Personal experience and empirical science agree that a near-death experience (NDE) radically changes people.
NDE subjects have increased activity in the left temporal lobe. NDEs are also associated with changes in personality and outlook on life. Kenneth Ring has identified a consistent set of value and belief changes associated with people who have had a near-death experience. Among these changes one finds a greater appreciation for life, higher self-esteem, greater compassion for others, a heightened sense of purpose and self-understanding, desire to learn, elevated spirituality, greater ecological sensitivity and planetary concern, and a feeling of being more intuitive.
The traumatic event often includes:
- An out-of-body experience, which can include a perception of one’s body from an outside position.
- A “tunnel” experience.
- A rapid movement toward and/or sudden immersion in a powerful light.
- Encountering Beings of Light, beings dressed in white or other spiritual beings.
- Being given a life review.
But the perpetual after-effects cataloged above are less visceral and more transcendental:
- greater appreciation for life
- higher self-esteem
- greater compassion for others
- heightened sense of purpose and self-understanding
- desire to learn
- elevated spirituality
- greater ecological sensitivity
- a feeling of being more intuitive
Can a Not-So-Near-Death Experience (NSNDE) such as an extended illness and its treatment have the same life-changing impact as an abrupt near-death experience?
I think so.
I’m having one.
I’ve experienced none of the first bulleted list and all of the second (except greater ecological sensitivity). It’s not the radiation, which Dr. Hazuka assures me has no impact on the brain or its neuro-chemicals. Nor is it the chemo or anti-nausea meds, which actually suppress bodily systems and dull the mind. Besides, I’ve undergone all of it before; got the T-shirt but not the transformation.
Chemo every Monday and radiation five days a week has been physically challenging: fatigue, queasiness, mouth sores, scorched taste buds and weight-loss. But the treatment has been accompanied by a heightened spiritual awareness.
I’m overwhelmed with gratitude for everything around me. I savor the fellowship of family and friends. I relish talking and listening and sharing life with close friends and total strangers. I’m humbled by the mere fact of still being here and strive to make the most of each day. I look forward to what comes next and don’t fear the transition.
I am besieged but blessed!