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While cleaning the house, a leaded glass window encased in an oak frame fell off the mantel and whacked me on the head. I remember catching a glimpse of it coming toward me and the impact as it drove me to my knees. The first moment was of incredible pain and then no pain as I separated from my body.
Now, I was a Ph.D., research biophysics and electron microscopy; fully immersed in science and research on the ultra-structure of cell pathology in organisms exposed to environmental pollutants. I had no spiritual beliefs, no belief in an afterlife, God or any religion. I had never heard of near death experiences nor had any interest in what I would have called fantasy.
I was not thinking about any of this as I whizzed down a long dark tunnel toward a light that was drawing me to itself. I was not thinking about anything at all, nor was I afraid. I was just there with all this happening so fast.
I remember slowing down, without my choice, at the entrance to the lighted place and amazed to discover my mother and grandmother standing to the right and greeting me with so much love. They communicated to me in some way, certainly without words or hearing, but clearly inside my mind. I was astonished to see them healthy and middle aged, happy and so full of love and recognition for me. I would take any blow on the head to have had the assurance of their consciousness. What a gift.
I then passed into the place of light: rolling hills, grass, flowers, blue skies and vibrant with color. What amazed me was the intensity, brilliance, and clarity of the color and that it seemed to be emitting from within each aspect of the landscape. The grass glowed green. It was so beautiful. It was so very beautiful.
Suddenly I was in the presence of a Being of Light. I could not see the face, could communicate, but not in words or pictures even - in some connection of oneness. I experience that connection in meditation frequently, but I cannot explain it very precisely. It is beyond words and other kinds of experiences. The emotions are always enhanced. I feel joy so deep that my whole self-leaps with gratitude; I feel peace; I feel awe and belonging. I did not have a specific life review, but felt everything about my life and me was known, understood and not judged. I was profoundly loved.
It seemed that I was there forever in the Presence.
Without discussion or warning, I was suddenly back in my body with a very sore head. A mat of dried blood was all over my hair and I was woozy. My physician's service asked if I had lost consciousness and I said no. How dumb! So I went to bed propped up on pillows because it hurt too much to lay prone. This was Friday night.
By Monday when I returned to the lab and work, a colleague took one look at me and hustled me off to his doctor. I had not been in Seattle all that long, as I only had an obstetrician/ gynecologist, not a family physician. After a CT scan, neurological testing (I had no toe curl response on one side, was very wobbly) I was sent to bed and asked to not work for several weeks. The hematoma on my brain was small enough to not require surgery; the gash on my skull was sealed by now. As the doc said: 'We would have stitched that for you, had you come in earlier.'
So I had the first time in my life of being by myself without some external busy-ness. The images and feelings of the NDE kept coming back to me.
As I recovered and was up and about, I wandered into Elliott Bay Book Store. Raymond Moody's first book about near death experiences 'Life After Life' seemed to hop off the shelf into my hands. I read much of the book, maybe even all of it, standing there, astonished. He described case after case of similar experiences. I could not discount what happened to me, the visions I saw. Then I was launched on an exploration of consciousness and expanded reality that continues to this day.
After years of meditation, learning, meeting teachers and people who had similar experiences, I had a vision that called me to healing. In 1984, I turned the lab over to one of my assistants and left to pursue a life of counseling, studying spiritual traditions in shamanic cultures, and facilitating spiritual aspects of healing. Now I continue private sessions, teach, present seminars, and have published my first book to make the information I gained available to anyone.
Date NDE Occurred: winter, 1976
At the time of your experience, was there an associated life-threatening event? Yes Accident Direct head injury Life threatening event, but not clinical death
I was hit on the head with a decorative leaded glass window.
How do you consider the content of your experience? Wonderful
The experience included: Out of body experience
Did you feel separated from your body? Yes I clearly left my body and existed outside it
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 I could see in every direction, including behind me. I was aware but relaxed and seemed to perceive everything.
At what time during the experience were you at your highest level of consciousness and alertness? From the moment of leaving my body until back in my body.
Were your thoughts speeded up? Faster than usual
Did time seem to speed up or slow down? Everything seemed to be happening at once; or time stopped or lost all meaning It seemed as if there was only a moment of time and an eternal expanse of time.
Were your senses more vivid than usual? Incredibly more vivid
Did your vision differ in any way from normal? Enhanced clarity, scope of view, laser-like colors of bright, clear hues, emotional tone to colors - ecstatic.
Did your hearing differ in any way from normal? I don't remember hearing - information seemed to just drop into my thoughts.
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? Yes I passed out of my body immediately into a tunnel with a magnetic light at the end drawing me at great speed to itself.
The experience included: Presence of deceased persons
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 My mother and grandmother greeted me at just before the entrance to the 'landscape'.
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 A beautiful light drew me to itself, the light still touches me with awe and tears come immediately.
The experience included: A landscape or city
Did you seem to enter some other, unearthly world? A clearly mystical or unearthly realm The landscape was beautiful, blue skies, rolling hills, flowers. All was full of light, as if lit from within itself and emitting light, not reflecting it.
The experience included: Strong emotional tone
What emotions did you feel during the experience? Joy, ecstasy, peace, gratitude, meaning, fullness, absence of struggle.
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
Did scenes from your past come back to you? My past flashed before me, out of my control Sort of - not a specific or detailed life review, but a feeling that there were no secrets, all was known and I was not judged in any way.
Did scenes from the future come to you? Scenes from the world's future
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
God, Spiritual and Religion:
What was your religion prior to your experience? Liberal None
Have your religious practices changed since your experience? Yes No longer atheist. Practice spiritually consistently.
What is your religion now? Liberal Spiritual
Did you have a change in your values and beliefs because of your experience? Yes No longer atheist. Practice spiritually consistently.
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 is okay; the entire universe is in God's hands.
Have your relationships changed specifically because of your experience? Yes Lost marriage, gained fabulous friends and teachers.
After the NDE:
Was the experience difficult to express in words? Yes Strong emotional tone, images of unspeakable beauty.
Do you have any psychic, non-ordinary or other special gifts after your experience that you did not have before the experience? Yes Slowly I came to realize I returned with many gifts of vision, knowing, seeing beyond ordinary reality, and the capacity to facilitate healing, particularly at physical levels.
Are there one or several parts of your experience that are especially meaningful or significant to you? Every instant of it was meaningful and deeply life changing.
Have you ever shared this experience with others? Yes It was several years before I shared the experience, after wandering into a Seattle IANDS (International Association for Near Death Studies) meeting at the Green Lake library.
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 definately not real I discounted the entire experience as hallucination until the emotional impact and specific events would not go away.
What do you believe about the reality of your experience now? Experience was definitely real. I view it as real, repeatable in the sense that I can return to aspects of the 'place' in meditation on occasion. That is, when I yearn for the 'place' sometimes it opens and I am in the presence of the being of Light and the rolling hills. This is not something I can control or demand, but is gifted to me once in a while.
At any time in your life, has anything ever reproduced any part of the experience? Yes Deep meditation can reproduce part of it. I have taken no medications, smoked or ingested any substances to promote shamanic journeys or hallucinations.
Are there any other questions that we could ask to help you communicate your experience? Hi Jody and Jeff,
Finally, I have completed your questionnaire! I found it to be a very emotional experience, surprisingly! Once again living the NDE brings me to a place of awe and humility, gratitude and yearning.