Interview With Kenneth Ring

learning

Update 1/19/18:  My memoir, Angels in the OR: What Dying Taught Me About Healing, Survival, and Transformationis available for pre-order.  It is a #1 new release in several categories.  I would love your support of a pre-order.  My aim is to help make near-death experiences more mainstream.

I am pleased to have had lunch with Ken Ring and exchanged many emails before providing you the transcript of this interview.

For more information about Kenneth Ring’s brilliant books and research, please check out his website. As a professor of psychology at the University of Connecticut, Ken Ring was able to build upon the work of Raymond Moody in scientifically structured studies of 102 near-death survivors. He is well-known for his ground-breaking research of investigating NDEs among blind persons in his book Mindsight. Ken Ring is the co-founder and past president of the International Association for Near-Death Studies (IANDS) and is the founding editor of the Journal of Near-Death Studies. He has published several near-death experience related books, including Life at Death (1980), Heading Toward Omega (1984), The Omega Project: Near-Death Experiences, UFO Encounters, and Mind at Large (1992), and his most well-known and celebrated NDE book, Lessons from the Light (2000).

(Tricia Barker) In all your research, what about NDEs has surprised you the most?

(Ken Ring) Since I am a baseball fan, I’ll take the liberty of throwing you a curve ball.  What has surprised me the most is the enduring fascination the public has had with NDEs.  I believe Raymond Moody whose bestselling book, Life After Life, introduced the world to the NDE in 1975, once told me that he thought it would be just a passing fad.  I got involved with my NDE work the next year, and here we (and I) are more than forty years later, and it’s still in the public eye.  Amazing.  Some kind of fad.

(TB) What’s the most impressive veridical NDE you’ve come across?

(KR) Actually, if any readers are really interested in this question, they should consult the recent book entitled The Self Does Not Die:  Verified Paranormal Phenomena from Near-Death Experiences by Titus Rivas, et al.  There are scads of such cases there.

Here, I’ll just mention one I investigated years ago at Hartford Hospital.  The story in brief goes like this:  A nurse was interviewing a patient who had had an NDE.  She claimed that during her NDE, she floated out of her body until she was above the hospital.  She happened look down and noticed a single red shoe on the roof.

As it happened, a resident physician and a skeptic was present during the interview.  He decided to show that the woman had been hallucinating.

“I’ll be right back,” he said.  He was going up to inspect the roof.

Some minutes later, he returned (I like to imagine “red-faced) with the red shoe.

For years, when I was lecturing on NDEs and recounting this story, at the end I held up a red shoe and announced dramatically:  “And here’s the shoe!”

Gasps from the audience.  “Not really,” I confessed, “this is just a red shoe I happened to find on the side of road”.  Laughter, a few boos.

(TB) Your book “Mindsight” that you wrote with Sharon Cooper talks about the NDEs of   people blind from birth. Can you share some of your findings on those cases?

Well, actually, since it’s the details of these cases that are so fascinating, I’d really recommend that people interested in this subject simply read chapter three in my book, Lessons from the Light, where I discuss this research in accessible non-technical language.

But, briefly, one of my most interesting cases was that of a woman named Vicki whom I was able to meet and interview in her home in Seattle, the beginning of a treasured friendship.

Vicki (whose last name was Umipeg when I knew her) was very articulate and you can probably find her somewhere on YouTube where she tells her story.  Here I can give only the barest details. (This might be the link to Vicki’s story).

Vicki was born blind, but had two NDEs about which she said “Those two experiences were the only time I could ever relate to seeing, and to what light was, because I experienced it.  I was able to see.”

She went on to describe a number of objects in her immediate visual field (including aspects of her own body) before having a classic Moody-type NDE in an otherworldly environment, which she could also describe in visual terms.  Furthermore, she had these experiences before Moody published his book in 1975.

How can people blind form birth actually see and what kind “seeing” is it, since it can’t possibly involve one’s eyes?   Those are the questions I explore and try to answer in my books on the subject.  This is a tease, but you don’t have to buy my any of books to find out.  Just go to your library and find them there!

(TB) How has your research affected your life personally? 

(KR) Well, it’s made me rich from my royalties.  (I wish – just kidding.)  For another, for many years, most of my friends were to be found among on the once nearly dead.

All right, if I must be serious for a moment, I would have to say that having spent so much time with near-death experiencers and writing extensively about NDEs, I know I have come to share many of their attitudes, beliefs and values.  I also think this is the common experience of most, if not all, researchers like me who have been privileged to know or hear from hundreds of NDErs. You can’t help to see the world through their eyes.

(TB) What mystifies you the most about NDEs?

(KR) What still astounds me is the evidence from NDE research that people not only have life reviews but sometimes life previews.  That is, in some cases, and I describe of number of such instances in my book, Heading Toward Omega, NDErs get glimpses of events that are to occur in their lives after their NDE, such as seeing the person they are going to marry – and these events then do indeed take place.  It’s as if there is already a kind of trajectory of one’s life, and for a moment outside of time “during” an NDE, one can get flashes of what’s to come.

Think of it this way.  You are a character in an author’s novel.  As the character, you have no clue as to what your future holds.  But suppose, all of a sudden, you were to enter the mind of the author and thereby see your fate – for example, that you will marry at 26, have three children, but then divorce after which your ex dies, leaving you to care for your kids.

It makes one wonder whether we all have a kind of life plan already in the works and though it may not be absolutely fixed in its details, it nevertheless may be a kind of blueprint for what we are likely to experience.

That’s certainly something to conjure with!

