I was surfing in Carlsbad, California in the early morning before work. The waves were only about three to five feet tall; but the water was so glassy and still; I couldn't resist going in. My place of employment was one block from the beach; so most mornings if it wasn't raining; I would go in for a few minutes to surf in non-crowded conditions. (Weekends can be circus like because of too many people out in the water.) This particular morning there was not another person within about a quarter mile from me. I had just paddled out and was sitting on my surfboard waiting for the right wave. I should tell you that a couple of years before, I had dislocated my left shoulder while surfing. I had no health insurance back in those days, so with time; the damage increased each time it would come out of socket to the point that I had to tie my arm to my waist at night so I could sleep. I had gotten used to this injury over time, so when it would dislocate, I just would rest it for a few days each time before putting any physical stress on it. It became a way of life.
On this particular morning, as I was sitting on my board out a hundred yards or so off the sand, a bigger than normal wave popped up maybe thirty yards farther out. I paddled like crazy to catch the wave; but I didn't quite make it out far enough to catch it before it broke. Instead, as I was paddling, the wave broke and I went over the nose of my board. I felt the agonizing pain of my arm grind out of socket, but this time the pain was much more intense! I screamed!
When I surfaced, I realized in horror that my left arm was draped around my neck and over my right shoulder. I struggled to pull it back to the left, but I couldn't manage to do it. Now I was terrified as I realized that my surfboard was not attached to my ankle where it should be. The Velcro strip had failed, and my board had washed toward shore. About that time, another wave had crashed down on me, and I felt the churning like being inside a washing machine. The pain was excruciating; but the tumbling over and over had allowed my arm to get back on my left side. I realized from more pain in my chest that I was now inhaling water. As I came up I gasped for air, but nothing happened except choking. Then I got very relaxed and I remember thinking that the old cliché was 'after three times going down - it's final.' So after a few seconds of panic I resigned, relaxed, no pain, no fear. Suddenly a hand grabbed the back of my wet suit and I was lying across what I thought was a surfboard. Then I realized that the water was shallow and I could stand up. I turned to thank the guy for helping me; but nobody was there.
There were two people running toward me a couple of hundred feet from me, and I collapsed and started throwing up water. I just lay there with my cheek on the sand trying to catch my breath; my lungs aching like I have never felt before, vomiting water and bits of seaweed. My head was spinning which made the nausea even worse. By that time, the two people had gotten to me asking if I was okay. I told them I just needed to rest. Then one of them said, 'We saw your bright blue wetsuit and you were floating face down in the foam of the waves'. I asked where the guy went who helped me get toward the shore. Neither one knew who I was talking about. One of the guys said jokingly, 'Maybe it was your guardian angel.' I'd say I agree! I stopped surfing years ago; but the surf culture for me feels like a religious experience. I didn't get rid of my fear of death however. In fact; I think this experience made me more afraid to live. That's why I bought your book on the afterlife.
Date NDE Occurred: 1980
At the time of your experience, was there an associated life-threatening event? Yes Accident 'Life threatening event, but not clinical death'
How do you consider the content of your experience? Mixed
Did you feel separated from your body? Uncertain
How did your highest level of consciousness and alertness during the experience compare to your normal everyday consciousness and alertness? Less consciousness and alertness than normal As above.
At what time during the experience were you at your highest level of consciousness and alertness? For me; I wasn't alert at all. I was terrified; but completely puzzled about my few (seconds/minutes?) of relaxation.
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
I couldn't tell if the experience was seconds or minutes.
Were your senses more vivid than usual? Incredibly more vivid
Please compare your vision during the experience to your everyday vision that you had immediately prior to the time of the experience. I could see the grey and white of the foam and bubbles as I was tumbling. Ever so often, I would catch a glimpse of blue from the sky. It would orient me as to knowledge of being close to the surface.
Please compare your hearing during the experience to your everyday hearing that you had immediately prior to the time of the experience. I could hear my screaming and choking under water.
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 Someone saved me by helping me to shallow water; then disappeared. I could see for a long ways right as I got to shore in all directions. Nobody except those two guys who spotted me floating in the foam; and they saw nobody with me in the water.
The experience included: Void
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
What emotions did you feel during the experience? Horror then calm momentarily.
Did you have a feeling of peace or pleasantness? Relief or calmness
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
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
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? Conservative/fundamentalist
Have your religious practices changed since your experience? Yes I was very 'fundamentalist' in my beliefs for many years. Then I became very disappointed with the 'church' and its teachings of sin and punishment. I had to leave the church and just have my own understanding of the Bible and of God. This scientific research to me is absolutely fascinating!!!! It makes the possibilities SO LOGICAL whereas some of the 'church' doctrines seemed like nonsense to me.
What is your religion now? Conservative/fundamentalist
Did you have a change in your values and beliefs because of your experience? Yes I was very 'fundamentalist' in my beliefs for many years. Then I became very disappointed with the 'church' and its teachings of sin and punishment. I had to leave the church and just have my own understanding of the Bible and of God. This scientific research to me is absolutely fascinating!!!! It makes the possibilities SO LOGICAL whereas some of the 'church' doctrines seemed like nonsense to me.
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? No
Have your relationships changed specifically because of your experience? Yes After this; I started holding back in life. In 1987 when my daughter was born; I was an overprotective parent; and probably drove my wife nuts with my worrying constantly.
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? Uncertain Years later as I got more interested in Christianity; I was already 'sold' on the existence of 'Angels' because of my near drowning. Christianity teaches the existence of 'spiritual gifts' and although I have always shied away from that practice; I knew I had the ability to 'discern' spirits in which many times proved itself out in my life. However; this 'ability' is at the control and timing of God; not myself or my time or efforts.
Are there one or several parts of your experience that are especially meaningful or significant to you? The thing that stood out was that whether or not it was an 'Angel'. The angel saved my life. I also wondered if I had been 'backslidden' (as Christians put it) and this was my 'chance' to get my life in order. I had a lot of 'baggage' from different sects of religion.
Have you ever shared this experience with others? Yes Pretty much right away. Most thought I was crazy I think. It was much more acceptable to those I talked to in a church setting. (Which came later in my life.)
Did you have any knowledge of near death experience (NDE) prior to your experience? Yes Sure; I had heard of things like this due to being raised around Christian relatives. When I did finally start getting serious about Christianity, I studied the Bible looking for answers to explain this 'other existence'. Was it 'Purgatory' like the Catholics believe? Or was it a waiting room to see if a person is a sheep or a goat? I was pretty sure it wasn't heaven. Although I didn't make it into this other dimension; I have always wondered about it.
What did you believe about the reality of your experience shortly (days to weeks) after it happened? Experience was definitely real I was always SURE that it was not a dream or hallucination from banging my head or lack of oxygen. I was well aware that I was in big trouble (health wise and spiritual wise).
What do you believe about the reality of your experience now? Experience was definitely real After studying the Bible diligently for years; I knew already by faith that this exists. Now I am very interested in it from a scientific view. I'm kind of obsessed with it.
At any time in your life, has anything ever reproduced any part of the experience? Uncertain One time after a routine surgery. Waking up from anesthesia was so joyous! I felt like I had been reborn. The doctor asked me if I remembered anything; and I told him 'No; I'd do it again in a heartbeat.' What a strange thing for me to say! Why would I feel like that? Do they have to tell you if they 'goof'? I had that notion.