What is the Soul? – Part 2 – Orbiting

What the conscious mind can’t remember, the subconscious never forgets…

In last week’s post we speculated on the existence of a disembodied self (or soul) and wondered what such a ‘self’ would be like. If we allow that our memories might persist into our disembodied existence we might wonder why we don’t remember our disembodied existence while we are incarnated on the physical plane. According to Mary B. Howes in her textbook, Human Memory: Structures and Images,

“Probably the most influential development in memory research across the past half century,.. involves the notion of cues, If I am consciously thinking, say, about houses, this information will make contact with house representations in my memory. The idea ‘houses,’ in my awareness at the moment, is a cue. It has been found that success in recall depends in major part on the relationship between operating cues and the target memory content. It is not the case that you can either recall a memory because it is adequately strong or cannot recall it because it is weak. Success can depend on what you are thinking at the time you make the attempt at recall. Some psychologists believe that this relationship completely determines whether (any) memory will be recalled. Others think that cues are only one determining factor. This debate reflects one of the most important issues in the field of memory research today.”

There are a great many songs I learned as a child which I can honestly say I never think of. In the last thirty years they have not once been called into my conscious memory. Yet, I hear my three year old daughter sing “Hey, my name is Joe.” And I hear myself automatically responding, “..and I work – in – a button factory.” And suddenly the song is right there for me.

If we discard memories long unused – one would think I wouldn’t remember the song at all, for I haven’t accessed that memory in over thirty years.

Although I had worked eight of those thirty years at a company that was primarily a box and paper factory and I had even, during that time, been in a few of those factories, only the specific cue of the song verse retrieved the song from the deep abyss of my long memory.

We may not consciously remember our disembodied existence because it is so different from our embodied experience that we don’t have anything to cue a memory of its existence.

The below quote from the Newton dialogues suggests that when we’re back in a disembodied state we do recognize the experience, “S;,,,I’m relieved to be away from Earth. I just want to stay here always. There is no tension, or worries, only a sense of well-being. I’m just floating… how beautiful… Dr. N: As you continue to float along, what is your next major impression as you pass the spiritual gateway? S: (pause) Familiarity.”[1]

If we allow that this account may reflect a true feeling, and there are a number of other accounts like this one, it seems that when we witness, even through hypnotic regression, the space we go to in-between lives it feels natural, right, familiar so that those deep memories are able to be recalled.

On a personal note, a couple years before I was even aware of Michael Newton’s books (or any other material) on the ‘life-between-lives’ concept, I had a personal experience that corroborates this argument.

At the time, I often meditated on the train into work in the morning. I can’t remember if I was meditating on the morning of this particular day, but it’s likely. In other words, it’s possible I was, at this point, highly in-tune with my energy body. As I exited the train and headed for the central station, music playing through my headphones, I felt the oddest feeling of familiarity.

I watched the hundreds of other people doing the same thing; coming off my train, coming off other trains, all heading towards the same central station like the spokes of a wheel and I had the strongest feeling that I’d done this before. Now, my first thought was of course I’ve done this before, I do this every day.

The feeling persisted, though, and even increased in strength. I puzzled over it because the ‘deja-vu’ feeling didn’t seem to be related to doing the action before in this body, and even more mysteriously (since I’ve had a few past life memories surface) it didn’t feel like I had done this in another body, it felt like I had done it before on an energetic level. The best way to describe it was that the feeling of the movement, and the crowd, and the music all together was familiar to my energy field separately from my body.

Although I’d been conscious of my own energy field for years by this point, this was the first time I ever felt like my energy field was recalling[2] an experience that didn’t involve being in a body at all.

This incident stuck in my conscious memory because of it’s singularity, but without supporting context, it soon dropped off the radar. I found the Newton dialogues a year later and, although I have been a firm believer in reincarnation since I was about five, I hadn’t given any thought to what happens between lives. Imagine my surprise, then, when I ran into some very similar descriptions for the soul’s return to the spirit world over a year later

“[Subject]:,, it’s as if we start in a stream and then all of us returning from death are pulled into a great river together,,, we are gathered into … a sea… where all of us swirl around… in slow motion. Then, I feel as though I’m being pulled away to a small tributary again,,,”

Or this observation from Michael Newton, “One of my clients described the staging area as resembling, ‘the hub of a great wagon wheel, where we are transported from a center along the spokes to our designated places.”

