Readers of my former blog may recall that I believe in reincarnation. The truth is that I don't believe in it the way it is commonly embraced. Many people believe that you are reborn in a linear fashion and either may choose your next form or will be born to a lower or higher station in life based on how much good or bad karma you've racked up.
Personally, I believe that the amount of good or bad you do has little to do with the next incarnation. I think you can be an absolute saint in one life and find yourself a horribly abused child prostitute in the next. The point isn't to acquire brownie points in one life so that you can be comfortable and happy in the next. The point is to have certain experiences that allow you to shape the energy currently inhabiting your form into a more useful one so it can head off and try something else. I'm not sure what that something else is, but I'm guessing it's incomprehensible for those inhabiting our current version of reality.
I also don't believe we can choose to be animals, though I do believe that they are inhabited by their own particular forms of energy that have other paths to follow. I believe they are no more or less than us. They're just different. I think we can interact in some fashion with animals, plants, etc. but we can't transform our essence into a form that is suitable to inhabit animals, plants, etc. in this reality. I think it's one of those square pegs in a round hole types of things. Also, the essence of how we interact is more of a "passing nod" type of communication than a "conversation." We're both here in this reality, and aware of each other, but our paths don't intertwine (or even intersect) to a great extent though what we do influences how the other form does its work.
I think we do interact constantly with everything around us on a level which cannot be detected. I liken it to pressing very hard on what appears to be a solid piece of wood with your finger tips. Visually, we cannot see that we are having any impact on the wood, but if we were able to measure the stress we exert at a low enough level, we could see that there is some "give" in the wood. Just because we cannot yet measure our impact on our environment on such a level does not mean it isn't happening. Of course, some people believe that nothing is happening unless you smash the wood with a hammer and see a big old indentation. They may be right. I have no "proof", but that's okay.
The way I conceive of reincarnation is best described as a string of Christmas lights. Each life we live is one of the bulbs. A different form of ourselves (which is just as much us as our current form) is linking them together and in contact with each bulb at all times. The "string" (or cable) is aware of every existence in every little bulb and altered by them in meaningful ways.
I've mentioned, on occasion, that I don't believe time exists. The Christmas lights metaphor explains this pretty well. If you consider each lifetime a bulb on a string, you can see that they all exist simultaneously. Time is an illusion which keeps each existence separated. It's a necessity to allow us to operate in our form of reality. If the disconnected selves living each life in each "bulb" were to be aware of all memories and all information in every other life, we would be overstimulated to the point of insanity. Even if we could handle the influx of information, we would be crippled by the emotional weight of the pain suffered in other lives.
The "string" that binds our multiple existences is free of the restrictions imposed on us by corporeal existence and therefore unencumbered by the limits of having a nervous system. That allows it to deal with multiple realities, but it also limits its ability to experience various types of existences. We have a symbiotic relationship with our "connected self" (the string) where we gather the experiences and it manages the ebb and flow of energy as well as takes our experiences and enriches the entire spectrum of our existence with them.
The part of us which is represented by the string in my metaphor is a part of ourselves which we can communicate with, but we are not entirely aware of this potential because we either don't know that it is there, don't yet know how to communicate with it of our own volition (as our disconnected self doesn't speak the connected self's "language" by default) or refuse to acknowledge it because it clashes with existing belief systems and our reliance on sensory information. I think that people who meditate and "psychics" have much better communication with the "string" than most people. Such people have an advantage that "average" people do not. Those who meditate can shut off the overload of sensory data which tends to block our ability to communicate with our connected self (represented by the cord connecting the lights).
(Credible) psychics have the equivalent of a really poor quality phone line to the connected self. They're aware that the line is there and either "make calls" or "receive calls" from that line, though I think messages are often (very) poorly interpreted through the bad connection (like guessing full sentences from snippets). I think a lot of people with so-called "psychic" ability are unintentionally projecting their own wishes or mindsets into information they receive, making it too negative, too positive, or just plain wrong. The rest of us aren't even trying because we aren't aware there's anything to communicate with, let alone the possibility of a connection we can communicate through.
That's not to say that we there aren't ways in which our connected selves try to send the disconnected selves messages. I believe dreams are one way. Life experiences can be another. The easiest way for most people though is to "listen to their gut". That is, ask yourself a question and have faith in the answer that pops into your mind without the distorting effects of fear, rationalization, and other neurotic concerns. It's taken me many years, but I've come to rely on listening to what my gut tells me to help guide me and it hasn't steered me wrong yet. In fact, not listening to it is what destroyed my health.
Even if you think everything I've said is a load of hogwash (and hey, it may be for all I know), at least consider that the answer you get when you ask yourself a question and heed the first answer you get, you're not filtering it through your fears and likely getting a really honest answer.
Note: Despite all my efforts to convey my notion of how reincarnation works in my conceptualization of it, I can say that I believe my metaphor is quite a crude one. I'm certain the way things really are is beyond our ability to conceptualize using any sound, object, or experience in a sensory-based reality.