Mon Expérience de Mort Imminente (French Translation of My Near-Death Experience)

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*** Ceci est un extrait de mon livre complet. Ce passage couvre les premiers moments que j’ai vécus hors de forme, et certaines de mes réalisations lors de mon expérience de mort imminente.

Personne, sauf peut-être l’athée le plus militant, n’aurait pu être plus surpris que moi au début de mon expérience de mort imminente. Les premiers moments en dehors de mon corps m’ont semblé excitants et électrisants, et mon esprit s’est mis à danser une petite gigue en réalisant que l’existence va bien au-delà du physique. Je me sentais à nouveau enfant, heureuse de voir ce qui allait suivre et heureuse que mon corps spirituel préserve l’essence de qui je suis, même si de toute évidence j’étais un peu préoccupée par ce corps physique sur la table d’opération.

Une musique soft-rock jouait à la radio, et mon dos avait une longue incision sanglante. La chirurgie est apparue plus brutale et sanglante que je ne l’avais imaginée, surtout de cette position avantageuse. Ma vision à l’extérieur de mon corps était à 360 degrés, je percevais donc la salle d’opération différemment que si j’avais été physiquement debout à côté de moi. Je pouvais voir au-dessus des médecins et de toute la salle d’opération tout à la fois sans ciller ni même faire usage de mes yeux. Là, dans cet espace avec les médecins, les infirmières, les techniciens chirurgicaux et d’autres, j’ai ressenti une joie doublée d’un choc incroyable en réalisant que tout ne meurt pas avec le corps.

Après m’être réjouie un moment, j’ai remarqué deux des êtres les plus intelligents que j’aie jamais rencontrés. Ils étaient très grands, environ deux mètres cinquante, androgynes avec les cheveux à hauteur d’épaule, et composés davantage de lumière que de forme solide. Je me réfère à eux comme à des anges seulement parce que je n’ai aucune autre terminologie qui sied à ce que j’ai vu. Ces anges appartenaient à une réalité plus élevée et nullement à un rêve ou à une hallucination.

J’ai fait l’expérience de milliers de rêves, mais c’était plus réel que n’importe quel moment de ma vie. Dans les rêves, le rêveur peut être pris dans un scénario qui semble réel, mais pendant l’intervalle où j’ai existé hors de mon corps, j’ai eu l’impression de voir le tableau dans son entier, ou du moins une vaste connexion intelligente qui m’avait échappé dans ma forme précédente. A la fac, j’ai pris du LSD à deux reprises et les hallucinations étaient mineures, plus vagues; rien de tel que cette expérience vivace. Je savais parfaitement que ce point de vue était plus réel que n’importe quelle réalité que j’avais connue dans ma vie physique.

Les gens veulent toujours en savoir plus sur ce à quoi ressemblaient les anges. Ils demandent: “Avaient-ils des ailes?” “Portaient-ils des vêtements?” “Comment saviez-vous que c’était des anges?”

Je ne sais pas si ces deux êtres étaient des anges, au sens biblique traditionnel. Je sais seulement que je les ai reconnus immédiatement comme des âmes incroyablement intelligentes dont la présence m’a donné une paix indescriptible. Ma propre conscience de cette nouvelle dimension semblait beaucoup plus limitée que la leur. La plupart de ce que je ressentais hors de mon corps dans la salle d’opération venait par impressions immédiates, comme un enfant jauge si un adulte est digne de confiance ou pas. Les anges étaient dignes de confiance et étaient là pour m’aider et me réconforter, aussi n’ai je pas remis en question leur autorité.

Ils m’envoyèrent des ondes d’intense lumière qui transféraient de nombreux messages à la fois. Une lumière émanait des yeux des anges vers mon corps spirituel, me permettant d’accéder à l’information plus vite que la transmission à haut débit la plus élevée possible. Les messages étaient donnés sous forme de pensées et de sentiments achevés, pas par des mots distincts. Le savoir qu’ils envoyèrent en ma forme non seulement me calma, mais a changé la façon dont je voyais la totalité de ma vie.

Les anges, ou messagers, n’étaient pas seulement capables d’interagir avec mon corps spirituel; ils ont également pu interagir avec les médecins et, plus important encore, à travers eux. Les médecins, très probablement, n’ont pas réalisé cette interaction. J’ai compris que ma conscience, mon sens du monde et ma capacité à expérimenter la joie grandissaient exponentiellement, moment après moment. Juste avant que le moniteur ne commence à émettre des signaux indiquant que mon cœur s’était arrêté, les anges ralentirent leur communication, me fixèrent intensément et dirent avec force: “Regarde ça!”

La même lumière qu’ils ont transmise dans mon corps spirituel, ils l’ont ensuite envoyée à travers le dos des médecins, à travers leurs mains, et dans mon corps physique. Ma forme corporelle a été instantanément modifiée et guérie d’une manière que les médecins n’auraient peut-être pas pu accomplir par eux-mêmes. En observant cette lumière, je savais que je retrouverais ma capacité de marcher, que les fragments d’os seraient prélevés dans ma colonne vertébrale, et que je me sentirais en bonne santé, vivante, et même pouvant à nouveau courir dans le futur. Les anges se sont retournés vers moi, laissant cette connaissance m’imprégner.

Pendant que les anges travaillaient sur mon corps, j’ai réalisé que les chirurgiens étaient des conduits de leur énergie et que l’énergie des anges participait fortement à ma guérison. Peut-être qu’un égo de chirurgien ne serait pas capable d’entendre cela, ou bien peut-être serait-il à même de reconnaître que l’esprit a fonctionné à travers lui. Je savais seulement que j’avais besoin de me souvenir de ce moment distinctement. Les anges voulaient que je comprenne qu’ils pourraient travailler à travers moi à l’avenir.

Tandis que les anges et les chirurgiens continuaient leurs efforts, mon corps physique brillait de lumière et d’énergie. Comme il était techniquement mort, je n’ai plus ressenti le moindre désir d’observer ma forme humaine et j’ai filé à travers les murs de l’hôpital, faisant juste une pause en aperçevant mon beau-père James. Ma mère l’a épousé pendant mes études et je n’avais pas vraiment eu l’occasion de le connaître. Je savais qu’il la rendait heureuse, donc j’étais contente qu’elle l’ait trouvé.

Je pensais qu’il était aussi féru de santé qu’elle, aussi fus-je surprise quand je l’ai vu s’arrêter au distributeur pour acheter une barre chocolatée. Il en a sorti un Snickers, ce dont j’ai toujours raffolé. Au lycée, j’ai parfois sauté des repas juste pour avaler un Snickers. J’ai pensé à la façon dont certaines nourritures me manqueraient probablement dans cette nouvelle réalité. Je ne savais pas pourquoi je passais du temps à le regarder, mais plus tard je reconnaîtrais que c’était un détail vérifiable de ma sortie de corps.

