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Are physical and mental illnesses the result of karma acquired in a past life, and if so, does uncovering that lifetime lead to healing? According to the yearlong research project conducted by author and past-life specialist, Joanne DiMaggio, the answer is yes!  Fifty volunteers, ranging in age from 34 to 74, participated in the project.  They came in suffering from such chronic conditions as arthritis; diabetes; joint and limb pain; head trauma; weight and digestive troubles; sexual dysfunction; skin conditions; liver and kidney issues; drug and alcohol abuse; and mental illness. Employing past-life regression and augmenting the session with soul writing, i.e., writing in an altered state of consciousness, the project sought to find the buried past-life story behind the present-day malady.

The book explores the experiences of 23 of those volunteers, sharing the details of the regression, the transcript of the soul-writing session, and the results of the follow-up interview to determine whether the session resulted in the condition being healed, improved, or remain the same.  The results are fascinating.

Karma Can Be a Real Pain illustrates how ordinary men and women met their past-life aspects and discovered the karmic origin of their chronic condition, resulting in a healthier, happier life in the here and now—and beyond. Karma can be a real pain, but lucky for us, there is a cure!

Joanne DiMaggio
Author Bio

Joanne DiMaggio, MA, CHt, is an inspired teacher, a member of the International Association for Regression Research and Therapies, and has been professionally pursuing past-life research and therapy for over 25 years. She headed her own past-life research center outside of Chicago and brought that to Virginia in 1995. Joanne earned her Masters in Transpersonal Studies degree and her Spiritual Mentor certification through Atlantic University. Her
thesis, on inspirational writing, served as the basis of her first book, Soul Writing: Conversing With Your Higher Self. Joanne continues to lecture and conduct workshops on soul writing across the country, sharing her knowledge through blogs, online courses, magazine articles, and radio programs.

Table of contents



1. Arthritis

I'll Never Be Happy

Francine -- Hip -- 1900, England

The Price I Had to Pay

Eve -- Hands -- 1838, England

My Brother in Arms

Gary -- Thumb Joints -- 1832, Virginia

2. Foot, Leg and Back Pain

I've Done a Very Bad Thing

Emma -- Back -- 18th or 19th century, France

Survival Mode

Ann -- Limb Weakness -- 1362, near Caspian Sea

Don't Be Resentful of Life's Lessons

Christine -- Feet -- 1915, Kansas

3. It's All in Your Head

Why Remain Apart?

Naomi -- Concussion -- 5 BC, Egypt or Greece

Learning to Pay Attention

Teresa -- Hearing Impaired -- 1858, Kentucky

Swallowed by Fear

Cecilia -- Loss of Voice -- 1817, Virginia

4. Weight & Digestive Issues

It's Such a Damn Waste

Dale -- Irritable Bowel Syndrome -- 1840, North Carolina

Express Anger or Keep Eating It?

Louise -- Weight Issues -- 1892, England

We Are Not in This Alone

Lee -- Crohn's Disease -- 1139, England

5. Liver & Kidneys

I am all I need

Anila -- Liver Deficiency -- 800 BC, Mesopotamia

Death Before Dishonor

Jack -- Kidneys -- 38, Judea

6. Drugs & Alcohol

Serving Others to Stay Sober

Meg -- Alcohol -- 1712, France

Embrace Your Power

Christopher -- Drugs and Alcohol -- 234, Middle East

7. Sexual Karma

Never Stop to Strangle the Flow of Energy

Sean -- Urethral Structure -- 833, Palestine

The Smallest of Consequences Formulates Intent

Anne -- Zero Libido, Painful Intercourse -- 1400s, England

Escaping Her Feelings

Debra -- Granuloma Annulare -- 1717, England

8. Diabetes

I am Not of This Earth

Sandra -- 1811, New Mexico

A Lack of Sweetness in Life

Janet -- Chronic Fatigue leading to Diabetes, 1650, Italy

9. Emotional and Mental Disorders

Could See I am Whole

Angel -- Bipolar Disease -- 1492, Celtic Isles

Let Me Have My Peace in Life

Irene -- Night Terrors -- 1921, England

10. How to Use Soul Writing for Past Life Information


Review Quote - Publishers Weekly

"[O]ffers possible karmic explanations and some hope for those with chronic health issues, and presents an interesting catalogue of approaches to life."


