According to James Van Praagh, “Everyone loves a good ghost story.”
“Perhaps the human fascination with the supernatural stems from the fact that most of us, at some point in our lives, have experienced something we couldn’t quite explain.”
Considered a pioneer in the field of mediumship and one of the most celebrated and respected spiritual teachers, James Van Praagh has brought awareness to the subject of “communication with the dead” for more than thirty years.
I had the pleasure to speak with Van Praagh to gain insight of how we can live more fully by understanding the world of spirit.
BJB: For those who are unfamiliar with your work, can you explain what an Evidential Psychic Medium is?
JVP: Everyone is a psychic, or born with psychic ability which is intuition. There are those who are born with an ability to reach a higher level of awareness and frequency and be impressed, if you will, with the higher level of the spirit realms which are around us. They’re like radios and able to tune into a higher level of awareness and energy. Those people are called mediums and are able to be the conduit.
I am a Survival Evidence Medium, which means that I am able to hear impressions, feelings, emotions, and memories of the spirit world. I’m able to attune myself to that vibration. They can fill me up with memories and evidential details that only the person in the audience or the person I’m reading with would know. They would know details like they’re name, how they passed over, birthday and certain evidence to prove the survival of consciousness.
I prove the survival of consciousness, that there is no death. It’s just another level of awareness.
BJB: How did you make your transition into this work on a full-time basis?
JVP: That’s very interesting because I can remember when I was three years-old, my mother was walking me to nursery school in Queens, New York. Someone was talking to her and mentioned California. I said to her later, “I’m going to move to California.” Having no idea what California was, I knew one day I was going to live there.
I went to college because I wanted to be a situation comedy writer. I then moved to San Francisco to finish two years of my degree in broadcasting because they had a good broadcasting department there.
It was during that time that I met a producer who worked on Hill Street Blues in Los Angeles. He promised me a job, and that if I moved to Los Angeles I would have a job as a Production Assistant.
After I graduated I went back to New York for the rest of my stuff, bought a car, saved up all the money I could, which was probably a few thousand dollars and moved to Los Angeles to get this job, which never happened.
I got to Los Angeles and it was a typical Hollywood story. I didn’t know a soul there. I had to work temporary jobs to make money. I ended up working at William Morris Talent Agency pulling staples out of contracts preparing them for microfiche. I did this for eight hours a day.
One day, my supervisor said, “Do you want to go see a medium?” I said, “What is a medium?” She said, “Someone who talks to dead people.”
I didn’t necessarily believe in that. I had a Catholic background. So wanting to humor her, I went to see this gentleman named Brian Hurst in Manhattan Beach.
As soon as I walked into his place, he looked at me and said, “You’re a medium. The spirit world is going to use you in two years’ time. You’re going to help to change the consciousness of this planet.” I literally thought he was crazy. He went on to give me a reading with messages from family members who had passed over and knew evidential details that no one would know about.
I started reading books on life after death, psychic phenomenon, mediumship, and any book I could find. I started meditating after that. I wanted to visualize my future, feel healthy, focus on breathing and maybe visualize a flower or the word love. I started doing that maybe ten minutes a day for several weeks. And then I started noticing that when I would see people, I starting seeing their aura, which is the electromagnetic field around every living person and thing.
I went on and was working at Paramount in their legal department. It was after lunch one day when my co-worker went into her cubicle. Behind her I saw a dead lady, that I knew was her grandmother. This was the first time I had ever saw a spirit like that in my life.
This lady looked at me and telepathically said, “I want to speak to my granddaughter.” She gave me all these details and I asked my co-worker, “Do you know about the state of Idaho? A yellow house with white shutters? Do you now about needlepoint?”
She said, “Yes. I used to visit my grandmother in her house in Idaho every summer. That’s exactly what her house looked like. And she taught me how to do needlepoint. It was during that time that she said to me, “If there is a heaven, I will come back and let you know.””
Everything I said made sense to her and I was shocked. I freaked out. I thought I would never be able to live a regular life. I called Brian, the medium, and told him, “I don’t know what’s going on, I brought through this girl’s grandmother.” He said, “James, don’t you remember the spirit world prediction? That happened two years ago today.”
