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Pattern of Aftereffects
- Near-death experiencers come to love and accept others without the usual attachments and conditions society expects. They perceive themselves as equally and fully loving of each and all, openly generous, excited about the potential and wonder of each person they see. Their desire is to be a conduit of universal love. Confused family members tend to regard this sudden switch in behavior as oddly threatening, as if their loved one had become aloof, unresponsive, even uncaring and unloving. Some mistake this "unconditional" way of expressing joy and affection (heart-centered rather than person-centered) as flirtatious disloyalty. Divorce can result.
- One of the reasons life seems so different afterward is because the experiencer now has a basis of comparison unknown before. Familiar codes of conduct can lose relevance or disappear altogether as new interests take priority. Such a shift in reference points can lead to a childlike naivete. With the fading of previous norms and standards, basic caution and discernment can also fade. It is not unusual to hear of near-death experiencers being cheated, lied to, or involved in unpleasant mishaps and accidents. Once they are able to begin integrating what happened to them, discernment usually returns.
- Most experiencers develop a sense of timelessness. They tend to "flow" with the natural shift of light and dark, and display a more heightened awareness of the present moment and the importance of being "in the now." Making future preparations can seem irrelevant to them. This behavior is often labeled "spaciness" by others, who do their best to ignore the change in perception, although seldom do they ignore the shift in speech. That's because many experiencers refer to their episode as if it were a type of "divider" separating their "former" life from the present one.
- There's no denying that experiencers become quite intuitive afterward. Psychic displays can be commonplace, such as: out-of-body episodes, manifestation of "beings" met in near-death state, "remembering" the future, finishing another's sentence, "hearing" plants and animals "speak." This behavior is not only worrisome to relatives and friends, it can become frightening to them. A person's religious beliefs do not alter or prevent this amplification of faculties and stimuli. Yet, experiencers willing to learn how to control and refine these abilities, consider them beneficial.
- Life paradoxes begin to take on a sense of purpose and meaning, as forgiveness tends to replace former needs to criticize and condemn. Hard driving achievers and materialists can transform into easy-going philosophers; but, by the same token, those more relaxed or uncommitted before can become energetic "movers and shakers," determined to make a difference in the world. Personality reversals seem to depend more on what's "needed" to round out the individual's inner growth than on any uniform outcome. Although initially bewildered, families can be so impressed by what they witness that they, too, change-making the experience a "shared event."
- The average near-death experiencer comes to regard him or herself as "an immortal soul currently resident within a material form so lessons can be learned while sojourning in the earthplane." They now know they are not their body; many go on to embrace the theory of reincarnation. Eventually, the present life, the present body, becomes important and special again.
- What was once foreign becomes familiar, what was once familiar becomes foreign. Although the world is the same, the experiencer isn't. Hence, they tend to experiment with novel ways to communicate, even using abstract and grandiose terms to express themselves. With patience and effort on everyone's part, communication can improve and life can resume some degree of routine. But, the experiencer seems ever to respond to a "tune" no one else can hear (this can continue lifelong).
- Sensitivity to light and sound can be a serious issue and may necessitate some lifestyle changes. While most experiencers learn to limit sunshine exposure, others can't get enough. Almost everyone, though, has similar difficulties with loud or discordant sounds. Many can no longer tolerate "hard" rock music. The vast majority prefer classical, melodic, and/or natural sounds, and become passionate about using music to heal.
- Energy surges up and down the body happen to many, and can be accompanied by "lights" in the air. Researchers usually regard this as the release of "kundalini" (a Sanskrit term meaning "coiled energy at the base of the spine"). Supposedly, kundalini energy and spiritual energy are one in the same, yet the theory behind this idea remains unproven. To keep in formed about ongoing research, contact Kundalini Research Network, c/o Dale Pond, R#5, Flesherton, Ontario, NOC IEO Canada.
- Electrical sensitivity refers to a condition whereby the forcefield or energy around an individual affects nearby electrical equipment and technological devices. Usually sporadic in effect and impact, some experiencers have noticed: watches can stop, microphones "squeal," tape recorders quit, television channels change with no one at controls, light bulbs pop, telephone "drops off," computers suddenly lose memory, and so forth. Experiencers more at ease with their new traits report fewer of these incidents than those still in the process of making adjustments.
- Physical differences, along with attitudinal changes, eventually lead experiencers to alter their approach to health and healing, employment, finances, lifestyle and relationship issues. Many say that it's almost as if they have to relearn how to use their own body and brain. Once adjustments are made, the majority come to live healthy, productive lives that are happier, more spiritually-oriented and energetic than before. To deny or repress the aftereffects seems to leave individuals feeling somehow "incomplete," and can foster unwanted "breakthroughs" years later.