Même si j’ai réalisé que je laissais beaucoup de gens derrière moi, je me sentais libre, heureuse et plus paisible que je ne m’étais jamais sentie dans mon corps. La mort n’était pas effrayante, mais plutôt comme un voyage d’un pays à l’autre – une réalité libératrice, amusante, nouvelle, pleine de potentialité. Mon corps spirituel fila rapidement à travers l’hôpital et sortit dans le ciel nocturne au-dessus d’Austin. Je pensais à la prière hésitante que j’avais offerte en étant transportée dans l’ambulance. Je pensais à la façon dont j’étais libre et volais maintenant, d’une façon proche de l’oiseau que j’avais vu avant que la porte de l’ambulance ne se referma.

Dans cet espace de liberté, j’ai vécu un rapide examen de ma vie, comme si je feuilletais un livre que j’avais lu auparavant, ne voyant que les beaux moments forts. La lumière ne voulait pas que je revive la douleur que les autres m’avaient causée ou que j’avais provoquée moi-même. Toute la peine infligée à soi-même, le dégoût de soi, l’insécurité et la confusion ont été pardonnés par la force la plus aimante que j’ai jamais rencontrée. La peur et l’inquiétude sont devenues invisibles, comme un nuage qui s’évapore à la lumière du jour suivant. Ces concepts furent simplement effacés.

Après cette brève analyse, j’ai ressenti une compréhension et une union croissantes avec tous ceux que j’avais connus. Je n’avais pas été quelqu’un de particulièrement méchant à l’âge de vingt-deux ans. J’étais plutôt timide, incertaine, et passais beaucoup de temps à lire et à me perdre dans mes pensées et mes rêveries, m’ouvrant et me connectant aux autres seulement après plusieurs verres. J’avais déçu quelques personnes, mais je n’avais pas blessé très profondément qui que ce soit.

J’ai pu voir dans l’esprit de quelques-unes des personnes avec qui j’ai été serveuse à ‘Tres Amigos’ plus tôt cette année. Elles se demandaient pourquoi je ne parlais pas ouvertement avec elles. J’avais pensé qu’elles n’étaient pas particulièrement “cool” parce qu’elles étaient soit mères célibataires, soit plus âgées et mariées , au lieu d’être étudiantes comme moi. Nos seules interactions se passaient autour de la machine à margarita, alors que nous remplissions des gobelets en polystyrène de 16 onces déguisés en eau gazeuse, et riaient de la façon dont la nuit devenait plus supportable, et les pourboires ruisselaient plus généreusement, plus nous et nos clients buvions.

J’ai réalisé que j’évitais les gens qui n’étaient pas comme moi, et que j’avais manqué d’apercevoir un monde de connexion. Plusieurs fois leurs bons cœurs étaient inquiets pour moi, se demandant si je pouvais être déprimée ou triste pour des raisons qu’ils ne pouvaient pas tout à fait comprendre. Leur gentillesse était une forme d’amour. J’ai vu que j’étais, à tout le moins, passée à côté d’une ambiance de travail plus agréable à cause de mon esprit de chapelle et de mon orgueil. Plusieurs fois, les plus belles personnes imaginables peuvent travailler ou vivre juste à côté de nous et nous ignorons leurs luttes, leurs espoirs, leur lumière, du fait de nos insécurités ou de notre arrogance.

Après avoir éprouvé cette connexion avec quelques-uns de mes collègues et quelques autres, la lumière m’a ramenée à l’enfance. J’étais une enfant gentille (comme la plupart le sont) et profondément en accord avec la nature, même capable d’amadouer des lapins sauvages près de moi pendant que je jouais dans les buissons devant ma maison. La lumière m’a montré que tout le monde a besoin de passer plus de temps dans la nature pour guérir et devenir plus entiers, plus aimants et joyeux. J’ai vu que la plupart des gens se déconnectent de leurs âmes et se concentrent sur la survie au lieu de se faire plaisir et jouer. La nature peut aider les gens à renouer avec leur sens de la joie et de l’émerveillement.

Si je devais résumer la leçon principale de cette partie de l’expérience de mort imminente, je dirais que Dieu, ou la lumière, est une force d’amour qui ne veut pas que les gens se fassent du mal et désire vraiment que nous éprouvions de la joie et du bonheur dans nos vies. L’amour et la gentillesse sont les plus grands cadeaux que nous pouvons nous donner les uns aux autres. Tous nous faisons partie de cette lumière, mais nous oublions souvent comment aimer à cause de la peur.

Nous oublions comment marcher à travers ce monde telle la lumière. Nous sommes tous plus proches de Dieu en tant qu’enfants car dans notre innocence l’amour vient plus naturellement pour nous. Nous sommes joyeux dans nos interactions avec les animaux de compagnie, en regardant un oiseau dans le ciel, ou en regardant dans les yeux de nos parents. Nous sommes amoureux du monde et le monde est amoureux de nous. La plupart d’entre nous respiraient plus facilement étant enfants; nous vivions avec une conscience plus ouverte et plus étendue, et ressentions donc les choses plus intensément.

Après avoir éprouvé un plus grand sentiment d’unité et de compréhension avec les gens, j’ai ensuite passé quelques moments en enfance avec mon grand-père, Clyde. Il était la seule personne proche de moi qui était morte avant mon EMI. Pauvre campagnard, il m’avait pourtant toujours gâtée au mieux de ses moyens. J’ai sauté à l’arrière de son camion Chevy bleu et il nous conduisait lentement vers la lumière de Dieu. Mes pieds traînaient le sol à travers le trèfle brillant et l’herbe, remplis de lumière et plus verts et plus intenses que toute herbe que j’avais jamais rencontrée sur terre.

Grand-père était plus jeune et en meilleure santé que quand je le connaissais, et il pencha la tête par la fenêtre pour demander si je voulais continuer. J’ai hoché la tête. Le camion a décollé du sol et je me suis dirigée vers la lumière. À un moment donné, je n’étais plus dans le camion et mon grand-père n’était plus avec moi. J’étais très proche d’un amour que je ne peux pas décrire avec des mots. J’ai essayé d’écrire sur cette expérience tant de fois, mais je reste interdite et ne peux trouver le langage.