That’s when my life changed.
BJB: Did you feel afraid when you saw the lady standing behind your co-worker?
JVP: I wasn’t afraid. I was in awe. I felt this familiarity with it because I remembered seeing spirits as a child. It was like going to a city you haven’t been to in many years.
BJB: In your book Ghosts Among Us you write, “When a demonstration begins, ghosts line up behind me and around their loved ones in the audience…” Are spirits always around you waiting for an opportunity to communicate?
JVP: It changes over the years of doing this. The mind is full of memories, experiences, awareness and relationships we’ve had. So what happens is when we go into the world of spirit, it’s all about mental thought. When they look at you in the physical body, they’ll see your auric field and the thoughts you have.
Many times the person on the earth, of course, misses them and want to speak to them, so they’ll send their thought to the loved one. The spirit side will see these colors and the thought form and will think, ‘If only I could get through to my loved one on the earth.’ And they might have some guides or counselors in the spirit world say, “You can get through to them. You can go to a medium.”
The spirit may not know what a medium is, so they will help them understand what mediumship is about, they might take them to demonstrations to watch several mediums around the world to see the process of communication.
Not only am I aware when I start working a demonstration that there are spirits around me who have something to do with the people in the audience, but also there are those around me and above me, almost like a choir or rows of beings, who have nothing to do with those in the room but are learning and watching the process.
BJB: Are the souls that are around earthbound spirits?
JVP: Not necessarily. When the loved ones are around us, if I can see light or luminosity around them, they’re not earthbound. They are souls just wanting to talk to their loved ones.
The spirit world is all around us. It’s not up in the sky.
I believe an earthbound spirit, or a ghost, may be those souls who leave the body and may not have an awareness that they have left the body. It’s like the show, The Ghost Whisperer. They’re unaware that they’ve left. It’s very natural when we leave the body. There’s no pain involved and you don’t realize you’re out of the body.
BJB: Are there specific situations where the spirit would not realize they’ve died?
JVP: Sure. Let’s say it was a heart attack, a car accident, it all depends on the emotional circumstances. If there was a young man going a date, all dressed up and driving on a freeway and all of a sudden a truck hits him then he’s out of his body and dead.
For the moment he’s in his mindset. He can look down at his body and see the clothes he’s wearing are exactly the same. Then he sees an ambulance come. He might hear his dead grandfather from the spirit world say, “You just passed out of your body.” He would be like, “What do you mean? I was in my car driving because I’m going on a date.”
There’s a certain level of memory loss when we leave the body. It’s almost like a black out. There seems to be a sense of still feeling alive, full and not dead.
Many times spirits will have to go back to their funeral or memorial to be shown that they have died.
BJB: How does prayer help a spirit between dimensions move on?
JVP: Prayer helps a lot. Remember everything is thought. It’s the condition of the thought that will help them over.
Now this comes up with the question of suicide. There are different types of suicide. For instance, maybe someone was in a relationship and dealt with break up and they committed suicide to get back the person. They leave the body and then realize the body was a gift.
There might be another type of suicide where somebody is mentally ill or somebody who perhaps their stock went down, these are very different scenarios. The intention behind the suicide was very different and they will be taken care of differently. They then receive prayers from us, unconditional thoughts of love, and when they receive these thoughts of love might help them to start to heal themselves.
BJB: How can someone connect with a deceased loved one in a dream state?
JVP: The number one way to communicate with spirit is through the dream state. I believe when we sleep at night, our soul leaves the physical vessel through the top of the head and travels to the spirit dimension.
We see our teachers, our guides, our family and we have a connection there. The conscious mind may not remember that. Most of the time it does not, but sometimes in the morning after the soul has come back into the body, the conscious mind is aware of this kind of a dream, which I call Crossovers. It’s more than a dream when we’re with them, but the conscious mind will look at it as a dream.
BJB: What are definitive signs of a visitation during the dream state?
