Experience Description

I was in an extreme emotional state. I had periodically suffered bouts of depression but this time I was unable to work myself out of it. I was not on any medication, nor had it ever occurred to me to seek professional help for it. I understand now that possibly heredity and a traumatic childhood contributed to my illness. Anyway, I had secluded myself in my apartment, stopped going to work, couldn't eat or sleep. I just paced and paced with my thoughts racing. At some point I thought, I want to die and I said aloud,' Please, God, don't let me die like this!'

In that instant, I was somewhere else. There was darkness, I think somewhere to my right but before me was this incredible Light. So very bright, inviting, loving. At the same moment I felt an all pervasive sense of acceptance, love and warmth, I experienced a life review. Every moment of my life, everything I had forgotten, or was not particularly aware of at the time.

The voice from the Light was speaking to me, not in words, rather like transferred knowledge and assurance. At the time, I thought of myself as a damaged person and did not like myself. The Voice told me I was perfectly fine and that all the things I thought were flaws were illusions and 'negative stuff' simply laid over my true being like a dirty coat. The Light loved me unconditionally. I felt I was 'Home.'

I was estranged from my father at the time. I remember seeing my father in my life review and understanding that he had behaved the way he did because of a continuum of actions in his life and before his life. I understood where other people were coming from, right, wrong or indifferent. At the same time, I also understood that everything happens as they are meant to. I knew the 'Why'. That is one of the things I can't remember. But it made perfect sense and I thought, 'Yes, of course, how could I have forgotten?' It was so SIMPLE! I was shown what was important and what was not. Love above all was the purpose of the Universe and that we are all interconnected.

In the next instant(?) I was back sitting on the edge of my bed. I felt light, happy, and blissful. I also felt like God had picked me up by the scruff of my neck and shook the nonsense out of me. I was AWAKE! In the experience, everything seemed to have happened all at once. The Light, the voice, the life review, the imparting of immense knowledge. I had not left my apartment in days but I immediately went outside and marveled at everything I saw. I just walked up and down the streets feeling so happy and relieved. This feeling lasted several days. I eventually went back to my 'normal' consciousness but I have never forgotten the experience or the lessons I learned.

I've had many more lessons to learn but I believe if I had not had the gift of this experience I would not have survived. I do not know of any specific purpose for any of us other than the injunction that we help each other and that self-absorbed selfishness is a waste of opportunity or worse.

I feel the Voice, 'God' is with me and all of us always. I have no fear of dying. I firmly believe we will all go Home.

Background Information:

Gender: Female

Date NDE Occurred: 'March 8, 1981'

NDE Elements:

At the time of your experience, was there an associated life-threatening event? Yes acute depression 'Illness, trauma or other condition not considered life threatening' . I was in extreme and prolonged anxiety and emotional pain. My thoughts were racing. I think this is what used to be called a nervous breakdown. I describe it as hanging by your heels over the abyss. I felt as if I were flying apart. I think it was my sense of Self, my ego, being shredded away. I wanted to die to escape the pain. The only thing that stopped me was my belief that we take our problems with us.

How do you consider the content of your experience? Wonderful

Did you feel separated from your body? No
I lost awareness of my body

How did your highest level of consciousness and alertness during the experience compare to your normal everyday consciousness and alertness? More consciousness and alertness than normal The consciousness I experienced was like WAKING UP. I felt the knowledge I had was something that had always been within me, but suppressed, forgotten.

At what time during the experience were you at your highest level of consciousness and alertness? At no time. It was instantaneous. I don't know how long it lasted. A second, an hour? I was in another place where there was no time.

Were your thoughts speeded up? Incredibly fast

Did time seem to speed up or slow down? Everything seemed to be happening at once; or time stopped or lost all meaning This is what we have no vocabulary for.

Were your senses more vivid than usual? Incredibly more vivid

Did your vision differ in any way from normal? I only saw the Light. The Light was everything.

Did your hearing differ in any way from normal? I 'heard' the voice. I perceived the voice as GOD.

Did you seem to be aware of things going on elsewhere? Yes, and the facts have been checked out

Did you pass into or through a tunnel? No In an instant I saw the Light. There was blackness, but I don't recall passing through it as others have described. I have only a dimly remembered sense of it.

Did you see any beings in your experience? I actually saw them

Did you encounter or become aware of any deceased (or alive) beings? No

The experience included: Void

The experience included: Darkness

The experience included: Light

Did you see, or feel surrounded by, a brilliant light? A light clearly of mystical or other-worldly origin

Did you see an unearthly light? Yes Incredibly bright yet soothing. Brighter than anything, I can describe. The voice was from the Light.

Did you seem to enter some other, unearthly world? A clearly mystical or unearthly realm Keen understanding that I was "in" what the Buddhist call The Void. A no place where there is no such thing as time.

The experience included: Strong emotional tone

What emotions did you feel during the experience? Great peace, unconditional love, united with the Source. I felt I had come home. This was where I had always yearned to be.

Did you have a feeling of peace or pleasantness? Incredible peace or pleasantness

Did you have a feeling of joy? incredible joy

Did you feel a sense of harmony or unity with the universe? I felt united or one with the world

The experience included: Special Knowledge

Did you suddenly seem to understand everything? Everything about the universe

The experience included: Life review

Did scenes from your past come back to you? My past flashed before me, out of my control I saw everything, every second of my life. Along with this review was an understanding of why things happened the way they did and an understanding of why others acted in the way they did. Some things that I had I felt bad about, that is, things I felt guilty about were trivial and I understood that I need not feel bad about them. Other things I did that I had not even considered, were improper, like thoughts of malice toward others, I understood that intentions and ill-will were very serious 'sins.' The voice did not tell me this; rather it caused me to understand it. I realized I had always had this knowledge but had forgotten it. I judged myself. I remember thinking, 'Yes, of course, how could I have forgotten?'

