What is a Near-Death Experience?

A near-death experience (NDE) is quite a difficult experience to define. That is not surprising considering it is a phenomena that has only very recently begun to be taken seriously and researched. The term ‘near-death experience’ has only been in the English language for about 25 years. Recently, especially on the Web, an even newer acronym has appeared where NDE can stand for near-death experience or as a person who has had a near death experience, a near-death experiencer, one might say (as in, ‘Janet is an NDE’). So, what is a near-death experience? Where did the term come from?

As a rule, a near-death experience involves some sort of out-of-body experience where a person ‘knows’ they are about to cross from life to death. An NDE can occur when a person is ‘near’ death because of some sort of physical trauma such as a heart attack or brain injury. It can also occur when someone has actually been pronounced clinically dead but later returns to life. Something similar to a near-death experience have been report even when no health issue is involve (although this is extremely rare). Despite the fact that there are different situations which may bring about an NDE, it is almost universally characterized by a person’s belief that they have left their physical body and experienced something which lies beyond the veil of death.

Most (though certainly not all) NDEs begin with what is known as an out-of-body experience. This is when a person finds themselves floating above their own body, usually above the scene of the accident or above their hospital bed. Though most people quickly recognize themselves, they are surprised to feel very little regard for their body, and are generally more interested in their current, disembodied state.

There are a few types of near-death experiences. Some find themselves at some sort of crossing, like a bridge or a river. NDE’s often know that proceeding forward will take them from their worldly life to something entirely different. The ‘crossing over’ near death experience is the least frequent type of experience. Another type of NDE is a person finding themselves rushing through the typical ‘tunnel’ towards a point of light. By far, the most common near death experience reported is simply a person finding themselves in a dark but pleasant void. A point of light then appears in the distance, and experiencers either feel that they are rushing towards it, or that the light is rushing towards them (perhaps this is what creates the feeling for some that they are rushing through a tunnel towards the light.

What has struck researchers about NDEs is the consistency of their stories. There appears to be only a few types of near-death experiences which cross all cultural, ethnic and religious boundaries. Some people, even those in the medical profession, speculate that the descriptions of near death experiences (spread through books and media coverage) has created reports of NDEs that are all similar. It is important to know that research on the types of near-death experiences, and how universal the near-death experience is for people, was compiled before anyone had ever heard of a ‘near-death experience’.

Back in the 1970s, Doctor Raymond Moody began recording and researching reports of those who claim to have died and returned. Often these reports came from those who were on be brink of death. It was Dr. Moody to coined the term ‘near-death experience’ in an effort to create a category and terminology for such experiences. After compiling his research, Moody released his ground breaking book Life After Life in 1974. Controversy has swirled around the topic of there being some sort of ‘after life’ ever since the book’s release.

After Life After Life was published, thousands of people came forward to report similar experiences, some with incredible details. A flood of books on and by NDEs followed, some by scientific researcher, others being first hand accounts of near-death experiences. By the year 2000, NDEs caught the attention of Hollywood and a number of movies have made about NDEs, some religious, some not. And, it is likely we will see more for some time to come.

NDEs, those who have had near-death experiences report that they are stopped before reaching the light, either by departed loved ones or by some sort of heavenly beings. Though they sorely want to proceed, they are told that it is not yet their time and that they must go back. Others do manage to get into the light before they are turned back and returned to their bodies. Once in the light, they report overwhelming and completely ineffable feelings of love, joy, peace, and acceptance.

It is worth noting that these feelings can occur at any stage of the NDE. Some people experience total and complete love during the out-of-body or during the ‘void’ stage of their experience as well. It is because of these incredible feelings and emotions that most NDEs are extremely reluctant to return to their bodies, and are often upset with doctors or other medical personnel who manage to bring them back!

The after-effects of an NDE are perhaps just as significant and astounding as the NDE itself. Those who come back from the brink of death (or, as many believe, from actual death) often come back as completely different people. Their priorities and behaviors change dramatically, as they begin to value love, compassion, and relationships over material possessions and worldly concerns. The vast majority of NDEs also come back no longer fearing death, as they now have absolute certainty that something more and something even better lies beyond. A few, very few, seem to get beyond the life-death barrier and return with what can only be called fantastical tales of they see and experience, sometimes given important lessons. These rare types of NDEs tend to get to get the majority of media attention. Since these experiences cannot be quantified in any way, they tend to get dismissed by the scientific community, and by a large portion of the general public.

In the years prior to Moody’s release of Life After Life NDEs were dismissed as ‘dreaming’ or ‘under the influence of drugs’. This created an unfortunate environment for NDEs. After having what NDEs consider to be the best experience of their lives and changing their priorities for the better, NDEs often come back feeling lonely and isolated. Their attempts to share their near death experience would usually meet with polite, empty nods from friends and family. Doctors would general recommend drugs or counseling. Typically, NDEs in the past would often stop talking about their near death experience (either out of fear of rejection or being treated like they were not handling their trauma appropriately) and never even share their journey or explore it’s meaning.

Now that the term ‘near death experience’ has entered the lexicon, and thousands have been willing to come forward and share their near death experience in recent decades, NDEs are finding more acceptance and support. More and more researchers are willing to step out on a limb, put their careers at risk, and take a serious look at the phenomena of NDEs. There are now so many NDEs and reports, research concerning the topic, that NDE accounts are not so easily dismissed.

Those who have had an NDE and those who do work with the dying, particularly nurses and hospice workers, have now teamed up and started many different organizations around the world in an effort to offer information and support to NDEs. Once such group is the International Association for Near Death Studies (IANDS), which was established by Dr. Moody since the main stream medical community seemed to have no methods to assist or counsel NDEs.

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Every year, IANDS holds a conference that is attended by numerous experiences, doctors, and researchers who are interested in talking with NDEs and exploring the topic of near death experiences. These conferences provide a safe and welcoming space for experiencers to share their stories.

It remains to be seen whether the work of IANDS and other similar groups and organizations is really going to bring about any change in the medical and scientific establishment. Nevertheless, they have certainly caused a stir in the public and the media over the past several years, finally bringing the topic of near-death experiences into the light.

Would like to talk with a psychic who has had a near-death experience? Then, give Psychic Harmony a call at 1-866-407-7164, toll free USA and Canada. After Harmony had her near-death experience, she committed herself to understanding her new found clairvoyant, became a minister and is talented with a number of different types of divination.

Resources Related to This Article:
IANDS – NDE support and Education
Scientist Discovers After Life
Life After Life – Booktracking
NDE Stories