JVP: In a dream state you’ll experience let’s say your mother or a relative, you’ll go to their house that looks just like the house you remember as a child. It’s a connection you can relate to.
With their thoughts, spirit is creating an environment and atmosphere that when you go into a sleeping state, you feel as if you’re home. You feel a sense of being with them, a recognition if you will. They’ll set up a scene that you recognize.
The spirit also tends to be young. There’s a heart connection that leaves you feeling as if you’re definitely there. And you feel this throughout your being.
There are other signs in a conscious normal waking state that people have when their loved ones are around them. This depends upon the belief system of the spirit, but sometimes they’ll be able to affect electricity, telephone or cell phones.
BJB: If the electricity is flashing, let’s say, how do you know which deceased relative to associate that with?
JVP: What I would suggest is quiet the mind, breathe into your heart and the first impression you receive in your thought, that’s who it is. The hardest part is surrendering your mind.
A Lot of people come to my workshops and they want to talk to their deceased father or mother, and they think, ‘Come on Mom or come on Dad.’ Actually what they’re doing is controlling the space around them and they’re blocking the atmosphere. They’re putting up a wall because they’re trying to control that space.
Spirit has a hard time going through those blocks. The best way someone can receive is to surrender.
Sometimes during a demonstration I’ll do a meditation to relax the audience. They’re always getting through to the husband who doesn’t believe in this and was “dragged” there by his wife, because he’s not trying to control it.
BJB: So the purer your intention, the faster the energy will move?
JVP: Correct. And love is the fastest vibration we have. If you send out a thought and back it with the emotion of love, the faster it will materialize. That’s true for everything in life. I call it Universal Ordering.
BJB: Can you talk about the importance of shielding yourself from negative energies? Which are the most important places where one should be energetically shielded?
JVP: It’s all energy. Strong belief systems will create a certain atmosphere around someone, and we magnetize ourselves to a certain type level. Fear can create limited consciousness and that will be the atmosphere around them. There are all different levels that can get caught up in the ego, darkness, and all sorts of things which creates a certain space.
Having an awareness is the first step. If you’re conscious, you’re aware that everything is energy. I teach people to be mindful because people create with their thoughts.
As we walk around the world we walk into a sea of thoughts. What somebody thinks of you goes right to you, the target. If you let that energy sit there forever, it’s eventually going to impede upon your own energy system. It’s like bugs that get caught on the windshield when you’re driving on the freeway. At some point you have to clean them off.
Every day when you take a shower you can envision the water as cosmic, loving light coming into the body through the top of the head. I envision this energy coming through me and surrounding me, each cell, muscle and each tissue. Anyone’s energy, any foreign energy that I’m holding onto, created by myself or somebody else, I see that being washed away and pulled away by the light going down the drain to Mother Earth to be recycled into love.
Then I say a prayer, “May God go before me and show me the way.” When you become aware of energy, you begin to intuitively know when it’s somebody else’s energy.
BJB: What has been the most surprising and unexpected part of the psychic/medium experience for you?
JVP: How mainstream it’s become. The mindset has changed and people accept it. That’s the biggest I think.
BJB: There’s a lot of talk about psychic and medium work these days. Is there anything really important that’s missing from the conversation that needs to be addressed?
JVP: Yes, I think it’s great to talk about mediumship, but that’s just the beginning of people getting involved in the phenomena.
When you pass to the spirit world, you have a life review. Every single soul looks back at their life and all the experiences they had, how they treated people, and what they thought of people. You are your judge and jury, and standing before you are all those people you wronged in your life.
If you have that realization and awareness of the responsibility while you’re still in the body, just think how that could change the world.
It would be a completely different world.
James Van Praagh is the author of Talking to Heaven, Reaching to Heaven, Healing Grief, Heaven and Earth, Looking Beyond, Meditations, Ghosts Among Us, Unfinished Business, How to Heal a Grieving Heart, Adventures of the Soul and soon to be released The Power of Love.
For more information on local appearances, events, books and audio, log onto vanpraagh.com or visit James Van Praagh’s Facebook community.
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