L’amour me manque. La lumière me manque. Une grande partie de moi n’a jamais voulu quitter la sécurité de cet endroit. Là, je n’ai ressenti aucun stress et plus d’amour que je n’aurais jamais imaginé possible. Je ressentais plus de joie et de contentement que même dans les moments les plus brillants que cette vie procura jamais, et je n’avais pas vraiment envie de retourner dans mon corps. Si une âme pouvait sourire, alors mon âme sourit et je m’endormis confortablement sans m’inquiéter. Je ressentais une absolue confiance dans cette expérience, un complet abandon.

En pénétrant plus profondément dans la lumière, j’ai vraiment ressenti les prières de ma mère, de mon père, de mes grands-mères et de quelques-unes de mes tantes. J’ai particulièrement éprouvé la prière d’une grand-tante qui a perdu une fille dans un accident de voiture. Je l’ai très clairement entendue prier et supplier Dieu que ma mère ne souffre pas de la douleur qu’elle eut quand elle a perdu sa fille. Cela m’a touchée, et j’ai presque souhaité revenir à cause de sa douce prière. J’ai trouvé amusant de ne ressentir aucune prière de la plus pieuse et religieuse de mes tantes, Tante Jackie. Je pense que ce que je ressentais davantage que les prières, c’était leur amour. Je savais qui m’aimait et ne voulait pas que je quitte la terre. Je savais aussi qui ne se souciait pas si je mourais, mais je ne portais pas de jugement sur cette information. Je comprenais l’expérience dans son intégralité, sa plénitude.

L’une des leçons les plus importantes que me transmit la lumière est que l’amour est tout ce qui compte. Bien que cela ressemble à un slogan hippie ou à une paraphrase des Beatles, le message m’a saturé à un niveau plus profond. Aucune interaction ne fait sens si l’amour n’y est pas attaché d’une certaine manière. Une prière n’a pas de sens sans amour. Un sermon n’a pas de sens sans amour. Une religion n’a pas de sens sans amour. La vie n’a pas de sens sans amour.

Les prières de ceux qui m’aimaient se sentaient comme un vent léger, ralentissant mon avancée vers la lumière. Bien que leur amour fût doux et me ramenât à ma vie sur terre, leurs supplications ne calmèrent pas mon désir de continuer à aller plus profond dans la lumière. J’ai toujours été une âme aventureuse, et ceci était la plus grande aventure que j’avais jamais vécue.

Comme je voyageais plus profondément au sein de la force la plus authentiquement bienveillante qu’on puisse imaginer, la lumière m’a dit de regarder en bas et a révélé une rivière. À côté de la rivière se trouvaient des milliers d’autres lumières qui étaient en quelque sorte liées à moi. J’ai regardé mon propre corps spirituel et j’ai vu à quel point il était devenu vaste et rayonnant. Je savais que j’étais devenue quelqu’un de différent de la jeune femme craintive, éreintée qui était entrée aux urgences plus tôt dans la journée.

La lumière a alors suggéré que je devais retourner dans mon corps et travailler en tant que professeure. En fait, la lumière ne suggérait pas simplement que je deviendrais enseignante, mais plutôt qu’il n’y avait aucune autre option pour moi. Je voulais discuter. Assurément, cette lumière, cette force qui m’aimait tant, devait savoir combien j’ai détesté grandir pauvre et voulais une carrière plus lucrative que la profession enseignante. Sûrement la lumière divine savait que j’étais timide et terrifiée de parler en public. Sûrement la lumière a compris que j’étais une féministe qui voulait éviter toutes les carrières traditionnelles pour les femmes. Même si je n’avais pas prévu de faire des études de droit immédiatement après l’obtention de mon diplôme universitaire, je m’étais imaginée dans les litiges en matière de fiscalité ou de faillite, n’importe quel type de loi qui ne m’obligerait pas à parler fréquemment devant les tribunaux.

J’avais tellement de questions sur les raisons pour lesquelles la lumière avait besoin que je retourne dans mon corps pour enseigner. Cependant, ce message serait mon tout dernier moment en présence de Dieu, et je n’ai pas eu droit à une seconde de plus auprès de cet amour plus grand que toute compréhension. L’idée de ma vie en tant qu’enseignante était maintenant gravée profondément dans mon cerveau; c’était une image étrangement joyeuse, bien que je ne comprenais pas pourquoi à l’époque. La vérité est que j’aurais préféré rester de l’autre côté, mais je n’avais pas le choix. La décision de revenir fut prise pour moi.

Revenir dans mon corps physique était comme être aspirée par un vent sombre. Je me sentais plus vivante étant morte. La plupart de la magie, de la lumière et de la beauté ont disparu, et mon corps s’est senti lourd, drogué et douloureux. Je ne voulais pas être coincée dans l’expérience limitée de ma forme corporelle avec mon vécu, mes histoires, mes pouvoirs de raisonnement, mes blessures psychologiques et infantiles.

En dehors de mon corps, j’étais à la fois moi-même et plus que moi-même, connectée à un incroyable flot d’information. Ce temps durant, j’en savais beaucoup plus que je ne le pourrais jamais en vivant dans cette seule perspective limitée. L’expérience d’un univers plus expansif et connecté a rendu mon expérience individuelle ennuyeuse et inadéquate. J’avais été à l’intérieur de tant d’autres esprits, et maintenant je n’avais que mon seul esprit pour appréhender la vie.

Copyright © Tricia Barker 2016

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The Life Review in a NDE

 

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

 

Comp Romp: Narrowing Down Comparable Titles/Inspirations For My Memoir

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Comparable Titles:  Part of the publishing journey is figuring out where your book fits in amidst many published books.  Since this is my first manuscript, I want to share my writing and publishing journey with students and others.   I completed the first draft of my memoir Healed at the end of the summer, and I am working on my second, third, and fourth revisions.

Angels in the OR is not just a near-death experience story; it is a tough, raw, honest portrayal of my survival, relationships, teaching experiences, and my eventual triumph over trauma. One of the many themes of the book is how the lessons from a near-death experience can benefit many people and assist in their healing.

The Joy and the Agony of Writing:  I’ll be honest—writing a longer work like this has proven exhilarating.  Revising and rewriting entire sections or scenes of a manuscript is challenging, but even the challenges can be important lessons.  While writing this memoir, I’ve learned how to tell the truth gracefully and what parts to emphasize or eliminate. Crafting the story and jumping around in time was one of my favorite parts of the revision process.

When I felt bummed about the many revisions, my editor reminded me that Jeanette Walls revised her lovely memoir The Glass Castle eight times.  I can only pray that my writing will occasionally be as lovely as Jeanette Wall’s prose.