(TB)  I believe there is a life plan in place for each of us. Robert Schwartz in Your Soul’s Plan writes beautifully about this topic. When God showed me a river during my near-death experience, I thought the river might a metaphor for the flow of life. I saw many souls that needed to be reminded to turn on their lights and live in the flow of light. Light can be a metaphor for higher learning, knowledge, connection to God/Unconditional Love, and connection to one’s purpose.

Fourteen years after my NDE, I was shocked to see that same river from one of the 7th floor classrooms where I teach at the Trinity River Campus for TCC.  The river might be both a concrete place and a metaphor, but knowing that I was meant to be at this campus made my teaching experiences there all the more meaningful.

Also, as a young child, I knew that I would send light to the world through meditation during my final years on earth. I didn’t even know what transcendental meditation was at five years of age, but I understood the concept. When I run out of strength to write and speak, I can’t think of a more beautiful way to conclude my life than to simply pray for this world and send out my love energetically. There is so much pain on this planet that needs transformation. I know that you have helped many students in your classrooms simply by opening their minds to the topic of NDEs.

(TB) Why does it tend to take years for experiencers to fully integrate their experience?

(KR) Of course there are many reasons for this.  I would refer readers to the books of PMH Atwater who has dealt with this issue extensively.  She finds that it often takes about seven years.  But consider:  The NDE often turns the individual upside down and inside out, so to speak.  It involves a radical transformation of the personality – that is, it goes to one’s roots and uproots them.  Nothing is the same as it was.  You can’t go back to being the person you were, but in order to become the person that the NDE seems to engender, it takes time.  It is often painful (especially in terms of one’s relationships) and involves a complex maturational process that often does indeed take years.  Talk to some NDErs; that’s the best way to understand what this process involves and why it takes so long.

(TB) What did you find are the negative effects or a downside to having an NDE?

(KR) If you have an NDE, you may suddenly become very psychic and find yourself privy to information about people that is disturbing.  You may be aware of their thoughts and feelings.  You may have foreknowledge of serious accidents, such as airplane crashes or space shuttle disasters.  You may develop heightened sensitivities to chemicals or environmental pollutants.  You may become a menace around electronic devices, which continue to malfunction in your presence, etc.  You may be so changed that your friends and family have a difficult time relating to you.  Oh, there are so many costs to having an NDE, but most NDErs would say, despite all that, they will always be grateful for their NDE because, God knows, it is the blessing beyond price.

(TB):  I agree that the psychic flashes can be disruptive, especially if you don’t have spiritual guidance from someone who understands your experiences. Most people prove quite skeptical or simply want answers to their romantic or financial questions. I certainly didn’t find anyone right after my NDE who could help me make sense of random psychic phenomena.

Being intuitive can be a curse because ignorance often really is bliss.  You don’t want to know that the guy sitting next to you on the bus should be in jail or that the person you are dating and think is an amazing human being is a lying to you or hiding significant parts of themselves.  You might think you want to know, but it gets depressing to have the mysteries revealed too soon. For me, the psychic flashes seemed to simply show that I was outside of the natural flow of time. I think near-death experiencers relationship to time changes after their experience.

(TB) Have you found that NDEs in the U.S. the same or different compared to other countries?

(KR) That’s a simple question, but the answer to it is complex.  “Other countries” is a very heterogeneous category!  But since we haven’t got all day and since I am not conducting an academic seminar, let me just offer a simplistic analogy.

Consider the human body.  Of course, there are thin ones, fat ones, beauties and monsters, coming in all manner of colors and these days fifty shades of gender.  Nevertheless, the human body has the same underlying form and is instantly recognizable.

However, if you travel into different and diverse cultures, the outward appearance of the human body, in terms of clothing, decoration, hairstyle, etc., is enormously varied.

So it is with NDEs: the underlying form is often to be found, but there are marked cultural variations.  In the U.S. and Western countries generally, we often find the classic Moody-type NDE.  But outside of that geographical domain, variation is the rule.  Every NDE seems to be an amalgam of the basic archetypal pattern of the NDE, the individual’s make-up and the culture in which he or she is embedded.  In short, it ain’t the same everywhere.

(TB) What are some of your other interests outside of NDEs?

(KR) Oh, I have plenty of interests quite apart from NDEs.  In fact, it was only after ceasing to be actively involved in NDE research and shooting off my mouth about it, beginning around the year 2000, that I was able to fully engage some of these passions.  Classical music was one such.  I even wrote a couple books about classical composers (and their muses) and worked one screenplay about one of them, Camille Saint-Saëns, which predictably went nowhere, but I had a ball working on it.  About ten years ago, I became very interested in the issue of justice for the Palestinian people, traveled to the West Bank, and eventually collaborated with a Palestinian friend of mine on a book about the contemporary lives of Palestinians.  (If you’re interested, it was called Letters from Palestine.)  And then there is tennis – for more than the last decade, I have  been a rabid Fedhead – that is, a fan and devoted follower of the incomparable Roger Federer.

But I still have interests in other phenomena related to NDEs.  One, for example, is called terminal lucidity.  It refers to a situation like this. Let’s say you have an aged relative – let’s make him your grandfather – who has had Alzheimer’s for years during which time he has never been able to speak.  Whoever he was seems to have disappeared leaving only the shell of his body.  But then, astonishingly, shortly before his death, his eyes brighten, he is able to talk about as lucidly as ever, and is able say how much he has always loved you, etc.  He’s clearly back in his full and familiar personality.

You are amazed and thrilled – but then, he becomes unconscious and not long afterward dies.

What to make of this?  Was he there all along and just not able to break through until the end?  How is such a thing possible when his brain has suffered irreversible damage?

