Anyone who has taken a moment to look at the writings out in the market about past life experiences finds that there is a great deal said about how to recall those lives and to access the information from them. The tricky part in all of this is it is difficult to verify if the information gathered is legitimate or self deception. Additionally, it is quite challenging to determine how past life knowledge will manifest in present life circumstances. Just because you were a brilliant painter in a past life, it does not mean that you have that skill set in the present life.
Let us take the painter example that I just presented. In a past life, you were a brilliant, famous painter who contributed to the establishment of a new style of painting (for your era). How would this manifest in present life? One way is that works of your past self would be extremely familiar to you, even works that you have not encountered in this life. Upon seeing those unfamiliar (in this life) works, you would immediately comprehend the mindset of the artist while painting and what they were attempting to convey. You may even have a vivid memory or two flash across your mind. You would know details that would not be common knowledge, though you did not 'know' them before hand. Your knowledge would be intuitive and visceral.
If some one were to ask you how you knew these things, you would have a difficult time explaining it. The knowledge would feel as though it has always been there, as though you were remembering something you had known for a very long time and merely forgotten about. Now, the likelihood that you were a famous person in a past life is very small. It is more likely that you were the person who sold apples on the street corner a few blocks down from where that famous painter lived and who may have had a passing glance or two of the famous painter.
Past life knowledge is an ephemeral and tricky thing. It is much like knowledge that is conveyed to us by the dead or most spiritual beings. It should be handled with care and given vigorous testing before being applied. If you have a past life memory of some sort of ritual, for example, before you attempt to enact it, you would be wise to research and see if there is any sort of existent record of such a ritual in the past. It is important to consider that your recollection of this past ritual is flawed or incomplete.
Additionally, past life memory does not equate to present life knowledge. In a past life, you might have been an exceptionally gifted dancer. The person you are in this present life would not have the muscle memory to perform the dance that your past self could have done effortlessly. Now, this does not mean that it is impossible to recreate past life knowledge in present life circumstances. The person who was a painter in their past life may find that they are drawn to painting in their present life. The dancer in a past life may find that they have a passionate love for the music that they had danced to in that past life.
The influence of the past life upon the present life is subtle. It can manifest as an aversion to circumstances (such as a person who fell to their death in one life has a mild, but inexplicable fear of heights in this one), a measure of skill in an area (a person who was a chef in their past life might perhaps carry forward a natural aptitude for cooking), or an intuitive understanding of how something works (a person who was an alchemist in a past life proving to have an uncanny talent for chemistry in their present life). It is highly advisable to be wary of people who claim that all information that they have is due to past life knowledge. This is frequently a sign of some sort of a scam and one should be wary of it. Past life knowledge, while potent, is limited in its scope and can only offer brief snapshots of what that past life was like.