Near-Death Experience – A Myth Or A Reality

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You’ve probably heard the term “near-death experience” but have you ever given it much thought? I know I hadn’t, until I experienced my own life-changing event. In 2008, a routine surgery led to numerous complications and over the next two years, I endured chronic pain, dependency on pain medications, depression and seven surgeries, the last of which I nearly did not survive. On Christmas Eve 2010, with a fever of 105 degrees, sepsis (severe pelvic infection) and in horrific pain, as I was being prepared for surgery, my consciousness separated from my body and it was during this near-death experience that I was gifted with my true life’s purpose: to be a healer of the soul; I learned that it was only by experiencing the diseases that had befallen me personally that I could truly have empathy for – and help – others, because I now knew how it felt to be in their shoes. So, you might be asking, just what is a near-death experience?

WHAT IS A NEAR-DEATH EXPERIENCE?

Near-death experiences (NDE­s) may sound like strange, seemingly paranormal experiences that some people have when they’re at death’s door, but what exactly are they? Hallucinations? Spiritual experiences? Proof of life after death? Or are they simply chemical changes in the brain and sensory organs in the moments prior to death?

The term “near-death experience” was coined in 1975 in the book Life After Life by Raymond Moody, M.D. Although many credit Moody’s work with bringing th­e concept of the near-death experience to the public’s attention, reports of such experiences have occurred throughout history, in cultures around the world. For example, Plato’s “Republic,” written in 360 B.C.E., contains the tale of a soldier named Er who had an NDE after being killed in battle. Er described his soul leaving his body, being judged along with o­ther souls, and seeing Heaven.

A near-death experience is a distinct, subjective experience that people have reported after a near-death episode—a profound psychological event that occurred when that person was either close to death or in a situation of extreme physical or emotional crisis, such as serious illness or injury.

When describing a near-death experience, people’s experiences follow a general pattern of commonalities. In general, they convey perceptions of movement through space, of light and darkness, a landscape, presences, intense emotion, and a conviction of having a new understanding of the nature of the universe.

An NDE may begin with an out-of-body experience—a very clear perception of being somehow separate from their physical body, maybe even hovering nearby and watching events going on around their physical body. A NDE typically includes a sense of moving, often through a dark space into a fantastic landscape and encountering beings that may be perceived as sacred figures, deceased family members or friends, or unknown entities. An indescribable, brilliant light may grow to envelop the person, often sensed as being an all-loving presence that many people define as the Supreme Being of their religious faith.

The emotions of an NDE are intense and most commonly include peace, love and pure happiness although a minority are marked by terror, anxiety, or despair. Most people come away from the experience with an unshakable belief that they have learned something of immeasurable importance about the purpose of life. Overall, the entire experience is indescribable with mere words. The effects of an NDE are often life-changing, and its details will typically be remembered clearly for decades.

WHAT CAUSES A NEAR-DEATH EXPERIENCE

It is natural that people want to understand the biological or psychological origins of a near-death experience, and while a variety of neurological and chemical explanations have been suggested, so far no once scientific explanation satisfactorily accounts for all aspects of NDEs.

Basically, science deals with objective matters that can be observed, tested, and measured by someone else. Because an NDE is a subjective experience: it can be felt and reported only by the person who has it, some people claim that the NDE cannot be scientifically “real.” However, after decades of investigation, no one physiological or psychological explanation by itself has been found to explicate all the common features of NDE.

As well, although no relationship has been found between religious orientation and NDE, numerous studies have reported a significant correlation between the depth of an NDE and the importance a person subsequently places on religion or spiritual activity. This may be because the person believes they have had a glimpse of Heaven and now believe absolutely in the existence of God and life after death. For others, it is because the NDE convinced them beyond question of the purpose of life as expressed in religious or spiritual teachings about love, service, and the reality of “something more” beyond physical existence.

I find this to be true with my own near-death experience. Accepting that I was put back on earth on a Divine path, I know unequivocally that my job is to follow that path faithfully and with trust. Although my future is still being formed, I feel no fear, I know I am not alone.

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