Catherine NDE

Experience Description

I was out in a nightclub, and had not taken drugs or alcohol. A strobe light came on, and for about a minute, I couldn't keep my balance easily, and could only stay upright by holding onto my husband. Then I suddenly I fell down, unconscious for about ten minutes.

Although my body was unconscious, ‘I’ was some sort of consciousness. But not the 'I' that is identified with my everyday persona. I was in another realm, and aware the whole time. I think because I had no religious or spiritual knowledge/context that I was in a complete state of terror. Beyond terror and resistance. This feeling did not leave me for many days afterwards.

I traveled through a long dark tunnel at lightning speeds, alone, and came to a stop in an infinite space that was simultaneously blindingly white and utterly dark. There was absolute silence. It was complete emptiness.

Then I became aware of a nebulous object, spinning insanely in the distance. I understood that it was my mind. I felt terrified and disgusted. What horrified me most was how random and out of control 'my mind' was. I perceived it as a mutated, deranged object of horror. Although I understood that, it actually had nothing to do with ‘me,' I still experienced utter panic and terror as I observed my mind spinning crazily in the distance. I had no sense of 'Catherine' at any time while I was in the other realm.

After what seemed like an interminable amount of time trapped in pure fear and confusion, I heard a voice. Seemingly, it was in my head, not experienced as being outside of me, telling me that I had to make a choice about whether to return or whether to keep going. I understood that there was no coming back if I chose to go on. I immediately wanted to go back, without knowing what 'back' meant, or where I was going back to. I found it incredibly difficult to get back up the tunnel. It seemed like a physical effort, as difficult as wading through half-set concrete. I also had to use every ounce of my will and concentration to keep moving up the tunnel, but terror kept me going.

My husband said I started to choke and was trying to sit up. I re-entered 'Catherine’s consciousness' at the time I started choking. The feeling of choking was my first awareness that I had a body and a persona, and that I had left the other realm. Although I was in a noisy nightclub, it seemed very quiet to me, and my full awareness of hearing came back slowly, over a period of ten minutes.

After I came back to my body, I was totally blind for about forty five minutes, but my vision returned slowly over the next ten hours. I was incredibly weak, dizzy, and disoriented. I could not walk unaided for hours afterward. I went to hospital, and they conducted various tests (looking for heart attack, stroke, or embolism), but couldn't find anything wrong with me. They had no explanation for what had happened.

I was exhausted for four days afterward, and mainly slept. I still felt terror and dread in every atom of my body. I was confused about my experience. About how it was possible, and what it meant.

In the years that followed, I concluded that it was a near death experience, because that was the only explanation that my research could find. I'm not sure if it actually was a near death experience, because I was not near death. Ten years later, in 2003, I found my way to a spiritual search, and read many descriptions of enlightenment experiences that correlated to my nebulous bright/dark void. I haven't read of anyone who had an enlightenment experience who lost consciousness for no reason. Now I understand that I was being shown a profound lesson. That we are not our minds; that the mind is an unconscious thing that spits out thoughts, beyond our control, just like the Buddhists explain it. I've never read of anyone who experienced abject terror as I did, and would love to know if there are many who have, and would especially love to know why I didn't experience the bliss and wisdom that so many others have.

The only other thing (probably unrelated) is that a number of times (randomly) over the years, (before the experience described above), I saw 'ghosts,' felt presences, experienced psychic phenomena, sometimes heard voices (no, I am not schizophrenic), and communicated with animals.

Background Information:

Gender: Female

Date NDE Occurred: October 1993

NDE Elements:

At the time of your experience, was there an associated life-threatening event? Uncertain Other: 'Body was unconscious, but some sort of 'I' consciousness, (but not the 'I' that is identified with my everyday persona) was in another realm, and 'I' was aware the whole time.'

How do you consider the content of your experience? Entirely distressing

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 In the middle, inside the bright/dark void.

At what time during the experience were you at your highest level of consciousness and alertness? In the middle, inside the bright/dark void.

Were your thoughts speeded up? No

Did time seem to speed up or slow down? Everything seemed to be happening at once; or time stopped or lost all meaning Time lost all meaning, as I was no longer in a human incarnation. There was little happening, apart from my resistance and terror. I didn't really have any markers for how fast or slow things were happening.

Were your senses more vivid than usual? More vivid than usual

Please compare your vision during the experience to your everyday vision that you had immediately prior to the time of the experience. Hard to put into words, but vision was more acute in the void. There was only my mind to look at. Otherwise everything else was formless.

Please compare your hearing during the experience to your everyday hearing that you had immediately prior to the time of the experience. I could only hear from within my… whatever essence I became in the void.

Did you seem to be aware of things going on elsewhere? No

The experience included: Tunnel

Did you pass into or through a tunnel? Yes Long dark tunnel at lightning speed, and the light void arrived quickly. I wasn't traveling towards light, suddenly I was just there.

Did you see any beings in your experience? No

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

The experience included: Void

The experience included: Darkness

The experience included: Unearthly light

Did you see, or feel surrounded by, a brilliant light? An unusually bright light

Did you seem to enter some other, unearthly world? A clearly mystical or unearthly realm It was a long dark tunnel and simultaneously a bright light/dark void.

The experience included: Strong emotional tone

What emotions did you feel during the experience? Sheer, unmitigated, unrelenting panic, terror, and disgust.

Did you have a feeling of peace or pleasantness? No

Did you have a feeling of joy? No

Did you feel a sense of harmony or unity with the universe? No

Did you suddenly seem to understand everything? No

Did scenes from your past come back to you? No

Did scenes from the future come to you? No

The experience included: Boundary

Did you reach a boundary or limiting physical structure? No

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 I am guessing it was in an effort to move away from the terror that I decided to go back. Even though I didn't really understand where 'back' was.