You’d be surprised how often this sort of thing occurs, even though until recently there hasn’t been much research on it.  But I’ve been in touch with some of the leading researchers of terminal lucidity in this country and abroad and have a keen interest in their work.   Heck, if I weren’t pushing 83 and hampered by the trials of creeping decrepitude, that’s what I’d be researching now!

(TB) Fascinating!  Thank you so much for taking the time to share your ideas with me.  Your book Lessons from the Light meant a great deal to me for many reasons, but one of the main reasons is that I found your work with the college population fascinating.  I have told my NDE in many education settings, and your research gave NDErs greater credibility in academic settings. Thank you again for your time and wonderful, witty insights.

Ken,8-28! 0 00 00-01

Learn more about Kenneth Ring

One of Ken Ring’s conclusions in Heading Toward Omega is that Near-death experiences may be part of an evolutionary thrust toward higher consciousness for all humanity. Thus they may foreshadow the birth of a new planetary consciousness as we head toward Omega, the final goal of human evolution.

 

The Reality of the Afterlife and The Importance of Spreading Love

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.  The Second Annual Near-Death Experience Summit will occur on June 23, 2019.  Stay tuned for more details!

I hope you are joining us (in only twelve days on June 16, 2018) to hear eleven near-death experience speakers talking about unconditional love, God, healing, and profound shifts you can make in your life at The First Annual Near-Death Experience Online Summit. 

Most of all, this day and movement is about bringing more heaven to earth in a myriad of ways. All healing starts with centering love for yourself and all that you have survived. Join the conversation…. The basic ticket costs only $10 so that everyone can join. Here is the link for more information about the online event.

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Superpowers Interview

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.

In this episode of Superpowers, Karl Fink interviewed me about my NDE and the major life transformations that can occur because of spiritually transformative experiences and NDEs.  I was pleased to get the chance to talk more about mediumship and how close connections with one’s ancestor’s can help guide us and protect us in real, tangible ways. Karl is a wonderful interviewer, and it was a joy to be on his show.  Check out Steaming for the Soul for tons of inspiring speakers and events.

 

 

Interview with Daniel Giroux: Love, Joy, and Healing

Daniel Giroux’s near-death experience takeaway can be summed up in a few words—love, joy, and healing.  Of course, each near-death experience has far-reaching aftereffects and often changes the experiencer’s life dramatically.  I hope you enjoy his story and the discussion afterwards about energy work. Daniel is a friend of mine and a mentor.  I feel blessed to have met him on this journey.

I am especially excited to share this conversation with you because Daniel and I both meditated before we talked, and we made an intention that our discussion might be of benefit to others.  I asked him to give me a reading at the end of the video because I have recently lost a dear friend and wanted more closure.  We didn’t film the rest of that reading because Daniel picked up on a very sensitive time in my life when my friend was there for me.  I recalled the moment vividly, and it made me realize that in one of my darkest times I had an empathetic friend beside me who felt my pain on a deep level and loved me through that moment.  Jokingly, my friend (who is enjoying the afterlife and flying free) asked for a bigger part in my manuscript, and he deserves it. I guess I have one more scene to write in a book that I thought was completed.  It wasn’t complete without one more scene of unconditional love.  We can never have too much of that in this world.

Just before posting this video, I thanked Daniel’s guide, and she sent me someone incredibly special. I heard Louise Hay tell me, “You did very well.  This is what the world needs more of—healing.”   I felt shocked to hear Louise Hay’s familiar voice, and I feel like I am walking on air tonight.  May you each be blessed with love and joy!

Here is Daniel’s blog if you would like to contact him.

A Spiritual Perspective on Depression and Suicidal Idealization

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.  My memoir does reflect on my suicide attempt and how the love of the afterlife later showed me how to bring more love and healing into my life.  I want to share that healing with others.

A Spiritual Perspective on Depression and Suicidal Idealization

With the holidays coming up soon, I thought it might be important to talk about depression and suicide and offer my perspective.  I know that many people who have survived abuse, neglect, or trauma in their families are often ostracized by these family members.  Holidays become all the more of a painful reminder of how alone they might feel in the world.  Those who are awakening and realizing spiritual truths that may transcend the perspectives of their family members might also feel some disconnection.

Whatever your situation might be during the holidays, I hope that you might treat yourself with great love and compassion during this time of year and through out the rest of the year.

I have a unique perspective on suicide because I viewed my suicide attempt while in the afterlife.  At the end of college, I had a profound near-death experience after a car wreck and was clinically dead for over two minutes during emergency spinal surgery.

During my life review, I saw my suicide attempt (which occurred a few months prior to my near-death experience) through the loving gaze of God. God had enormous love and compassion for me during this sad time in my life.  I felt completely supported by this loving force of God, and I could hear some of God’s thoughts about that time in my life.

When God viewed my suicide attempt, I felt that God wanted me to love myself more and know that I am deeply loved and supported by the universe, even when it does not seem that way.  God wanted me to place a high priority on my health and healing.   There were a myriad of choices available to me besides making an attempt on my life. I saw all these choices spin out around me as various light-filled paths.  I could have contacted friends, acquaintances, certain family members, called a hotline, looked for free or affordable resources through my university, searched for help at churches, or joined a recovery group.  There were many options I had besides the one that I picked in that moment.

At twenty-one, I did not know how to walk through the painful parts of my life, but if I reached out to others, I might have made a choice other than swallowing a ridiculous amount of painkillers and washing these painkillers down with a decanter of whiskey.  Amazingly, I woke up 36 hours later and realized that I had vomited, which probably saved my life.