Writing a manuscript is not a quick, easy task, especially when you work full-time; nonetheless, it is a labor of love.  Writing is often an obsession for those of us who stick with it.  As Charles Bukowski says in the poem “So You Want to Be a Writer,” “unless it comes out of / your soul like a rocket, / unless being still would / drive you to madness or/ suicide or murder, / don’t do it. / unless the sun inside you is / burning your gut, / don’t do it.”

Despite warnings like these, many English majors and others continue to dream of writing a memoir, novel, or screenplay.  Years ago, I hoped my first book might be a book of poetry or categorized as literary fiction.  However, when National Geographic interviewed me about my near-death experience, I realized that the brief blurb featured in their magazine did not capture the complexity of my journey, and I knew I had to write this book.  I’ve never tried to sell a manuscript before, and I hope my process might benefit students and others in their writing journey.

Themes: My memoir echoes themes from many books besides books about near-death experiences, but the beginning and ending of the book clearly centers around my near-death experience.  Much of the middle of the book deals with the aftereffects of an NDE and my mission from the afterlife.  Some of the titles listed below are more inspirations than comparable titles, but when I explain my book these are the titles that come to mind.

Though my NDE was a life changing event, I wrote Angels in the OR mainly to help spread good energy into the world, and to help others heal from personal wounds, not to become a definitive source of NDEs.

Near-Death Experience Comparisons:

Dying to Wake Up:  A Doctor’s Voyage into the Afterlife by Dr. Rajiv Parti (2016) published by Atria Books:  Though I did not experience hell or past lives during my NDE like Dr. Parti, I identified with several themes in his book.  Before his NDE, Dr. Parti’s primary motivation was materialism.  Material success was a drive before my NDE, and when God told me to return to my life and work as a teacher I struggled with the idea.  However, I found that the divine light’s mission was exactly right for my life.  Teaching and serving others healed me and expanded my life in ways I never could have imagined.  In Dying to Wake Up, Dr. Parti briefly discusses his struggle with addiction.  A commitment to health and wellness is present in several chapters of my memoir.  Energetic healing helped me address anxiety and PTSD, the after-effects of rape.  Like Dr. Parti, I am motivated to help others find greater spiritual, emotional, and physical health in their lives.

Dying to be Me by Anita Moorjani (2012) published by Hay House:  Anita Moorjani’s story is inspirational and exceptional.  Like Moorjani, I saw angels sending healing light through my surgeons.  I was losing feeling in my left leg before surgery, but I regained complete feeling in that leg after my surgery.  These beautiful light beings wanted me to know that they were there to assist and help.  They also wanted me to be aware that they could work through me in the future, and that they work through many others on the planet.  Moorjani’s message of self-love and listening to one’s intuition is one that I discuss at the end of my memoir.  Of all the near-death experiencers, her loving message is one that I resonate with the most.  She also addresses women’s roles in society. I clearly address rape culture in my book, and the importance of healing from toxic backgrounds.

 

Other Comparisons

Lucky by Alice Sebold (2002) published by Little, Brown and Company:  Lucky is a searing memoir about a rape that occurred when Alice Sebold was a freshman in college.  The book examines how rape affected her friendships, her relationships with her family, her identity, her attempts at romance, and her sense of safety in the world.  These areas of my life also became challenging after I was raped. The aftereffects of rape, stalking, and harassment extend for years, and I cover these aftereffects in the second half of my book.  PTSD and sexual trauma is profoundly painful and can even threaten to diminish the light of an experience as profoundly beautiful as a near-death experience.  As Sebold says, “You save yourself, or you remain unsaved.”

Teacher Man by Frank McCourt (2005) published by Scribner:  Frank McCourt became the hero of many English teachers and professors when his first book Angela’s Ashes came out.   Like McCourt, I experienced neglect and poverty as a child.  My favorite sections to write in this manuscript were the sections about my teaching experiences.  I went into the teaching field fully believing that God and the angels might work through me, and the love and hope that I had for my students transformed my life in ways I could never have imagined.  Their journeys taught me much about myself and helped me find the courage to heal my wounds.  Their successes became my success.  I can tell that McCourt enjoyed writing about his moments in the classroom and including stories about his students.

Second Sight by Dr. Judith Orloff:  I list this book because Dr. Judith Orloff felt more comfortable incorporating her intuitive gifts into her practice as a psychiatrist.  Directly after my NDE, I feared my intuitive gifts and didn’t want to be labeled a psychic, intuitive, or medium.  Using guidance in the classroom as a teacher felt perfectly natural, and I never labeled this type of guidance.  I simply helped the students I could help and opened myself up to assistance from the other side.

When I received a message from God that my contract as a teacher/professor was completed and that I could do “whatever I wanted to do” (even continue to teach if I wished), my mind raced in various directions.  I wondered if my contract was up because I might die soon.  This made me want to write my story in case I didn’t have much time on this earth; I wanted others to know the lessons from my near-death experience.

Eventually, I realized I probably had more time on the earth, and if I applied the same principles I learned during my NDE to any work, all will be well.  In other words, work to inspire and help others grow.

Comparable Titles:   Many unknown writers make the mistake of comparing their manuscripts to great books which have sold millions of copies and that is not my intent. I thought about adding Why be Happy When You Could be Normal by Jeanette Winterson to the list of inspirations mainly for her examination of dysfunctional parents and a difficult childhood, but this is mainly covered in one or two chapters of the book.

Of course, I’m also tempted to compare my book to Wild by Sheryl Strayed , but I didn’t hike the PCT to overcome my personal struggles.  I know that nature has the power to heal us, and her story is a great testimony of this truth. My near-death experience was the awakening that I needed to eventually find my way to greater healing, and my memoir is an attempt to bare my soul in the hope that readers might relate, connect, deepen their own healing journey, and perhaps find the courage to share their own stories.

 

 

Community College Instructor’s Response to Dallas Shooting

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Seven years ago, I applied for English positions at community colleges across the country.  I had an interview at the El Centro campus in downtown Dallas with a chair who didn’t take the time to read my CV.  Before the interview, she insinuated that I might not be prepared to work with homeless students.  I actually had experience successfully working with homeless students.  I’m glad I got a job down the road at TCC where I have continued to work with homeless students, returning military veterans, women fleeing violent marriages, and thousands of first generation college students, as well as plenty of traditional community college students returning to college or entering after high school to pick up credits before university.  I care about every soul who enters my classroom, and I am grateful for my position.   For these seven years at TCC, I haven’t thought much about El Centro College until the recent events.

