JAMES VAN PRAAGH: INTERVIEW WITH THE PIONEER
Acclaimed and world renowned medium James Van Praagh, author of New York Times bestseller, Talking to Heaven, and co-executive producer of CBS prime Time series Ghost Whisperer (which is based on his life) is a natural born psychic pioneer.
All his life James Van Praagh has boldly gone where no medium or psychic has ever gone before. The publication of Talking to Heaven: A Medium’s Message of Life after Death in 1998 was nothing less than ground-breaking. Previously books about the afterlife tended to be firmly grounded in religion or shrouded in impenetrable esoteric mystery or tentative/touchy feely reads for a specialist audience but Talking to Heaven was none of these things. Here was a medium, not linked to any church or faith, assertively and boldly stating in a very simple and matter of fact way to the whole world that he had the gift of talking to the dead and bringing back powerful messages of love and hope from the other side. The clarity and simplicity of his message spoke to people from all walks of life regardless of age, education, religion and background. Not afraid to discuss controversial subjects like AIDs, suicide and murder Van Praaghanswered some of the most profound questions about life after death. The book touched a deep chord of spiritual longing in the world and sold well over a million copies.
The influence of Talking to Heaven on my life and my writing career was nothing short of revolutionary. As you will know for much of my life as a spiritual author I have been plagued with doubts and questions, and this was especially so in 1998 when I had just given birth to my son and missed my departed mother more than ever. I didn’t get a sign from her and this caused me great sadness and disillusionment but reading Taking to Heaven gave me the clear guidance I needed on how to begin the process of communicating to the other side. Slowly but surely in the years that followed I began to feel a sense of connection again to my mother in spirit. The book was a gift from heaven when I needed it the most. I even found it in a most unusual, or as Mr Van Praagh would say heaven sent way. I was sitting on a park bench with my son feeling tearful because I missed my mother deeply and wished she could have seen her grandson just once before she died. My son dropped his rattle. I bent down to pick it up and saw this book lying under my feet. I picked it up. It was Talking to Heaven. I’m convinced it wasn’t there when I sat down because I would have noticed it or kicked it.
As well as opening the lines of communication to the world of spirit the book also inspired me to take a leap of faith in my career and channel my writing energy from health and popular psychology books into the place where my heart was: mind body and spirit. In 2005 when I got my first angel book contract after writing The Element Encyclopedia of the Psychic World (Harper Collins)Talking to the Dead was a constant source of inspiration and remains so to this day, especially the sections about moving beyond grief and making first contact as so many people who read my books and write to me ask for guidance on just those sensitive topics. The advice I give them draws heavily on what I learned there and continue to learn as Mr Van Praagh is still writing best- selling afterlife books today.
So you can imagine how thrilled I was when the man himself agreed to take some time out of his busy writing, lecturing and touring schedule to talk to me about life, the universe and everything. From the moment the interview day and time was booked my spirits lifted inexplicably. I got a burst of creative energy and finished a chapter I’d been struggling with for days of my next book Secrets of Heaven, to be published by Simon and Schuster in 2016. Then on the morning of the interview I woke up with one of the most wonderful gifts – feeling happy for no particular reason – and when the phone call began I sensed that perhaps there was a reason and that reason was James Van Praagh. I don’t think I have ever spoken to someone with such joy in their voice. It was as if every word he said was smiling and as I spoke to him my mouth ached because I was smiling too. It was remarkable and wonderful. There was also a tremendous uplifting energy in his voice that was infectious as I found myself laughing and talking way too fast. I’ll call it the JVP effect and I can understand now when Mr Van Praagh goes on the road to demonstrate his mediumship skills tickets sell fast.
Psychics often come across as rather serious, intense and sombre but there was none of that during our interview. Everything, even when we discussed darker more serious issues, was encased in a bubble of pure joy. I don’t need to be convinced that this man sees and talks to heaven. I just know it. I know because of the radiant joy in his voice and the joy he inspires in me and I am sure in everyone his words, life and heavenly heart has touched. This kind ofinexplicable joy can only come from one place – heaven – and Mr Van Praagh is channelling heaven on earth.
Once I finally manage to smother my excitement that I am actually talking to the man who inspired my heaven writing career, the interview begins in earnest. I thank Mr Van Praagh for his time and on hearing my British accent he immediately laughs at the synchronicity as he has only just returned from a brief trip to the UK – a place he adores – but he did struggle to navigate the underground in London, or underworld as he jokingly refers to it. Mr Van Praagh talks fairly fast (and if you read my interview you will understand why) so I am glad I was able to record our conversation otherwise I would have missed so much. Here is the edited transcript of our interview with a few additional comments added from JVP’s website and books to enhance clarity:
When did you first realise you were a medium?
