My memoir, Angels in the OR: What Dying Taught Me About Healing, Survival, and Transformation, can be pre-ordered. It is a #1 new release in several categories. I would love your support. My aim is to help make near-death experiences more mainstream and to bring more healing to this world.
Many people on a spiritual path long for an awakening or feel that they are awakened and struggling toward more frequent moments of enlightenment. What is different about a near-death experience is that the experiencer may be far from interested in spiritual matters before his or her experience. He or she may not be on any spiritual path of any kind, yet the experiencer comes back with a deep knowledge of a spiritual reality.
To be taken from 0 to infinity in a few seconds is a life-changing experience. For those of us who have had profound NDEs, we scramble afterwards trying making sense of our life before and after the event.
In that first year after my experience, sometimes my connection to the other side was intense and all-consuming. Other times, I looked forward to returning to the business of my life back at college; however, I knew I would never be exactly the same.
Though NDErs are often not capable of holding on to the blissful states they experience in the afterlife, these states are memorable. In a recent video, I saw Howard Storm discuss the importance of loving others. Though love appears to be a “simple” mission, it is actually a VERY tough mission. To send love and light to people who seem intent on destroying us requires us to reach new heights of patience, understanding, and wisdom. Love is sometimes simply preventing someone from continuing to harm others. Love might be anchoring a consciousness of healing for those who have been hurt in similar ways. Love is action and energy.
In this video, I’m not asserting that NDErs are all enlightened souls, but I am putting forth the theory that many NDEs awaken the experiencer. What we do with that awakening depends on each life situation.
Awakening: The minute I stepped out of form and saw “behind the veil” or rather saw that my spirit form continued after death, I was in a sense awakened. I comprehended many things through telepathic communication and simply being in the very visible presence of angels/light beings whose presence I had never seriously considered.
No matter what happened in my life after my NDE, I could never brush away this knowledge. I could not unlearn what I knew to be true; there is much more to reality than the material world. In fact, from that vantage point, the earth experience appears to be a place where we choose to forget our connection to divinity and focus on our individuality. In that darkness, some of us wake up and realize there is more to life than struggling. A NDE shows us clearly that a growing connection to the light of God is what is most important.
What is true in the spiritual realm is goodness, mercy, and love. I took none of the pain of my life with me, and pain and struggle didn’t seem to be the point or worth remembering. Love and kindness to others seemed to be the main point of existence.
After a NDE, many experiencers feel less fear and more love. They become less judgmental, have changes in sleep patterns, extra sensitivities to light, taste, touch, electronics, and energies. As those on a spiritual path struggle to make sense of their awakenings, NDErs also struggle to integrate their profound experiences into their lives.
Enlightenment: During my NDE, I moved from a place of observing what was happening to my physical body and the awareness of my spiritual form to a growing connection and awareness of many others and the consciousness of God. As I left the hospital, my consciousness merged with the consciousness of others. I began to lose track of what was “my consciousness” and the consciousness of God (who seemed to be leading me through this experience) and other people. This non-dual state is the real deal (enlightenment) and what so many people long for while in form. I felt a transcendental, awe-inspiring oneness with others, nature, and God in that state.
Most NDErs are disappointed to return to our personal perspectives, our corporeal forms, and lives because in that eternal space we were connected to many other people and had a much clearer, greater understanding. We know that returning to form will be like being born again. Life situations will surely force us back into our individuality, our wounds, and our experiences. Many of us would rather stay in that place of great unconditional love and connection but choose to come back for the sake of loved ones, or in my case, a mission from God.
The beauty of that heavenly landscape in the afterlife seemed all the more beautiful because I longed for nothing else. In form, our mind and emotions often trick us into dissatisfaction, but in that place I had no dissatisfaction. I wanted for nothing. I believe this part of my NDE gave me a glimpse of enlightenment. I longed for nothing other than that moment.
