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Has a Near Death Experience Left You Looking More Deeply at Spiritual Truth?

If you have recently had a brush with death, it can make you question everything that has happened in your life up until now. You may be wondering, what happens after we die? Is there a final judgement or do we reincarnate?

Many spiritual traditions the world over answer these questions in different ways. Finding a spiritual path that is right for you can take many different directions, and you may want to learn about different traditions and what they have to offer. Finding a guide on your path can be beneficial as you delve into these questions that have been asked by spiritual seekers for centuries.

According to research by Bruce Greyson,

Some individuals when they come close to death report having experiences that they interpret as spiritual or religious. These so-called near-death experiences (NDEs) often include a sense of separation from the physical body and encounters with religious figures and a mystical or divine presence. They share with mystical experiences a sense of cosmic unity or oneness, transcendence of time and space, deeply felt positive mood, sense of sacredness, noetic quality or intuitive illumination, paradoxicality, ineffability, transiency, and persistent positive aftereffects. Although there is no relationship between NDEs and religious belief prior to the experience, there are strong associations between depth of NDE and religious change after the experience. NDEs often change experiencers’ values, decreasing their fear of death and giving their lives new meaning. NDEs lead to a shift from ego-centered to other-centered consciousness, disposition to love unconditionally, heightened empathy, decreased interest in status symbols and material possessions, reduced fear of death, and deepened spiritual consciousness. Many experiencers become more empathic and spiritually oriented and express the beliefs that death is not fearsome, that life continues beyond, that love is more important than material possessions, and that everything happens for a reason. These changes meet the definition of spiritual transformation as “a dramatic change in religious belief, attitude, and behavior that occurs over a relatively short period of time.”

In other words, a Near Death Experience can make you reevaluate what is important in your life. Once you know that life is short, you want to make the most of it, and focus your energy on the things that matter most. For many people, these include both family connection and spirituality.

When my dad was dying from cancer, he didn't have a Near Death Experience, per se, but he did undergo a transformation to become more spiritual. He realized what was the most important, and tried to make ammends to everyone he had done wrong to in his life, calling to apologize though in some cases it had been years.

Knowing that your days are numbered can change your outlook on life. Many people who receive a terminal diagnosis make this type of changes in their lives as well, and will do things they have always wanted to do. When you realize that time is finite, you focus on what matters most.

When it comes to Near Death Experiences, there are some common themes that emerge in research of many people who have had these experiences. According to Thrive Global:

  • Difficulty in explaining the NDE

  • Ordinary language often seems inadequate to describe these extraordinary experiences

  • Associated life threatening event. The threat can be real or perceived, physical and/or psychological

  • Separation or consciousness from the body

  • Sensation of viewing surroundings from a place other than physical body Some individuals may see their bodies from a distance. As in feeling the “self” is hovering overheard

  • The ability to see and hear details of events (which may be close or distant from the body) while unconscious. These details (which may include a pronouncement of death) are often revealed to those later who are generally astounded and mystified that the experiencer was aware of these events while unconscious.

  • Experiencing intensely powerful emotions. These emotions may include ecstasy, fear, peace and calm.

  • Hearing distinctive sounds. Experiencers may report hearing a variety of unusual sounds or noise. They may be described as pleasant, musical, buzzing or ringing.

  • Passing into or through a dark tunnel. There may be feelings of floating into a cave, enclosure or void. Movement may accelerate in the tunnel. Occasionally, another being(s) accompany this tunnel passage, though usually it is traveled alone. A bright light is usually seen at the end of the tunnel. And is the destination of the travel through the tunnel.

  • Encounter with a bright light. The light is often perceived as a being, either spiritual being or departed loved one. The being is often described as intensely loving.

  • Meeting others. The experiencer may encounter other spiritual beings or departed loved ones.

  • Life review. At times, experiencers are presented with a rapid panoramic review of their lives. The review is very rapid, often extremely detailed, and often includes presentation of how the experiencers actions affected others around them and feel actual empathy without judgment. Some have received previously unknown information about ones life, i.e., adoption, hidden parentage or deceased siblings.

