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The near-death experience

During a NDE the person experiences leaving his physical body. The feeling that accompanies this is one of freedom and absence of pain. The person initially often finds himself floating above the bed from where he can get a good look at his own body. He is often also able to see and hear details of what is going on in the room or outside, details that have afterwards been confirmed to be accurate.

A well-known example is that of the woman Maria who was paying a first time visit to Seattle, when she had a heart attack. She was rushed to the Harbourview Hospital where resuscitation procedures were initiated. While Maria's body was being worked on by the medical staff she experienced leaving her body. She floated upwards some 4 stories and came out onto the roof of the hospital. There on the ledge of the roof she saw an old sneaker with a worn little toe and one lace tucked under the heel. When the resuscitation procedure had proved successful Maria came to and was quite preoccupied with her vision of the sneaker. She wanted somebody to check if this sneaker was really there. She managed to persuade the social worker Kim Clark to go check and directed her to a window from which the shoe could be seen when leaning out. Kim Clark reluctantly humored Maria, as she had always been very skeptical of the NDE. However, Clark easily found the correct window and there, indeed, lay the sneaker on the ledge with the worn little toe and the lace tucked under the heel just as Maria had described it.

Such examples of factual observations made during the out-of-body state abound in the NDE literature and strongly underline that the NDE cannot be written off as hallucinations, fabrications or wishful thinking. What then generally happens during a NDE is that the experiencer feels how he is traveling at great speed away from the earth plane. He eventually arrives at a place of light, where he is encompassed by love. Deceased family members or a being of light will greet him lovingly and tell him that it is not yet his time, that he still has things to accomplish on the earth plane and that he needs to return to his physical body. By now he is quite reluctant to do so, as the experience of being outside his body is far better than anything he has experienced on earth. But he has to return to the physical body and eventually he does. The following quote recounts the NDE of a woman called Laurelynn who had been hospitalized for a routine laparoscopic surgical procedure. However, the surgeon cut too deep, punctured her abdominal aorta, her right iliac artery, her inferior vena cava and her bowel in two places. As a result she lost almost 60 % of her blood and entered the near-death state:
"The surgical team was frantic. Red was everywhere, splattered on their gowns, splattered on the floor, and a bright pool of flowing red blood, in the now-wide-open abdominal cavity. I couldn't understand what was going on down there. I didn't even make the connection, at that moment, that the body being worked on was my own. It didn't matter anyway. I was in a state of freedom, having a great time. I just wanted to shout to the distressed people below, "Hey, I'm okay. It's great up here". But they were so intent, I felt like I didn't want to interrupt their efforts. I then traveled to another realm of total and absolute peace. There was no pain, but instead a sense of well-being, in a warm, dark, soft space. I was enveloped by total bliss in an atmosphere of unconditional love and acceptance. The darkness was beautiful, stretching on and on. The freedom of total peace was intensified beyond any ecstatic feeling ever felt here on earth. In the distance, I saw a horizon of whitish-yellowish light. I find it very difficult to describe where I was, because the words we know here in this plane just aren't adequate enough. I was admiring the beauty of the light but never got any closer because next I felt a presence approaching from my right, upper side. I was feeling even more peaceful and happy, especially when I discovered it was my thirty-year old brother-in-law who had died seven months earlier. Although I couldn't see with my eyes or hear with my ears, I instinctively knew that it was him. He didn't have a physical form, but a presence. I could feel, hear, and see his smile, laughter and sense of humor. It was as if I had come home, and my brother-in-law was there to greet me...
From Kenneth Ring: "Lessons from the Light"

After returning to his physical body the experiencer feels how thoughts about his NDE cheer him up and fill him with joy, but he finds that it is very difficult to talk to others about it, as he lacks words that can do justice to the phenomenon. However, the experience was life changing and is constantly in his thoughts. He no longer fears death and knows from his own experience that his consciousness, "I" or Self survives the death of the physical body. He also experiences how his outlook on life has changed and how he has become more empathic and sensitive to the suffering of others, more loving, more forgiving, more helpful and with a strong interest in spirituality.

The near-death experience has been the object of scientific studies since 1980 and more than 100 titles have been published about the phenomenon. Among the most prominent researchers can be mentioned: Raymond Moody, Kenneth Ring, P.M.H. Atwater, Bruce Greyson, Margot Grey, Melvin Morse, Paul Perry, Michael Sabom, Peter Fenwick and Pim van Lommel. Most of the researchers have published books about their findings. In December 2001 the prestigious medical journal "The Lancet" published the results from a scientific investigation into the NDE, carried out in Holland. The name of the article was "Near-death experience in survivors of cardiac arrest: a prospective study in the Netherlands". The authors were Pim van Lommel, Ruud van Wees, Vincent Meyers and Ingrid Elferrich. The article caused enormous, worldwide attention. Other interesting books on the subject have been written by: Evelyn Elsaesser Valarino, Ganga Stone and Hans Holzer. The following people have written books about their own NDE: Betty Eadie, Sandra Rogers, Dannion Brinkley, Suzanne Boehm, Julie Chimes, Richard Eby, Betty Preston, Jan Price, George Ritchie, Sidney Farr, Mary McMurray, Kimberly Clark Sharp, Roxanne Sumners, Marvin Ford, Dennis Lynnclaire, Laurel Duran.

The International Association of Near Death Studies (IANDS) is the forum where researchers and experiencers meet. IANDS publishes a quarterly newsletter "Vital Signs" and a biannual "Journal of Near-Death Studies". IANDS holds international conferences every second year.

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