Returning to form largely shakes us out of this place of oneness, but to be there even for a short while is amazing. I’ve heard people talk about enlightenment as fleeting states and something we strive for as humans. Maybe there are certain states of mind that are associated with higher levels of our potential, and as we calm our nervous systems down we can stay in these states for longer periods of time. In a world of irritating, triggering news stories and other disturbances, it is hard to stay in these states for long periods of time.
So, how do we deal with a toxic world?
We detach from it at times, and we engage passionately and lovingly with it more often. We send love to every human being on the planet. That’s hard, but we can start with the easy ones and the people in our vicinity. We are striving to have minds that are no longer focused on thoughts of greed, hatred, and delusion while living in a world filled with these things. This is difficult, but we don’t dislike ourselves if we fall into negative states; rather, we give ourselves love and attention and heal these parts of ourselves so we might be able to show others how to heal. We are less attached to feelings of all kind, and they tend to blow through the nervous system quicker with this type of practice.
Gratitude is, of course, also important. That was an easy thing to do right after my accident. I was literally grateful for each breathe, each painful step, and each bite of food. Clearly, I was alive, and this alone seemed a miracle.
I remember holding on to grudges for a long while before my NDE. I’m not saying this isn’t a trait I still work on in myself, but I am surprised when I allow myself to feel something completely and then watch the feelings wash away.
States of enlightenment/equanimity doesn’t mean being walked on by others or not protecting the innocence of those around you. Equanimity doesn’t mean acting sulky or aloof. In fact, the more jubilant states of mind are a better indicator of equanimity. Being compassionate, present, and fully engaged is a hallmark of equanimity. A deep love for life and a desire to make the lives who are near you better in small in large ways is an indicator of equanimity. Instead of judging everyone, you might pray for their healing, joy, and freedom. Freedom is something we are, a space inside of us that makes us smile, not something we try to create.
Dysfunction and drama seems to be in the very DNA of the American culture from our movies to our families, so how do we become more peaceful and less reactive? How do we let go more quickly? I can’t answer this in a post because thousands of books are written on this subject. I only know that a focus on what is lovely and true can begin to undo what is not lovely and true.
In the presence of God, there is no “I’m right/You’re wrong” dynamic. There is only love, acceptance, oneness, and beauty.
God-Consciousness: For NDErs who journey to the presence of God, we usually feel speechless about this experience. My heart completely opened and was completly healed in the presence of God. There were no cracks, no holes, no darkness, only pure bliss. The deepest form of connection with the most loving force imaginable is hard to describe. God told me to remind others of this instant connection to source, and I wanted to stay in that place because it felt amazing. There was nothing better, so why would I want to return? I knew I couldn’t hold on to the power of that connection and love. Back in form, I’ve realized that remembering the oneness with God is my true, real journey in life.
How can we possibly embrace everything as part of the divine while living this life? It is easier to accomplish when you focus on your spiritual purpose. If that purpose is to bring joy and happiness to others, then that is what you do. You live out your purpose relentlessly. In my life, I am grateful to have a platform as an educator. I feel goodwill toward every student who walks down the hall or sits in my classroom. I want these students to have the best possible educational and emotional experiences. I want them to learn all that they need to learn. I see education as a form of heaven on earth.
As our nation is highly divided right now, I’ve found it difficult to extend the same goodwill to some people on social media or in other areas of life. At some point, I stopped and asked myself, “Are you a teacher in all walks of life or just at that campus?” I decided that I want to be a teacher in all areas of life. Much like it took some time to become a seasoned professor, this goal might take time, but my intention is to center the energy necessary for bringing greater awareness, knowledge, love to everyone I encounter.
God is pure, divine light, and God-Consciousness is living in that state of absolute divinity. In the presence of God, there is simply love and immediate healing of anything that needs healing.
NDErs might sometimes think that spiritual paths complicate ideas that instantly manifested for them in the afterlife.
However, one of the powerful lessons from NDEs is that these enlightened states of being are part of who we essentially are, and we can access these states with faith, practice, and intention.