About Near Death Experiences (NDE)
EXPLORING THE FIELD OF NEAR DEATH EXPERIENCE
Why NDEs matter?
Persons who come back from the brink of death tell amazing stories. Near-death experiencers also bring back changed perspectives, and are changed themselves. Their perspectives have implications for business, family and religious practice.
We are all curious about what NDEs are and the meaning that can be taken from the experience. NDEs have a profound impact on the participants, but also for all humanity. Between 5-10% of the population has had at least one type of NDE. Their impact of society can and will become substantial as the medical community continues to get better and better at bringing the dead back to life.
What is an NDE?
A near-death experience is a profound psychological event that may occur to someone who has physically died, is close to death, or is in physical or emotional crisis. Because an NDE includes transcendental and mystical elements, it is a powerful event of consciousness.
If you want to know more about NDEs, the most credible website to start with is hosted by the International Association for Near-Death Studies at www.iands.org. Here is what they say:
"Most NDEs are felt as peaceful and loving, but some are disturbing. Each near-death experience is unique, but as a group NDEs display common features.
Intense emotions: commonly of profound peace, well-being, love
OBE: A perception of seeing one's body from above (called an out-of-body experience), sometimes watching medical resuscitation efforts or moving instantaneously to other places
Rapid movement: through darkness, often toward an indescribable light
Otherworldly: A sense of being "somewhere else," in a landscape that may seem like a spiritual realm or world
Lucid: Incredibly rapid, sharp thinking and observations
Encounter with deceased loved ones, possibly sacred figures (the Judges, Jesus, a saint or totem) or unrecognized beings, with whom communication is mind-to-mind; these figures may seem consoling, loving, or terrifying
A life review, reliving actions and feeling their emotional impact on others
Omniscient: In some cases, a flood of knowledge about life and the nature of the universe
Return: Sometimes a decision to return to the body"
What are the common elements?
The same elements appear in both pleasant and disturbing near-death experiences, but with different emotional tones. PMH Atwater, one of the most prolific NDE researchers, in her book Coming Back to Life, described a peaceful experience this way:
- A sensation of floating out of one's body. Often followed by an out-of-body experience where all that goes on around the "vacated" body is both seen and heard accurately.
- Passing through a dark tunnel. Or black hole or encountering some kind of darkness. This is often accompanied by a feeling or sensation of movement or acceleration. "Wind" may be heard or felt.
- Ascending toward a light at the end of the darkness. A light of incredible brilliance, with the possibility of seeing people, animals, plants, lush outdoors, and even cities within the light.
- Greeted by friendly voices, people or beings who may be strangers, loved ones, or religious figures. Conversation can ensue; information or a message may be given.
- Seeing a panoramic review of the life just lived, from birth to death or in reverse order, sometimes becoming a reliving of the life rather than a dispassionate viewing. The person's life can be reviewed in its entirety or in segments. This is usually accompanied by a feeling or need to assess loss or gains during the life to determine what was learned or not learned. Other beings can take part in this judgment like process or offer advice.
- A reluctance to return to the earth-plane, but invariably realizing either their job on earth is not finished or a mission must yet be accomplished before they can return to stay.
- Warped sense of time and space. Discovering time and space do not exist, losing the need to recognize measurements of life either as valid or necessary.
- Disappointment at being revived. Often feeling a need to shrink or somehow squeeze to fit back in to the physical body. There can be unpleasantness, even anger or tears at the realization they are now back in their bodies and no longer on "The Other Side."
Whether the NDE was beautiful or disturbing, near-death experiencers commonly say it was unlike a dream, "more real than real," and the most powerful event in their lives. They struggle to find words to describe it, but insist they now know something new about reality, that "there's more than what is here" (in the physical world). Most feel deeply changed in their attitudes toward life, work, and relationships.
After a wonderful NDE, people almost always report losing their fear of death and believing that the essential purpose of human life is to develop our capacity to love. After a disturbing NDE , a person will almost always look for an explanation for having had the experience; because many interpret it as a threat or warning, they may try to change habits or behaviors, or to take up a new religious practice, hoping to avoid a recurrence. However experiencers adjust to these personal transformations, they often have difficulty finding someone they trust to tell about the event. They usually feel in great need of information and support.