"Karma can manifest as recurring patterns of struggle, relationships that feel a little too familiar, or, as Joanne DiMaggio explores in her new book Karma Can Be a Real Pain, mysterious aches and pains. In an exhaustive year-long study of fifty volunteers, DiMaggio investigated the link between past-life memories and chronic health challenges . . . Karma Can Be a Real Pain delves into the past-life origins of pain. The book is broken down into ailments from diabetes and rheumatism to sex problems and drug addiction and claims that once the past life is explored, the condition improves. Although there is plenty of New Age writing on past lives, it is unusual to find a book that treats the psychological phenomenon with seriousness. DiMaggio's scientific approach is meticulous and thorough . . . Strongly influenced by the work of Edgar Cayce, Karma Can Be a Real Pain is a painstaking record of past-life analysis as it relates to the present day. The addition of soul writing, as a meditative and healing practice, sets the book apart from other groundbreaking works in this genre. DiMaggio's writing is heartfelt and honest, offering hope and new tools to people interested in alternative treatment for chronic illnesses."

Excerpt from book


This book would not be possible without the fifty men and women who volunteered to be a part of my yearlong research project. While I could not share all of their past-life experiences and discoveries, each of them nonetheless played a significant role and I am grateful for their willingness to embark on this fascinating journey with me.

My thanks for author PMH Atwater for her thought-provoking insights and input on the first draft, as well as her urging that I find and express my voice. She is a most wise mentor, an admired colleague, and a dear friend.

I am indebted to Karen Davis at the Edgar Cayce Foundation, not only for the time she spent reviewing the Cayce readings in this book for accuracy, but also for her constant support, loving advice, and soul-lifting encouragement. It is always a joy to work with her.

I'd also like to acknowledge Dr. C. Norman Shealy, whose opening remarks at a Medical Intuition Conference in Virginia Beach, in which he expressed his belief that there was a connection between illness and past lives, unknowingly flipped on the "idea" light bulb that culminated in this book.

But most importantly, I am grateful to Edgar Cayce, whose enduring legacy remains the cornerstone upon which this eager student continues to pursue her soul's work.

--Joanne DiMaggio, MA, CHt

June 2016

Introduction or preface


"... whatsoever a soul soweth, that shall it also reap."

(Edgar Cayce reading 2153-3)

When I was in college, one of my history professors called me into his office to discuss a paper I had written. He was an intimidating sort and I was terrified of him, so to be called into his office filled me with dread. I timidly sat across the desk, quietly fidgeting in my chair as he intently stared at me. After what seemed like hours, he said, "Joanne, you have the most uncanny feel for the 18th century of any student I've ever had." I smiled with relief. I knew it was true, even though at this point in my life, I did not attribute that "uncanny feel" to reincarnation. Yes, I read books about reincarnation throughout my teens and yes, there were a number of clues from my childhood as to why I responded to 18th century American history as if I had lived it, but I never put two and two together.

Curious about why I felt such a kinship to this time period, after graduation I convinced a friend to join me in visiting historic locales from Virginia to Massachusettas. My hope was that one of them would reveal the secret behind my unexplained attraction to early American history.

I didn't have to wait long for an answer. Just a few days into the Virginia leg of the trip, I began experiencing palpitations and shortness of breath, accompained by a strong sense of deja vu. It was very bizarre and I could not explain it except to think maybe it was something I ate. Luckily, that sensation did not manifest elsewhere on our journey and I filed it away in that part of my brain where I stored inexplicable experiences. A few years later, I married and began raising a family in suburban Chicago, living what I thought was a rather conventional existence.

