I had to go into hospital for an operation on an abdominal hernia which was quite severe as it was several years old and was quite bad.
I'd had general anesthetic more than ten years ago, when I had been 'aware' during a procedure at a dentist to remove some wisdom teeth and experienced a lot of pain. I was naturally very nervous this time, despite the fact that the surgeon re-assured me the anesthetics used at a dentist were inferior compared to those used in normal surgery.
This time the anesthesiologist was very reassuring. She had a long chat with me. She assured me that in light of my history and to put my mind at rest she would give me as much anesthetic as was safe to administer whilst the operation was in progress. My vital signs would be monitored constantly. She and her assistant would do their best to ensure the operation went as smoothly and painlessly as possible for me as possible. I was even given 'pre-meds' prior to the operation. I was told that I wouldn't be breathing for myself, as a machine would be doing my breathing for me. I was lying on the hospital trolley in the anesthesiologist's room whilst she put the needle in the back of my hand. I was trying to think 'happy' thoughts (a forest in the summer time with the sunlight shining through the green leaves and giving an emerald glow, wild flowers around, etc.) and the last thing I remember hearing was the nurse telling me that she was about to put the mask over my mouth.
The next thing I knew, I was back in the ward with a mask on my face and a nurse was telling me not to take the mask off but to breathe in the oxygen deeply, as the operation was over and I needed to get the anesthetic out of my system. I felt good, no ill effects at all, and eager to go. I said 'okay' and tried to sit up. I'd forgotten that with my abdominal muscles having been cut up and then sewn back together they wouldn't be able to work properly for a while. But at the same time as that little dialogue went on, I had a sudden flash of memory:
I had been stood behind the surgeon whilst the operation was going on, behind his left shoulder, and had been watching him. He was holding part of the equipment in his left hand, and had been saying something about a problem, the surgery was difficult and it wasn't a problem he had expected. I remembered that someone was there with me who was dressed in white. It couldn't have been the operating staff as I'd seen them before and they all wore blue/turquoise gowns.
I also remembered the impressions I'd had at this time too. I felt very calm and relaxed, there was no 'time' as such but just a feeling of 'the present' being all there is. I felt very much at peace, but I also felt - grownup. That was really strange right from the off as I've never felt adult or mature in my entire life! Second, I suddenly felt that there is someone always with me. Even when I can't see them. In other words, I'm never alone but have always had a companion, a spiritual one if you like and that none of us are ever alone. All of us have a lifelong companion that has been given to us to watch over us.
There have been some very traumatic episodes in my life and for a long time I blamed myself, that other people had taken my place and died when it should have been me instead. Yet in this experience, I was told to stop this. I was told that we all have our own life paths to follow, and that mine was different to theirs, which is why I hadn't died. So, I was to stop blaming myself.
I knew the body on the operating table was mine, but it didn't matter. That was just a temporary place. The surgeon was doing the best he could to fix it, and I had no worries there, but it was just a temporary place. I, me, myself, was here, stood behind the surgeon. It was vivid, so vivid. I kept getting the feeling it had happened twice, that I had left my body twice. All that flashed through my mind as I tried to sit up and then lay propped on my elbows. I didn't say anything to the nurse at the time, and because I wasn't allowed to get up yet I lay back down and promptly fell asleep again.
When I woke up, I had a visit from the surgeon who then told me that my abdominal muscles had been a real problem to get through as they were very well developed. I didn't say anything about my experience though, as I was still trying to come to terms with it. Things like that don't happen to me, surely? Why would I be that lucky as to have an experience like that? Despite the fact that it felt so real, something that dreams tend not to do, I kept trying to rationalize it away. After the surgeon had gone I got dressed and sat there pondering things for a while, and then despite the nurse's protestations I got up and hobbled about a bit.
One of the nurses, whilst she was fixing his bed up, was laughing and chatting to another patient (an older guy) who was still in bed after his operation. I wanted to see what she thought, so I told her that I'd had a weird dream whilst I was under. She looked up and smiling asked me what it had been. I told her that I'd dreamt that I was stood behind the surgeon's left shoulder watching him whilst he operated on me. Have you ever had the experience where you've said something, and then realized you've said something wrong? Well, that happened with me. The nurse suddenly stopped smiling, looked down as if she was thinking something, and then suddenly started busying herself making the bed next to her. She looked bothered, as if she hadn't wanted to hear that. The patient she had been chatting to just sat and stared at me. 'Oooops' I thought. That wasn't the reaction I'd expected.