It’s possible my energy-body was recalling some sort of energetic travel because the circumstances acted as the right ‘cues.’ It’s possible we could all recognize memories of this aspect of our existence given the right cues and support.


We can’t remember our disembodied life (or barely and with zero scientifically acceptable evidence) while we are incarnated. Conversely, according to Michael Newton’s subjects, once we return to a disembodied state we tend to lose the immediacy to make sense of our incarnated experience;

“S: Sometimes I like to wait until after my council meeting [to take in new, healing energy] because I don’t want the fresh energy to dilute the memories and feelings I had in the life ‘just lived.’ If I did infuse myself (by taking in reserve energy), that former life would be less real to me… I want to retain every emotional feeling I had of these events as they occurred so I can better describe why I took certain actions.”[3]

Memory is probably strongest at the boundaries – when we are first born (and inconveniently can’t communicate much) and when we first cross over to a disembodied existence – or die. The longer we persist in each existence, the more remote the other becomes. As a result, neither existence can fully relate to the other and we end up with two experiences of existence ‘orbiting’ each other instead of witnessing our existence as one cohesive whole.

The 2015 Hay House World Summit featured a video of a conversation in Anaheim between Esther Hicks (collective consciousness known as ABRAHAM) and Dr. Wayne Dyer. It was a fascinating discussion, but one particular part of that exchange started me down this entirely new way of thinking.

Esther channeling ABRAHAM made a comment about how we would all eventually reach soul fulfillment or completion (or whatever – I can’t remember the exact term), and then followed-up with, “We just don’t [know or understand] why it takes you so long.”

The audience laughed.

Esther’s head swiveled towards the crowd – but there was no trace of humor on her face. I found this intriguing… because… it wasn’t a joke.

It wasn’t a joke.

The disembodied (such as ABRAHAM) really don’t understand why it takes us so long. We tend to believe that this is because the knowledge and understanding of the disembodied is superior to our own. But what if we were to shift away from the word superior and instead consider the word different?  As in – their understanding of existence is different.

Maybe the disembodied don’t understand the challenges of incarnated existence because they’re not embodied.

Apart from the immediacy of incarnated experience, how could it be completely understood?

Those of us who place an emphasis on the spiritual side of our nature (and I count myself among this number) – especially during or recently after the thrill of a mystical experience – can tend to view the spiritual or disembodied experience as more ‘real’ than the embodied experience as in, “We’re not really this human existence, we’re actually spiritual beings.”

Certainly we can understand the appeal of such an existence, free from the weight of a body and its requirement for eating, sleeping, pooping, and – of course – death. Free from the seeming-isolation of the human brain and our restricted forms of communication; it must be a very peaceful and liberated experience indeed.

However, I’m not sure that it’s helpful for us to champion one facet of existence over the other.  Instead we might benefit from viewing the two experiences (embodied and disembodied) as equally real and relevant.   These two parts of ourselves are never completely disconnected or conjoined, which is why I prefer the term ‘orbiting.’

In next week’s post Our Dual Nature we’ll talk about how this ‘orbiting’ state – just might be the key to understanding who we are, collectively, as human beings and why at the deepest level and we’ll touch on why it may be helpful to avoid thinking of one experience as superior to the other at all.

If you’re interested in reading more about why we don’t remember our past lives specifically, I’ve written a more detailed post called All Alone in the Moonlight that does a deep dive on how human memory works and makes several arguments for why we don’t remember our past life memories.



[1] (loc 405) Journey of Souls – Michael Newton

[2] So technically, in the field of memory there is recall and recognition. If I were to use the technical terms correctly for this experience I was feeling familiarity. Familiarity is a sub-category of the recognition experience which is weaker than recall. Recall, as technically defined, would have meant that I had the information of exactly when and where I had experienced this before. I use recall because, colloquially, these terms are often interchangeable and I had already used the word familiarity a bunch of times, so for literary flow I wanted a different word.

[3] (loc 2226) – Destiny of Souls, Michael Newton

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