That all changed after Out on a Limb, a television mini-series based on Shirley MacLaine's groundbreaking book, aired in January 1987. Its strong emphasis on reincarnation relit my previous curiosity about past lives, so I got involved on Edgar Cayce's Association for Research and Enlightenment (ARE) and the now disbanded Association for Past Life Research and Therapies (APRT).

Over the next few years, I ardently pursued the study of every aspect of reincarnation. This exploration eventually uncovered information that gave me a plausible explanation as to why I felt such a kinship to 18th century Virginia, but more importantly, gave me a reason why issues I was dealing with in the here and now were linked to a previous lifetime.

In an effort to learn more, I returned to Virginia in 1993 and retraced my steps where I had had that strong physical response some twenty-two years earlier. This time my reaction was much more debilitating than mere deja vu, as I felt a sharp burning sensation in my lower spine. The pain was excruciating and I could barely function.

Somehow I got on a plane and returned home where I sought relief from a number of doctors, including my primary care physician and several chiropractors--all to no avail. X-Rays showed nothing. Pain meds did nothing. Exercise gave me no relief. For six months, absolutely nothing worked. Finally, out of desperation, I consulted with David Roell, a gifted channeler who was able to read my Akashic Record.

The Akashic Records are the equivalent of the Universe's super computer, containing every thought, word, and deed attributed to our soul since creation. Think of it as a big library in the sky with a book that contains your soul's biography. While some Akashic readers would have you believe only they can find and read your Book of Life, as Edgar Cayce called it, the truth is, through guided meditation, you can do this as well. I hadn't learned how to do that yet, so I asked David to do it for me. Knowing I had first experienced this paint while visiting an 18th century locale, I reasoned that if it were past-life related, it had to do with that lifetime. Sure enough, it did. David's channel told me that the reason I was feeling that pain was because in that life, I had been hit in the back with a fireplace poker in the very same place where I first felt the pain. This later was confirmed by Betty Riley, another gifted intuitive I knew through the ARE. Without telling her what David revealed, she nonetheless shared the very same explanation.

Soon after the source of that pain was revealed, it disappeared. Learning the origin of the pain, it was no wonder I felt that "burning" sensation--and not surprising that traditional medical intervention failed to release that pain the way the truth of its origin did.

While I never forgot that incident, I nonetheless did not think about it in the context of physical karma. That's because when it occurred in 1993, I was not yet a past-life therapist, so case studies involving physical karma were not in the forefront of my mind. I was, however, passionate about past-life research and by then had formed my own past-life organization, called PLEXUS (Past Life Exploration, Understanding, and Sharing). Through PLEXUS, and through ARE, I met many professionals involved in reincarnation studies. They became my mentors.

Upon disclosing the facts about my own past-life journey, the late Henry Bolduc, an ARE author and lecturer who was considered an expert on reincarnation, said I knew more about reincarnation than most past-life therapists, so why wasn't I doing past-life work myself? I was flattered at the compliment, but adamant that I didn't want to be a therapist. I was a writer and saw my role as one of observer, researcher and reporter--not as a practitioner. But Henry persisted and eventually, more to appease him than anything else, I became certified as a hypnotherapist and began seeing clients of my own. For this, I say--thank you, Henry!

As a past-life therapist for many years now, I have had a front frow seat to the miraculous transformations that occur during a regression session. Each time it happens, I am reminded about how valuable the experience is--not only for the client, but also for anyone else who would read about what ordinary men and women encounter when they explore their previous lifetimes. The magic happens in the office, but the true healing occurs when that magic is shared. And that's what I feel led to do more than anything else.

So now, why this book? I have always paid attention to synchronistic events, or as Carl Jung called them--"meaningful coincidences." A few years ago, I noticed a shift in my regression practice. Suddenly I was getting requests for sessions from individuals who suspected that their present life ailments were rooted in a previous life. These were people suffering from all manner of chronic conditions. They had sought relief through traditional means but came up empty handed. The condition persisted. Somehow, someway, spirit led them to make the connections that their malady may be rooted in a previous life and if so, what better way to confirm this than through a past-life regression?