Once I got home that day, I kept thinking over this experience. Was it a dream or was it real? The enormous feeling of contentment I had, a contentment I hadn't felt since I was a child, and I put down to the painkillers I had been given by the hospital. But I still couldn't get the experience out of my mind, and came to these conclusions:
Firstly, dreams and hallucinations are very individual things being based upon the subject's life-experiences and mental make-up.
Secondly, this did not have any of the hallmarks of a dream. I rarely remember mine, but when I do, I know they were dreams as they have a very 'unrealistic' quality to them. You wake up, and just know it was a dream.
Thirdly, what I had experienced was exactly the same thing as many other people had experienced and, with relation to the first point, you do not dream other people's dreams nor have other people's hallucinations. If two people separately sat down and wrote of an imaginary visit to an imaginary place, the stories would be very different to each other. If, however, two people were to separately sit down and write of a genuine visit to a real place e.g. the British Museum, there would be many points of congruency.
Not conclusive proof I know, but sufficient to make my point. The aim of the anesthesia was to remove consciousness completely, and if I had been mentally active enough to be able to remove myself from the situation subliminally, my God, I'd have been conscious enough to feel the pain and there would have been a hell of a lot of it. I'd been opened right up, while they burrowed around inside me. You see subliminal messages only work where a message is embedded somewhere, and subconscious behavior only affects conscious behavior. In other words, I'd have to have been awake and aware, which I most certainly wasn't. Additionally, I have been informed that general anesthetics contain a powerful amnesiac so even if I had come round, I would never have remembered it.
The way I felt during the following few weeks is also worth telling. I kept feeling as if I had met 'somebody', but who I hadn't a clue as I couldn't remember. Additionally, I felt very much at peace and contented, something I hadn't experienced for years, and certainly never to this degree. At first I'd put that down to the pain-killers I was on, but I stopped taking those after a few days, yet these feelings continued for weeks and weeks despite the pain and discomfort I was experiencing during recovery. What else was it like? Remember 'The Matrix', near the end when Neo suddenly sees everything the way it really is and makes that connection? That's how I felt, as if I'd suddenly been shown what it's all about. I felt like I had one foot in this world and the other foot in another one entirely. I'd been given new eyes, and could 'see' everything, it's temporal nature, how much we emphasize things that really aren't that important. Everything in this life is dead, or dying from the minute it's born. It's one thing to say it, to repeat it and know it intellectually. It's quite another to actually sit there and see it, really see it, and it's a very strange experience. All the things we all put so much importance to, wealth, having a partner, a big house, possessions, in a hundred years' time they'll either be gone or belong to somebody else! They don't matter, not in the greater scheme of things. People take years building up wealth and security, and then without any warning they die for whatever reason. As the saying goes, they can't take it with them. Everything to do with this life stays here, and means absolutely nothing in the next one. This life is very, very temporary, the next one is for keeps. The only thing that really matters in this life is where your heart is. Who you are, what kind of person you are. People search for recognition and celebrity status, but it doesn't matter one jot as far as the next life goes.
Basing everything in this life is tantamount to taking one word out of a huge dictionary, and saying that one word is the whole dictionary. It isn't. How else can I explain it? Before I'd always loved dark colors, the brooding and menacing, particularly with regard to blog pages I wrote. Suddenly I wanted nothing to do with them. I'd been wrong about so many things, lots of us are wrong. Now I wanted bright and light colors, because that is what life really is. It's good to be alive, it's a wonderful gift. Why does God allow so much suffering in the world? Without trying to go into so much detail as I could go on for hours, He doesn't. I was informed that we are the ones who allow so much suffering, humankind does it to itself. What about things like the tsunami, which killed so many people? We all have to die, but we all put too much emphasis upon its happening. Death is not the tragedy that many of us perceive it to be, but an awakening. In the greater scheme of things, you'll see when it happens to you, you really will. That's what Jesus tried to explain to us. The next part of existence is like walking from a cramped tiny dingy room into a vast wilderness full of colors and experiences, trees and fields, blue skies. I can't explain it. All I know is that I now understood the saying 'In Him we live and move and have our being' and I felt very privileged. It was as if all my life I had lived in a dingy room with the curtains drawn, but for a brief moment the curtains were drawn back and the windows thrown open for me to see the real world - the light, the colors, the life, God, the truth, the fresh breeze blowing through me.
