Experience Description

I was in my high school swim class and I had told the instructor that I did not float the way the other kids did - black people have documented issues with buoyancy due to bone density and some other physical attributes. She forced me to push off from the side of the pool, and because there were many kids in the pool, she didn't see me struggling to get to the surface. I couldn't get back up for more than a nanosecond at a time, and I inhaled a lot of water and finally gave up.

I remember being terrified, then angry that my life was ending so early. Then, when I couldn't breathe anymore, I remember this warm rush - like the one you get when you're put under before surgery. I relaxed completely, and saw a little 'movie' of my life thus far - not very long then.

But as soon as it was over and I saw that I liked myself and had been a 'good' person, I totally relaxed and floated almost to the top of the water, face down. It scared my teacher and the other students so badly that the teacher jumped into the water with her clothes on and pulled me out. I had to be resuscitated. But I knew from then on that 'Judgment Day' was actually the day that WE see our lives like that, before we die. I know that the object of life is to make sure that little movie is as pleasant as possible to view!

(For a complete account go to Open Salon where I discuss what this experience 'taught' me more completely - it's an 'Editor's Pick' entry: http://open.salon.com/blog/keka/2010/05/23/acting_my_age)

Background Information:

Gender: Female

Date NDE Occurred: 1965

NDE Elements:

At the time of your experience, was there an associated life-threatening event? Yes Accident Clinical death (cessation of breathing or heart function or brain function) Drowning.

How do you consider the content of your experience? Mixed

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 As above.

At what time during the experience were you at your highest level of consciousness and alertness? When I was watching the movie. I could feel every single event fully, and as soon as I'd said, 'Okay, that was good,' a new scene began. It was more of a PowerPoint than a movie, actually.

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 There was no time, and I wasn't still here on earth. I was in a warm, dark void - almost like a movie theater!

Were your senses more vivid than usual? Incredibly more vivid

Please compare your hearing during the experience to your everyday hearing that you had immediately prior to the time of the experience. I stopped hearing things around me. All I heard was the movie. There was no other sound, no background noise.

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

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

Did you encounter or become aware of any deceased (or alive) beings? Yes Only in the dream. Everyone I'd ever met, every place I'd ever been. They did not communicate - save in the way they had during each event.

The experience included: Void

The experience included: Darkness

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? No

Did you seem to enter some other, unearthly world? No

The experience included: Strong emotional tone

What emotions did you feel during the experience? Terror, then anger, then absolute peace.

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've explained this. I saw everything I had ever done, everything I'd ever done, every place I'd ever been. I understood it all, and felt peace with the choices I'd made and the life I'd lived thus far. I now believe that this is the only judgment we face at the end of our lives and that if we like what we see we move on to the other side peacefully. If we don't, death is probably a horrible time of regret and pain. And possibly the time when we're told we need a 'do-over.' But I'm not sure about the latter.

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? No

What is your religion now? Liberal

Did you have a change in your values and beliefs because of your experience? No

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 I knew that everything that happened to me was a lesson I was meant to learn and that was why I was bewildered about such an early death at first.

Have your relationships changed specifically because of your experience? Yes I think I try to be good and of service to others as much as I can. I think that's the point of the movie, too. To show me that things are connected and that I'm not separate from things - and that everything I do has an effect on everything else.

After the NDE:

Was the experience difficult to express in words? No

Do you have any psychic, non-ordinary or other special gifts after your experience that you did not have before the experience? Yes My ancestors and others do physical things in the house like turn on lights or computers or toys - that kind of thing. My relatives always turn on something a few days after they die. My mother loves my laptop, though she hated technology when she was here. I think she knows it's the best way to reach me. She has even caused things to malfunction, to get my attention.

Are there one or several parts of your experience that are especially meaningful or significant to you? The feeling of wellbeing and peace at the end was very reassuring. I'm not worried about dying anymore. Not that part, anyway!

Have you ever shared this experience with others? Yes I shared it a day after it happened with my best friends. They were fine with it. It was the 1960s and everyone thought they were very spiritual and knowing. I don't think it influenced them - they just thought it was really interesting and understandable.

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 I was immediately sure it happened and awed and intrigued by it.

What do you believe about the reality of your experience now? Experience was definitely real It changed my entire life, so, it's one of the most important things I've ever experienced. It informs my life decisions. I think of the movie and how I'd like to feel when I leave.

At any time in your life, has anything ever reproduced any part of the experience? Yes Anesthetics have given me the same peace - but I've never been able to duplicate the movie.

Are there any other questions that we could ask to help you communicate your experience? I think the questionnaire is fine as is.