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8 Signs That You May Have Lived a Past Life

If you have recurring dreams, inexplicable skills, or you just have a strong affinity for another era, you may have roamed this earth once before. Here's what experts know.

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Hypnosis and past life regression

“Who was I in my past life?” is a question people tend to ask their local psychic, but there are plenty of psychologists who truly believe in past lives and base their practices on the concept. (Before you visit a psychic, these are things you should consider.) One such person is internationally known hypnotist Scott Schmaren, who has appeared on Oprah and The Howard Stern Show. “I take my client into a deep hypnotic state,” he says, “and then move them backward on the timeline of their life. I take them to their birth and then move them through a doorway to a time before this present life.” This is called a past life regression, and it is used by many hypnotherapists.

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You have persistent memories

Have you ever heard someone say they feel like they were born in the wrong era? When someone feels very strongly about that, some psychologists interpret it as a possible sign of being connected to a former life. They also might want to check out what their birth order says about them. Dr. John McGrail, a clinical hypnotherapist who has been featured in Time, The Chicago Tribune, and New York Daily News, says this characteristic is common among people who may have lived past lives. He describes these feelings as, “persistent ‘memories,’ or intuitive feelings of being someone else somewhere else at another time.” According to McGrail, “This can be accompanied by a physical manifestation like a birthmark, that when looked at invokes a feeling or ‘memory.'”

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You have a sense of déjà vu

If you experience déjà vu frequently, your previous life may be trying to tell you something. “I believe it most definitely has to do with a past life,” says Schmaren. Do you get a strong feeling that you’ve been somewhere before, but have no actual memory of it? Do you ever find yourself saying things you could swear you already said before, but never have? If so, Schmaren attests you might be connecting to a previous incarnation of your soul.

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You have unreasonable fears

Do you have any severe fears that just don’t make sense, like these weird phobias? Dr. McGrail has had incredible experiences with patients who do, and who have come to revelations about their previous lives. One woman he worked with developed an intense fear of death just because she looked up at the sky one day. “In hypnotherapy, we did a past life regression and she saw that she had been falsely accused of murder and sentenced to hang. Just before they put the hood over her head, she had looked up at the sky and saw the clouds. After that session, her fear was gone and she went back to her formerly happy life.”

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You get strange pains

If you’ve had a physical pain that has bothered you for a decent part of your life—one that doctors don’t seem to have an answer for—it could be a result of something that happened to you in another life. At least, that’s what hypnotherapists, like Dr. McGrail, think. “Having a physical or emotional issue—it can be persistent or suddenly appear; a pain, a fear, phobia, etc.—that has no discernible origin or cause from this lifetime [is a sign].” Schmaren is of the same opinion, saying, “Many people I have worked with had unexplained anger issues—nothing violent or abusive from childhood—and in their past life they were mean, violent people (war lords, dictators, etc.).” If you believe in reincarnation, you might also believe in ghosts—and these chilling real ghost stories.

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You identify with another culture

A Francophile has an incredible passion for the French way of life and virtually anything French. But is it just a developed passion, or is it something deeper that what you were born with? “If someone is drawn to a certain location [or] culture,” Schmaren says, “that may trigger a reason to want to explore a past life experience. They should seek out a professional who has experience guiding someone through it.” Going to the country you feel inexplicably drawn to and experiencing that culture firsthand might also make things clearer for you. These books can help inspire you to travel the world.

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You have inexplicable skills

Child prodigies astound everyone around them. The question is, do they have the innate talent to master the piano at age 6, or is it more than that? What about a kid who knows how to speak another language before they’ve ever been taught? These are huge indicators for many hypnotherapists that illuminate who they were in their past life. “They have a skill or trait (positive or negative) and there is no obvious reason they would have that,” says Schmaren.

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You have inexplicable knowledge

Similar to having an inexplicable skill is having inexplicable knowledge. Several years ago, for instance, a story about a child remembering his former life as a World War II pilot made headlines. The boy, James Leininger, had intimate knowledge of not just planes, but of the name of one of his aircraft carriers and one of his copilots. For Dr. McGrail, this is a commonplace phenomenon. He cites “knowing things about another time that ought not be knowable” as a major sign that a person’s former life is infiltrating their present.

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You have recurring dreams

Memories and déjà vu occur when a person is awake, but what about when they’re asleep? According to Dr. McGrail, “Recurring dreams focused around a given historic period, in which you are the same character interacting with the same cast of other characters,” might be trying to show you something that happened in a former life. Maybe you knew those people hundreds of years ago, when you were someone else. For as long as humans have had dreams, we’ve been trying to decipher them.

Whether you believe in past lives or not, reincarnation is definitely among the strangest unsolved mysteries of all time.

Taylor Markarian
Taylor Markarian is a regular contributor to Reader's Digest's Culture, Advice, Travel and Pets beats. She is also a music journalist who has contributed to Alternative Press, Loudwire, Revolver, Kerrang! and more. Markarian is the author of the book, 'From the Basement: A History of Emo Music and How It Changed Society', which analyzes the evolution of punk and mental health. She holds a degree in Writing, Literature & Publishing from Emerson College.