My girlfriend at the time and I, had been out for a tour around the lake of Basso-cambo, near Toulouse. She is a good swimmer, but I swim like a stone. Each time we went near the water, she made me feel bad because I never went into the water; while she adored swimming. So I forced myself to go to the water to please her. She was already far from the rim of the lake. I was walking near the side of the lake, where the water hardly went up to my knees. I motioned to her that she could continue having fun swimming without worrying about me. She continued swimming because I made an effort for her. Telling myself that I had time enough before she would get back, I used the opportunity to make a few strokes along the shore. The water was cold and I didn't feel at ease. But I forced myself to swim a bit, like an exercise. I kept telling myself that I was so close to the shore that there was no danger. After a few minutes, I felt already a bit tired of this. The water was too cold for me to feel good about trying to swim. So I decided to stop and leave the water to warm up with my towel. Unfortunately, I was unaware that I had no ground anymore at the place where I found myself at that moment. I wanted to get hold on the ground to get back to shore, but I went under water. I never knew how to float or to float on my back without going underwater. I already had had several bad experiences in water, so I never had the desire to learn to swim. I understood that the bottom was far deeper than I had thought. I struggled to try to get my head out of the water, which I could do for a fraction of a second. I could get a breath but not enough to get out of the water. So, in a state of panic, I let myself going down, hoping to finally touch ground before the air would be out. This didn't take very long. At that moment, I needed to breathe and was wary of struggling. I started to breathe water, not a big gulp but only a small quantity, as if it was the little part of air that my body was crying out for. I remember, and will remember for the rest of my life, the absurd thought that I had at that moment, 'Oh? I can breathe water!?' It's years since this NDE happened, but I still and always tell myself, if I had died on this day, this would have been my last thought.
So at that moment, I accepted this end, without even thinking about. I felt so good under the water, no pain anymore and no panic. I felt satisfied and free; I don't know how much time this took, for sure less than a minute, but I was fine.
I closed my eyes, naturally, like you do when you go to sleep. The experience started. The moment after I closed my eyes, I found myself floating above the water. I looked towards the water below; I was several meters above and I think that I was looking towards my body. I had no thought at all. What shocked me the most was the silence. It was as if I felt the nature surrounding me. I looked around and saw the lake and the trees. There was no sound. I felt like I was a part of a whole; of something bigger than me, bigger than the world, something that was connecting us to the surrounding nature. I didn't think for a single second. My thoughts seemed like something else. I really couldn't explain what it was. I didn't think, but I 'realized' everything. I realized that nature surrounded me. I realized the blow of the wind passing through me, but also as if it was a part of me.
Then I realized that somebody was there, down there, at the border of the lake. A woman with long, curled, reddish hair, in a white robe. This person was on her knees in the yellow pebbles and reached towards the water as if she wanted to help me. I didn't look at her for a very long time. Then in a second, the time to realize that she was reaching with her hand towards my body to save me. And there I found myself back in my body, and the survival instinct let me go down until I touched the bottom. With one leap, I found myself meters away from where I was before.
I left the water, vomited the water from my lungs, which was burning inside as if I were vomiting my lung itself. I needed several breath before I emptied everything. During the time of this pain, I forgot everything around me. Then I lifted my head towards the place where, logically, this person should be, but saw nothing. Nobody was there. I could clearly see the place, and it was how it should look from above. At the arrival, I didn't notice this corner with colored pebbles, nor while I was swimming. I only saw their color when I was floating above. Surprised, I didn't know if I had been dreaming. Although for me, those pebbles were proof that this was not the case. My girlfriend arrived. She had enough time to swim to the shore, wondering what happened and why I was coughing near the water. I explained to her that I had been drowning. She answered that this was impossible because drowning takes a much longer time.
As of this day, I tried to tell this NDE to my friends while getting always the same reactions: they considered me nuts or making fun of me, as if I had been telling a joke. I recently tried to talk about this again, and only one person accepted to believe me.
