelings of hurt or resentment because I’d come to realize that on an unconscious level, we were both working for the same goal: freedom from suffering. We didn’t actually want to hurt each other—we wanted to help each other heal! To this day, although my sister and I argue and tend to compete with one another, I see this for what it is, and I consciously choose to work on healing our rivalry even further.

About Author
Doris E. Cohen Ph.D.
Doris E. Cohen, Ph.D., has been a clinical psychologist and psychotherapist in private practice for more than 30 years, treating thousands of clients. Her approach uses therapy, hypnotherapy, past-life regressions, and dream analysis. A certified hea Continue reading