I must have been about twenty four at the time. I remember talking to a girl on the phone and having this powerful feeling that she had a grandmother in spirit and that grandmother was from Idaho. I was right and then other accurate details came through. It was the beginning of my life as a medium.
Is a medium born or made?
A mixture of both. I think we are all born with psychic powers – we call it intuition – but some of us find it easier to develop their sensitivity than others, a bit like musical ability. All of us can learn to play an instrument but not everyone will become a virtuoso. Certainly for me once I realised I had mediumistic potential I made the decision to develop it and I went to weekly meetings and meditation groups. I did this for several years and then as I approached thirty sensations from the spirit world became stronger and stronger. There was no going back from then onwards. I knew this was my spiritual path.
How does the world of spirit communicate with you? How does it make you feel?
As we are talking about things that are not of this earth it is hard to describe but I will try. It is all done with thought and feelings and sensations. When spirits enter our realm it is not always easy for them to adjust to the earth vibration or mindset. They have to slow down their thought. I have to speed up mine so we both need to adjust to each other as we blend. Feelings are the first to be sent to meand then, if it is a good day, I will get personal details like names or what someone was wearing – simple and deeply personal things that the person I am doing a reading for will instinctively recognise. The thoughts and feelings can only be simple because more complex thoughts can’t slow down enough to adjust to the earth mindset.
You need to understand, Theresa, that the spirit world is infinitely more complex than this earth. Our departed loved ones are on another spiritual level or dimension and the laws that govern that dimension are different from the laws that govern us here. We are in the physical world and our physical limitations can’t fully understand the spiritual dimensions and spirits come through with hints and pieces of thoughts and feelings that we can understand. I hear these thoughts but it is not like physical hearing. It is like whispers and sounds and parts of thoughts and feelings. I then communicate those thoughts and feelings as best I can. Most of the time they make sense but sometimes because of communication problems there will be confusion.
When I’m talking to a spirit my energy levels increase dramatically. It’s like I’ve drunk too much coffee or eaten too much chocolate. This makes sense because if you are a bridge between this life and the next the world of spirit has a faster dimension. After a night of readings I can sometimes feel very tired and drained but I have learned ways to recharge myself again ready for the next reading.
How do you take care of yourself, James?
I take care of myself by making sure I lead as balanced a lifestyle as possible, by getting enough sleep and exercise and eating healthily and spending time with loved ones and my dogs. Also, as this may sound strange, but one way for me to recharge is to make someone’s day. You might want to try it. The next time you interact with a loved one or a friend or someone you never met before on the phone or at work or in a shop counter just ask them how they are and listen to what they are saying, really listen. Show interest in them. People appreciate this so much and the boost it gives me to see their appreciation is a real high. My batteries are instantly recharged. That’s another message I am trying to spread: Be nicer to one another. It’s great for them and good for you, so a win-win.
What happens when you pass over? Do we remember everything and everyone?
The process is different for everyone but when you pass over there is an expansion of consciousness. Our earth minds are a small part of that consciousness. It’s a bit like before you were a seed and now you are a fully grown plant. When you are a plant you can’t really relate to being a seed anymore. The physical dimensions are not relative to the spiritual ones. Hope this is making sense to you.
As for memories of earth in the spirit world the stronger the emotional connection the stronger the memory in spirit will be and the stronger the memories will come through to me when I do a reading. Each spirit communicates their memories of earth to me differently – personalities in spirit are as many and varied as personalities on earth, even more so. We are all unique on earth and we are even more unique in heaven. You do have to remember though that spirits are not in earth time, they are outside of time so asking them what they did a year ago – if they passed away a year ago – may be difficult for them to communicate precisely because a year ago may feel like another time and place or even eternity away.
What is heaven like?
Heaven is made up of what gives us joy. It is created by the thoughts and feelings we had on earth so in this way heaven will be different for everyone as each of us have different thoughts and feelings. That is why I stress in my books the importance of living as positive a life on earth as possible and treating people with love and kindness. Every day of our lives here we are creating our lives in heaven. When we pass on we have a life review and feel everything good and bad we have said and done. We relive our lives outside time. We see how we have treated others and how it made them feel. This could be hell or it could be heaven.
We truly do create our afterlife. There is this great story about a millionaire who died and went to heaven. He was incredibly wealthy but very self-centred so when he went to heaven and asked where he should reside he was taken to a hovel. The millionaire was shocked as he said he had expected a mansion but the angels told him they could only work with the materials he had given them in his life.
So, you reap what you sow in the afterlife. Be a kind and caring and compassionate person and heaven will be beautiful fields and flowers. Do the opposite and expect a mud hut.
Do you believe in reincarnation?
Yes, and as I just explained as you reap so shall you sow and the life you are living right now will influence the life you are next born into. Each time we have a life on earth we have to learn lessons for our soul to grow. I think of life on earth as a soul school. Sometimes we get things right and sometimes we get things wrong. In order to graduate we need to get more things right than wrong. Getting things wrong isn’t the end of the world though because we learn and grow most from our mistakes, our pain and our problems.