At twenty-one, I didn’t realize that I could’ve tried new things I had never tried before.  Help might not have come from the people I wanted it to come from, but help and healing was available to me, and it is available to you too.  If you are suffering from a deep depression, keep walking through the pain and know that you are not alone on this journey, no matter how alone you might feel at the moment.  Find connection somewhere.

Through my life review, I saw that God also wanted me to be kind to others and ask them more questions about their lives.  An obsessive focus on myself led to greater depression and sadness.  Getting out of myself and listening to others would have brought more joy to their lives and to mine.

Suicidal plans and thoughts should be taken seriously.  If you are very close to taking your life, please call the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline at 1-800-273-8255.  If you are not in the U.S., please look up a local or national hotline and talk with someone immediately.  Utilize all resources available to you, and reach out to someone you know who is a safe, caring person in your life.  If you are not suffering from depression but know someone who is, encourage this person to take healing, self-care, and therapy seriously.

If you suffer from depression but have energy to focus on your health and want to apply the deeply loving force of God to your own situation, I can offer you some ideas.  Every journey is an individual one, so please keep searching for what works for you.  These are only suggestions.

  1. Self-Love: Read everything you can get your hands on about self-love.  Louise Hay is a great resource with many mantras that might begin to change some of your negative thought patterns.  Ingest a daily diet of uplifting material—posts, podcasts, videos, and books.  I can personally recommend the book How to Love Yourself (And Sometimes Other People) by Lodro Rinzler and Meggan Watterson, especially if you struggle with romantic relationship difficulties.  Here is a blog post I have written about self-love.  Self-love is essential and necessary.  Too often we are much hard on ourselves when we could offer ourselves great compassion instead.
  2. Start a Healing Journey: Every healing journey is individual, but consider researching diets and supplements that can help your mood.  Reference books like Prescriptions for Natural Healing might be a place to begin.  Focus on simple healthy pleasures each day.  Exercise and get vitamin D.  Try new things.   Depending on your financial situation, invest in a therapist and try out various healing modalities.  Everything from eye movement desensitization and reprocessing (EMDR) which might help with PTSD to energetic healing modalities might offer you relief.   Addressing subconscious blocks through modalities like Psych K can be beneficial. Even if you do not have the funds for some of these modalities, you might be able to trade with certain practitioners if you have skills in a certain area.  You can learn specific yoga moves or Tai Chi exercises online that can improve your mood.  You might also be able to learn more about healing modalities and practices, and find comfort in the talks and free information from healers.  Start with therapy and work outward in the directions that you are led.
  3. Commit to a Spiritual Practice: Commit to a support group, recovery group, spiritual practice, church, or gathering that makes you feel connected to love.  Do not go somewhere or stay somewhere where you feel judged and bogged down by the negativity of others.  During my near-death experience, I clearly saw that love is all that matters.  Go somewhere where you feel love, optimism, joy, and release from your struggles.  I highly recommend a meditation practice, but like a healing journey, a spiritual journey is an individual one.  I can only emphasize the importance of commitment and practice.  A spiritual practice is beneficial when you commit to it over the long haul and through the many ups and downs of life.
  4. Volunteer: There is usually someone who is less fortunate than you.  Even if you are in a dire position in life, you can volunteer at an organization that already helps you.  While volunteering, you might meet others and listen to them with love and with hope.   The point of volunteering is to do something to make the lives of others easier or better in some way.  As you give what you can give, your troubles lessen and you feel connected to a greater whole.  Like exercise or any other activity that we know is good for us but we resist, volunteering can have a profound effect on our consciousness.  When we feel useful or helpful, our self-esteem and self-concept changes for the better.  Mostly, we simply find joy in being connected to others versus suffering in isolation.  We are communal and need one another.  Find safe people and form bonds.  If you are too anxiety ridden to volunteer somewhere, then find a way to connect with others and do not suffer alone.
  5. Feel the Love of God: Take time in your day to imagine the force of God that near-death experiencers talk about with longing and love.  Try to imagine the most loving force on earth.  What would that feel like to you?  Write down what you would like God to be like for you and what you would like to feel from God right now.  Take those positive feelings and multiply them by 70 million.  Believe in this love as a reality and not a concept.  Close your eyes and imagine what this love would feel like.  Bring this love into every single one of your cells.  Fill your body with a glowing light that is the purest form of love imaginable.  This is your birthright and your true essence.  Know it.  Share it.  Believe it.
  6. Gratitude can rewire your brain:  Keep a gratitude journey and write down what you are grateful for each day.   Watch this Ted Talk and try some of the other suggestions at the end for creating more happiness in your life.  Hopefully, this speaker makes you chuckle a bit.  Laughter is one of my favorite medicines.

The Life Review in a NDE

Update 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.

Life-Review:  One of the common experiences during a near-death experience is a brief or extended cinematic view of one’s life.  Seeing our connection to others and seeing life through the vision of another person is a powerful lesson.  During my life review, I saw into the hearts and minds of people I had not known very well.  In life, I had judged them as not particularly interesting for a variety of superficial reasons.  During my life review, I clearly witnessed that a good heart and spiritual connection made these people very beautiful and precious to God.

I learned from that one scene in my life review to connect more frequently with people around me and to see people’s hearts, not their outward appearances, their accomplishments, their money, their charisma, etc.  For instance, wealth can be a tool to bring more goodness and prosperity to many people, or it can be used to use and manipulate others. There is nothing negative about accomplishments, money, or power, but the heart matters more.   Just like the line in the song “Desperado,” it is important to remember that “The Queen of Hearts is always your best bet.”   The same applies for the King of Hearts.