From my years of doing past-life research, I read many reports suggesting that present-life conditions were the result of karma. It may have been acquired from a mean-spirited attitude toward someone, from an event in which someone did something harmful to another, or vice-versa. Some physical karma came from a wound recieved in battle; from a last thought as a wound left the body; or even from the manner of death.

As a student of Edgar Cayce, the most renowned psychic of the 20th century and the father of holistic medicine, I began researching hundreds of readings he gave to individuals coming to him with physical complains--everything from acne to venereal disease. Fortunately, some of these lucky souls also had a life reading, for it is in the life readings that Cayce's Source explained why their present-life condition was the result of actions they took in a previous life.

Adding to this, I often heard my colleagues talk about spontaneous healings that occured as a result of a past-life regression. When a client uncovered the source of their physical malady, coupled with a greater connection to spirit, it led to healing--as if a spirit was saying, "Well, now you know WHY you are dealing with this today, but it's over and done with. You don't need the reminder anymore so therefore, you don't need this condition anymore" and it was gone.

My skeptical side thought this was not possible--that there must be another explanation. I cringed when I thought of how the medical community would react to such a statement. Yet the part of me that believes nothing is impossible in this universe embraced the idea of spontaneous healing as a true possibility. After all, I only had to look at my own experience to know that.

And then, as if to confirm this fact, I was privileged to see it happen to one of my own clients during the research I conducted for my second book, Your Soul Remembers: Accessing Your Past Lives Through Soul Writing. In his case, death by suffocation in Pompeii came back to manifest as asthma in this life as a reminder not to repeat the behavior patterns of the past that led to his death. Since I always add a soul-writing session to the end of each regression, he was able to answer the question I posed, which was: "Ask your soul if there is anything more about that life that was not revealed in the regression." The first sentence he wrote was a question, "Asthma the result of seared lungs?" That was his ah-ha moment. He reported that the asthma disappeared soon thereafter. It had done its job and was no longer needed. 

This was typical of the volunteers who had come to this project and pointed to an underlying truth about dealing with physical karma. In "Inner Healing from Past Lives," an article in the September/October 2004 issue of ARE's magazine, Venture Inward, George Schwimmer wrote, "... a physical symptom is, indeed, a message about a core issue/lesson. The pain and the past-life wounds (physical, mental, emotional, electromagnetic) must ultimately be healed, of course; but the core issue/lesson must also be found, examined and dealt with in a positive, healing way."

In "Healing Effects of Past-Life Regression," published in the April-June 2010 Venture Inward, Gregg Unterberger wrote: "For the regression to be healing involves not only understanding the roots of a negative pattern or recurrent issue--which often arches over many lifetimes--but may include an emotional release so that the clarity can be fully internalized."

Shortly after my second book was published, I began getting the message in my meditations and in counseling from gifted intuitive readers that I should look into how I could incorporate medical intuition into my regression practice. This led me to a conference sponsored by the ARE on Medical Intuition. It featured C. Normal Shealy, M.D., PhD, one of the world's leading experts in holistic medicine, and Caroline Myss, a medical intuitive who became a New York Times bestselling author, lecturer, and mystic.

When Dr. Shealy first started speaking, I was astonished to hear him say that all disease or illness was past-life related. It was a bold statement, to be sure, and I wasn't certain I heard him right. However, some time later I read a statement he posted on his website that confirmed my ears had not deceived me. He wrote, "In my experience, all significant illnesses/accidents, etc. in this life are the result of unfinished business from a previous life. Anger, guilt, anxiety and depression often are triggered by an event in this life which triggers the subconscious memory left over from a similar event in a past life."

He wasn't the only respected physician who made such a claim. Dr. William A. McGarey, former Medical Director of the ARE Clinic and the Director of the Medical Research Division of the Edgar Cayce Foundation, said: "I've come to the conclusion that most of the serious, long-term, degenerative diseases are karmic in their nature."

