Guest Profile: James Van Praagh
James Van Praagh is a "survival evidence medium", meaning that he is able to bridge the gap between two planes of existence, that of the living and that of the dead, by providing evidential proof of life after death via detailed messages. His very natural, easy-going style would lead you to believe that Van Praagh is chatting with a friend on the telephone, not communicating messages from the grave. "I’m clairsentient," he explains, "which simply means clear feeling. I feel the emotions and personalities of the deceased. I am also clairvoyant," he adds, meaning that many times he will actually see the spirit as a solid form and will describe their physical traits.
The detailed information conveyed between worlds is not only awe inspiring, but forces people to question their own belief systems, views of reality and preconceptions of live and death.
Van Praagh’s popularity began in the early nineties, on the NBC morning talk show: "The Other Side." The show concentrated on paranormal issues, and Van Praagh became a favorite guest & resident expert on the subject of life after death. Even Howard Rosenberg, the Los Angeles Times distinguished television critic, dubbed Van Praagh "spectacular".
Through the years his message of hope has touched an abundance of people due to his numerous guest appearances on such shows as "Oprah," "Larry King Live," "20/20," "48 Hours," and "Biography." His unique paranormal experiences during the past
25 years have seen him author best-selling books, create meditation intuitive programming, a successful state of the art website, conduct seminars to sold-out audiences, and produce successful television projects. Van Praagh’s unique paranormal experiences during the past 25 years have been recorded in his New York Times best-selling books Talking To Heaven, Reaching To Heaven, Healing Grief, Heaven and Earth, Looking Beyond: A Teen’s Guide To The Spiritual World, & Meditations with James Van Praagh.
As a pioneer in the field, Van Praagh has introduced the world to mediumship by producing a daytime talk show entitled "Beyond With James Van Praagh." The show aired in the U.S. from September 2002 through September 2003 and is still showing in syndication in Europe, Australia and Latin America.
In April 2002, Van Praagh began an ongoing relationship with the CBS network and produced an incredibly successful mini-series "Living With The Dead," inspired by his first book Talking To Heaven. This mini-series starred Ted Danson and Mary Steenburgen and was the highest rated show for CBS in two years. In October 2004 his second successful CBS project aired entitled "The Dead Will Tell" starring Anne Heche and Eva Longoria.
Van Praagh Co-Executive Produced his first CBS primetime series, "Ghost Whisperer" starring Jennifer Love Hewitt. This show premiered in September 2005 and became the #1 drama for CBS in its time slot.
In May 2006, Van Praagh signed an overall deal to develop projects for CBS Paramount Network Television. Under this agreement, which covers scripted, reality series and television movies, he also continues to contribute to the entertainment newsmagazines
"Entertainment Tonight" and "The Insider."
Van Praagh was born in Bayside, New York, and is the youngest of four children. As an average child, he remembers having a tremendous fascination with death. He was raised Catholic and served as an alter boy, entering the seminary at the age of fourteen. It was there that his interest in Catholicism ended and his sense of spirituality began. There were no schools or training that could prepare Van Praagh for his unusual vocation. Indeed, his ability to communicate with the dead arose out of his…well…life. This belief was affirmed by an astonishing encounter that he had when he was only 8-years-old. The young boy was praying to God to reveal Himself to him, when an open hand appeared through the ceiling of Van Praagh’s room emitting radiant beams of light. Incredibly, he recounts, "I wasn’t scared. It was actually very peaceful." Graduating from public high school, he continued to pursue his studies & later graduated from San Francisco State University with a degree in Broadcasting and Communications. You could say that he ended up working in Communications, just in a different capacity. After graduation, he moved to Los Angeles where he became involved in metaphysics and psychic phenomena. At 24, the promise of that outstretched palm so many years before was fulfilled.
During his early days in Los Angeles, Van Praagh was invited to attend a session with a medium, although he didn’t even know at the time what a medium was. Given that, he was understandably dubious when the medium informed Van Praagh that he would be doing the same work within two years. "My first reaction was, I have enough trouble
dealing with the living; why do I want to talk to the dead?"
As Van Praagh’s sensitivity increased, he began doing psychic readings for friends. During these readings, he began receiving detailed messages from the beyond. Though at first this seemed bizarre, the more he learned, the more he could not deny the fact that he had the gift to reach beyond the familiar plane of existence we call life. Today, Van Praagh is recognized as one of the foremost mediums in the world.
Naturally, there remain skeptics about his abilities. Van Praagh, however, is the first to say that he welcomes healthy skepticism, declaring, in fact, that he is a skeptic himself. "I believe that I am doing this, but I don’t believe that just anyone can do this. All
mediums are psychic, but not all psychics are mediums."
A psychic senses energy around the living people or objects. A medium not only senses energy, but is able to interface between the slower vibrations of the physical world and the much faster ones of the spirit world. Though Van Praagh is quick to point out that his
gift does not provide insights into the future, he is able to provide detailed evidential proof that a loved one survived death. Surviving death may seem to be the supreme oxymoron, but he has a firm belief that we are all spirit beings, and that there is far more
to our life than our life span.
Ultimately, Van Praagh feels extremely fortunate to be a conduit of comfort, healing, and most importantly, love. "As a medium, I have never experienced anything by love and compassion and healing in my work," he avows. "It is the love bond between people which allows me to make the connection between the living and the dead."
"There are no words which exist in the English language or any other that can accurately describe the intense sensations, colors and visions expressed by the spirit world" he says. "If I convey recognizable evidence along with even a fraction of the loving energy behind the message, I consider the reading successful." He assures us that the other side residents are intent on letting their loved ones know they have survived so called "death" and will attempt any way possible to let them know they are still very much alive and are around them all the time.
Van Praagh also travels the world teaching mediumship development classes, hosting cruises to spiritual destinations, and conducting sold-out seminars. He takes pride in having built a web site that encourages spiritual learning, grief support and friendships through its many online communities, resources and activities. "The books, CDs, seminars, classes, web site and television projects are ways to share my abilities and the message that our personalities do indeed survive death. My greatest satisfaction in doing this is witnessing an instantaneous change in people," states Van Praagh about his work.
"When someone is alone and overwhelmed by grief, life seems over. But, when I’m able to help teach someone to make contact with a loved one, their grief and loneliness disappear and proper closure can take place."
And so…"When a bright smile overcomes tears, it becomes a smile that can light up the world!"