My life review was quick and zeroed in only on what I should learn and what I could do better in life.   I judged myself and my actions mainly because I could see into the hearts and minds of others and observed my limited thinking.  God seemed to be guiding this life review and let me feel what I needed to feel from these scenes.  I understood that people I had written off had love and concern for my well-being, and I wished that I had been more open and kinder to them both in my thoughts and in my actions.  I saw that God sees our hearts much more than anything else.

According to the website www.nderf.com, there are four categories of life review descriptions.  “NDErs categorized them based on  1) how the life review physically happened; 2) content; 3) aftereffects; and 4) other.  Many described the life review like a re-run of a play, a film, or watching it on-screen.  Others commented on the content of the life review.  NDErs generally noted that they were the ones who judged themselves.  During the process, they saw the good, the bad, and cause and effect of their choices.  Many reported that they had a review of feelings, rather than a review of events.  Some say that their review consisted of feeling others reactions to their earthly actions.  The other large category were the aftereffects.  Not only did participants state that it was important to love and help others, but they also indicated that their relationship with God/Jesus was more important to them.  NDErs appreciated life more, and stated that it was important to have a sense of purpose.  The smallest category was ‘other’ in which NDErs reported not learning anything or they had a life review but couldn’t remember it.”  (Quote taken from www.nderf.com)

Throughout my life since the NDE, I have tried to be more open and supportive of others.  I don’t judge people in the same, superficial ways that I once did.  We all are works in progress, but I know that lesson was catered especially for me at that time in my life. Young people can be overly concerned with fads, fashions, musical tastes, literature, and sub-cultures in a way that doesn’t matter as much as we get older.

The heart, however, is the gem, the treasure, the best bet.  

When Carl Jung asked Chief Mountain Lake why he thought all white people are mad, Mountain Lake replied, ‘They say they think with their heads.’  “’Why of course, says Jung, ‘What do you think with?’  “’We think here,’ says Chief Mountain Lake, indicating his heart.

Let us all think more frequently with our hearts.

love

 

Takeaways from “The Afterlife of Billy Fingers”: Part I

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.

billy  Annie Kagan’s wonderful book which channels messages from her deceased brother is a lovely description of the afterlife through an interesting, colorful, musical character named Billy Fingers.  The quote on the back cover is one of my favorite pieces of advice from Billy Fingers.  He tells his sister, “If I could give you a gift, it would be to teach you how to stay free inside that game, to find the glory inside yourself, beyond the roles and the drama, so you can dance the dance of the game of life with a little more rhythm, a little more abandon, a little more shaking-those-hips.”  I am often shocked by how seriously people take themselves.  Nothing is funnier than arrogance (even our own) when you have a universal perspective.  When you have journeyed far beyond the confines of this body and your personal drama, it is hard to get back in the body and play the game of life without remembering the oneness beyond the self and how beautiful divine love really is.

After Death Communications:  Beyond the beautiful descriptions from Billy Fingers, I appreciated the author’s candor and openness about wondering if her communications were only wishful thinking or unreliable.  For years, many of us have heard ridicule and disbelief around the topic of after-death communications.  I am glad that Annie Kagan addressed the disbelief that she feared others might have concerning her communications with Billy.  In the beginning of the story, she admits to fearing being viewed as a fraud and asks for verification from her brother.   Billy’s gifts of information to others are lovely and humorous at times.  These gifts of information seem to bring the author closer to those around her and that seems to be part of the gift.

Though ridicule is possible when talking about spiritual topics, our times are changing and the more of us who come forward and discuss our spiritual experiences, the more others feel free to discuss their experiences.  In a short amount of time, I have had lots of people open up to me about their NDEs, their communications with loved ones who have passed over, and other related topics.  I have only had two people ridicule me, but I take the occasional flares of jealousy as a sign that I’m on to something good.

you choose  I battled with discussing my communications with my deceased father, but I am glad that I did.  Reading The Afterlife of Billy Fingers reminded me to open up and ask if he had a message for me.   I thought about where he might be on his journey, several years after his death.  His perspective now seems to be even larger and farther away, and Kagan explains that process of becoming one with larger realities beautifully.

When I asked for a message from dad, he very quickly replied, “At least you are trying to access the invisible and bring what really matters to the people.  So many are not even trying.”

eternalHis words felt more profound than just those words, as if my dad exists so far away in that Universe now and is able to see the workings of this place and others in the cosmos.  He saw the world as if it were a world of busy bodied ants, driving from place to place, building things, doing things, but not thinking about the true meaning of what they are doing.  The spiritual ones are the ones looking up and wondering how everything works beyond the veil, wondering how they might access Divine Love and bring it into the world for others so that they might understand.

In my dancing and stumbling ways, I am one of the ones who looks up at the sky, goes to nature for more light, and brings what light I can into the world.  I am trying.  My efforts might be small at times, but I am one of the ants looking outward, hoping to bless others with the love I sense from the other side.  Sometimes, I am toppled by fear, by grief, and by cruelty, but I continue on because to live is to continue.  As long as we have breath, we can be of use to others to help them remember the beauty of this journey.

Dad seemed to be disappointed that a large part of the world is largely unconcerned with spiritual realities.  He likes his place in a universe of connectedness and understanding, far beyond this one.  He wishes more people took an interest in all that is possible beyond what is right in front of their hands.

Divine Love:  I’m a fan of how Billy describes Divine Love.   Divine Love was one of the most exciting parts to cover in writing my story of my NDE.