On July, 7, 2016 a bomb carried in by a robot killed Micah Xavier Johnson in the El Centro Parking Complex in downtown Dallas just a few blocks from where Kennedy was shot.  Micah Johnson is believed to have been the gunman who shot 12 police officers and killed 5.  I am reminded that all the preparations we make don’t prepare us for unexpected moments of violence.  I don’t know much about Johnson other than the tidbits flooding in—he was an army reservist and served in the Afgan war.  I know that out of his own pain he chose to give pain to others in a shocking way.  I hope we can all turn to this world and use our pain to help the world become a safer place.  I believe a safer world can be created by forming strong, diverse communities of people who work to bring empathy and understanding to the many issues that need to be addressed such as current policies, laws, and systems.  I am deeply saddened that these innocent victims died today, but I know that as they merge with a loving God that they hope a more peaceful world can be created from this moment in time.

College Campuses and Safety: Every day at my beautiful campus, I say a prayer for my students that violence never touches our beautiful space.  Over the last few years, we have become more prepared with escape plans, special 911 numbers specific for our campus, and detailed directions.  In every class, I consider how to keep my students safe if we had an incident on campus.  I always make sure that I know who served in the military because civilian life can become a battle in an instant, and it is good to take guidance from someone with experience. Everyone, including me, prefers the idea of running from an active shooter, but sometimes an event occurs too close and fighting is the only option.

I’m a strong runner, but I’m not able to carry a disabled student to safety because of my back injury.  I make sure I have a plan and alternate plans for all of us.  Some days I consider the possibility of dying, and if I have to die at gunpoint I hope that my death might give a few precious seconds to students who might be able to run away and live.  I’m not afraid to die myself, having had an NDE.  I know that death itself is beautiful, but I also know that physical pain and trauma is horrifying and life changing.  I wouldn’t want my students to associate trauma with college—a place that is usually transformative in kinder, mind-expanding ways.   I also want Micah Johnson’s sister to know that I am a white woman who would give my life to protect hers or any of my students.  I care deeply for their journeys, as if they were my adopted children, regardless of their age or race.  Please know that I exist and want to help heal the problems in this world.  Many more good people like me exist.  We are the norm and not the exception.

Don’t get me wrong about being willing to die to protect my students.  I am by no means suicidal, and because of my NDE I love life to a great extent.  I can and often do experience deep, extended, blissful moments of daily life that remind me I am alive.  Even a good cup of tea can do it for me some mornings.  The reason I do not fear death is that I know that death is a transformation and not an ending.  At the moment of my death, I will feel joy not fear.  I will enter the light-filled, wondrous place beyond the veil with a great inward smile.  I will be going home, again.  If I’m lucky, my transition will be a lovely, meditative one.  If I die suddenly, then I will pop out of this form instantly, look for the angels, and fly towards the light, merging with the consciousness of all.  Dying taught me to live more fully and consciously, but it also taught me how to die extraordinarily well because I have no doubt that the soul goes on.  I hope that my certainty gives others comfort who have lost loved ones.

Dallas Shooting:  I realize that not everyone feels the way I feel about death, and I want to offer deep comfort to anyone who has lost a family member, friend, or acquaintance this year in America to violence of any kind.  Although in theory I like Governor Abbot’s assertion that “Every life matters,” we might not be a country ravaged by violence had we realized the truth of that statement earlier in our history.  Now, we must heal generations of damage and pain with forgiveness and loving solutions.  Civil rights and women’s rights were intensely fought for (fairly recently) in this country and still are fought for to some degree.  Across this nation, black men are dying at astounding rates, not as a reflection of alleged criminal behavior on the part of most who have been killed.  Perhaps, policies and systems are what must be addressed first.  The U.S., under current standards set by the Supreme Court, allow for deadly force in situations that would be deemed unnecessary and illegal under international law.  The call for justice and accountability is important and necessary.

Because every life matters, let’s include everyone in our prayers, every life and recently lost life.  May everyone effected by violence now work to make this world safer for everyone, more awakened, and more filled with love.  For those grieving, it may take a while to get to this place. For all of us as observers, it certainly is not too soon.  Love for every life on this planet will begin to fix the problem.

Unconditional Love:  Unconditional love is what heals us all.  Unconditional love is what I immediately felt on the other side of this life.  Certainly, the life review showed me how I could have been more uplifting and connected to others in certain situations.  I am certain that a life review for a murderer will not be enjoyable.  This person will feel the pain of every person he harmed and the pain of everyone these people knew, and even my pain as I write about him and pray for everyone involved.  He will also have to feel the disappointment of those seeking justice in the Black Lives Matter movement who fear his actions will create setbacks in the goal to change polices and laws which offer greater justice.

I wonder if Micah Xavier Johnson had been a student in my classroom if he might have viewed life and death differently after hearing my story about my near-death experience.  I wonder if he had been in a classroom that was a supportive, diverse community of students if he might have had a different outlet for his anger through communication and activism.  I’m not saying that I’m a miracle worker or education is the answer to all problems, but I am saying that understanding, empathy, and connection to others can sometimes prevent violence.

How do we react to the pain in our life?  That is the deeper question? I challenge everyone to react with a desire to help others.  I’ll end with a tweet from Elizabeth Warren, “Black Americans shouldn’t be killed in routine traffic stops, & police shouldn’t be killed while protecting & serving their communities.”  She is succinctly correct.  Now, what can we each do to create a better, safer world for all lives?

National Poetry Month and Other Reflections

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National Poetry Month:  To celebrate National Poetry Month, I’m posting “After the Wreck,” a poem published by the Binnacle in 2007 which is inspired from moments during my near death experience.  I’m also including a poem by Rilke from Book of Hours:  Love Poems to God which I adore.

Writing on Morphine:  I wanted to document my NDE as soon as I possibly could.  I stayed in ICU for a few days after surgery, but once I was moved to a hospital room, I asked for a pen and paper. My surgeon confirmed that I had died, but she didn’t feel inclined to talk about the spiritual experience with me.  The nurses were a bit more willing to listen to my experience but most seemed busy and hurried.  Some people only nodded and looked at me strangely when I wanted to talk about the powerful experience of being in God’s presence.

While in the hospital bed and hooked up to a morphine drip, my greatest fear was that I might forget those beautiful moments outside my body. The pain and disorientation made it difficult to write in a straight line, and the words bled down the page.  I persisted in the hope that a few lines would be salvageable and used later. The lines about the angels in this poem were lines I wrote days after the experience.

Memory:  To this day, I remember the vividness of the angels, the light, and the love from the divine intensely.  I’ve never forgotten the experience and the images.  What faded a bit were the direct messages given to me by light.  I remember a lot of what was communicated, but the information flowed into my spirit body so quickly that it was difficult to slow down the information and remember it as specific words.  Mainly, I knew that I had immediately and forever changed in that moment.