Since this day, this death, I remained, in relative terms, the same. Of course this experience has raised many questions such as: Was this real? Was I really drowning? Who was the person that saved me? Why was I brought back? I still have no true answer for all this. It ended that I was telling myself that maybe I was dreaming this, even though for me all this was very real. If it was real, then the person that saved me could only have been my grandmother, deceased many years ago and who was watching me during years. I still can't explain why I was saved, I haven't accomplished anything that deserves being saved from death.
Date NDE Occurred: 2004
At the time of your experience, was there an associated life-threatening event? Yes Drowning. Life threatening event, but not clinical death.
I'm really unable to swim, the water was very cold and I felt very tense.
How do you consider the content of your experience? Entirely pleasant
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 have ADD (attention deficit disorder) without hyperactivity. I can't concentrate and can't stop thinking very fast. During this experience, I had no thoughts at all. I felt things rather than thinking about.
At what time during the experience were you at your highest level of consciousness and alertness? When I was in the air, I felt everything surrounding me, as if I was part of it.
Were your thoughts speeded up? No
Did time seem to speed up or slow down? Time seemed to go faster or slower than usual.
I had a sensation that this took a long time. I couldn't feel time anymore, as if time was almost like suspended.
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. Immediately before the experience, my vision was hazy due to impurities in the lake. Then I closed my eyes and found myself in the air. I saw clearly this nature, the water, and the person on the shore.
Please compare your hearing during the experience to your everyday hearing that you had immediately prior to the time of the experience. I heard the normal noise of the water; but once in the air: I heard nothing. It was an incomparable but soothing silence. I don't feel well in complete silence, but there this silence was perfect.
Did you seem to be aware of things going on elsewhere, as if by ESP? No
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 The red-haired person. I'm not sure who she was, it could have reminded the virgin Mary, but I feel sure that it was my grandmother.
Did you see, or feel surrounded by, a brilliant light? No
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? If I had to describe 'emotion' it would be: nothing. I wouldn't be able to say that I felt good or bad. I was at my place. I was going to be part of this Wholeness, so it was like an evidence that I had no feeling. I wouldn't be able to describe the state in which I was at the moment. I only can say afterwards, that I felt good there.
Did you have a feeling of peace or pleasantness? Incredible peace or pleasantness
Did you have a feeling of joy? No
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. Surrounding us was the Wholeness, indescribable in its form. Nature was part of it and the whole Universe was part of it. I was close to being part of it. I felt in harmony with nature.
Did scenes from your past come back to you? No
Did scenes from the future come to you? 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 importance did you place on your religious/spiritual life prior to your experience? Slightly important to me
What was your religion prior to your experience? Other or several faiths Christian/Buddhist
Have your religious practices changed since your experience? No
What importance do you place on your religious/spiritual life after your experience? Moderately important to me
What is your religion now? Other or several faiths Still Christian/Buddhist
Did your experience include features consistent with your earthly beliefs? Content that was entirely not consistent with the beliefs you had at the time of your experience. I never dared thinking about death without fearing it or without having a panic attack. Even when considering myself a Buddhist and Christian, I had the impression that there was nothing after death and that I was fooling myself.
Did you have a change in your values and beliefs because of your experience? Yes I try to be more loving with people, even if that's enormously hard for me. I know that it is more in my nature to dislike humans. I try to pray more often if possible, and would like to restart meditation, as in my youth.
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. The person at the edge of the water, red curly hair, white dress, reaching her hand towards the water.
Did you see deceased or religious spirits? I actually saw them
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? Yes After death we are a Wholeness. This Wholeness is at the origin of everything that exists, is and will be. It's truly this feeling, everything seemed so clear to me at that moment. It was an evidence.