Billy explains the experience of being surrounded by Divine Love as Bliss.  He goes on to say, “Bliss is like being in love multiplied by a thousand, but it has nothing to do with anyone else.  It’s fulfilling in and of itself.  On earth you usually need someone to give you a reason to feel love, and that feeling usually has its ups and downs.  With bliss, there’s no downside—and you don’t need a reason for it.  As your soul floats through this dimension, it’s just natural to feel bliss.”

beauty

Many NDErs miss that feeling of bliss if they get a taste of it.  I miss it, and yet nothing has changed my life more than to realize that this Bliss/Divine Love exists.  Love like that puts everything on earth in perspective.  People often live their lives as fractured parts of a whole, and many do not even know that they are part of a whole.  They believe only in the splintered part that they observe daily, obsessively comparing themselves with others.  Comparison is not what the Divine Light gives us.  It gives us complete acceptance, complete love, and complete safety.

Billy’s character goes on to address disappointment in a broader sense. “Disappointment is part of the pattern on earth.  But things change.  I know you’ve heard this a million times, but it is a secret.  Things change. When you die, you realize how much and you realize there are immortal things, things you take with you, and they change too.  The Eastern concept of Maya, or illusion, what does this mean?  It means temporary.  It means our lives are temporary.”

Divine Love vs. Romantic Love:  Life is indeed a quick journey and not nearly as long as we think it is when viewed from the other side.  Divine Love is an amazing experience, and hard to translate and experience while in human form.  You almost need the freedom of not having a body to fully understand it.  As Billy Finger’s character says, “After you die, you spend a lot of time, solo time, exploring yourself as a Universe….You are the Universe.  But society teaches you different.  Society teaches limitation, (but)…everything you ever need is already inside you.  And who you really are is far beyond your comprehension.  That’s why living squeezed into the human experience can be painful at times.”

While in form, we long for that picture perfect life to show to the world to bolster our ego and say, “Here is my soulmate/twin flame, my family, my great job, my perfect kids, and my white picket fence/condo/home in the country.”  That life rarely exists, and if it does for a while, it changes anyway.  On the other side, I wanted to see that I returned to a picture perfect life, but the message from the Divine was only that I must remind others of their light and souls.  I wasn’t promised a perfect life.  I was only told that I must remind others of their light.  As I wrote about relationships before and after my NDE, I channeled a passage and a healing statement about the search for soulmates and the occasional pain of romantic relationships.

Excerpts from Angels in the OR, “We are all looking for a missing part of souls in another person and not realizing that our own souls are the true source of happiness.  I knew this on the other side.  No one accompanied me there, but I was whole and the light was both me and larger than me.  Source was all that I needed….”

“When we forget our connection to source, we are sometimes reminded of this spark of the divine in another and hold on desperately as if God were only in that one specific person, but God is everywhere, especially inside of us.”

self-love

Occasionally, I am given a healing statement for others.  In connection to this topic, here is the statement I was given.  Many people on a spiritual path are sensitive, and the loss of friendships, relationships, and others can be a painful part of the jouney.  It doesn’t have to be.  The pain ends so much quicker with more self-love and more faith in the workings of a loving energy larger than ourselves.  Billy Finger’s life appeared to be one of great pain on this earth, but it prepared him to be freer than some souls and merge with a universe after death.  Not every soul chooses that path.  The point of viewing his story is to learn not to judge others or yourself.  Love yourself more through every part of your journey.

Healing Statement:  You are loved.  Don’t forget how much the divine light delights in you.  You waste resources and time trying to be seen and loved when you are already loved.  You need do nothing.  You can give that love away and feel immediately in touch with the universal flow of love.

Relationships (of all kinds) are sometimes fractured and split because we have so much to learn and release.  We must free ourselves on a vibrational level when it becomes difficult (sometimes very painful) to stay with another.  Sometimes, people around you are not changing or evolving in the ways you are changing.

Don’t beat yourself up for anything.  Just center yourself.  Quiet yourself.  Listen to what you need.  You need to remember that you are already loved and safe.  There is nothing you are gaining or losing from another.  You are only sharing along the way.  If a person stops sharing, then you move on and share with others.  It isn’t complex.  We create a lot of judgement around issues that need no judgement.  If love is flowing between people, all will work out.  If it isn’t, they move on, especially if they are aware of their own connection to source and love.  Why lose out on a connection to source and love that is already exists because another doesn’t want you to have love or be love?  Why stay with someone who wants you to have less, be less, and experience less than you know you can find through a connection to source? You stay with someone who shows you how to have more, be more, and experience more because of their presence.  You stay with someone who really knows how to love and whose presence makes you feel stronger, freer, and happier.

**I realize this level of detachment and freedom is not easy for many people.  NDErs tend to love and accept others often without the usual attachments and conditions society expects.  I only know that I’ve observed a lot of needless drama in people around the ending of relationships and marriages.  In the news, we see husbands and wives who take that drama to sociopathic lengths and kill their spouses.  They forget that time is a great healer and time is relative.  There is a way to speed healing up.  Meditation, a change of perspective, and enlightened moments can take us far away from our circumstances and change our perspectives.  If we eventually get over something, why not envision what getting over something feels like and bring it into the present moment quicker? In The Afterlife of Billy Fingers, Billy learned how not to take his life or perspective seriously the farther he got away from his situation.  Like Billy, NDErs know that our lives look very different from a far-away perspective and that perspective is wonderful.   Distance and a new perspective is healing for everyone.

The Afterlife of Billy Fingers Continued….This book has been so enjoyable that I must address other topics such as Higher Beings/Angels, recovery from addiction, and the healing power of nature in another post.