Outside of my body, I remember feeling slightly worried for my body as I looked down at the operating table, wondering if I would walk or run again.  The angels assured me that I would have complete healing.  In fact, they assisted in that healing, and my questions were answered not only with information but with demonstration.

Trauma and Forgetting the Beauty of the Light:  I have not forgotten the NDE in the way some dreams are forgotten, but there are times in life when the material world, when trauma, or when stress has overwhelmed me.  When overwhelmed and burdened by life, I can forget the beauty of that moment.  The memory though remains incredibly vivid.

Certainly, the actions of others have startled me, shocked me, and sometimes horrified me.  In my memoir, Healed, I write about being harassed by friend in a writer’s group, raped while living overseas, and beaten up by my first husband.  I thought my life after experiencing an NDE would be pure bliss, and I would live a protected, purely pleasurable life.  This was not my experience, and I wasn’t prepared to write about these traumatic moments until years later. Though I had greater moments of intuition after the NDE, I didn’t always know how to trust or use this intuition.  In those first years after the experience, I also had an almost child-like openness, trust, and belief in others and that trust sometimes put me in close contact with desperate people.

Service and Healing:  When I examine all my experiences together, these experiences sometimes seem like more than one person should have to endure.  However, I have survived and thrived, and I realize others have endured far worse events. Perhaps part of my legacy is to experience the horrors that many women have experienced and to report that what remains after harm has taken its best shot at me is light and hope.  I heard Matt Kahn say something similar about harm in his latest video, and this idea seems accurate to me.  What also remains after the harm is a deep desire to heal myself and to help others heal.  At certain times, I certainly forgot the light and its message.  At other times, I became angry at God on this journey, but I always came back to the belief that I should help others and should remind others of their connection to a loving, forgiving source.

Self-absorption and all too human wishes and desires vanish the moment I ask my students about their lives or when I am of service to others somewhere in this world.  There is no greater way to make the world a better place than to offer help or kindness.  We are freed of ourselves in those moments.  Who knew that freedom from the self would feel so wonderful?  It does though.

AFTER THE WRECK

How could I know that the world would have compassion

and that at the moment of impact my back would crack,

 

but I would retain the sensation of this body, first floating

away from it, then returning, silvered and open-mouthed

 

like a fish caught on the hook of a reoccurring dream,

struggling, flapping about, and jerked up to the surface

 

of a room full of florescence, tiny desires to survive

pulsing through my body in rivulets?

 

How could I know that the angels I recalled from paintings

would become bright, intelligent companions at the end of my bed

 

and that the torrential light from their eyes would answer my questions instantly?

How could I know that this peace would disintegrate like ice chips

 

in my mouth and this calming knowledge would drown in refills of morphine.

How could I know that I would forget specifics in the way we forget dreams?

—Tricia Barker

In these bodies, we are often anxious, but I love how Rilke reminds us that God is around us and in us from the beginning.  Certainly, the light on the other side of this life felt familiar. This light is the same light we have in our eyes as infants, and the same light that comes for us at the time of our death.

I am, You Anxious One

I am, you anxious one.

Don’t you sense me, ready to break

into being at your touch?

My murmurings surround you like shadowy wings.

Can’t you see me standing before you

cloaked in stillness?

Hasn’t my longing ripened in you

from the beginning

as fruit ripens on a branch?

 

I am the dream you are dreaming.

When you want to awaken, I am waiting.

I grow strong in the beauty you behold.

And with the silence of stars I enfold

your cities made by time.

–R.M. Rilke

Response to National Geographic’s Article “The Crossing”

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National Geographic:  This month my story and a few other NDE stories were briefly featured in the April issue of National Geographic.  Our stories were not the main focus of the article “The Crossing.”  This article examines scientific and human experience as a way to explore the dying process.  The primary NDE story is the story of Mary Neal, an orthopedic surgeon from Wyoming and author of To Heaven and Back.  I liked Robin Marantz Henig’s description of Mary Neal’s response to the first responders working on her body.  They called, “Come back, come back,” and Neal found this “really very irritating.”

Consciousness Beyond the Body:  I understand Neal’s irritation.  Being free of the body and merging with a greater sense of consciousness feels wonderful and not at all like the “brain is shutting down.”  It is irritating to come back, and many NDErs report this feeling.  I describe returning to my body as being swallowed up by a dark wind.  I felt more alive while dead.  Most of the magic, light, and beauty disappeared, and my body felt heavy, drugged, and painful.  I didn’t want to be stuck in the limited experience of this particular body with her history, her stories, her psychological and childhood wounds, and the limits of her particular mind.  Outside of my body, I was both myself and greater than myself, connected to an incredible download of information, and for that moment I knew so much more than I could ever know living in this one perspective.  The experience of existing in a more expansive and connected universe made my individual experience seem boring and limited.  I had been inside the minds of so many others, and now I only had my mind as a way to process life.   When the nurse asked me my name, I said, “I remember her name.  It’s Tricia,” and it seemed annoying to have only my brain as a vehicle to process experience and information. Outside of my body, I was connected to a greater knowledge and understanding.

Many people I know have reported having a knowledge or sense beyond the physical, sometimes knowing the very moment someone close to them has died.  There is a knowledge beyond the physical that perhaps cannot be explained by measuring brain waves.  NDErs sometimes report a great connection to knowledge beyond what they have ever experienced.  The moments outside my body seemed nothing like a dream or a hallucination.   After my accident, I began to practice lucid dreaming, and even though these dreams were glorious, they were not the same as the NDE.

During my NDE, angels were sent as guides to comfort me and the information given to me in streams of light altered my consciousness.  Watching the angels work through the surgeons was an amazing moment because the surgeon’s scientific backgrounds may have made them skeptical that angels could work through them, but the angels were able to work through them anyway.

Scientific Arguments:  This article gives a little more time to researchers like Kevin Nelson, a neurologist at the University of Kentucky who calls what is happening to the brain during an NDE a “REM intrusion,” asserting this is the same brain activity that characterizes dreaming and happens during events like moments when a person might suddenly lose oxygen.  The way I see it is that scientists are standing on this side of the veil testing brains and making hypotheses without giving enough credit to the idea that there might be a reality beyond this one that humans are in the process of navigating while in these states.