Did you believe in the existence of God prior to your experience? God probably does not exist
During your experience, did you gain information about the existence of God? Yes Originally I'm Christian, and Buddhist by the way I approach the question of 'paradise.' But this Wholeness is far beyond the universal thought that Buddhism describes, and even further than the Bible describes. If I had to explain this Wholeness, or God, or this Nirvana, as I sensed it at that moment, I would do a mathematical equation: Human = a star fragment = a fragment of the Universe = is a fragment of nature = is a fragment of the air = is a fragment of life = is a fragment of God. I sensed that something was governing this Wholeness, but it is indescribable.
Do you believe in the existence of God after your experience? God definitely exists
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 exists
Do you believe in an afterlife after your experience? An afterlife probably exists. Yes I had the sensation being nothing else than energy, belonging to a Wholeness. This Wholeness: that's nature, it's the air, it's the water, it's humanity. I knew if I was going definitely, I was joining this Wholeness.
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? Not fearful in living my earthly life
Were you fearful living your life after your experience? Greatly 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? Not compassionate toward others
During your experience, did you gain information about love? No
Were you compassionate after your experience? Moderately compassionate toward others
What life changes occurred in your life after your experience? Large changes in my life. I don't know if there's a connection, but I ended up, little by little, pulling away from the world and from people. I felt more and more like joining nature, to feel in harmony with it. Before this experience, I just wanted to live in town. Since then, I'm aspiring to live in harmony with it. Shortly after the experience, I separated from my girlfriend. Something happened afterwards where I started to live as a recluse, trying to avoid people.
Have your relationships changed specifically because of your experience? No
After the NDE:
Was the experience difficult to express in words? Yes This sensation, of being a part of a Wholeness is indescribable. If I had to explain it, it would be with a kind of comparison. Just imagine an evening in good company, forgetting all your problems, then you go outside, looking at the stars while being wrapped in a blanket. There you look at the stars and you realize that we are tiny, that the Universe is immense, and that we on earth, seen from space, are very tiny. Imagine this feeling but in a totally opposed way: being part of an immensity; and then you could come close to this sensation.
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. I do not have a good memory, yet I remember very well some memories of this period of time: This NDE and the response of my friends when I told them about.
Do you have any psychic, non-ordinary or other special gifts after your experience that you did not have before the experience? Uncertain. Before the experience, I happened to foretell the future. I felt the things going to happen, or that happened already. I even had very clear premonitory dreams, that I could tell my loved ones in detail, and the events of those dreams happened all, with accuracy, word for word. Since this experience, I have the impression that everything is vanishing. I happened to have a sensation of Déjà-Vu of these dreams, but nothing as relevant as before.
Are there one or several parts of your experience that are especially meaningful or significant to you? This person. I would have appreciated to know who she was. I didn't feel anything, except this Wholeness. This person that saved me and I don't know why.
Have you ever shared this experience with others? Yes It seems to me that it was the next day. For the next time, I didn't dare before last year (2016) with my father, and the last time, beginning of this year.
Did you have any knowledge of near death experience (NDE) prior to your experience? Yes. No NDE at all could have been influencing me. I thought exactly about those that I had heard from; the people having experienced this NDE. They all talked about a tunnel and a light. I always told myself that for sure they had been delirious and that it was their brain that invented it when 'returning' (like a dream that takes only a fraction of a second, but of which you believe that it took hours). The NDEs of which I heard, only talked about a tunnel and light, nothing to do with what I experienced. I didn't know that others had experienced this Wholeness.
What did you believe about the reality of your experience shortly (days to weeks) after it happened? Experience was definitely real. The yellow pebbles. I really would have believed having had a dream, if I hadn't seen in detail this place where the woman was. According to my girlfriend, I must have perceived this setting out of the corner of my eye. For me, this simple zone where she reached her hand, proves the reality of the experience. Nevertheless, there still remains a doubt in me.
What do you believe about the reality of your experience now? Experience was probably real. Still the same reasons, doubt remains, even if this memory stayed perfectly intact with time. I'm still doubting for a single reason: why and how did I take a memory with me? A memory isn't it, on principle, something belonging to the brain? So how to create a memory, that wouldn't be experienced in it?
At any time in your life, has anything ever reproduced any part of the experience? No
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