End of the Semester Reflections

loveyoubarker

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.

Outward Focus:  In a Ted Talk presentation, Adam Leipzig discusses how happier people are outward focused.  After a class reunion at Yale, Leipzig realized that even people with highly successful careers don’t feel the same level of happiness that others do who are clear about their intention to help others.  Teaching is a profession that has allowed me to be outward focused on a daily basis.  Even if the goal is only to improve students understanding of concepts and improve their critical thinking skills, teaching allows me to focus on others and for that I am immensely grateful. We are happier people in the moments we forget ourselves and live for others.

Many teachers have goals for their students beyond the basic concepts of their subject matter.  They hope to help others become more successful, more loving and connected to others, clearer about their goals and dreams, and more prepared to live a happy life of purpose themselves.  Perhaps the most important thing anyone can do after realizing what they are passionate about is deciding who they can help, entertain, or inspire with this passion. Taken further, Leipzig explains how it is important to think about what others need.

What Others Need: Before I started teaching, I thought about what I needed as a student and researched what other students from various backgrounds need.  As a student, I needed to be noticed.  I needed kindness, support, and structure.  I needed to expand my thinking and views of the world.  I needed inspiration. Sometimes, my students need to learn basic writing skills and to gain confidence as writers.  Sometimes, they need a clear path to success, healing from their past, or to expand their ideas and thinking about the world.  Sometimes, they simply need to be inspired to work harder and be more focused about what they want to accomplish.  Sometimes, they only need kindness, and they will figure the rest of their life’s journey out on their own or with the help of other mentors.

I am certain that I do not meet everyone’s needs as an instructor, but I took an oath to “Do no harm” before ever opening my mouth in a classroom, even as a student teacher at Stephen F. Austin High in Austin, Texas.  I saw every rebellious student as a gift.  Every angry student who I still occasionally encounter teaches me that fear and pain is what lies beneath the surface of anger.  Often, students who are angry have suffered a lot of abuse in their lives.  They have every right and reason to be angry, and if I am patient I am sometimes able to uncover this truth.  Although some students might prefer a different, style of teaching, I know that my students know my heart is in the right place.  My primary aim is to help students become more successful on any path of their choosing. I’ve taught long enough to see many of my students accomplish their goals, and there is little on this earth that gives me more happiness than their accomplishments.

The Light’s Last Message: Before my near death experience, I had very little interest in teaching.  When I returned to my body after my NDE and reflected on the fact that the last message given to me from the light was that I must return to earth and teach, I was not pleased.  I wanted a more lucrative career as a lawyer since I grew up poor.  My long-term plans weren’t final but attending U.T. Law School was a possibility; however, God had other plans for me.  If you meet God on the other side of this life and the last thing God tells you to do is to teach, is there really any other option?

After reflecting on my own history with teachers, I realized that I may not have applied for scholarships, applied to U.T. or believed in my potential if I hadn’t had a couple of supportive English teachers in high school.  I realized that their enthusiasm for their subject matter affected me in ways I didn’t realize at the time.  I read books I would have never found on my own, and my self-concept grew because of their ideas and lectures.

For years, I didn’t understand why the light commanded me to teach, but I followed these orders anyway.  I got my teaching certification and taught for four years in the public school system—junior high and high school, and I’ve taught at the college level ever since.   I’ve had so much fun on some days that I’m surprised they pay me at all.

Happy at Work: I have been extremely happy at work because I know why I teach.  I am not there for my ego or gratification; rather, I am there to help others, or at the very least to be kind and hopefully to inspire them to read more novels and enjoy the writing process a bit more.

Service work with my college students has been a rewarding experience.  For a moment in time, they experienced the joy that I feel working with them as they worked with elementary school kids.   Perhaps students who participate in service learning will be reminded that a life focused on others is a very good life indeed.

Many programs of recovery focus on service to others, and I don’t think this wisdom should be limited to recovery programs.  If everyone could realize that helping others is the quickest and surest way out of pain, we would all drop everything and look out into the world to see who we can help.  The mind all too often makes a “hell of heaven,” but when we get out of own mind and focus on the lives of others we can turn an actual world of “hell” into a “heaven” of connection and compassion.

 

Many Amazing Students:  I am humbled by the talent and passion of so many of my students.  One of my least favorite times of year is the time of year to give awards.  Though I love honoring particular students for their hard work, there are generally many deserving students and picking only one or two students to honor hurts my heart.  Often, the highest grade in a class is not the best indicator of who has learned the most and progressed the most.

I am impressed by how many of my students already have energy and passion to help the world.  They organize walks to bring awareness to issues such as suicide prevention, particular childhood diseases, or write stories which are a form of activism.  They have clear goals for their future and intend to help others long before entering my classroom.  They have energy, passion, and drive that reinvigorates my own drive and enthusiasm.  They are sometimes more like friends than students, and I miss them when the semester ends.  I am a lucky, lucky woman to have crossed paths with so many wonderful people.  The light certainly knew better than I did about the direction that my life should take. Teaching has been one of the brightest parts of my life, and I am grateful for all the students I have met over the years.

 

 

 

After-Death Communications

 

dad

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.  Part of my memoir discusses some of my after-death communications with my father.

Love is the Link:  Dr. Pamela M. Kircher has a section in her book Love is the Link about after-death communications, and she encourages others to talk about dreams or other communications with relatives as a way to comfort those who may not have had communications with deceased relatives but want this communication.  Like Kircher, I don’t understand why some people receive messages from deceased relatives and others do not, but I want to tell others who have lost someone close to them to believe in the possibility and to be patient.  There might be a moment in your life when you need comfort or protection in a profound way, and your loved one might come to you then.  Also, telling yourself each night that you are open to communication in a dream or otherwise might open up the channels of communication.

