The CATALYST staff and interns sat in the front room of Big Pink. Pens and notepads at our sides, we were being led through the hypnosis by Jennifer Van Gorp, Salt Lake’s newest practitioner of past-life hypnosis. Although I was somewhat skeptical whether I believed in past lives, I let my subconscious flow, as if in a dream state, and observed what I saw through the three-part session.
The session began with Van Gorp putting us in a light hypnotic state and prompting us to visualize our past lives by having us imagine doors to go through that will lead you to the past life. There she asks about several important moments in that life. What was an average day? What was a very significant day? How did you die? After a visualization, we would write down what we saw. Then we could share with the group. Next, we met our spirit guides, and then we concluded by seeing into a future life.
It was intriguing how some of what we saw seemed to have a fair amount in common. For example, many of us saw the future as leaning away from traditional genders. Most people were instead non-binary.
I, personally, saw a past in Regency England filled with rather complicated relationships and an exciting future trying to terraform the moon.
After a few days of thinking about the experience almost non-stop, I decided I wanted to look into what exactly past-life hypnosis is.
The first thing I learned is that past-life hypnosis is a form of regression hypnosis.
Regression hypnosis tries to unlock memories from the past as far back as your childhood. Past-life regression delves deeper. Its goal is to expose a part of the subconscious that could have relevant information for us, ostensibly from a past life.
Van Gorp has been practicing this type of hypnosis for four years. She stumbled upon it while reading Keepers of the Garden by Dolores Cannon, a past-life regressionist and prolific author credited with creating the technique. The book, a transcription of Cannon’s hypnosis sessions, fascinated Van Gorp. She decided she wanted to learn to do the hypnosis herself.
Eventually, she started her own practice (in Hawaii where she lived at the time) naming it Rise-Up Hypnosis. Now Van Gorp has moved to Salt Lake City, bringing Rise-Up with her.
The information that the hypnosis brings up may be helpful in moving past something or understanding underlying fears, says Van Gorp.
She gives the example of one client who went through her life angry at gender inequalities. In her past life, she saw herself as a violent man, doing horrible things many people. From this, she learned that her anger will never bring about change—that in order to not be like the man that she saw herself as she needs to do better.
Another client came to Van Gorp to understand why he was afraid of success, why he was stopping himself from getting what he wanted. The session taught him that it wasn’t fear that was holding him back, it was a lack of patience. His success was on the way, he just needed to relax.
Van Gorp conducts most individual sessions via video chat. She says it creates a more comfortable atmosphere which leaves the clients more receptive to hypnosis. She also offers individual sessions in-person.
The video chat sessions are recorded using both audio and video, while the in-person sessions are recorded using only audio. The recording is then given to you since you are unlikely to remember what you said and so you can review it.
Van Gorp also offers group sessions like the one we did at CATALYST. These sessions are much less intimate. They never go too deep either. She explains that it is often hard to relax enough to be profoundly hypnotized with other people around. However, they are a good introduction to the concept.
Part of what inspired me to I reach out to Van Gorp after our group session, was that something had felt so familiar about what I had visualized. I couldn’t quite place it, and it had been bothering me. But when I had described what I saw in the session to a friend she had pointed out exactly what it was—the things I saw were reminiscent of books I had read. More specifically, the Seven Husbands of Evelyn Hugo by Taylor Jenkins Reid, Andy Weir’s Artemis and basically any Jane Austen novel. I wanted to ask Van Gorp what she thought.
Van Gorp addressed my query with a question, one she often gets from potential clients: “What if I don’t believe in a past life?”
She says that belief in that concept is not what’s important. What’s important is what you see. One purpose of this form of hypnosis is to unearth ideas your subconscious deems significant. There is a reason, she pointed out, that my subconscious had me bring up those books. I just have to figure out what it is.
Katherine Rogers is a senior communications major at the University of Utah.