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Pear vs. Apple:  To put it another way, say I ate an apple away from the view of scientists, and then a group of scientists tested the bile in my stomach, tested my sugar levels, and the acid forming on my teeth and suggested that I may have eaten a pear or possibly an apple.  I tell them I know that I ate an apple, but they continue to believe that a pear is just as possible as an apple because of the chemical reactions in my body. NDErs are repeatedly telling researchers that they experienced a greater consciousness than their own consciousness.  They saw people working on their body, and they saw a world beyond the body, but scientists continue to say, “No…this is a dream state or high-frequency Gama waves associated with meditation.”

Even if the brain that is not completely brain dead experiences these states, might these experiences happen because the spirit has disconnected, the essence of that person has gone on and that is the realm NDErs are describing?  Maybe during some meditations the spirit takes a brief hiatus the body as well or at least calms down, no longer focused on sensations of this world, sometimes even opening to guides from the other side.  Maybe this is why the brain chemistry is similar during meditation.

Science and Religion:  Some scientists argue with these NDErs experiences using only data.  Some Christians argue with only the Bible. Going back to the apple vs. pear argument, if scientists tell me the apple I’m eating might be a pear, I think they are ridiculous.  In the same vein, if some Christians tell me that I ate a demonic pear instead of an apple because my experience isn’t described in their book, I think they are equally ridiculous, perhaps more so for giving a “demonic” explanation to  the most light-filled, glorious moment of my life.

Some scientists want to prove that NDErs are only dreaming and there is not an afterlife.  Some Christians want to prove that their particular version of the afterlife is the only one that is real.  Both camps are afraid to admit that they may not know everything and may not be able to explain everything given their current information.  Most NDErs laugh at both camps, preferring the poets, spiritual seekers, and the open-minded, curious folks of the world.  Though NDErs don’t have all the answers, they have a few experiences that make them believe that we go on after death.  Science and/or religion simply can’t explain everything for us after our particular journeys.  I know that I came back with a lot of joy for life, an almost childlike appreciation of the smallest things.

I wish the article had captured our joy and the essence of our experiences.  I think we all should have been pictured jumping for joy with a caption reading, “I’m Alive!”  I don’t think of death as a traumatic experience.  I think of it as a beautiful, peaceful experience, and choose not to focus too much on the physical trauma and instead on the spiritual insights and beauty of those moments outside of my body.triciajumping

Spiritual with Buddhist Leanings in an Evangelical Family: Part Two

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“Because you are alive, everything is possible.”
― Thich Nhat Hanh Living Buddha, Living Christ

Humans are powerful spiritual beings meant to create good on earth. This good isn’t usually accomplished in bold actions, but in singular acts of kindness between people. It’s the little things that count, because they are more spontaneous and show who you truly are.—Dannion Brinkley

Since childhood, I have struggled with a few basic philosophies found in some Christian churches.  I don’t believe I was born sinful.  I believe I was born very close to the light of God. Reminding others of their basic goodness and divinity seems like a better plan than telling them they are born sinners.  I prefer Brinkley’s idea that “humans are powerful spiritual beings meant to create good on earth.”  This is what we should reinforce in ourselves and in others.  Peace is more than possible when the focus in on the power of the human spirit and one’s connection to source.

Recently, I’ve read arguments from Christians who dismiss the experiences of NDEers, saying that these experiences are merely subjective.  No single moment has ever seemed as real to me as the moments outside of my body.  Subjective or not, every moment in my waking reality pales in contrast to seeing angels interact with this reality.  Is that my personal experience?  Yes, but it is an experience unlike any experience before or after that experience, a vivid, multi-dimensional experience that granted me knowledge and understanding in a direct and powerful way.  I’ve spent decades trying to slow down those transmissions of light and information and decipher the meanings.  The main point is that I changed because of those transmissions.  Spiritual transformations happen in an instant.

Most people’s interpretations of the Bible are subjective.  Though I am grateful that my mom taught me to read before Kindergarten, mainly by focusing on the Bible, I remember questioning some passages, especially in relation to women’s roles.  Since I happened to be born a liberal, I suppose I was born a feminist as well, and St. Paul did not impress me, especially with lines like, “I do not permit a woman to teach or to have authority over a man, she must be quiet.” in Timothy 2:12.  The boys attending my elementary school acted like idiots, and I thought they could benefit from listening to me for a while.  I knew how to read, tie my shoes, sit without fidgeting, play well with others, and write in cursive while they made fart noises, cried to get out of reading, and beat each other up on the playground.  St. Paul seemed like a sexist who wanted power for himself.

His writings and certain interpretations of a woman’s role in marriage harmed countless women.  Divorce started to ramp up in the U.S. when I was a child, and yet there were too many women who put off divorce, choosing to stay in horribly abusive relationships or loveless marriages because they bought into this idea that they were less than without a man.  Sometimes, they even believed that they must submit their will to their husband and pray for his healing, even as he took his rage out on her.   Only very small percentages of men who are abusive change.   This information only seems to have become common knowledge in the last five to ten years thanks to books like Crazy Love  and amazing researchers like Jackson Katz who remind us that women’s issues are really men’s issues when men are the ones committing crimes against women.

As a child, I questioned many passages of the Bible, but I stayed quiet about my questions because it would have cost me a lot to speak my truth.  I would have compromised my safety and compromised being loved if I openly argued with the Bible.  I acted the part.  Being loved for a lie didn’t set well with me either.  I believed that many authority figures in my life were wrong for not fostering my inquisitive nature, for not encouraging me to think for myself and question the world around me.  Don’t get me wrong, there were and are many parts of the Bible I love dearly.  The teaching’s of Jesus are close to my heart, as are many passages from Psalms.  I only wanted the freedom to question religion and the world around me.  Growing up, I did not have the freedom to learn about other religions and other practices.  I wanted to believe in a loving God, not a vengeful one.  The God I met during my NDE was more loving than any force I have ever dreamed of or encountered.  I know that God is indeed a loving force.

Growing up, I never fit neatly within the box of one particular religion or way of thinking.  I never fully adapted to my culture, and I’m grateful I didn’t.  I saw it clearly for what it was. I detested the racism I saw growing up in East Texas.  I cared for all people, and it hurt me deeply to see teachers treat African American students differently from white students.  I knew these teachers were intentionally harming African American students by not giving them praise, attention, or awards.  I saw certain students visibly wither from the lack of attention from teachers.  I bristled when I heard comments like “women aren’t good at math and science,” dreaming of a different part of the country and a different time when these statements would seem archaic and outdated.  We are reaching that place now.  I sometimes felt crazy for my sensitivity as a child, but I am glad others had this sensitivity.  I am glad some things about our world have changed.

Loving kindness is the most important trait we can cultivate in ourselves and for the world.  We might fall on our faces, say horrible things to one another, but I hope each of us gets up, forgives ourselves and the world, and quickly and practices even greater kindness.  May we see ourselves as connected and not in competition.