Did scenes from the future come to you? Scenes from the world's future

Did you come to a border or point of no return? I came to a barrier that I was not permitted to cross; or was sent back against my will

God, Spiritual and Religion:

What was your religion prior to your experience? Liberal

Have your religious practices changed since your experience? Yes After my experience I spent many years looking at different beliefs and religions.

As I said above, I find that Buddhist beliefs most closely resonant with my convictions. I am not a Buddhist but I try to be Mindful, because it is a liberating way to live.

What is your religion now? Liberal Of all formal religions I think Buddhist philosophy/belief has the most insight into our true identities and the nature of existence.

Did you have a change in your values and beliefs because of your experience? Yes After my experience I spent many years looking at different beliefs and religions.

As I said above, I find that Buddhist beliefs most closely resonant with my convictions. I am not a Buddhist but I try to be Mindful, because it is a liberating way to live.

The experience included: Presence of unearthly beings

Did you seem to encounter a mystical being or presence, or hear an unidentifiable voice? I encountered a definite being, or a voice clearly of mystical or unearthly origin

Did you see deceased or religious spirits? I actually saw them

Concerning our Earthly lives other than Religion:

During your experience, did you gain special knowledge or information about your purpose? Yes Everything made perfect sense. Everything happens as it should happen. The knowledge I received averred that everything is pre-destined. Later, I was not comfortable with that assessment since, in our culture, we are raised to be self-determining. Also, reconciling the horrific things we do to each other to some idea of fate is distasteful. Yet, I could not shake that conviction. Since then I have a better understanding about free-will and cause and effect.

Have your relationships changed specifically because of your experience? Yes My ability to feel compassion has expanded as I get older. It is not an effort to feel compassion, even toward those who may wish me harm. I no longer am caught up in other's emotional turmoil. I am much more tolerant of others opinions and do not feel a need to defend my own. I have let go of resentments and am vigilant about not nurturing new resentments. Life is short. We have a chance here and now to get it right. I like people and enjoy their company but I spend most of my time alone. I am never lonely.

After the NDE:

Was the experience difficult to express in words? Yes We don't have the vocabulary. The experience was 'like this' and 'like that.' The experience of Oneness, the experience of the 'suchness' of things cannot be fully expressed. In everyday consciousness, we experience things within the perception of time and space. There is no time and space. These are conventions and illusions.

Do you have any psychic, non-ordinary or other special gifts after your experience that you did not have before the experience? Yes Since I was a child peculiar things have occurred. Sometimes I dream of events that happen later. When I was younger, they frightened me.

Since the experience I either ignore them, because they are distracting and not that important or if persistent and vivid, I try to figure out what they mean. I am more interested in being 'aware' moment to moment.

However, from day to day, I find a lot of synchronicity and coincidence in my life. I am sensitive to other's moods and energy. I sense things in others and am able to 'tap into' their specialness, their love. It is not an accident that I have become a counselor.

I have learned to avoid things that drain me emotionally and cultivate thoughts and actions that increase wellbeing. I sometimes sense that feeling of Oneness, though not as vividly as the NDE experience.

Are there one or several parts of your experience that are especially meaningful or significant to you? These conclusions from the experience remain firmly in my convictions. God exists and God is Love. The Universe is Love. We are here to help each other. We are all interconnected. There is no such thing as Time. The Mind is Eternity.

On a personal level, I understood during my life review why certain unfortunate things had happened to me and I could make peace with my emotional turmoil. Because of the experience, I could move forward and grow. I still had much to learn, am still learning. Coming out of the experience, I was no longer depressed, I was blissfully happy. That heightened sense of wellbeing lasted several days afterward.

Have you ever shared this experience with others? Yes The first person I told was horrified and broke all contact with me. Another person bluntly told me I had had a psychotic break. I've told very few others. In all these years only one person told me they had experienced something similar.

Did you have any knowledge of near death experience (NDE) prior to your experience? No I definitely didn't know anything about NDE's. For years afterward, I thought of the experience as 'my epiphany.' I thought of the Voice as 'The Beloved.' I was very private about it.

I think I first read about it from a book by Dr. Raymond Moody. I was excited by what I read because it sounded so much like my experience, but since the antecedent event leading up to my experience was not life-threatening, I didn't think it was an NDE. Years later I read an account of a man who only thought he was about to die and had an experience. I also read the list of characteristics of an NDE and thought my experience applied.

What did you believe about the reality of your experience shortly (days to weeks) after it happened? Experience was definitely real. I have never forgotten it. I had a sense that that 'experience' is right in front of us every moment. It is as if there is a curtain before our eyes. God is immediate, within everything every moment. Life, at it's deepest level, is about trying to access the real reality of existence. There have been difficult times but never so bad that I spiraled into a suicidal state again. The conviction of that experience is sustaining.

What do you believe about the reality of your experience now? Experience was definitely real. Hard to explain. My conviction is my reality. It is as if I said, 'The words you are reading and the key strokes I am hitting are real.' It's as simple as that.

At any time in your life, has anything ever reproduced any part of the experience? No

Is there anything else that you would like to add about your experience? Fifteen years after my experience I tried to write a narrative account to IANDS (International Association for Near-Death Studies) but was unable to complete it. I couldn't find the words. This form was helpful.