A Near Death Experience is an experience that can occur when someone is close to death or in situations of intense physical danger.
Many people who have had a Near Death Experience are changed in profound ways whereby they can have major changes in beliefs, attitudes, values, behaviours and priorities. Loss of fear of death is also a common feature. Near Death experiencers can find it difficult to find anyone who will listen to their incredible story for more than a minute or two before being shut down, or having topic changed. Also, friends and family can struggle to adapt to the changes in their friend or family member.
So what are some of the common features of an NDE and when and where do they happen.
- Often the person is "flatlined", the heart has stopped and no brain activity can be measured. 12 to 18% of Cardiac arrest survivors ( in surveys) have had an NDE
- Memories of the NDE (unlike for hallucinations) are stable over decades
- There is a sensation of being "out of" their body (for example witnessing resuscitation, what was said and done) or moving through space and time
- There is often a life review where the person sees the context and effect of things they have done in their life, a panoramic memory. Meaning and purpose can become clear and often a sense of mission.
- Almost always there is a feeling of intense peacefulness, wellbeing, acceptance and a bright light, a tunnel of light, indescribable colours and sounds.
- Timelessness is a feature as well whereby, in temporal (earthly) time the heart may have stopped for minutes but the experience can seem to be for far longer
- The experiencer chooses to return to their body, often reluctantly as the place and the experience are so peaceful, blissful and accepting.
Although the experience is vividly remembered the experiencer can struggle to put it into words and can use metaphors. Anita Moorjani, in her NDE, likened her normal conscious visual input to a small flashlight shining around a "dark warehouse" (the world) and just seeing what she could at the end of a narrow beam of light where she was pointing. She likened the NDE as all the lights going on in the "warehouse" and she could see everything and be everywhere.
Often there is a meeting and communication with deceased relatives, pets or others "beings of the light".
NDE's seem to have happened over the centuries, in many cultures, to the religious and to non believers. Religious ND experiencers tend to loose their religiosity and dogma.
If you have a feeling that someone you know has had an NDE it can be hugely helpful for you to ask as simple open question such as "Did anything unusual happen while you were unconscious" ?
There can be stigma in talking about a personal reality that is not grounded in empirical science and the experience can be reframed by others as being a result of drugs, brain death, hallucination, mental unwellness or a dream despite these possibilities being unlikely due to the clarity and complexity of what can be remembered consistently over time
Counselling can help a Near Death experiencer talk through changes in beliefs, attitudes, values, behaviours and priorities and explore ways of integrating this incredibly profound experience into their life. Often they will say "It was more real than real"
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