Near-death Experiences

Near-death experiences (NDEs) are the best known of the transpersonal experiences. NDEs have been reported by individuals who have had myocardial infarctions, cerebral vascular accidents, severe trauma, snake bites, near drownings, insulin reactions, shock, and diabetic coma to mention the more common events preceding NDEs.

During an NDE, a patient may experience one or more of the following events: feelings of peace or fear, out-of-body experience (OBE), movement through a tunnel or other passage way, seeing a light or other beings, communication with dead friends or relatives, experiencing universal knowledge, seeing a barrier (wall, river, etc.) which when crossed there is no returning to this life. Typically the person reports being told or sensing that they should return or they may choose to return. Those who choose to return usually have an unfulfilled life purpose, such as caring for young children.

Many individuals report life-changing effects following an NDE. The most common after effects include: increased sense of purpose, increased spirituality (not necessarily a turn toward a religion), decreased in materialism or reduced fear of death. Some report an increase in psychic abilities, and/or interference with electronic equipment (Sutherland, 1990; Greyson, 1983, 1992; Ring, 1984). Some of these aftereffects can lead to relationship issues, particularly the shift away from materialism toward spirituality.

Dr. Kenneth Ring (1984) developed the Life Changes Inventory (LCI) to measure NDE after effects. This tool was revised again in 2004 by Greyson, Ring and Flynn. It is now called the Life Changes Inventory-Revised (LCI-R). The following personal values are measured by the inventory:

    1. Appreciation of life
    2. Self-acceptance
    3. Concern for others
    4. Concern with worldly achievement
    5. Concern with social/planetary values
    6. Quest for meaning/sense of purpose
    7. Spirituality
    8. Religiousness
    9. Appreciation of death

Van Lommel (2001) conducted two studies of NDErs using the LCI. In the first study of individuals two years post NDE, he found a statistically significant difference between experiencers and non-experiencers with NDErs being more caring and empathetic, more spiritual although not more religious, less fearful of death and more interested in the meaning of life. On the eight year follow up both the NDErs and non NDErs decreased their fear of death.

Here are some perceptions shared by NDErs:

More spiritual and less materialistic

Nearly dying changed me. I no longer saw the world the same way. I saw people as connected; all part of the same Source, but living different experiences. I understood how much of our experience is about choice; even when we decide to die. Every experience had purpose and helped us on our path to fulfill what we came here to do. There is no right or wrong, good or bad. It is only our perceptions that make it one way or the other. There is no one true religion or path to heaven. Whatever speaks to our hearts individually is the right path for us. All roads lead back to Source. This created a tremendous growth experience for me. Some people would ask about my experience and listen with genuine interest, for others it was too much to take in (IANDS, 2013).

Loss of fear of death

Since this experience, I don’t fear death. Those feelings vanished. I don’t feel bad at funerals anymore. I kind of rejoice at them, because I know what the dead person has been through (Moody, 2001, p. 89).

Interference with electronic equipment

I have a difficult time as many computers malfunction and lights blow when I walk under them. This has happened for years, and I tried to ignore this was happening. I simply cannot wear a watch for long before it breaks down. I went to...a department store and walked in front of their brand new computer and it quit working...When I held a fluorescent light in my hands, the entire bulb lit up, like it was turned on. It seemed like there was a lot of static electricity (Ring & Valarino, 1988).

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Many individuals report life-changing effects following a near-death experience.