When I decided that physical karma would be the topic for this book, I thought about how to create a research project that would include case histories to prove that the subject's current physical condition was indeed the manifestation of karma acquired in a prior lifetime. To do this, the project was divided into three parts. The first involved a screening process of interested volunteers. This was done via a qualifying questionnaire asking about their chornic condition and why they felt they were a good fit for the project. Those who qualified came to my office for a consultation, followed by a past-life regression and soul-writing session.

Each session began with a deep relaxation exercise in which we focused on every part of their body--from their toes to their scalp. As we examined each part, I asked them to do a scan and tell me if they were experiencing any discomfort or sensitivity in that part of their body.

Michael Talbot, author of Your Past Lives, A Reincarnation Handbook, writes about using resonance to identify body karma. To do this, he suggests individuals interested in determining whether they are experiencing body karma should focus on the body part, paying attention to areas that have given them repeated problems.

"Unusual sensitivities about certain parts of your body can also indicate body karma," he wrote. "An aversion to things pointed to your eyes or head may indicate a latent past-life memory of a head injury. If you are especially sensitive about wearing scarves or items of clothing which fit snugly around your neck, you may have suffered a neck injury in a previous life. Even something as simple as a slight nervousness or overprotectiveness about a certain part of your body may be a clue that will allow you to unlock a past-life memory."

In my study, I found that sensitivities that came up in a body scan often previewed that was to come in the regression, as if spirit was already at work altering the participant that a past-life trauma occurred in that part of their body.

The questions about birthmarks grew out of the work of Dr. Ian Stevenson, whose research unearthed evidence that suggested that physical, as well as emotional conditions, could be transferred from one lifetime to another. His landmark work with children drew special attention to birthmarks. He outlined his findings in "Birthmarks and Birth Defects Corresponding to Wounds on Deceased Persons," a paper he presented at the Eleventh Annual Meeting of the Society for Scientific Exploration held at Princeton University, June 11-13, 1992, and published the following year in the Journal of Scientific Exploration. The paper presented evidence that physical characteristics, such as birthmarks and deformities, may be carried over from a past life to a present life.

In my work, once the scan was complete and the participant was in a deep state of relaxation, I proceeded with the past-life regression, leading them to what appeared to be an endless hallway in an old, historic hotel. The hallway had doors on each side, just as it would in any hotel, but instead of each door displaying a room number, it had a year on it, starting with the year of their birth in this life on the door closest to them. The next door had the year of their most previous past life, and subsequent doors had the years of the lives before that, going all the way back in time to when their soul first inhabited a physical body. They were instructed to walk down the hallway and to allow their soul to stop them in front of the door leading to the past life that was the origin of their current physical condition. Behind that door was a living representation of that past life, as if they were walking on to a movie set that was filming a period piece--except this film was about them.

Once we were in the past-life room, the regression began with the traditiona identifying questions, such as what they looked like, what they were wearing, their age, sex, etc. The middle portion of the regression asked their soul that was so significant it made an imprint on their soul and they brought it with them into this life to complete its karmic lesson.

Once that had been explored to their satisfaction, we moved to their death in that life. I asked what were their last thoughts as their soul left their body, as at that moment they often got insights they had not experienced before. Roger Woolger, a psychologist, lecturer, and author specializing in past-life regression, writes that, "consciousness is at the highest degree of intensity at death, with the result that thoughts and feelings that occur in this transition are deeply imprinted on the transmigrating consciousness."

Case in point. A young woman came to my office wanting to know the origin of the psoriasis that covered nearly every part of her body. In the regression, I asked her soul to show her what precepitated this condition. She went back to a life in which she was a prostitute in the old West. When I asked what were her last thoughts at death, she replied that she did not want to be touched. Since this was an obvious commentary about her former profession, one might assume her karma in this life would focus on her sexuality. Instead, her karma was quite literal. She put it out to the Universe that she did not want to be touched, so she came back and manifested a skin condition that kept people at a distance. That's how karma works. Obviously, the Universe was listening to her request!

