In the fall of 1996, I was anticipating a fun filled trip to Cancun, Mexico. Six women were traveling together, to this party place, I had heard so much about but to which I had never been. I was so looking forward to this trip, as I was in need of some unwinding, stress relief and plain old fun after a yearlong divorce battle. I was rooming with a very good friend of mine, more like a sister to me, so I knew the laughter was going to be genuine and non-stop. We spent time on the beautiful beaches, visited restaurants and bars, danced, laughed, and shook up the place a bit. Memories were created on that trip for all of us. For me, there was an experience that would forever change my life. The impact of this experience would not make its true realization until many years later, and it is not known if the entire power of this experience has settled in, check back with me in a few years. I have been known to be the adventurous type, not dangerous just adventurous. I’ve ridden every ride in an amusement park, been able to get people on the highest, fastest roller coasters even after they swore they would not do it, I was eager to go parasailing when others thought I was crazy, been far out in the ocean on a jet ski without reverence to running out of gas or remembering how to get back to shore, looked for the fastest and highest waterslides to come down, and anything else I had the opportunity to do! If I didn’t have the chance up until then, I put it in my mental notes of ‘To-Do’. So when I suggested we all go on a banana boat ride, it really was of no surprise, to me anyway. I had been on one before and had the time of my life! I laughed so hard and everyone with me had a blast. We got to see the far out waves of the ocean, great views of the beach and got wet at the same time. It was a fond memory so why not share that with these girls? Four of the girls had absolutely no interest. They wanted to soak up the sun on the beach, talk, and drink, go through magazines all while looking put together and beautiful. That was all fine and good but I was looking for some adventure, nothing crazy, just low-key fun. I was able to talk one of the women into going on the inflatable banana, which you sat on top of, held onto a strap in front of you and was pulled through the ocean water by a speedboat. She was really into experiencing this. Our hotel did not have this as an option on their water sports menu, so we had to walk down the beach a ways, to see where else it may be offered. Remember this is our first visit to Cancun and neither one of us made the distinction that the beaches outside of hotels, and even some hotels were public. This meant anyone could set up shop to sell you stuff or run trips not sponsored by the hotels. So there before us, we stumble upon a small booth on the beach with ‘banana boat rides’ and we are all in! Having left everything, except our bikinis and the cash to pay for the ride, with our friends on the beach we were set to go. There was only the two of us, no one else had signed up for this wonderful water extravaganza: everything in hindsight. As I glanced about the beach full of people, I took notice of a man, very tall, with long, thick hair, mulling about on the beach, almost pacing back and forth, just looking at the sand. I never saw his face just some of his profile through his hair. He was thin but very toned, had tanned skin, almost as if there were dirt rubbed in places, and wore an off-white looking wrap of a swimsuit. Just then, we received life vests to strap on and then made our way to the water’s edge, where we hoisted ourselves onto the inflatable banana and held on, as the powerboat moved slowly through the choppy waves out and away from the shoreline. I don’t remember noticing how strong the waves were as we walked the beach, but from this view, the waves were surprisingly large and strong. We passed our friends lying on their beach chairs as we waved and screamed to them, displaying how much fun we were having. Quickly, for some reason, the ride was just not filled with as much fun and laughter as anticipated. The bouncing and laughter was turning into concern and uncomfortable worries. Did the two men driving the powerboat know anything about pulling an inflatable so that the participants received the benefit of the trip? This was not fun, in the same sense, I had previously experienced. Soon we got back to the area where we started out, only very, very far away from the shoreline. At this point, people on the beach looked very, very tiny. The two men in the powerboat came to some type of conclusion. I don't know if they planned ahead or not and will never know). They untied our inflatable banana from their boat and waved at us, as if they were leaving. My friend and I were both processing what was going on and began yelling to them and asking what they were doing?!? All of the sudden, English was not an option; they just kept waving bye and stating ‘adios.’ Interesting enough centuries ago ‘adios’ (A Dios) means ‘to God.’ How very appropriate, looking back now, on my own personal experience. So there we were, for only a brief moment, looking left at the shoreline where it was sprinkled with tiny specs of people. I thought we were both looking at the shoreline, but instead, my friend was looking at the waves just on the right ride of us. All the sudden she screamed, ‘Kathy, HOLD ON!’ The tone of her voice caught me in a place deep within my body. Just then, I turned to my right and took in the largest wave I’d ever seen, barreling in over our heads. All I know next, is I found myself falling in from the sky. My life was passing before my eyes yet not exactly in the way I perceived that phrase. It was not all in pictures. There were flashes of some images, but in a knowing and a sense of everything, I had experienced in my life, all within my mind, body and spirit simultaneously. Then I was under water and my arms were pushing water away, away, away. I came up to the top, pushed the banana boat off my head and swam like crazy. I was swimming and swimming but everything looked farther and farther away. All at the same time I could see my friend so clearly, who made it to the water’s edge, yelling for someone to help me. The crowded beach had emptied so quickly and she was panicking. The words, ‘So this is how I am going to die,’ continuously ran through my body. I was becoming so exhausted from all the swimming, holding my breath as the waves continued to roar over my head and push me further out and back down into the darkness of the ocean over and over again. Once I remember hearing, or knowing without words, that this was always my fear ‘death by drowning.’ I felt as if I was in the water, struggling and at the same time able to watch what was happening on the beach from above.The people that were left were looking on but no one was moving to help. My friend was continually yelling out into the ocean waves. Then a peace entered within all the swirling, panic and fear that was surrounding me. I was somewhere under the water. My best description is, an acceptance of those words, ‘so this is how I am going to die’ as everything around me kept moving. I became the word ‘peace’ and the word ‘love’ feeling intensely loved unconditionally, nothing but love. Love is the only earth-word I can come up with to associate and describe this. The flashes of life, the knowing of life past, all came together into one magnificent place: no past, present, future, no life in a timeline or linear, all time was now in a moment. I knew that we, as a people, are all one. There is no separation except the difference we create by ego. Under the water, I was upright and there was no panic or fear. Arms outstretched, protected and loved. I was able to open my eyes under the water and see clearly. Beautiful colors, a brightness of white light and a knowing, all intertwined like fabric. A love, like the lap of the waves above me on the surface of the ocean, wrapped all around me and through me. Just then, two hands grabbed my waist from behind, picked me up and threw me. This is the best way I’ve been able to explain this. Over and over again, picked up and tossed forward, picked up and tossed forward: until I found myself feeling the sand of the beach below me. As I, on hands and knees, moved onto the beach, I saw the man that was thin and toned, with long hair and the off-white wrap about his waist, just off to my left coming out of the water. Just then, my friend grabbed me and pulled me up. We were shaking, exhausted, full of sand and stunned. I asked her to go get the man that helped me but she told me she saw no one help me. It was just me coming up out of the water, alone. There was no one on the beach with such a description. Feeling as if I had just gone through an entire 24-hour period in what may have been minutes, I leaned forward to touch the sand again, to feel the safety of land. We made our way back up the beach where our friends were relaxing on their beach chairs. We must have looked as if we were drug along the beach by our hair, by their expressions. We tried to describe what had happened but they thought we were playing a joke. We went off to the pool to try to clean off but I could not put my head under the water. I struggled to put my head under the showerhead and close my eyes. Not wanting to be the downer of the party, I did my best to carry on and put this experience behind me. It followed me home both mentally and physically. The physical part was taken care of by seeing a doctor once symptoms of drinking in way too much saltwater presented itself. From my feet upward, my body expanded and my skin stretched.The mental part never slipped far away. There was so much I could not explain with evidence that I did not dare speak of that part, as I certainly did not want to be ‘cast out’ so to say. I was sure it would be made into my imagination, like a dream. The words from my vocabulary, or based on a dictionary, are not sufficient to relay the power behind this experience, but I am sharing this with you in the best way I know how, as my gift. This was not the first time I had experienced the ‘knowing’ or receiving an answer with no words or from someone’s moving lips. Somewhere between where my soul was before I was born and being born. I can’t give you the exact place or space in or out of time or I would. I can recall this ‘knowing’ feeling and the message I received. A porcelain face with crystal-clear blue eyes looking over me in what I can only describe as me, possibly, in my bassinet or before I entered as a body. A ‘knowing’ and words, came into my tiny being, but no words were spoken and no movement or parting of her lips. I remember the words ‘you are safe, loved and everything is perfect.’ There was no fear just peace and love. Most have told me it is impossible to remember at just days old. The question that comes up is this, 'Was I even born into this body at the time?' I did not see or sense my body. As my faith has grown and developed over time, I look at my one-day experience on the beach as truly life altering. I believe that each individual near death, experiences are shown to us in ways that we can understand at that time in our life or at some time in our life. This explains why the experiences are not 100% exact or some even closely related. Our souls may be here on this earth taking up residence in these bodies, though we often hear we are not a body. For this event in my life, I see it as God taking up residence in what appears to be a physical body from time to time, as well. The thought that I had experienced an NDE never really entered my mind because I had never heard of a NDE. Then all it took was to hear those three words and without picking up a book or searching on the Internet, I knew what I had experienced. Then I thought why not hold a workshop where people could come and share their own experiences and where people (no matter what their belief) could come and listen. It is not about judging the people here today or talking them out of their experiences; it is about sharing for the greater good of mankind. Listen today, and walk away with whatever experiences, beliefs and you choose. My NDE did not have an initial impact on my life, as I struggled with my identity repeatedly. It is not until recently, over the past few years, that I truly began to go within; through my training as a life coach, having the opportunity to experience work with shamanic journeys, meditation, energy healing and more, that the impact of that NDE has fully landed. The question, ‘has it fully landed,’ continues to be there. I am open to any and all teachings and lessons that I can then pass on to anyone willing to learn from my time here. As we consistently hear, we are teachers and students of life. We teach and learn from each other in each and every moment.
Date NDE Occurred: Fall of 1996
At the time of your experience, was there an associated life-threatening event? Yes Drowning. Life threatening event, but not clinical death
I was out in the ocean alone and drowning.
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 was able to see the shore line from where I was (very far out), and also from right above the beach as if I were flying overhead. My hearing was heightened. I could hear my friend yelling for someone to help me as if I were standing right there.
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 It was as if I was aware of everything and knew everything, like a download of all the answers. There was no fear, all of the sudden, of being out in the water alone and not being able to breathe. I was peaceful and there were no worries.
At what time during the experience were you at your highest level of consciousness and alertness? When I was under the water and peace entered.
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
There was no time, once I was under the water with peace. The event could have been a second or an hour.
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. I was able to see the shore line from where I was (very far out), and also from right above the beach as if I were flying overhead.
Please compare your hearing during the experience to your everyday hearing that you had immediately prior to the time of the experience. My hearing was heightened. I could hear my friend yelling for someone to help me as if I were standing right there. I could feel the vibration in her voice as she panicked.
Did you seem to be aware of things going on elsewhere? No
Did you pass into or through a tunnel? No
Did you see any beings in your experience? No
Did you encounter or become aware of any deceased (or alive) beings? No
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? Love, peace, joy
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 or purpose
Did you suddenly seem to understand everything? Everything about the universe There were no questions to answer, no thoughts of why, how, where, when.
The experience included: Life review
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? No
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? Slightly important to me
What was your religion prior to your experience? Christian- Catholic
Have your religious practices changed since your experience? Yes I practice religion and have become a spiritual person, as well. I have my views on my religion and what I agree and don't agree with, but my spiritual focus is growing all the time.
What importance do you place on your religious/spiritual life after your experience? Greatly important to me
What is your religion now? Christian- Catholic I am also a student of A Course In Miracles
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 believed in life passing before our eyes before we died and that it would be a struggle and painful to pass away.
