Update on 1/19/19: My memoir, Angels in the OR: What Dying Taught Me About Healing, Survival, and Transformation, can be pre-ordered now. It is a #1 new release in several categories. I would love it if you helped me make near-death experiences more mainstream.
“Religion tells us we’re fundamentally sinners, and science tells us we’re fundamentally aggressive survivors. My experience in the expanded awareness environments, however, assures me that we’re fundamentally good, holy, cooperative, creative, and amazingly cool.”—Natalie Sudman, Application of Impossible Things: My Near-Death Experience in Iraq
Natalie Sudman’s experience outside of her body allowed her to connect with a gathering of beings who communicated with her in that added reality in amazing ways. Her book pays special attention to language and rather than narrating the events of her accident and recovery chronologically, she zeros in on specifics from the moments she spent in the environment outside of her body.
Reality of OBEs and NDEs: There are many things I enjoyed about this book, including the line in her preface which reads, “…I know—not believe—that what I experienced was real.” For years, I have said this about my NDE, unmoved and bored by what skeptics have to say. Though normally impressed with degrees from top-tier schools, I give skeptics zero credit no matter where they obtained their degrees. After all, skeptics are operating only with their five senses and current theories that very well might change. Mainly, skeptics did not see the added reality that I saw existing along with this reality.
Sudman addresses this topic as well, breaking down the debate from those who rely only on this reality to those who say this reality is the dream and the other reality is the one that is more important. She says both realities are real, and I couldn’t agree more. Sudman beautifully addresses how much information and how complex and layered this information is when communicated outside of the body.
Communication: One of my favorite descriptions in her book occurs when she describes how communication in that dimension occurs as a, “…transfer of information in the form of an inexplicable complex matrix. The information was minutely detailed and broadly conceptual—at once layered and infinitely dense, yet elegantly simple.” Although Sudman plays around with language, trying to find the exact word to describe the entities, beings, etc. and ultimately decides on personalities, I felt more comfortable calling the beings I met—who sent healing energy into my body—angels. Sudman met a group of equals, but the angels I met during surgery struck me as filled with much more information, wisdom, and understanding than I had at twenty-one. My angels were comforting, highly intelligent, and capable. Perhaps, differing ages, experiences, and mindsets at the time of death might influence who and how we interact with on the other side.
Like Sudman, I wasn’t interested in returning to my body if the injuries were too catastrophic. Interestingly, Sudman participated in the healing of her own body, outside of her body, with assistance from the beings. I communicated my wish to be able to walk, and my angels sent light through the back of the doctors, through their hands, and lit up my body, even ensuring that specific bone fragments would not press on my spine. Whether they altered reality or ensured that the doctors would find these fragments, I do not know. I only know they participated in my healing while I watched intently. I have always felt that the angels were teaching me to participate in healing. I liked reading about Sudman’s level of disconnection and even humor about the moment she and many healing beings worked on her body before she returned to it.
Free Will in the Environment beyond the Body: Sudman discusses how she has read several NDE accounts, like mine, which feature a light or authority figure telling these souls they must return. Her experience gave her the free will to return or not. At first, she felt very tired and did not want to return. She was given a brief moment of rest in another location, and then based on the communication she received from the gathering decided to return. I often joke that I need a “thousand year nap,” and I’m a little jealous that it seems like she received an eternal moment of rest before returning to her physical form.
One of Sudman’s theories is that during NDEs with an authority figure telling them to return that “…these individuals retained some habits of perception carried over from the physical waking consciousness beliefs, and the authority sending them back was either a helper or simply their own voice of the Whole Self…” In contrast, Sudman states that she knew where she was and trusted her experience within the expanded consciousness.
I wouldn’t say that I experienced judgement or superiority from the Divine Light on any level. I do agree that the light deeply appreciated me. My experience did contain a bit of compassion, and even though compassion implies a place of superiority or of knowing more that compassion was only a wish that I might love myself more in the human form, treat myself better, love others more fully and without fear. The light didn’t want me to miss out on potential moments of beauty and saw that I shut myself off from others in college through introversion, fear, insecurity, childhood wounds, alcohol, drugs, and pessimistic views of the world. My experience with the light did seem as if I had no choice in the matter but to return and teach. If given the choice, I would not have chosen to return, and I would have missed out on great beauty and amazing moments in and out of the classroom.
Enjoyment of Life: Like Sudman, I received information that enjoyment of our life experiences is very important. The gathering of beings showed her this in a multitude of ways. I was shown that life works better when we are like “little children” in that we deeply enjoy each moment without comparing it to other moments. After my NDE, I certainly did deeply enjoy life. Even a eating a candy bar slowing or stopping beneath a tree to listen to a bird singing might throw me into a deep, sensual, happy moment of complete beingness. Sudman was surprised that enjoyment was an important criteria, but I can’t say that I was surprised. The wonder of childhood made life all the more magical and enjoyment seems key. The personalities or beings wanted Sudman to understand that she might enjoy the proposed tasks on the earthy plane.
Toward the end of the book, Sudman talks about how she knew that she would have some use of her right hand and that she would survive the skull fracture even though doctors and staff weren’t certain. I understand that kind of certainty. I knew returning to my body that I would walk. I wasn’t promised a life without chronic pain though. I was only promised that I would walk, run, and enjoy nature and many of the activities I enjoyed before the accident. Sudman discusses how the whole self or the self outside the body is less concerned with this life, so detached in fact that the life that will be lived out seems quick from their viewpoint. As she considers a life with damage to her eye and wrist and considers the many years that she might live with this condition in her body, time now seems much slower.
I especially enjoyed the descriptions of how life is viewed outside in the “blink environment” as she names it verses how it is lived within the human form. Despite the new limitations, she focuses on enjoyment even of navigating life in a human form with new limitations. I do that to a degree as well. Whenever I have to move to a new home, I pack very light boxes since I can’t lift heavy ones. I get more of a workout carrying more frequent small boxes. There are ways to have fun, even with limitations. I liked that positive spin, and the realistic acknowledgment that living out this life seems much longer than how it seems on the other side.
Preference of the Other Side: Many NDErs and those who have had profound spiritual experiences report preferring the other side. Sudman writes, “…existence beyond the physical is utterly lovely, delicious, and strange, infused with limitless love, richly fulfilling, and euphorically effortless.” She goes on to talk about how physical life viewed from the other side requires “razor focus” and is also wildly interesting. I understand the preference of being in the existence beyond the physical. I have never and probably never will feel limitless love like I felt as I neared the light until I die again. I also understand the many reasons to enjoy this life, and to try to accomplish all that we can connected to the will of our “Whole Self.” Some people call this the higher self, the self that is not limited by time, space, birth, or death, the self that is capable of calm wise decisions that benefit the self and others. May we all access or higher selves and whole selves more frequently.
I recommend this book if you are interested in language, in NDEs, in OBEs, and in critical and creative thinking about these types of experiences.