Many of the last thoughts of my volunteers reflected the despair they experienced in the lifetime they revisited. Francine, who willed herself to die after losing her fiance, thought: "What's the use? I'll never be happy." Jack, who was crucified, died thinking: "I could trust nobody." And Meg, who died of a drug overdose, said her last thoughts were: "My life was worthless." These thoughts planted seeds that bloomed in their current life, so in examining them, we were given powerful clues as to the origin of the karmic issues they were dealing with in the here and now.

After the death scene, I asked a series of final questions to finish the session. The first asked the client to study the parallels between their previous and current lives, looking for similar behavior patterns, attitudes, or situations. Then I asked them to focus on the individuals in their previous life and to get in touch with the essence of their souls to see if the same energy existed in someone in their current life--reminding them that we change sexes and relationships in each life, but we nonetheless travel as soul families from one life to the other. If they identified the soul from a past life in the body of someone in their current life, I asked them to reflect on what role those souls were playing now. That concluded the regression portion of the session.

One could argue that the work outlined thus far is hardly groundbreaking and I would be the first to agree, for many respected and renowned past-life specialists have written on this topic before. What sets my study apart, however, is the inclusion of soul writing. At the end of each regression, I put a pad of paper in their lap and a pen in their hand and instructed each participant to ask their soul to provide any additional information it could to explain, clarify or provide the backstory about that lifetime that did not come through the regression. As they wrote, I also did my own soul writing, asking my Source to provide information I could share with them.

Soul writing, based on the Edgar Cayce readings on inspirational writing, is a written form of meditation. (Instructions on how to do it are in Chapter Ten.) It is writing in a quiet, altered state of consciousness, when an individual is able to set aside their conscious mind and allow their higher mind to connect to a divine Source that provides profound information that is different in tone and context from what they would write in a conscious state. In this heightened state of awareness,they receive answers to questions posed on any topic, including past lives.

George Schwimmer acknowledges that communicating with the higher self gets to the crux of one's issues immediately and confirms how important this connection is to the healing process.

"I've found that talking to the client's higher self is the most critical healing technique," he wrote. "In the space of a few minutes, the higher self can give an overview, along with insights, advice, directions, and sometimes specific ways to deal with specific issues. I'm not exactly certain what the higher self is, particularly as occasionally it refers to itself as 'we' and identifies itself as a group consciousness. However, the higher self usually brings a marked shift in a client's energy, vocal qualities, syntax, attitudes and perceptions, compared to the waking state."

In my practice, I have found soul writing an invaluable tool in supplementing information that came through a regression. Often, this is where the "ah ha" moments happen, as with the man suffering from asthma that I had mentioned earlier.

Because soul writing was such a powerful element in this research project, I have chosen to include both the transcript from the regression session and either my soul writing, the volunteer's soul writing or both, to illustrate how the writing was instrumental in helping to integrate the past into the present.

The final part of the project involved a follow-up questionnaire sent to the subject weeks later. The questions were based on their particular experience and were designed to probe deeper, asking whether our uncovering of the past-life incident that set up the physical karma resulted in improving, releasing, maintaining, or worsening their condition. A secondary purpose was to see if, in fact, the soul-writing session provided additional information and guidance for healing.

In all, I conducted nearly 50 regression/soul-writing sessions, using 23 of those in this book. Of these, there were five men and eighteen women ranging in age from 34 to 74 that I worked with from September 2014 through August 2015. My volunteers came from all walks of life, including a professor, a registered nurse, an aerospace project manager, a defense contractor, a flight attendant, a Navy veteran and more. These were all individuals who were well established and respected in their fields--not the sort that would be stereotyped as being prone to imaginary ravings. What is recorded here are examples of ordinary people experiencing extraordinary healing, regardless of whether that healing had to do with their physical body or whether it had to do with their soul. I was hoping it would do both.

