It was in August 1988, on holiday on the banks of the Loire with my girlfriend at the time, whom I was fed up with (we broke up two months later after a four-year relationship). The weather was very hot, and I felt a need to go in the water, by myself in the middle of the Loire; the water level was no more than two meters in the middle of the river at this time of drought. I swam calmly, carried along by the gentle current but I did not realize that the current grew stronger at the approaches to a bridge where it ran very swiftly between the columns.
When I became aware of the danger, I was swept towards a wall of jagged rocks. I then swam frantically, and just managed to catch onto an iron pole, taking refuge out of the water on one of the feet of the bridge's columns.
I was safe but completely trapped; I was in a position where nobody could see or hear me. I was there for half an hour pondering how to get out of this standoff without too much injury.
No way out - if I dive back into the turbulent water, I will certainly collide with the rocks - but I take this action anyway, counting on my good luck.
What had to happen, did happen. My knee struck the rocks with such force that I fainted from the pain.
For a while, I ceased to exist - then darkness, a clear sensation of floating, during which my mind continued to function. I said to myself, 'Ah, well, here you are then, this is death for you! It's not so bad as all that, after all.'
At this point an unknown, but very clear voice, said to me, 'No, you're not going to die, it's really not your time yet (with the implication 'you'll live to be very old') and you're going to get out of this.'
I think that it was on hearing these words that I came back to 'reality', because I suddenly realized that the water was really freezing - I also was able to make a visual assessment of my surroundings. The current was still too strong for me to get straight back to the bank, but I knew that the danger was now behind me.
Date NDE Occurred: AOUT 1988
At the time of your experience, was there an associated life-threatening event? Yes Accident 'Life threatening event, but not clinical death'
I should have drowned, after losing consciousness and been swept away in the river-current (the Loire).
How do you consider the content of your experience? Mixed
Did you feel separated from your body? Yes
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 Just before I crashed into the rock.
At what time during the experience were you at your highest level of consciousness and alertness? Just before I crashed into the rock.
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
I seemed to be gone for thirty minutes, whereas everyone was worried about my absence (one and a half hours at least).
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. Different, as my senses seemed to work in an isolated and successive way, not simultaneously. Conscious information therefore seemed more 'precise' than usual.
Please compare your hearing during the experience to your everyday hearing that you had immediately prior to the time of the experience. Idem question 8.
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 It was like going through a tunnel or enclosed space like an underwater cavern (at this spot the current was really strong but the depth of the water was at most about three feet.)
Did you see any beings in your experience? I actually saw them
Did you encounter or become aware of any deceased (or alive) beings? No
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? A certain quietude, with neither joy nor sadness; conscious of being 'on the edge' and of having an atypical sensory experience whose outcome was not terribly important, all things considered.
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 Actually, in those two months I had three 'accidents' which could have cost me my life. At the beginning of July 1988 I came off the freeway, losing control at more than a hundred mph before hitting the safety-barrier; a week later I fell asleep on my bicycle (celebrating my exams, I was exhausted by lack of sleep), and crashed into the back of a car, going through the rear windscreen. I was found unconscious inside the car.
With hindsight, I interpreted these events as warnings, which seemed to me to be saying, 'You're not on the right path; you need to change your war of living.' This is what I did two months later, by leaving my girlfriend and her family - to finally find myself.
Did scenes from the future come to you? Scenes from the world's future Sometimes I have visions about 'other people's' future existence, but without being able to control anything; it's just a 'flash' that happens (I don't take any drugs); sometimes it relates to people I've never seen; I find myself sensing death prowling around them.
It sometimes happens that things I have wished for others, come true; marvelous when it is a positive wish, worrying when it is negative.
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? Moderate AGNOSTIQUE DE CULTURE CATHOLIQUE
Have your religious practices changed since your experience? No I have never been much of a churchgoer, though I did receive a Catholic upbringing; still, I sometimes find myself going into churches to 'recharge' my positive forces; I often find a strong attraction in religious buildings of whatever confession, whereas the cult itself leaves me indifferent.