God, Spiritual and Religion:


What importance did you place on your religious/spiritual life prior to your experience? Not important to me

What was your religion prior to your experience? Unaffiliated- Atheist I was raised absolutely without religion or spirituality, & at the time did not ascribe the events I am describing, to God, or thought that it proved anything about an afterlife, or anything spiritual.

Have your religious practices changed since your experience? Uncertain My spiritual beliefs and priorities have changed radically, but it took ten to twenty years for that to happen. I am not sure if it is specifically the result of the experience or not.

What importance do you place on your religious/spiritual life after your experience? Greatly important to me

What is your religion now? Unaffiliated- Nothing in particular- Secular unaffiliated

Did your experience include features consistent with your earthly beliefs? Content that was both consistent and not consistent with the beliefs you had at the time of your experience At the time, I absolutely believed that humans are the result of millions of years of atoms colliding & evolving, and that when you died, there was nothing else. However I had also seen ghosts and felt presences, but had compartmentalised my experience and belief, and had never tried to reconcile the two polarised views. It took ten years after my 'NDE' to start to look at the 'consistent & yet not consistent' nature of my experience.

Did you have a change in your values and beliefs because of your experience? Uncertain If there were any changes directly after the experience, I am not aware of them. I felt that something deeply profound, whose meaning was unknowable to me, had occurred. I think because I had experienced many 'supernatural' phenomena in my life, I put the near death experience with those experiences.

Did you seem to encounter a mystical being or presence, or hear an unidentifiable voice? I heard a voice I could not identify I heard a voice in my head, telling me, without words that I needed to decide whether I wanted to go back or not.

Did you see deceased or religious spirits? No

Did you encounter or become aware of any beings who previously lived on earth who are described by name in religions (for example: Jesus, Muhammad, Buddha, etc.)? No

During your experience, did you gain information about premortal existence? No

During your experience, did you gain information about universal connection or oneness? No

Did you believe in the existence of God prior to your experience? God does not exist

During your experience, did you gain information about the existence of God? No

Do you believe in the existence of God after your experience? God does not exist

Concerning our Earthly lives other than Religion:


During your experience, did you gain special knowledge or information about your purpose? No

Did you believe that our earthly lives are meaningful and significant prior to your experience? Are not meaningful and significant

During your experience, did you gain information about the meaning of life? No

Did you believe in an afterlife prior to your experience? An afterlife probably does not exist

Do you believe in an afterlife after your experience? An afterlife definitely exists No

Did you fear death prior to your experience? I greatly feared death

Do you fear death after your experience? I slightly fear death

Were you fearful living your life prior to your experience? Greatly fearful in living my earthly life

Were you fearful living your life after your experience? Slightly fearful in living my earthly life

Did you believe that our earthly lives are meaningful and significant prior to your experience? Are not meaningful and significant

Did you believe that our earthly lives are meaningful and significant after your experience? Are meaningful and significant

Did you gain information about how to live our lives? No

During your experience, did you gain information about life's difficulties, challenges and hardships? No

Were you compassionate prior to your experience? Greatly compassionate toward others

During your experience, did you gain information about love? No

Were you compassionate after your experience? Greatly compassionate toward others

What life changes occurred in your life after your experience? Unknown I found my way to a spiritual search ten years after the experience. Although not directly causal, I feel that my experience of the other realm was a culmination of a series of experiences in my life that were escalating in intensity. As if the universe was trying to reveal something deeper to me, but I was not able to glean meaning from them. My presence in the other realm revealed many profound lessons. I was not able to understand them for nearly twenty years. My life now is profoundly different. It’s deeper, richer, full of meaning, love and joy, and absent of the self-loathing and fear that had been my constant companions all my life.

Have your relationships changed specifically because of your experience? No No

After the NDE:


Was the experience difficult to express in words? Yes There are no words to adequately describe the terror and dread I felt. I can’t describe the appearance of a realm that is simultaneously dazzlingly bright, and purely dark, nor the way I was seeing things. I must have seen them in my mind, considering I had no eyes or ears.

How accurately do you remember the experience in comparison to other life events that occurred around the time of the experience? I remember the experience more accurately than other life events that occurred around the time of the experience

Do you have any psychic, non-ordinary or other special gifts after your experience that you did not have before the experience? No

Are there one or several parts of your experience that are especially meaningful or significant to you? Literally seeing that my mind was basically an unconscious thought-producing machine was a beautiful moment. It constituted direct confirmation that what the great spiritual traditions believe about the mind is true. It took me seventeen years to understand the lesson.

Have you ever shared this experience with others? Yes I shared the experience immediately with my husband. He listened with an open mind, because he knew that I was already unusually receptive to unexplainable phenomena. I don't think it influenced him in any way that I am aware of.

Did you have any knowledge of near death experience (NDE) prior to your experience? No

What did you believe about the reality of your experience shortly (days to weeks) after it happened? Experience was definitely real There was no question that it was a real experience. My husband verified that my body had fallen unconscious to the floor, where it lay for ten minutes, and I had the full psychological/emotional/physical memory of all that had happened. I immediately recorded it in my diary.

What do you believe about the reality of your experience now? Experience was definitely real I have never had difficulties distinguishing between reality and dream/fantasy. The details of the experience are distinct. It was very unusual, and unlike anything I had ever experienced or read about. I can't conceive of what it could be if it was not real.

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? I would love to know why most people seem to experience unconditional love, and are able to understand their lessons immediately. To know why I had pretty much the opposite experience.

Are there any other questions that we could ask to help you communicate your experience? I found that some of the questions asked me to replicate information contained in the main near death experience account, but I assume that whoever designed the form had a good reason for doing that.