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Near-Death Experiences (NDE)

Definition

AscentA near-death experience (NDE) is a spiritual, transcendental or other-worldly event that can occur during a clinical, imminent or possibly imminent death situation.  The NDE can also occur while suffering from trauma or while having an intense desire to die.

The content of an NDE is highly diverse, but commonly include such elements as being out-of-body, seeing others who have died,  experiencing peace, unconditional love,  a life-review, an intensely beautiful realm and/ or all-knowing light or darkness.  The experience may also be partly or completely distressing. 

The NDE is often profound in its message(s) or meaning leading to lasting changes in the experiencer’s life.  Emotions upon returning from an NDE can be intense, running a range from ecstatic joy to sadness or to anger over being sent back.   A long period of integration typically follows an NDE.

Since the term “near-death experience” was coined by Dr. Raymond Moody in his book Life After Life,  the International Association of Near-Death Experiences (www.iands.org), which was subsequently formed to research the experience,  collected hundreds of accounts—25% of which came from people who said they had similar experiences, but were “nowhere near death.”  IANDS calls these experiences “near-death-like” or NDLEs.

“Nearing Death Awareness” (NDA) refers to a dying person’s experiences in the last few weeks, days or hours before they die. These may include pre-death or death-bed visions or observations (DBOs) of seeing deceased loved ones or other beings. 

Additionally, people who were present at a loved one’s passing reported that they were briefly taken with their loved one on his or her journey, but were sent back.  Others reported feeling the emotions of the dying or dead loved one during their experience.   These are called “Empathic Near-Death Experiences” or “Shared-Death Experiences” (SDEs). See [links] for more information.

An NDE is said to have “veridical” elements if the experiencer - while clinically dead or when conscious thought is supposedly impossible  - observed events that were later verified by witnesses. NDEs, reported by young children, instant recoveries from fatal circumstances, sudden development of genius talents or psychic gifts and the experience of sight in the congenitally blind are convincing testimonies that consciousness extends beyond a physical or material existence. 

Phenomenological list of experiential and transformative elements

One or more of the following experiences is frequently associated with NDEs, NDLEs and/or NDAs.  It is not an exhaustive list, and some of these are more commonly associated with NDEs in Western cultures.

  1. A sense that the experience is more “real” than reality.
  2. A change in the sense of time – slowing down, speeding up or simply timelessness.
  3. An experience or feeling of intense peace.
  4. A sense of interconnectedness or feeling of oneness with everything.
  5. A sense of knowing everything – how everything works, receiving special or advanced knowledge, understanding how everything fits together, etc.
  6. Being presented with knowledge about one's life and the nature of the universe.
  7. Receiving messages in telepathic form.
  8. Noticing a very unpleasant sound or noise.
  9. Having a sense or awareness of being dead.
  10. Having a sense of well-being and painlessness; positive emotions.
  11. An out-of-body experience. A perception of one's own body from an outside position or perspective. Witnessing earthly events or people when out of the body. For example, some might observe doctors and nurses performing medical resuscitation efforts.
  12. A sense of moving up, or through, a passageway or staircase or tunnel; going from a place of darkness to light, from the physical world to a transcendental realm.
  13. An awareness or sudden immersion in a powerful light. Communication with the light.
  14. A feeling of being in a vortex or whirlwind.
  15. An intense feeling of unconditional love.
  16. Encountering "Beings of Light," "Beings dressed in white," or other spiritual beings.
  17. Encountering or feeling reunited with deceased loved ones or with one’s soul family/group.
  18. Being given a life review, where one's own life events are viewed or relived and sometimes judged.
  19. Being given a life “preview" of events days or years into the future that will occur when the person returns to their body, or of potential pain others would feel if the person died instead of returning to life at that time. 
  20. Receiving visions of the global future.
  21. A decision by oneself or others to return to one's body, often accompanied by a reluctance to return.
  22. Encountering spiritual or religious beings.
  23. Seeing some sort of landscape.
  24. Encountering a barrier or threshold between life and death;  approaching a border, fence or barrier.
  25. Seeing a brilliant landscape with enhanced senses.
  26. Experiencing sensations with all one’s senses or a crossover of senses, ie., synesthesia.
  27. Experiencing unearthly music or colors.
  28. Having frightening experiences that may produce a feeling of fear, such as feeling torment, despondency, or a “void”; seeing unusual or scary creatures.
  29. Presence of concrete symbols or literal metaphors, such as facing a door representing a choice.

Reference Links

to access book references on NDEs click here

to access case histories of NDEs click here

to access peer reviewed journal articles on NDEs

to access a list of prominent  NDE researchers and organizations click here

 

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