People are Dramatically Changed by Near-Death Experiences
The following article was written by P.M.H. Atwater, L.H.D., Ph.D. (Hon.), reprinted by permission, concerning the dramatic aftereffects of a near-death experience. This article is also available on her NDE website.
No matter what the nature of the experience, it alters some lives. Alcoholics find themselves unable to imbibe. Hardened criminals opt for a life of helping others. Atheists embrace the existence of a deity, while dogmatic members of a particular religion report "feeling welcome in any church or temple or mosque."
Nancy Evans Bush, president emeritus of the International Association for Near-Death Studies, says the experience is revelatory. "Most near-death survivors say they don't think there is a God," she says. "They know."
In 1975, when Raymond Moody published Life After Life, a book that coined the term "near-death experience" (NDE) to describe this hard-to-define phenomenon. Moody interviewed 150 near-death patients who reported vivid experiences (flashing back to childhood, coming face to face with Christ). He found that those who had undergone NDEs became more altruistic, less materialistic, and more loving.
Bruce Greyson and Ian Stevenson have been instrumental in gathering evidence indicating that religious backgrounds do not affect who is most likely to have a NDE. They have mapped out the conversion-like effects of NDEs that can sometimes lead to hardship.
"They can see the good in all people," Greyson says of people who have experienced the phenomenon. "They act fairly naive, and they often allow themselves to be opened up to con men who abuse their trust."
They have gathered reports of high divorce rates and problems in the workplace following NDEs.
"The values you get from a NDE are not the ones you need to function in everyday life," says Greyson. Having stared eternity in the face, he observes, those who return often lose their taste for ego-boosting achievement.
Not even the diehard skeptics doubt the powerful personal effects of NDEs. "This is a profound emotional experience," explains Nuland. "People are convinced that they've seen heaven."
|1. Another Look at the Aftereffects of the NDE|
Only twenty-one percent of those near-death survivors I interviewed denied the existence of aftereffects. Of these, most either reported having had a brief encounter; or, regardless of what type of episode they had, it seemed to have little or no impact on them. The rest reported significant, life-changing differences afterward (nineteen percent claimed radical turn-arounds, almost as if they had become another person). Before and after photographs can differ.
Any notion that, as a compensatory gift, some people are privileged to survive death, see heaven, and return dedicated to selfless service for all humankind, is commonly referred to in the research field as "The Myth of Amazing Grace." That's because there are both positive and negative aspects to the aftereffects ... passing through death's door seems merely to be "Step One." Integrating the experience is the real adventure - making what was learned real and workable in everyday life. No "set of instructions" covers how to do this. Lengthy bouts with depression can occur.
|2. Psychological Aftereffects|
I have observed that it seems to take a minimum of seven years for most NDErs to integrate the aftereffects. Although these cannot be faked, an individual can delay the onset of them or deny their existence. Seven major elements comprise the universal pattern:
Unconditional Love - NDErs perceive themselves as equally and fully loving of each and all, openly generous, excited about the potential and wonder of each person they see. Confused family members tend to regard this sudden switch in behavior as oddly threatening, as if their loved one had become aloof, un-responsive, even uncaring or unloving.
Lack of Boundaries - Familiar codes of conduct can lose relevance or disappear altogether as unlimited avenues of interest and inquiry take priority. This new frame of reference can infuse NDErs with such an accepting nature that they can and do display childlike naivety. With the fading of previous norms and standards, basic cautions and discernments can also fade.
Timelessness - Most NDErs begin to "flow" with natural shift of time, rejecting locks and schedules as they exhibit a heightened awareness of the present moment and the importance of "now." They are easily distracted and can appear "spacey" until they readjust to the demands of daily routines.
The Psychic - Extrasensory perception and various types of psychic phenomena become normal and ordinary in the lives of NDErs. A person's religious beliefs do not prevent this expansion of faculties or enlargements of perceptual range. This can frighten the unprepared and be misconstrued as "the devil's work" when it is actually more akin to "gifts of the spirit."
Reality Switches - Hard-driving achievers and materialists can transform into easy-going philosophers; but, by the same token, those once more relaxed or uncommitted can become energetic "movers and shakers," determined to make a difference in the world. Switches seem to depend more on what is "needed" to round out the individual's growth than on any uniform result.
The Soul as Self - Most come to recognize themselves as an immortal soul currently resident within material form so lessons can be learned while sojourning in the Earth realm. They know they are not their body; it is a "jacket" they wear. The majority develop an interest in reincarnation, some accept it as valid.
Modes of Communications - What was once foreign becomes familiar, what was once familiar becomes foreign. Rationale of any kind tends to lose its logic as NDErs begin to think more abstractly and in grandiose terms. New ways of using language, even whole new vocabularies, emerge.
