I think now this experience was in some way ( this is hard to say for sure) by being eight months pregnant and standing at the window one day looking out over the bush and asking for a spiritual experience. I didn't have any idea who I was addressing, I just knew in my heart I was asking for a connection with whatever might be there. I also wanted my birth to be conscious, it was my second child, and I knew it was possible that there would be an intervention. I was admitted to hospital the next month, as I had toxemia and labor was induced, as the baby was due. I went into labor but my cervix did not dilate more than 3 cm so after about 12 hours of labor it was decided to do a C section but there was no one available to do an epidural which was my doctor’s preference.
An elderly anesthetist was found and I went into surgery that morning. I remember a needle being inserted in my arm and someone telling me I would go under in a short time. My husband and home midwife was there with my doctor and my obstetrician. The next thing I remembered was that I couldn't breathe and there was a tremendous amount of pain. It felt like a truck was reversing back and forth over my belly and there was no escape. I thought I must breathe through this but when I tried to breathe, I couldn't. I kept trying but nothing was happening. I began to panic and fought hard with all my strength to breathe. Then I realized I must be dying if I can't breathe and I gave up fighting it.
The pain was now so unbearable and I realized that I was in the operation and was feeling everything. I could hear everyone talking and could feel the scalpel cutting so deep inside me but I couldn't tell them. I was screaming inside ‘help me, somebody notice me’. But I couldn't move anything. I heard this strong pulsing sound and I fought to deal with such intense pain. For me it was worse than anything I had experienced in my life. The pain was increasing and I was terrified. I remembered a yoga teacher saying once: if you are ever in great pain don't fight it, go deeply into it, and surrender into it. So I did. I let myself go and let all the pain in, feeling it as much as I could and I experienced falling down into the depths of my experience. I found myself in a place where I could still feel the pain but in some way, I no longer cared.
I saw people around me who I knew had died, some people I knew some I didn't, but they were a distance away and I knew if I moved closer to them I would die. There was a threshold. I was ‘shown’ a place or can I say a presence? This is very difficult for me to describe. It was a vast intelligence: a place where all that has ever been known, all things that are known now, and all things that will ever be known was present. Like a huge library of truth and knowledge. These were things known by man, but so much more was unknown to man. It was vast, endless. I thought to myself ‘no human could stand in front of this, we are too small, unable to comprehend this’. But I am here, I see this. I felt humbled beyond words.
I was given five directives from this place. I don't know where, or from whom they came from. It was a deep knowing that entered my mind: 1) Everything is important and nothing is important. 2) That the most important thing is the truth 3) That our purpose in this world at its very base is for humans to procreate. 4) That pain hides the truth, that we humans resist pain and therefore miss the truth. That breath is our main connection to the life force. 5) That my husband and I will be together for the rest of our lives.
All during this time, coming from a long way away, I could hear the conversations of the people around me, I knew Allegra had been born, I knew she was a girl; I knew she urinated as she was pulled out from me. I was aware of them suctioning out the after birth, I could feel the pain of it and the sounds but I was in a different place. The people who had died around me faded back, I felt myself being stitched up, and I came back up into the level of reality. I felt them move me onto another bed and wheeled into recovery. I became desperate to talk to my partner Glenn. I tried talking and eventually said ‘please get Glenn’ over and over. The recovery nurse said ‘there, there Rachel you have had a lovely little girl’. I said ‘I know, get Glenn. Please get Glenn!’
After some time of repeating my request they went and got him from the nursery where he was with Allegra. He came to my side and I said, ‘pen and paper’, which he got immediately as he knows me well. I gave him the directives I had been given and made him write them down. I was afraid they would give me Pethidine [Editor’s note: A strong analgesic.] and I would float out of consciousness and lose what I had been given.
Date NDE Occurred: 4/2/1990
At the time of your experience, was there an associated life-threatening event? Uncertain Childbirth. 'Illness, trauma or other condition not considered life threatening'
I was having a Caesarian section under general anesthesia. This failed and so I underwent the entire operation from beginning to end aware without pain relief. This created such pain that I felt myself going into shock and this is when the NDE occurred.