  • Seeing or visiting beautiful cities, libraries, gardens, pastoral scenes and shiny bodies of water.

  • A sense of knowing the universe’s order and purpose. Some experiencers have a sense of deep understanding of the universe and/or life’s meaning and purpose.

  • Reaching a boundary. A boundary may be a gate, cliff, fence, water, or some other barrier which the experiencer perceives may not be crossed if they are the return to the body.

  • Awareness of future life events. Although rare, some experience “flash-forwards” in time to witness themselves and events at a later time in their life.

  • Decision to return. The decision to return to the physical body may be voluntary or involuntary. If voluntary, the decision to return is often made following discussion with spiritual beings, and is often associated with unfinished life responsibilities. If involuntary, feelings of sadness, loss, depression and anxiety may follow.

  • Returning to the body. Feelings of pain associated with the life threatening injury return.

  • Special gifts. Some experiencers report psychic or other paranormal ability after an NDE.

  • Changes in attitudes and beliefs. A belief in God, loss of fear of death and a more loving interaction with others often follow an NDE. Some NDE experiencers establish more loving relationships. Other NDE experiencers find their change in attitude and beliefs may alter previously established interpersonal relationship dynamics resulting in conflict with loved ones, family and friends.

For some people, having a Near Death Experience can result in having a spiritual awakening. It is reported that of people who have been in a traumatic and life threatening situation, about 30% will experience a Near Death Experience. This may happen with events like a car accident, or when you have been 'clinically dead' for a short amount of time before being resuscitated.

If you have had a Near Death Experience yourself, you may be wrestling with many of these issues yourself. Know that you are not alone. There is a documented history of NDE's going back for centuries.

Finding a Spiritual Path

Once you experience a spiritual awakening, you may be looking for guidance to go further on your new spiritual path. This can be a time to revisit your priorities and values, solidify your mission and vision, and get your life on a new track. You can do this through meditation, journaling, attending spiritual services or other spiritual practices.

There are many advantages of a spiritual path for improving the quality of your life. Spirituality can help you to become more in tune with yourself, as well as the world around you. It can help you focus on finding meaning in each day, and living with intention.

As you begin to explore spirituality for the first time, you may want to look at the different world religions to see if you find something that resonates with you.

According to Info Please:

The world's faithful account for 83% of the global population; the great majority of these fall under twelve classical religions--Baha'i, Buddhism, Christianity, Confucianism, Hinduism, Islam, Jainism, Judaism, Shinto, Sikhism, Taoism, and Zoroastrianism.

All of the links above are clickable, and lead to descriptions of the main tenets of these religions. You can browse to see what resonates with you, and find a community of like-minded people with similar beliefs to your own.

Additionally, there are many people who identify as Spiritual But Not Religious, or who follow New Age spiritual practices such as the Law of Attraction. If you want to learn more about religion in practice and throughout history, you can go to the blog "home" and click the tab for Spirituality to find more information here on Millennial Mom.

Your local library or bookstore can also provide a wealth of information about religion and spirituality. Most will have a whole section devoted to the subject where you can browse. As you learn more and find an idea about which path is right for you, then you can look for a local community as well.

There are many spiritual book shops in most major cities, where you can get reading materials, crystals, candles, tarot cards and more. You can also join a yoga or meditation class to gain insights from instructors in those areas.

As you begin to find your way spiritually, you can have a wonderful experience of finding the same sense of love and light in your daily life that was a part of your Near Death Experience.

If there are additional spiritually related topics you would like to know more about that I haven't covered already, let me know in the comments and I am happy to provide more information in a future blog post!

When I was in college I minored in Religious Studies while getting my Psychology, so understanding world religions and applying their insights to my daily life has always been a passion of mine. Currently, I am a practicing Buddhist, Ordained Minister of the Universal Life Church and a Spiritual Life Coach.

Helping people use spirituality to enrich their lives is a life-long passion of mine, and I am happy to provide any help that I am able!

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