Near-death experience ( NDE ).
Photo by pixel2013 on Pixabay
A near-death experience (NDE) is a personal experience that some people report having shortly before or after dying. The experiences include an awareness of being dead, reviewing one’s past life, and an acute awareness of the danger of letting go and moving on. Revelations about the importance of love, relationships and connections with others are common features in NDEs. The phrase ‘near-death’ is used because these experiences almost always take place when the person is not actually at risk of dying from any medical condition; or if they were, we wouldn’t know about it as they do not occur as a result of suicide attempts or other deliberate actions to bring about death. A near-death experience is not the same thing as an extended period of clinical death (or being “dead for a moment”). Some people who have had what are called out-of-body experiences have reported seeing things from above while they were unconscious or apparently dead. These are related to NDEs but different in some ways.
What are the features of a near-death experience?
People who have had an NDE report sensing an incredible feeling of peace and quiet, though they are not unconscious. They may also report seeing a long tunnel with a light at the end. The experience may feel real in every sense, or they may feel they are “inside their mind” but outside their body. They often report seeing deceased relatives or friends who are not physically present, or religious figures such as Jesus or the Buddha. Out-of-body experiences during an NDE are common. In these, people feel as though they are looking down on themselves and their surroundings from above. They are also sometimes able to travel from one place to another. These observations have led some to suggest that the part of the brain responsible for our sense of self and place in the world – the “sense of being here now” – may have temporarily stopped working during an NDE. If this were the case, then it might be a good time to take a “trip” to another place. People who have had NDEs often report that the experience is extremely real, even if they are not sure whether it actually happened or not. This is often described as a feeling of “knowing,” rather than “seeing.” Some people report seeing a light at the end of the tunnel, while others do not. These features are not universal, but they are common.
Some common themes and findings
The details of an NDE often differ between individuals, but certain core elements are reported by the majority of people who have them. The experience can occur when a person is undergoing significant illness or injury. The symptoms include the feeling of being out of one’s body, floating above it, or moving to a different location. People who have had NDEs often report that the experience is extremely real, even if they are not sure whether it actually happened or not. This is often described as a feeling of “knowing,” rather than “seeing.” There is often a feeling of being drawn towards a light, or a feeling of uniting with a higher power. People who have had NDEs often report that the experience is extremely real, even if they are not sure whether it actually happened or not. Afterwards, many people report feeling significantly different in their outlook on life, as well as having a renewed appreciation for life’s (often taken-for-granted) comforts and simple pleasures.
Who experiences an NDE?
No one is certain what factors influence whether someone will have an NDE or not. There are some common factors such as a feeling of being out of one’s body (e.g. being lifted up above the operating table), being drawn towards a light, and a feeling of uniting with a higher power. In young children, there is often a feeling of being travelling through a long dark tunnel towards a light. NDEs are reported by people of all ages and backgrounds. There is no typical NDEr. However, certain factors may increase the likelihood of an NDE, including: A feeling of being out of one’s body – Some people who are seriously ill or injured (but who are not in danger of dying) report feeling as if they are not in their bodies, or as if their bodies belong to someone else. People who have had out-of-body experiences often say they feel they are looking down on themselves and their surroundings from above. A feeling of being drawn towards a light – This is reported by many people who have had NDEs, whether or not they also had an out-of-body experience. “Pulled towards a light” is the most common theme reported by people who do not have an OBE during the NDE. A feeling of uniting with a higher power – During an NDE, many people report a feeling of being one with a higher power, whether God, the universe, a spiritual guide, or an unconditional love.
Why do some people have NDEs?
Why do some people have NDEs and others don’t? There are conflicting theories, and researchers are not entirely sure. However, there are some factors that increase the likelihood of someone having an NDE. These include: - Age – People who are under five years old rarely report having an NDE, while those who are aged 60 and above report having NDEs more often. - Condition at the time of the NDE – People who are seriously ill or injured (but who are not in danger of dying) report feeling as if they are not in their bodies, or as if their bodies belong to someone else. - Personality – Some personality types are more likely to have NDEs, including people who are open-minded, creative, curious and generally have a non-conventional outlook on life.
Is there any benefit to those who have had NDEs?
Yes, there may be. In addition to the other benefits mentioned above, people who have had NDEs often report feeling more compassionate and empathetic towards others, as well as having a renewed appreciation for life’s (often taken-for-granted) comforts and simple pleasures. Some people who have had NDEs report that they are less afraid of death, feel more connected to those around them and a greater sense of purpose in life.
Are near-death experiences evidence for survival after death?
Yes, many researchers believe they are. One of the main reasons they believe this is that reports of NDEs often include descriptions of a life review. In a life review, people who have had NDEs report being able to look back on their entire life and see things they had not recalled before. Many researchers believe that if our consciousness were truly located only in the brain, then we would not be able to access information outside of it. This is known as the “transfer problem” and is one of the key reasons researchers think NDEs are evidence for survival after death. Some people who have had NDEs have reported seeing things from their past that they had not previously remembered, such as childhood events or a secret they had kept for many years. In one case, a woman who had a heart attack and died during surgery (during which her heart was stopped) reported seeing her own body from above and watching the medical staff try to revive her. She described this in detail, including accurately recalling what the medical staff said to one another.
How can we explain near-death experiences?
There are a number of different theories that might explain near-death experiences. Some researchers believe that they are hallucinations brought on by a lack of oxygen to the brain. However, others believe that they are the result of the brain shutting down completely. It is not clear which (if either) of these theories is correct. Some researchers believe that near-death experiences are caused by the release of certain chemicals in the brain, such as serotonin. These chemicals could “shut down” the part of the brain responsible for our sense of self and place in the world, resulting in the kind of experiences reported by people who have had NDEs.
Near-death experiences can occur in some people who are critically ill or injured, but who are not at risk of dying. These experiences are often described as being extremely real, even if the person is not sure whether