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Features of Near Death Experiences

Near Death Experiences Series, Article 2 (Reviewed by the Editorial Board)
 
Letís take a closer look at a typical NDE experience! What pattern of perceptions, feelings and cognitive1 experiences does someone coming close to death or in a situation of physical or emotional crisis, experience?
 
In another article2, we mentioned that the person to first study this phenomenon has been Raymond Moody. He found that although the circumstances that may lead people to have a close encounter with death are obviously diverse, nevertheless the experiences recalled by those involved in these events are unusually similar. In other words, although each NDE is unique, all these experiences share many similarities. When one examines an 'ideal' NDE, a series of approximately 15 recurring features can be found.
 
At the beginning of his book, Raymond Moody provided the readers with an 'ideal' or 'complete' NDE, based upon all the common NDE features. He emphasized that this experience was not a narrative of one person's experience, but rather a 'model', or a composite of the common features found in many accounts. It was meant to provide the readers with an understanding of the experience before each of the different features were explained in more detail. This is a very good summary of the common features of the NDE phenomenon.
 
Moody's narrative reads like this:
 
A man is dying and, as he reaches the point of greatest physical distress, he hears himself pronounced dead by his doctor. He begins to hear an uncomfortable noise, a loud ringing or buzzing, and at the same time feels himself moving very rapidly through a long dark tunnel.
 
After this, he suddenly finds himself outside of his own physical body, but still in the immediate physical environment, and he sees his own body from a distance, as though he is a spectator. He watches the resuscitation attempt from his unusual vantage point and is in a state of emotional upheaval. After a while, he collects himself and becomes more accustomed to his odd condition.
 
He notices that he still has a 'body', but one of a very different nature and with very different powers from the physical body he has left behind.
 
Soon other things begin to happen. Others come to meet and to help him. He glimpses the spirits of relatives and friends who have already died, and a loving warm spirit of a kind he has never encountered before- a being of light- appears before him.
 
This being asks him a question, non verbally, to make him evaluate his life and helps him by showing him a panoramic, instantaneous playback he major events of his life.
 
At some point he finds himself approaching some sort of barrier or border, apparently representing the limit between earthly life and the next life.
 
Yet, he finds that he must go back to the earth, that the time for his death has not yet come.
 
At this point he resists, for by now he is taken up with his experiences in the afterlife and does not want to return.
He is overwhelmed by intense feelings of joy, love, and peace.
 
Despite his attitude, though, he somehow reunites with his physical body and lives.
 
Later he tries to tell others, but he has trouble doing so. In the first place, he can find no human words adequate to describe these unearthly episodes. He also finds that others scoff, so he stops telling other people.
 
Still, the experience affects his life profoundly, especially his views about death and its relationship to life.
Most people who have had an NDE do not tend to have so many of the above features. In fact they may only recall a limited number such as 5 or 6 of the 15 NDE features. Also the sequence in which the features takes place may vary, in other words somebody may have an out of body experience at the beginning of their NDE while another person may see a light at the beginning and have an out of body experience at the end.
 
We hope that the above narrative has provided you with an understanding of the overall features of the NDE experience. In another article you can find specific experiences given by many people from all over the world and from throughout history3.
 
 
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(1) Cognitive experiences : refer to experiences dealing with cognition, in other words to the mental process of knowing, formulating judgments, reasoning, perceiving and being aware.
 
(3) Recent and historical reports of Near Death Experience cases

 
 
 
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