I was not in the understanding that once acceptance and release occurred, that peace, oneness and love are what remains. At least in what I experienced.
Did you have a change in your values and beliefs because of your experience? Yes I know that everything I have opened myself to (whether it worked out favorably or not) has provided me an opportunity, experience and lesson that has added value to my time here. I think back to my experience as different thought processes that are described to me, or as I read a book, or listen to something. I value the experiences and people that enter and exit my life in a different way. I've been learning that I am good enough and no better than or less than others.
Did you seem to encounter a mystical being or presence, or hear an unidentifiable voice? No
Did you see deceased or religious spirits? No
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.)? Uncertain The "person" I saw on the beach before the event, which is the same one I saw after I was back on the beach (who I see as saving me) would be described as Jesus as he is depicted on the cross.
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 no separation in existence. A belonging of all and in all.
Did you believe in the existence of God prior to your experience? God definitely exists
During your experience, did you gain information about the existence of God? Yes I did not see God with eyes but God was everything and everywhere. There was no separation felt in the experience.
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? Yes I ignored the sense (special knowledge and purpose) for a long time as I was afraid to express what I experienced. I talked myself out of what I experienced. I now listen to my intuition more than ever and am sinking into the knowing which I have allowed an opening.
Did you believe that our earthly lives are meaningful and significant prior to your experience? Unknown
During your experience, did you gain information about the meaning of life? Yes Love was the meaning and purpose in my awareness.
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 definitely exists Yes The awareness was that I remained a part of existence in whatever way that was. I did not see myself as a body but in existence of all there was. There was not an end.
Did you fear death prior to your experience? I moderately feared death
Do you fear death after your experience? I do not 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 after your experience? Unknown
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? Moderately compassionate toward others
During your experience, did you gain information about love? Yes As previously stated, Love was the meaning and purpose in my awareness.
Were you compassionate after your experience? Greatly compassionate toward others
What life changes occurred in your life after your experience? Large changes in my life Large changes in my life. My intuition became stronger (even though I often ignored it) and I believe my inner strength began to take a hold in my life. If I was not afraid of being different and standing out, there could have possibly been dramatic changes.
Have your relationships changed specifically because of your experience? Yes Yes
After the NDE:
Was the experience difficult to express in words? Yes The words available to describe the experience do not feel accurate enough to explain. Pure love is the closest I can come, but not even the love the way the world traditionally associates 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 The details of my experience are clearer than any other experience I had on the trip.
Do you have any psychic, non-ordinary or other special gifts after your experience that you did not have before the experience? Uncertain Psychic abilities seem to be in my biological family (which I did not know at the time of this experience as I did not know them), so the gifts may have been there but I believe the experience opened my mind to the possibility. My intuition was turned on because of the experience. These gifts have been waiting in the wings, as I became more confident in being whom I am and not worrying about what others may or may not think of me. I have a strong knowing of situations that I can't explain the meaning, but am often very accurate. I am currently working on energy healing as well.
Have you ever shared this experience with others? Yes I shared pieces of my ‘drowning’ with the people I was with and with other people, once I came home, especially since I required some medical attention, due to the amount of salt water I consumed. I never have shared the entire story verbally. I am making plans to gather people in my area, to share their NDEs with others that may have an interest in sharing.
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 probably not real I did not focus on the events that I could not explain much because I kind of felt like no one would validate or believe the events. I only spoke of what seemed real for others, to that which they could connect.
What do you believe about the reality of your experience now? Experience was definitely real As I have gained more exposure to different experiences and read about other's experiences I have gained a true appreciation for my experience. I know that I am not alone in what transpired that day.
At any time in your life, has anything ever reproduced any part of the experience? Yes I have had the experience of shamanic journeys and I have experienced unconditional love in that space. Also, the oneness and connectedness of all beings and the knowledge needed at the moment, for whatever is transpiring around me.
© 2014 NDERF, Jody Long & Jeffrey Long, MD. All Rights Reserved.