James Van Praagh straddles the realm between the here-and-now, and the Spirit world.
Considered a pioneer of the mediumship movement, and recognized as one of the most accurate spiritual mediums working today, James is also the best-selling author of numerous books including, Talking to Heaven, Reaching to Heaven, Healing Grief, Heaven and Earth Looking Beyond and Meditations and produces the television series Ghost Whisperer.
I had the unique opportunity to see James in person at Celebrate Your Life last fall, a truly motivating and inspiring four-day event, and he’ll be one of four Keynote Speakers at the upcoming Celebrate Your Life conference in Chicago in June 2010. This is the first of nine author interviews that will be appearing on Care2 as part of the Celebrate Your Life series.
James and I had a delightful conversation recently — he was very warm, open, and wonderfully down-to-earth.
Care2: James, could you explain to our readers what you do?
James Van Praagh: As a medium, I bring evidence of details, names, places and events from those in the Spirit world to prove there’s no death. That life goes on. And I’m meeting with someone who’s a conduit for those messages for the spirit people to come back to their loved ones on the earth, let them know they’re okay, that they survived death, that there is no such thing as ‘death’.
I’ve been doing this for 26 years. And I travel all over the world, doing workshops and lectures and teaching.
C2: What would you say to someone who says that what you do is hocus-pocus or show biz?
James: I would say that’s an easy out. Rather than taking the time to really understand it.
If you’e an open-minded skeptic you’re fine. If you’re a closed minded skeptic then you’re a cynic. And that means you’re closed to learning anything. Then your mind is already made up. But I think everybody should be an open-minded skeptic. I am. Anybody that makes claims like this, I’m the first one to say, prove it to me.
C2: How does communicating with the spirit world help you communicate on the earthly plane? Or does it?
James: Doing the spiritual work it forces me to live my life in a spiritual manner. So, I’m going to be very mindful of the choices I make on a daily level, with each person I’m talking to.
As I wrote in my most recent book, Unfinished Business, have no should’ve, would’ve or could’ve. No regrets. Live each day like it’s this only day and this is the last day of your life. Be mindful and bring as much love and compassion in any situation you’re around.
For example, you are in an elevator and someone else comes in to the elevator. You smile at them. You send love to them. And in doing this, you lighten up the energy.
My work has taught me about being mindful energy on a daily basis. I don’t think anybody is different than anybody else. We’re all one. So you have to treat other people like that as well.
C2: Guilt is a significant topic in Unfinished Business…What is the one big message you have for people regarding guilt?
James: Guilt is also living in your past and it’s those should’ve, would’ve or could-haves. And every person who loses somebody has some kind of guilt. ‘I should’ve been there when they died.’ Or, parents will say, ‘if I didn’t give Bobby the keys he wouldn’t have gotten in a car accident.’ Or, someone else will say, ‘if only I had made that one more phone call they would’ve been here today.’ It’s always ‘If only I’d done this or hadn’t done that’ — and it’s all guilt, guilt, guilt.
You have to forgive yourself. The past is the past, the future is the future. The past has already happened. There’s nothing you can change about the past. The future isn’t here yet, so why worry about it? Really all you have is to live now, right at this moment. This exact time. So you can do the best you can at this exact moment and live for now. Guilt just holds you back. Guilt can’t change anything.
C2: You’ve said that it’s important for us to release our addictions when we’re here on earth. Could you elaborate on that?
James: Everything is in the physical world, physical addictions, but addictions are also mental. Physicality is a kind of the acting out of the mental part of it, which is the addiction. You have to resolve those mental addictions, those cravings, while you’re on the physical earth because you don’t want to bring those into the mental world.
The mental world’s spiritual dimension is made up of thought. So you don’t want to dirty that with addictions of the physical, of drinking or of drugs. You don’t want that because that’s not of that spiritual world. That’s left over from the physical. So how can you do that work in that other dimension when you’re still being pulled down to that physical addiction?
For instance, you can create a martini in the spirit dimension, because you can manifest anything over there very, very quickly. It’s all thought. And you’ll drink it and drink it and it will have the same taste that it has and even has the same feeling but you won’t have a buzz because you’re not physical. But you’ll have that desire, that mental desire. So if you have a desire there and you’re so obsessed with your addiction you’re not going to be able to continue with the work you have to do in the mental world, the spiritual world.
And the same thing in this world too in a way. It’s almost like, if you’re an alcoholic or if you’re a drug addict on earth, it pulls you out from your life. It can hold you back from living in life. It’s very much the same over there. But the other part of it is everything in the spiritual side of life is so much more intense.
Another example, you’re in a really bad mood and you go to the store and yell at someone and they end up in a bad mood and in turn, the person that you yelled at goes home and yells at their family and puts them in a bad mood. When you have your life review when you die, you not only see and feel how that person felt when you yelled at that time, you feel it ten times, 20 times, 30 times stronger how they felt. It’s amplified. So even the addiction is amplified. That’s why you want to get rid of the addiction while you are in a physical body. Don’t carry that amplification of that addiction with you to the Spirit world.
C2: I would imagine you can take guilt with you as well?
James: You certainly can. A lot of people have come through to me [from the Spirit world] with guilt. The father who didn’t love his daughter enough when he was alive and he feels guilt in the spirit world and he says ‘I should’ve loved you more. Why didn’t I love you more? I’m so sorry. And he’s been holding onto this guilt in the spirit world. And he wasn’t able to move on to a higher level because he was stuck in that guilt place.
So you have to let guilt go.
C2: One of the things you’ve talked about is how fear holds people back. Anything you would say to people about moving past fear?
James: We are loving beings. We are God beings and God is energy, God is pure love, and our natural state of being is love. Fear is the opposite of that.
Life is a series of choices and each choice is made up of love or fear. For instance, if you choose a job and you think well, you know it doesn’t pay that much but I really love doing it. Or, I hate the job but it pays so well. You’re not going to be a happy person. If you do something out of fear you’re not going to be happy. Fear is the False Ego Appearing Real. It limits you. It limits who you are as a Spiritual being. It limits your natural ability of doing something.
So it’s either love or fear as the motivator and fear really is limiting.
C2: Why do you believe meditation so important and what would you say to somebody who has difficulty with meditation or resists meditation?
James: Number one, meditation is the key to unlocking your spiritual self. To really tuning into your Spirit. To your Soul Self.
From my experience that’s the best way because the soul is there but we have to get outside the rational mindset and I think through meditation and through breathing. It’s going through different levels of consciousness. Exploring different levels of consciousness. And through mediation you’re able to do that. You’re able to explore various levels of your beingness and who you are.
Why is this so difficult for some people to meditate? I think because they look at meditation as a certain discipline that they have to do a specific way. Like, there’s only one way to mediate and I have to sit straight in this chair and I have to breathe in four counts, holding four counts and exhale. Not at all true. Meditation is really just a change of consciousness, a blending into a different consciousness. Another state of being. And you can do that through gardening or music or painting…There are different ways of meditation. Anything that gets you to your source of your center is mediation.
When I’m at home, I mediate through gardening, I meditate through singing, I meditate through writing. Even writing a book, that’s meditation for me. It’s getting in the center and reconnecting with your true self.
C2: Care2 focuses on making a difference. How do you view what you are doing as making a positive difference in the world or in people’s lives.
James: I’m helping people to realize who they truly are and how beautiful they truly are. And I’m helping them to realize that they are a spiritual being having a physical experience, not the other way around.