Do you believe in synchronicity?
Again, yes. I always tell people that synchronicity is God’s way of remaining anonymous so pay attention to the signs and messages that are subtly sent your way. I don’t think anything that happens to us is random. We need to look for the deeper meanings.
What is the message you want to give to the world?
I have many but, above all, I want people to know that there is no death. Once you understand that your life transforms in every way. You lose your fear. You live life to the fullest. You understand that you are responsible for your thoughts and feelings and your words and deeds. Live your life this way and your life will be full of meaning.
The spirits on the other side want us to know that we are loved. When people pass over the first thing they experience is an expansion of consciousness and they suddenly become aware of the love within and all around them that has always existed. They understand that if they had only known how much love there was they would not have felt so unfulfilled.
Love changes everything. It is the greatest power. Trouble is many of us deny ourselves the self-love that is our birth right. We let other people manipulate us thinking that if only they loved us we could be fulfilled. We try to earn their love but if we just understood we are love we would realise that we don’t need to do that. We don’t need to come from that weakened position. We have divine love inside of us. We have all that we need inside us. Get in touch with that – find heaven or God within – and we can find happiness and fulfilment in this life and the next.
Can we all develop our psychic or mediumistic powers?
Think I mentioned at the beginning of the interview that we are all born with intuition but it is a matter of degree and some people have more finely tuned intuitive powers than others. But we can all develop our intuitive powers and I try to teach people to take responsibility for their own self-development and to get in touch with their inner selves or world. You need to tune out the outside world and tune into the inner world and the journey begins with trust and letting go of fear and self-doubt.
I do recommend meditation, either in a group or alone, or working with chakra points. One of the best ways to start tuning into your inner world is to pay more attention to your dreams. Before you go to bed ask spirit to send you as sign and if you keep doing this in time you will get a dream that you will know is more than a dream – it will be a vision, a communication from the other side or heaven talking to you.
You are not afraid of discussing the dark side of human life and nature in your books. What are your opinions on that?
Again this life is very much a school for our spirits to grow and learn. Problems, pain, suffering, cruelty and injustice are very much a part of life and I would be a hypocrite to pretend none of this exists because it does so that is why I talk about these things in my book. I hope what I says helps people cope with or understand the dark side of life better.
I believe in an afterlife but often doubt and fear it too. Any advice?
Your understanding of the afterlife is based on your relationship with yourself, Theresa. If you are experiencing doubt and fear the message is you need to trust your heart more. You need to trust the love within and all around yourself. Every decision we make in our lives is based on either fear (which comes from the ego, our human side) or love which is a gift from heaven. Every thought, world or feeling we have either empowers us or depletes us. I bet when you doubt you feel weaker than when you trust so chose to trust, chose to feel empowered. It might help if I told you that 80 per cent of who we are is outside of the body. I’ll leave you now with that awesome thought as I believe it will help you trust yourself and your belief in heaven more.
As the interview draws to an end I feel truly inspired. It is not every day that heaven talks back to you and I am incredibly gratefulfor this gift. I hope this interview will have inspired you to check out James’s website www.vanpraagh.comor read his many insightful books. You will be glad that you did. Of course, Talking to Heaven would be my recommended place to start.
You may also want to visit his recently formed psychic school www.jvpschoolofmysticalarts.comwhich perfectly illustrates that Mr Van Praagh is as ground breaking as ever. He feels that the internet will play a huge part in the spiritual revolution, in awakening every soul on earth to their full potential, in spreading the word that the afterlife is real and our loved ones never die and his psychic school online is leading the way. I could not agree with him more and have often spoken about harnessing spiritual power online in my books but Mr Van Praagh is doing something about it. If you visit this site you will get a rare opportunity to be mentored by the man himself. In his level 1 Psychic Intuitive Certification Course , he shares the tools you need to deepen your gifts and become a clear channel to the world of spirit. In his new JVP Mediumship Certification Course, James shares techniques he has perfected over 30 years as a medium. Now, it is actually possible to become the masterful psychic or medium you have always dreamed of – and all from the comfort of your home.Now you can explore the mystical arts online! Told you that this man was a spiritual revolutionary.
Mr Van Praagh began his career as a spiritual pioneer and I feel he will never stop being that great pioneer, a man with an extraordinary ability to talk to heaven, a man who can light the way ahead for all those drawn to the world of spirit and the search for true meaning in life to follow.
I’ll end now with some quotes that I think Mr Van Praagh would like:
You don’t go to heaven, you grow to heaven. Edgar Cayce
As a man thinketh in his heart, so is he. Proverbs 23.7
Joy is the serious business of heaven. C.S Lewis
The love you make is the love you take. Beatles