My whole perception of life has changed for the better.
Date NDE Occurred: Monday 24th April 2006
At the time of your experience, was there an associated life-threatening event? No Surgery-related 'Illness, trauma or other condition not considered life threatening'
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 The whole time that I can remember.
At what time during the experience were you at your highest level of consciousness and alertness? The whole time that I can remember.
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
It felt as if there was no time, that time belongs to this world but not the next one.
Were your senses more vivid than usual? Incredibly more vivid
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 There was someone with me, and I got the impression (even though I cannot recall looking at them but they did communicate with me) that he was a guardian. He communicated we all have a guardian who watches us and cares about us from the day we are born, and never leaves our side. All other communications are contained in my account above so there is no need to repeat myself here.
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? Maturity. Contentment. Wonder. Very honored, as if I had been given a gift, the sight of something that very few receive before they die.
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 I say 'uncertain' as it wasn't exactly a life review, but a review of situations that I had been blaming myself for and which had been dragging me down. What I was told helped me a lot.
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? Liberal 'Although about ten years ago I would have described myself as conservative with a small 'c', I would have considered myself nominally Christian at least. However, due to events of the previous few years I was at the time of
this experience leaning strongly towards atheism.'
Have your religious practices changed since your experience? Yes My historical analysis of the ancient documents coupled with my experiences demonstrated to me the truth of the Christian message as given by the apostles in the first century AD. I also realized that too many Christians today are more concerned with rules, regulations, and ego, when really what Jesus taught was nothing of the kind. I am far happier and contented in my beliefs now.
What is your religion now? Moderate 'As a result of this experience I became convinced of the truth of the Christian teachings as transmitted by the Apostles in the 1st Century AD, and I try to be more accepting of those Christians whose beliefs are different to my own. Atheism is no longer a viable proposition for me.'
Did you have a change in your values and beliefs because of your experience? Yes My historical analysis of the ancient documents coupled with my experiences demonstrated to me the truth of the Christian message as given by the apostles in the first century AD. I also realized that too many Christians today are more concerned with rules, regulations, and ego, when really what Jesus taught was nothing of the kind. I am far happier and contented in my beliefs now.
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 Why do I have to keep writing all this down when I have already explained all this in my account above?
Have your relationships changed specifically because of your experience? No
After the NDE:
Was the experience difficult to express in words? Yes The information that I received is difficult to put into words as the concept is not applicable in a materialist context. The closest I can come to explaining what it was like is by drawing parallels with the film 'The Matrix.' Near the end, Neo suddenly sees the computer generated world for what it is, and realizes just what is real and what isn't, realizes what is lasting and what is temporal, realizes what is important and what doesn't matter anymore.
Do you have any psychic, non-ordinary or other special gifts after your experience that you did not have before the experience? Uncertain I have tended to now and again receive knowledge about people or things, but this happened before the experience anyway. For example, a woman I knew was single and never wanted children. I knew that within two years she would be a single parent family, mother to a little girl. This subsequently happened as I had already known.
Are there one or several parts of your experience that are especially meaningful or significant to you? The whole experience was meaningful and important to me.
Have you ever shared this experience with others? Yes People I have told this to thought I was imagining it all. Only two friends I have told actually believed me.
Did you have any knowledge of near death experience (NDE) prior to your experience? Yes I had read about these types of experiences before, additionally a friend of mine that I knew ten years ago had an NDE as a teenager when he drowned. He didn't talk about his experience, as other people tend to scoff. But I noticed that he couldn't wear mechanical watches, so when I asked him why he told me.
What did you believe about the reality of your experience shortly (days to weeks) after it happened? Experience was definitely real I analyzed it using as much reason and logic as possible, and the only answer that made sense was the fact that it really happened.
What do you believe about the reality of your experience now? Experience was definitely real I feel closer to life and reality that before, closer to God as if He had personally allowed me to have that experience and therefore again I feel deeply privileged.
At any time in your life, has anything ever reproduced any part of the experience? No
Are there any other questions that we could ask to help you communicate your experience? Some of the questions should be voluntary as I had already answered some of them when I wrote my account of the experience.