How do you consider the content of your experience? Neither pleasant NOR distressing
Did you feel separated from your body? Yes I heard my entire operation and what was being said by the medical team. Also what I felt in 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 From the moment just after I realized I could not breathe and I was in so much pain. It was a heightened sense once I descended into the depths. The pain in my body kept me aware of my body but the experience created so much more ‘openness’ in my understanding.
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
Although I was in an operation and was aware of that happening, the place or state I was in, time seemed inconsequential.
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. This vision was more like an understanding, not from this world. I especially the felt presence of people who had died. I saw and felt them, a combination of senses.
Please compare your hearing during the experience to your everyday hearing that you had immediately prior to the time of the experience. Hearing was different, like thoughts being placed inside me. I could still hear the operation in progress but the hearing in my experience was more like ‘receiving’.
Did you seem to be aware of things going on elsewhere? No
Did you pass into or through a tunnel? No
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 People who I knew had died, some I knew others I didn't. I can't remember them now.
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? A clearly mystical or unearthly realm This place or consciousness was eternal, vast and incomprehensible to me. I was so in awe of it. Like the cosmos and consciousness in one.
What emotions did you feel during the experience? I felt intense fear of the pain, not being able to breathe and of dying. Inside the depths of my experience, I felt in awe of what I was being shown.
Did you have a feeling of peace or pleasantness? Relief or calmness
Did you have a feeling of joy? No
Did you feel a sense of harmony or unity with the universe? No
The experience included: Special knowledge or purpose
Did you suddenly seem to understand everything? Everything about the universe But I couldn't encompass what I saw, it was too huge for me, I felt normal human beings were not meant to see this in a corporal state. It would be impossible to stand in the presence of this and stay sane.
Did scenes from your past come back to you? No
The experience included: Awareness of the future
Did scenes from the future come to you? Scenes from my personal future I was told that my partnership with Glenn would continue until we were parted by death. To know we would be together this lifetime.
The experience included: Boundary
Did you reach a boundary or limiting physical structure? Yes I saw the boundary between life and death, I knew by just moving towards it I would die.
Did you come to a border or point of no return? No
God, Spiritual and Religion:
What importance did you place on your religious/spiritual life prior to your experience? Moderately important to me
What was your religion prior to your experience? Unaffiliated- Agnostic agnostic
Have your religious practices changed since your experience? Yes It is only now that I am really letting in my experience and its helping to form a deeper relationship with the mystery. It was reading Anita Moorjani's book, lately, that has prompted me to go onto this website and record my experience in this way.
What importance do you place on your religious/spiritual life after your experience? Greatly important to me
What is your religion now? Unaffiliated- Agnostic agnostic but with a strong interest in "spiritual" matters
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 I have never felt secure in my relationship with my partner. It has always been an issue for me.
I have always thought there was a higher purpose other than procreation.
Those two directives were at odd to what I believed.
The other directives were not in my usual consciousness although I have always believed that deep breathing is good for us.
Did you have a change in your values and beliefs because of your experience? Uncertain My main problem regarding my values or beliefs was that I had experienced an unstable relationship with my husband where I never felt the security of being with him. He was much younger, 7 years, than me when we married and at the age of 22 was unprepared to be a father and husband. He wanted to be with other women and felt he had missed out on a free life.
It was always up to me to pull him back into being together as a family year after year. So when I had this experience I found it impossible to trust the messages I had been given. If he left me, it would mean that what I experienced was completely unreal and a fabrication of my own mind. So in a way I never allowed the full force of the experience in my life and for that I have felt sad and confused at times.
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 I felt in the presence of a vast intelligence or knowing-ness. Messages were transmitted by a directive in my consciousness. But this was not a being, more a being-ness.
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.)? Yes One person I saw or felt was Osho, a guru who had influenced my life in a small way when I was younger.
During your experience, did you gain information about premortal existence? No
During your experience, did you gain information about universal connection or oneness? Yes There was a sense that I belonged, my story or my experience, belonged here as part of this great "knowingness". I was being shown this, it was directly important for me to recieve this vision.