Preparing for a Loved One’s Death:  In 2008, my father was diagnosed with a large, grapefruit-sized Glioblastoma brain tumor.  He opted not to have brain surgery and to live out his remaining time as coherently as possible.  We joked around as we often did, watched television together, and ate a lot of Chinese food that first week.  Dad didn’t take morphine because he wanted to be able to talk with me when I showed up after teaching classes.  That semester was one of the hardest teaching semesters of my life.  I was scheduled to teach nine different college classes at three different campuses.  Luckily, I found a nursing home for dad near one of my campuses, so I saw him every evening and between classes when possible.  There were many days, I ran out of class early to cry, overwhelmed by loss but also grateful that that I had experience with death and could help my dad by reminding him of what I knew from the other side.  We talked about my near-death experience a few times, and he believed my stories of the light, assuring me that he had no fears about the dying process.

The Transition:  When Dad was moved to hospice and the chaplain preformed the last rites, Dad could barely lift his arm, but he made his best attempt to pretend to conduct an orchestra.  The chaplain seemed annoyed, but I knew Dad was trying to make the moment lighter for me.  He wanted me to remember his sense of humor and how little he feared death. When I left to get some sleep, I hoped I might see him the next morning.  Something about the look in his eyes told me that I might not see him alive again.  I kept my phone ringer on as loud as possible, hoping to be informed if the end was near.

Around midnight I fell asleep and almost immediately had a dream where my grandparents talked with me in calming, comforting ways, hovering somewhere above the ceiling.  They told me that they were with Dad and had been with him for the last two days, waiting for him.  They said they would be the ones to welcome him to the other side and would take good care of him and that I had done all I could for him.  I woke up feeling more peaceful than I had felt in a while and looked down at my phone.  I had three missed calls from hospice, and I realized immediately what this meant.  I wanted to be there at his time of passing, but I felt comforted that his parents were with him.  Their presence was warm and loving in the dream as it had been in life.

First Dream:  A few nights later, dad came to me in a dream with the light behind him.  He said he was given only a moment where he could tell me that he understood I did all I could do within my time constraints at work.  He assured me that he slept and rested most of the hours I could not be with him so that he could be alert when I showed up for visits.  This relieved my guilt about how little time I had with him on some days.  Dad didn’t have siblings or any family members that I knew about at the time, so there was no one else besides a few of his friends and neighbors who stopped by to be with him when I was not with him.

Life Review Differences:  In Pamela Kircher’s book Love is the Link she discusses the differences between the NDEs experienced by those in traumatic situations versus those who are terminal.  A life review is usually not part of the NDE for terminal patients; rather, they are comforted about the dying process and sometimes met by relatives.  A few months after his death, Dad came to me in another dream and assured me that he had a lot more still to learn and that he was busy understanding his role on earth and the implications of his life.  He made it evident that he would wait and watch out for me, even though he preferred to return and give this life another shot.  I wondered if the life review process is more intense after death.  Perhaps, in terminal patients the life review is saved for a more intensive examination after the completion of their life.  During my life review, I was shown how to be more loving and open while in this life.  Perhaps, given more time on the other side, I would have extensively examined my life and actions.  Mainly, I saw that helping others, being kind, being connected to the light/source were important elements in returning.

The idea that dad wanted to return and live out another life puzzled me.  I hadn’t given reincarnation much thought, other than remembering dreams I had of a possible past life when I was a child.  In those dreams, I lived in Boston and supported several of struggling artists in my later years of life.  That life set me up to encourage creativity in others.  In that previous life, I felt sadness that I didn’t pursue my own art.  One of the lessons in my current life seems to be how to balance supporting other creative young people while also working on my own writing.

When I moved to Boston for a travelling job teaching SAT prep courses and later for a year with my first husband, the city felt so familiar that I rarely needed to look at maps. I have other theories about why the city might have seemed familiar, but on some level it seems that reincarnation or memories of various lives are possible.

Specific Communications from the Beyond:  As time has gone on, I realize there is a lot that I do not understand about after death communications with my father.  On a couple of occasions, he has been right and warned me about various people, telling me that their actions will not match their words.  I don’t want to go into detail about these particular situations, but maybe as time goes on I will have a better understanding of how these after death communications are meant to be used in my life.   He has made it clear that others who have tried to tap into communications with him are not as clear as I am in my communications with him.  I realize that I can largely trust these communications, but my rational mind does occasionally wonder if these moments are only wishful thinking. However, certain specifics make me think that the communications are more than wishful thinking.

Testing the Information:  I know that I have been comforted and protected in a couple of instances by after death communications with dad.  I haven’t yet tried out these communications at the race track to see if Dad can give me winning horses.  During the last years of his life, dad enjoyed betting on horses and wasn’t bad at it either.  I’ll let you know if I have some luck with that or not.

Recommendations:  I recommend Dr. Kircher’s book, Love is the Link, especially if you are interested in the ways others have been comforted at the time of their deaths or stories of those who have received messages from loved ones after their deaths.  Part II of her book focuses on her work as a hospice physician.  This section includes stories of agnostics visited by Jesus, angry young people with terminal illness who experienced NDEs which helped them cope with their deaths, and many other interesting stories of people in hospice settings.  Dr. Pamela Kircher has the unique perspective of having experienced a NDE as a young child and living her life informed by this moment at a very young age.  I found her personal journey in Part I fascinating as well.

If you want to read my next post about after-death communications, click here.