What is your religion now? Moderate IDEM
Did you have a change in your values and beliefs because of your experience? No I have never been much of a churchgoer, though I did receive a Catholic upbringing; still, I sometimes find myself going into churches to 'recharge' my positive forces; I often find a strong attraction in religious buildings of whatever confession, whereas the cult itself leaves me indifferent.
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 thought that this 'voice' which came from inside was another 'self', a kind of personal elfin spirit with the task of protecting me. I am more and more convinced of this as I get older, as my job as a policeman has often put me in a bad spot; each time the 'voice' has spoken to me; I've learned to trust it and listen to it - THE ONLY QUESTION IS: who is this voice which protects me, is it ANOTHER (unconscious) me? The spirit of a living person close to me? Or of a deceased loved one? GOD in person?
Have your relationships changed specifically because of your experience? Yes I still try to help my fellows to be happy and to suffer less, physically and mentally. Aware of the natural meanness of the human being, I have become more detached about possible personal attacks, with the thought (to go back to biblical terms of reference) that a bad person is often someone who is suffering (though this is not a reason to excuse everything). In short, I am more serene in my life and I never lose sight of the essential thing, LOVE rules my relations with my fellows.
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 I could write pages about this to explain the inexplicable, but to summarize I think I've found that I have a psychic strength which is clearly higher than normal, exerting a mental influence on my fellows, a bit like a kind of hypnosis, sometimes without the target being aware of it. I have chosen to do GOOD by acting positively but I know that I could just as easily do EVIL. Yet I listen to my 'little voice' and I know what it expects of me; I've understood this by a kind of mirror effect, when I have met people with the same special condition as myself (a clairvoyant, a dowser, an artist friend who is a painter). Looking back, I think I have been given this gift at birth, but that it needed these extreme circumstances to become aware of it.
Are there one or several parts of your experience that are especially meaningful or significant to you? Ultimately, the thing which remains anchored in me is this 'voice'; the near-drowning, it seems to me, was just a catalyst - as the voice has revealed itself many times since the event. I understood that this was not the product of my imagination, and that something was expected from me, positive actions, in return for this extraordinary gift.
Have you ever shared this experience with others? Yes But I speak rarely about this, except of course with people who take an interest in these matters (as I'm doing at the moment); I have a job which is very down-to-earth, yet I use my gift on a daily basis in my work, without anybody being aware. I have a reputation as a lucky policeman with a very keen nose.
As for my intimates, especially my wife (for sixteen years), they have witnessed my 'intuitions' so often that they no longer doubt my ability to exert a strong influence on things; sometimes they are scared, but I'm often consulted when there are important choices to be made (I do not consult packs of cards).
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 The paranormal aspect of the event was not clear to me straight away; I was focused on the raw facts, that is to say, the risk of drowning, and I was mad with myself for being so stupid, for not seeing the danger. It is when I reviewed the events later that I understood that the only real enigma to solve was the 'voice' at the center of the experience.
What do you believe about the reality of your experience now? Experience was definitely real Because twenty years have gone by, and in this time the 'voice' has manifested each time there was a need. Moreover, it was not necessarily me who was in danger; in retrospect, I know that this experience was truly real and it was perhaps necessary for me to be in an 'extreme' situation in order to be able to BELIEVE (in the voice); would I have paid attention to it if it had simply come to me in a dream?
At any time in your life, has anything ever reproduced any part of the experience? Yes I know from a single experience that certain drugs can put the human body in a 'receptive' state, allowing a providential opening to the Spirit. But drugs are toxic and bring on early death so are of no interest to me; to get to a higher level, some take the elevator - I have chosen to take the stairs.
Is there anything else that you would like to add about your experience? It has done me good to speak about all this; actually I was never really interested in the subject of 'soulmates' and 'twin souls' and was unaware that these notions were associated with near-death experiences. It seems to me that the NDE is an emotional catalyst, which allows one to explore the self; it is not the only one, but it is the most effective.
I have done some research at the request of my cousin's wife; her name is Maria; we met at a family celebration and got to know one another gradually. A little while back she admitted that I was probably her 'sister soul', but I did not know what to make of this notion - is it a platonic love, or something else? I don't know.