Did you believe in the existence of God prior to your experience? I was uncertain if God exists
During your experience, did you gain information about the existence of God? Yes Yes this was my whole experience, not God per se but something unfathomable and awesome.
Do you believe in the existence of God after your experience? I am uncertain if God exists
Concerning our Earthly lives other than Religion:
During your experience, did you gain special knowledge or information about your purpose? Yes There was a very over-powering feeling of being given these directives to life. (As listed above)
Did you believe that our earthly lives are meaningful and significant prior to your experience? Are possibly meaningful and significant
During your experience, did you gain information about the meaning of life? Yes Yes I received direct messages as I mentioned. But with these directive came a understanding of them as well.
Breath is our connection to life force.
Truth is most important. (To tell the truth at all times, at all costs).
Pain hides the truth. ( We h
Did you believe in an afterlife prior to your experience? I was uncertain if an afterlife exists
Do you believe in an afterlife after your experience? An afterlife probably exists Uncertain All I knew was that there is a vast intellegence/presence/beingness outside of our normal reality. That this exists in life and after death.
Did you fear death prior to your experience? I greatly feared death
Do you fear death after your experience? I moderately fear death
Were you fearful living your life prior to your experience? Moderately 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 possibly 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 became highly anxious after the birth. I had terrible nightmares of being operated on under clothes racks in shops, being sexually operated on. I also had months where I was scared I was going to stop breathing. I lived in both a state of fear but also a state of awe and disbelief at the intensity of my experience. I felt separated from the everyday living of life and other people. I spent a lot of time recalling my experience and trying to make sense of it.
Have your relationships changed specifically because of your experience? Yes Yes My relationship with my husband has deepened. He has a lot of respect for my experience. We have remained together. Allegra, my daughter, remains close and I know she, in her own way, has had to process coming into the world under those circumstances.
After the NDE:
Was the experience difficult to express in words? Yes Words cannot explain the sensations of pain, of fear I had in not being able to breathe. But more importantly to explain that huge vast presence of intelligence or knowingness is impossible. I thought people could just die in experiencing that vastness because they can't absorb it.
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 found this experience was very unsettling in view of what I had asked for a month before Allegras birth. I have not been able to reconcile my request with the NDE.
Do you have any psychic, non-ordinary or other special gifts after your experience that you did not have before the experience? Yes I have had an unusual life in that, as a child I experienced many strange anxieties and obsession with death since I was four years old. I would experience states of what I call ‘order and chaos’ that occurred as a vision a lot between the ages of 9 to 13. I was very afraid of these states as they seemed so unreal but real at the same time.
Are there one or several parts of your experience that are especially meaningful or significant to you? The list I received during the experience.
Have you ever shared this experience with others? Yes Immediately. My partner, friends and family were all very supportive and were willing to hear my experience. But when the nightmares and fear came, which was more to do with the trauma of pain and being aware in an operation, got too much I went to have sessions with a Jungian psychiatrist.
Did you have any knowledge of near death experience (NDE) prior to your experience? Yes I had heard of them and thought it was a real experience for people.
What did you believe about the reality of your experience shortly (days to weeks) after it happened? Experience was definitely real I was struggling to deal with a new born baby. I would sit and hold her and gaze into her deep eyes and I knew she had just come from where I had visited. This thought kept me connected with the world in a very powerful way. I was here and she needed me to be here too. Allegra was my anchor.
What do you believe about the reality of your experience now? Experience was definitely real Although I know I did not have a moment of physical death I know I had a NDE. I believe that it was created by the shock of dealing with so much pain and the vulnerability of the situation. I know I could have died of shock and that it was possible especially when I saw others who had died so close by.
At any time in your life, has anything ever reproduced any part of the experience? No Although I must say it took six years of suffering terrible gallbladder pain that I allowed an emergency operation. This was because I was terrified of having awareness and pain under another operation.
Is there anything else that you would like to add about your experience? Asking for a spiritual experience and then a month later having my NDE was significant. I am careful now about what I envision or want for myself.