It was autumn, dry multi-hued leaves lined the city roads sitting in neat heaped piles till the wind would pick them up and scatter them around. Always a voracious bibliophile, eclectic reading thrilled me no end. Nowadays I was heavily into Brian Weiss, reading his books and everything I could about past life regression (PLR) therapy. As I walked about in the twilight, I would gaze at the leaves and they would transform and change shapes and hues. I understood I was being sucked into the romanticism only books like “Many Lives, Many Masters’ could conjure! For the uninitiated, Weiss is an American psychologist renowned for his research on reincarnation, PLR and survival of the human soul after death.
After a particularly unsettling day, I decided to give in to the urge and googled out a PLR specialist near me. I wanted to know about my past lives. I booked an appointment and awaited the big day. The family, meanwhile, viewed me with marked suspicion. Why do you want to go anyway, someone would invariably ask pretending nonchalance, while I, sensing the hidden disapproval would glare at them and answer defiantly that evolved beings had more to their world than met the eyes. And with a marked sneer, I would add that not everyone could understand deeper callings of the soul. This would shut them up but not without much mirth and eye rolling first!
Finally the big day dawned. I had understood by now that an average PLR session entailed the therapist pulling the patients under a trance and then helping them travel back into time to their previous lives. This journey apparently held the keys to conflicts or blocks in their present lives, which they could unravel after they underwent this soul searching experience. Mostly people who sought out a PLR therapist needed that therapy to ease their lives; it was serious business for them and they weren’t there for mere curiosity alone.
I climbed the stairs excitedly five minutes before the appointed time given to me. The therapist motioned me into her chamber while she set out some forms before me. “Make sure you list your problems here”, she said, pointing to a large blank square. “Oh, I don’t have any, just want to undergo a session”, I replied cheerfully. The therapist looked at me with blatant suspicion! “Are you sure you want to undergo a session, PLR is not the stuff for entertainment”, she said as she looked at me rather piercingly. Refusing to be cowed down, I put on my best earnest expression and said steadily, ‘I assure you, I am not here for amusement, I am very keen to undergo the experience and face my reality”.
She thought for a moment, then nodded and beckoned me to follow. She lead me to the hypnosis couch and began the session confidently with some instrumental music. Being a music buff, I became more attentive and listened to the soothing notes joyfully and intently as is my wont. After a few minutes of observing me enjoying the music she switched it off. “Ok, this is not working on you, let me use story-telling to put you in a trance”, she said. I listened as intently to the story as I had to the music, showing no signs of going under. Soon she switched that off too. Now a tad irritated, the hypnotist picked up a pendulum and bade me stare at it. I could sense the undercurrent of her displeasure by now and I stared at the pendulum, dutifully following it swing, willing my eyes to shut and my mind to swoon with all my might. But despite all my earnestness it was in vain! I was much present in the clinic, both physically and mentally.
Finally the therapist burst out exasperatedly, “this session has lasted thrice its normal time, you are not willing to let go, you should have been in a trance by now, you are not letting yourself go under”. Sensing a sense of defeat in her I pleaded anxiously “I am trying very hard, I want to continue, please don’t give up, let’s give the pendulum another try”. Warily the therapist started swinging the pendulum again in front of my face. Scared she would give up on me, I begged my mind to go to sleep. “Sleep, sleep”, I anxiously whispered to myself, annoyed at the stubbornness of my mind. However, despite all my coaxing, it kept wide awake, standing between me and the miracle of witnessing my past lives. I was nowhere close to a trance like state. At the end of her tether, the therapist was tight lipped as she tapped a finger trying to retain her composure. I stared at the pendulum intently even as I felt sweat form on my forehead.
Leave it, the therapist muttered and put down the pendulum. Scared of looking at her I kept staring at roof steadfastly. “I will talk to you now and as I speak try and picture in your head the things I am talking about”, she said in a voice devoid of any emotion. Eager to please, I nodded my approval vigorously. Stony faced, the therapist now bade me paint a picture in my head of a line of doors and relate what I saw as I opened one of my choosing. Try as I might I could only see doors and could visualize the motion of opening them but nothing further.
I now knew this was a do or die moment for me. If she realised that my mind was still literally obeying her instructions but refusing to dive deeper, it would be the end of the road for me. My story telling skills now came into full form. Desperate to conform, I dished out fantastical stories pretending to be drowsy. Every time she paused her questioning at a turning point to ask what I saw further, I would whip up another imaginative episode slureddly. My, the stories I told her that afternoon! I think it didn’t take her long to realise I was faking it but she patiently bore with me as a last resort.
Each storyline got longer and longer and taller and taller till I could also sense the blatant insincerity in my voice. Almost teary eyed, she finally made me sit up and follow her back to her office sadly. She opened a drawer and took out some money. As I started to protest she motioned me to be quiet. Thrusting her fees back into my hands, she led me hastily to the door saying, ‘you don’t need therapy, in fact, it would be better therapy for you if you could take to a full time career as a story teller. I don’t know what your past lives may have revealed about you, your present reveals exceptional powers of churning out fiction. Fiction is all about imagination and yours seems to be rather good. Yes, I would certainly recommend fiction writing”.
“I didn’t come here for fiction; I replied ashamedly very conscious of the fact that I had been caught out, I only wanted to experience my reality”. She looked at me in the face and smiled, the first time ever since I stepped into her office. “Sometimes our fiction is stronger than our reality, just accept it!” With that she gently shut the door at me. And that, my friends, marked the end of my soul-searching quest.