I had the privilege of assisting these men and women who explored lives from the 5th century BC to the 20th century AD. They went to Africa, all through Europe, Central America, through the Mediterranean, in the Middle East, and of course, in what is now the United States.

As they went on through their past-life journey, I went with them, seeing what they saw from a vantage point of a silent, invisible observer who got glimpses of the deeper story that lay beneath the oral history they imparted. This enabled me to ask the questions that led them deeper into the experience and ultimately made the connection between past occurences and present maladies.

Of course, healing was the ultimate goal of this project, which is why I was so interested in gathering statistics about whether our session had a favorable impact on the chronic condition of each volunteer. Of the twenty-three regressions shared in this book, four individuals experienced a complete healing; seven said their condition improved substantially; eight said their condition was unchanged; two said their condition remained the same, but then got worse; and two could not be classified because they had been healed prior to the progression had joined the project more to understand the origin of their problem than to heal it.

Mary Ann Woodward, author of Scars of the Soul: Holistic Healing in the Edgar Cayce Readings, wrote: "The concept of karma provides a logical explanation for many of our physical ailments and defects. Perhaps we could more readily accept, and would no longer resent, our bodily diseases and imperfections if we understood that these conditions, or 'weaknesses in the flesh,' were self-imposed by the Higher Self so that the soul could learn a needed lesson and thereby free itself of previously committed errors."

Nearly every participant questioned whether he or she made the whole thing up; that it was their over-active imagination that somehow created a story to explain their condition. Roger Woolger addressed this issue in an article in the November/December 1989 Venture Inward. "For the therapist there is another kind of truth, psychic truth: that which is real to the patient. As I always tell my clients, 'It doesn't matter whether you believe in reincarnation or not. The unconscious will almost always produce a past-life story when invited in the right way."

Emotional reactions to the events in a past ife also are indicators of a true experience. Often clients are deeply moved by their recall, some breathlessly sobbing when they relive an especially poignant moment. Or they complain of a physical pain or a shortness of breath in the here and now at the exact moment they experience being injured in the regression or are on their deathbeds succumbing to a respiratory problem.

Getting to the core of that emotional reaction is an essential part of the healing process. Schwimmer wrote, "Clients often came to me with what appeared to be psychosomatic pains, and then discovered that these pains originated from a past life. This indicated that either the past-life damage or the memory of that damage--very emotionally charged--was brought intact into the present-life physical body. In either case, the person was only aware of the physical symptoms."

But make no mistake about it. It is called past-life work for a reason. Karma is work! Past-life therapy takes the client into a much deeper level of exploration where powerful emotions and sometimes disturbing memories rise to the surface. As such it is not a source of entertainment, nor is it fodder for parlor games at a dinner party. This is profound, psychological work that a practitioner cannot learn to do in a weekend certification course. It is serious work best left in the hands of individuals who have the credentials and experience to guide a soul into these sacred inner realms.

There is much you can learn from the past to enable your present. Past-life regression guides you to the previous life most impacting you now so you can see the long-buried feelings, behavior patterns, attitudes and recognize the souls who were prominent in your past and have returned with you in this life to play a pivotal role in your soul's growth. Thus, physical karma obtained in a previous life can be uncovered and healed, often in just one session.

But what is physical karma? Mary Ann Woodward defines it as a "manifestation of karmic law taking place at a visible or physical level within the human body."

Harold J. Reilly, Ph.D. (1895-1987) was a world-renowned physiotherapist and a pioneer in the field of massage. He owned and operated the famed Reilly Institute in New York City for more than 30 years. Reilly was a close friend of Edgar Cayce and worked wiht the Cayce remedies throughout his career.

Addressing the topic of physical karma, Dr. Reilly said:

"... if a man continues to dissipate for an entire life, without taking corrective measures, you would not expect, would you, to see him emerging in another life with a brand-new body perfect in all parts and functioning as if it had never been misused? Then if you believe in reincarnation with its law of karma--an eye for an eye and a tooth for a tooth, as you sow so shall you reap--you must include the body in that plan." (The Searchlight, "Healing Begins in the Mind," Vol. 12, No. 2, February 1960).