I write because I can no longer repress and suppress my truth.  Any wisdom I offer is only with the intent to heal—to make everyone more aware of their essential goodness, more in touch with their ability to be a force of good on this planet.  We are alive, and the possibilities are endless.  Let’s not spend the time arguing and quibbling over details.  Let’s love one another.   I leave you with some of my favorite Thich Nhat Hanh quotes from Living Buddha, Living Christ

“When our beliefs are based on our own direct experience of reality and not on notions offered by others, no one can remove these beliefs from us.”
― Thich Nhat Hanh, Living Buddha, Living Christ

“Twenty years ago at a conference I attended of theologians and professors of religion, an Indian Christian friend told the assembly, “We are going to hear about the beauties of several traditions, but that does not mean that we are going to make a fruit salad.” When it came my turn to speak, I said, “Fruit salad can be delicious! I have shared the Eucharist with Father Daniel Berrigan, and our worship became possible because of the sufferings we Vietnamese and Americans shared over many years.” Some of the Buddhists present were shocked to hear I had participated in the Eucharist, and many Christians seemed truly horrified. To me, religious life is life. I do not see any reason to spend one’s whole life tasting just one kind of fruit. We human beings can be nourished by the best values of many traditions.”
 Thich Nhat Hanh Living Buddha, Living Christ

Lucky to Have Died, Lucky to Be Alive

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And to die is different from what any one supposed, and luckier.” —Walt Whitman, Leaves of Grass

I consider the moment of my death the greatest gift of my life.  However, anyone who heard me screaming at the top of my lungs in pure, unrestrained panic in the ER at University Center Brackenridge Hospital in Austin, Texas would not have believed that twenty-four hours later I would be filled with the wonder and peace of the afterlife.  Immediately after surgery, I became a different person, hardly recognizable even to myself, as if a different, more mature soul had replaced the other immature one.

My near-death experience immediately altered my life and placed me on a different life path, one where I would dedicate my life to teaching and helping others.  Before the near-death experience, I was agnostic, materialistic, and deeply wounded by childhood scars and brief, unsuccessful attempts at romantic relationships.  I was shy and reserved and only opened up to a few people.  Like many people, I loathed public speaking.   I never imagined going into the teaching field, but my experience on the other side showed me that teaching would be the major part of my life’s mission and give me a greater connection to others. In the classroom, I have opportunities to help others achieve their academic goals, find peace about the dying process, or simply to offer people a moment of kindness and empathy.

As soon as I was given the chance to enter a classroom setting, I realized how easy it is for me to stand in front of others and teach.  Teaching has never been about me; rather, it is about how much kindness, compassion, and understanding I am willing to show for others.   In the classroom, I open myself to angels willing to work through me for the benefit of my students, and this process has given me boundless joy.  Each day spent working with students has been a gift from the other side.   In the act of serving others, I forget myself and my own issues and focus my attention on others.  Whatever difficulties I faced in my own life, the very moment I stood in front of my students I was there for their success, their healing, their growth, and their happiness.

One of my favorite books on the subject of near-death experiences is Proof of Heaven by Dr. Eben Alexander.  I’ve underlined almost every description he writes, thinking “Yes, this is the way I wanted to say it if I had a medical degree.”  I put off writing my memoir because Dr. Alexander articulates the scientific elements of the experience in a way that I can’t.  Lately, I have been guided to see that my perspective as a woman might offer healing to those who can relate to my life history and traumas before and after the accident.

On a couple of occasions, I told my story to a few people at an IANDS (International Association for Near-death Studies) meeting.  I admire and respect the work Dr. Jan Holden has done in the field of Near-death Experiences and Out of Body Experiences.  Dr. Holden recently co-edited a wonderful book titled The Handbook of Near-death Experiences:  Thirty Years of Investigations.  She includes portions of my story in her lectures and video segments because she likes to capture NDE’ers describing their experience in their own words.  Researchers are particularly interested in stories with a verifiable moment, and my experience includes one of these moments.

When I went to my mom’s house to recover after my wreck, I asked her if my stepdad, James got a candy bar while I was in surgery.  Mom said that when my dad showed up, James had never met him and he felt a bit uncomfortable and walked around.  When he returned, he had a candy bar.  As James walked through the hospital, my mom told me that she experienced an overwhelming sensation that I had died and fell to her knees and prayed.  I am touched that the prayers I felt from her and my dad were indeed happening at the moment my spirit left my body.  The biological and spiritual connection between relatives is undeniable.

Over the years, I have gone to hear numerous speakers and authors talk about near-death experiences.  In Austin, I heard Dannion Brinkley speak, and his confidence in his experience gave me peace.  I loved the fact that he made the audience laugh and feel joy around the subject matter.  He, and many others, have paved the way for my experience to be integrated into my life more easily. Whenever I hear Dannion Brinkley or other NDE’ers speak, I know that person is my brother or sister who saw behind the veil, who knows what I know.  When I hear stories like mine, I know that I am not alone.

At this point in history, many people have described their near-death experiences.  My NDE story is one more story, one more experience to add to the growing number of these stories, but I know that my experience of the other side has altered me for the better.  I’m not agnostic or driven by fear anymore.  I’m far from perfect and have made many mistakes, but I’m more open, more caring, and more interested in others than I was before the accident.

I love to help others find greater healing and motivation in their lives.  I’m an intuitive, though I rarely give readings and prefer to give guidance and help others in classroom and workshop settings.  I get messages from angels while I am in the act of serving others for their greater good.   I am open to giving readings on occasion.  I have some abilities that surfaced after my near-death experience, and other mediumship abilities that became evident after my father passed away in 2008.  Before contacting me or any reader, I believe people should trust their own intuition. Any reading should put people more in touch with their own innate sense of knowing.  I work full-time as a professor, so readings are something I only do when I feel guided to connect with someone. 

I’m happy to be alive in a time when more and more people can relate to my story and other stories about near-death experiences and talk openly about these subjects.  I deeply appreciate the work that many people are doing to help family members and patients integrate near-death experiences into their life in helpful ways.  We are lucky to be living in a time when the angels are working through us, and sometimes we happen to feel the energy shift for a moment and smile a little as it happens, grateful for the brief interaction.

May you be healed.  May you be blessed.  May you harm no one.  May you add joy to the lives of others.  May you be reminded of your light and divine connection. May you remind others of their light and connection to source. May you find a connection to nature and play more often.  May you be a loving person.  May you know that love, not hate, is the answer.  In a nutshell, that is what I learned on the other side.