Woolger says that past-life memories become embedded in the subtle body, defined as layers of energy that surround and penetrate the physical body. Writing in Healing Your Past Lives, Exploring the Many Lives of the Soul, he said: "Both past-life research and past-life therapy have now collected an impressive array of evidence to show that these old traumas, inherited through the first level of the subtle body ... consistently reimprint in the living body as rashes, deformities, birthmarks, weakness in certain limbs, or organic disorders such as a weak bladder, a weak heart, gynecological problems, and so on."

It is important for subjects not to just look at events as they happened either to them or by them, but also to dig a little deeper and explore their attitudes as well. Woodward writes: "For our attitudes and emotions, our resentments, our lives and hates may have persisted may have persisted from a previous incarnation, causing psychological or psychosomatic problems which finally culminate in some serious illness or accident, or at least perpetuate an imaginary ailment."

Examining attitudes from a previous life takes some introspective work. Once you make the connection, the healing takes place. Uncovering origins, seeing how they have come back to remind us to resolve the negative behavioral patterns that led to the physical condition in the first place, is an important part of the healing process.

As Woodward puts it: "Since we bring the condition or problem with us when we are born, the spiritual errors of formal lives lead the soul to choose a new body which will be genetically weak in the areas in which the soul needs to acquire a lesson."

A fascinating aspect of past-life work is to look at cases in which the physical karma of the individual was meant more as a lesson to the parents and others who had a close relationship with him or her. Often highly evolved souls "volunteer" to come into a physical body that is challenged in some way, not so much because of their karmic debt, but more about how their condition impacts those around them. Health challenges that we would consider a burden are actually a result of a selfless choice on the part of the soul. They agree to come in with this condition, knowing it will provide soul growth opportunities for others. It isn't so much what has befallen them that is the issue, but rather how those around them react and respond to them. As a bonus, it accelerates the growth of the soul who agreed to experience the condition.

Michael Newtown, PhD, author of Journey of Souls, Case Studies of Life Between Lives, writes: "As souls we choose our bodies for a reason. Living in a damaged body does not necessarily have to involve a karmic debt we are paying off because of past-life responsibility for an injury to someone else ... this choice can involve a learning path or another type of lesson."

Understanding the past-life origin of a physical condition in this life is one thing. Healing is quite another. Can chronic condition heal after a past-life regression? Absolutely. Just ask those in my study whose condition improved substantially after discovering its origin. But how does that work for everyone? Can we reverse or heal deep-seated physical karma, including psychological or psychosomatic diseases that manifest physically? The answer to that question depends on the individual--how he or she responds to the information they uncover; whether they make the necessary changes on the mental and spiritual level; and where the condition had its origins; to manifest a permanent healing. There are no shortcuts here--not ways to circumvent the past to avoid dealing with it in the present or the future. Here is where the individual comes face-to-face with their past, accepts responsibility for seeing karmic patterns and more importantly, works through them.

Sylvia Cranson and Carey Williams, writing in Reincarnation: A New Horizon in Science, Religion and Society, stated: "Must we wait for ages to bring harmony and healing into our lives? Would it not help right now to realize there is a wholeness within that is never sick, that can be our base for healing? [Marilyn] Ferguson quotes an anatomist: "The healer inside us is the wisest, most complex, integrated entity in the universe.' It became so perhaps, because it is the efflorescence of numerous lives of experience. If so, 'there is always a doctor in the house.'"

But it is Garrett Oppenheim who summed it up best in his article, "A Karmic Case of Polio" in the November/December 1989 issue of Venture Inward: "I have come to look in my handicap as a gift, enabling me to understand the afflictions of others, to enlarge my horizons and to become, I hope, a better person."

The following chapters illustrate how ordinary men and women met their past-life aspects and came to terms with what occured in the past, resulting in a healther, happier life in the here and now--and beyond.

Yes, karma can be a pain, but lucky for us, there is a cure!