Within some households, relatives are so impressed by what they witness with their loved one that they too change, making the NDE a "shared" event. In other families, though, the response is so negative that alienation, separation, or divorce results. The situation with children, who undergo the same aftereffects as adults, can be doubly challenging, since they lack the ability to speak up for themselves, negotiate, or seek alternatives.
Basing the degree of an individual's transformation solely on before and after contrasts can distort or mask deeper issues that may eventually undermine the best of intentions - for researchers as well as NDErs.
|3. Physiological Aftereffects|
Not just the psyche is affected by the near-death phenomenon. A person's body and the very way life is lived undergo changes too. Mundane chores can take on surrealistic dimensions.
Briefly, here are the more typical physiological aftereffects: substantially altered energy levels, hypersensitive to light and sound, unusual sensitivity to chemicals (especially pharmaceuticals), stress easier to handle, lower blood pressure, increased intelligence, clustered thinking (as opposed to sequential), charismatic, quicker assimilation, increased allergies of various kinds, reduction in red meat consumption, "merge" easily (absorption), latent talents surface, a hunger for knowledge, synchronicity commonplace, multiple sensing (synesthesia), body clocks can reverse, more orgasmic, "inner child" issues surface, become electrical sensitives (where a person's energy field affects electricity and electronic devices - many can no longer wear watches, microphones "fight" them, etc.).
Seventy-three percent of my research base reported incidents of electrical sensitivity. To explore this further, I sent out a questionnaire that netted me some surprises - about subjective light:
The correlation between length of exposure to "etheric" light and the vivid spread of physiological changes afterward is more involved than at first glance. That's because respondents with shorter exposure rates (1 to 25% of their experience) had the same capacity for the full range of physical aftereffects, while some with over 50% exposure rates declared few if any such changes.
This suggests to me that it is the intensity of the light - not length of exposure - that seems to determine the prevalence of many of the aftereffects. And this implies that the etheric or subjective light reported by so many near-death survivors may indeed be as real and powerful as it seems - and subject to measurement studies and testing.
|4. Brain Shift|
Considering the experience, the average near-death survivor returns more intelligent and loving than before. He or she is usually able to detach from previous norms, abstract freely, envision broader perspectives for a more compassionate and positive life, access latent talents, and display (in some cases) a flowering of genius. In other words, exhibit all the elements of a brain shift .
Thanks to PET (positron emission tomography), science has been able to establish that original thinking utilizes a different section of the brain than mundane thinking. To quote Marcus Raichle, a researcher at Washington University: "You can essentially rearrange the brain in fifteen minutes." Since the average near-death survivor was "dead," that is to say without pulse and breath, for ten to fifteen minutes, some for hours ("walking up" in the morgue), it is fair to say that such an experience could and does have a dramatic effect on the individual and his or her brain.
Considering the aftereffects, the near-death phenomenon seems to stimulate the brain hemisphere that was not previously dominant. There is also an observable movement in the brain, structurally, toward data clustering and creative invention - as if the NDEr were developing a more synergistic type of neutral network - thus advancing the potential of whole brained behavior (less dependent on any single type of hemispheric dominance, greater flexibility and utilization of the brain itself).
Interestingly, this same type of thing, this particular pattern of aftereffects both psychological and physiological, also appears to happen to people who undergo a religious conversion, spiritual transformation, shamanic vision quest,kundalini breakthrough, some incidences of head trauma or being hit by lightning, as well as the near-death phenomenon. And I believe for the same reason ... a brain shift.
Reportings of impactual experiences of this nature are on the rise, globally, underscoring the supposition that we may be readjusting as a species - literally at the very moment in history when the demand for more intelligent, loving people who are creative problem solvers, is increasing.
But a brain shift may not be the only goal with these NDErs.
Look again at near-death imagery.
It is well-known that electrical stimulation of the right temporal lobe (above the right ear) and specifically in the Sylvian fissure  produces visions of God, hearing beautiful music, seeing dead friends and relatives, even panoramic life reviews. Yet, every near-death incident I know of that had elements in it unknowable to the NDEr that could be checked, was checked, and every one of those details was verified. Those who deny this are people who refuse to acknowledge previous research.
Example: In one of my cases, a four-year-old boy drowned in his parents' backyard swimming pool. Emergency crews were called. After fifteen minutes the boy revived (Typical of most near-death incidents, there was no brain damage.). Immediately, he spoke of meeting his little brother on The Other Side, a little brother of about two years of age yet able to converse. As the youngster was an only child, his parents rightfully assumed he was hallucinating - until the story that spilled out, specific details about Mommy's "mistake" at thirteen and her subsequent abortion, was confirmed by the chalk-white, shocked mother. No friends or family knew about the abortion, and the mother had long since forgotten it. But here was her "only" child quoting what the aborted child told him. The schism that developed between the parents over this affair led to a divorce.
It is arrogant to dismiss cases like this. Certainly, there is ample evidence to suggest that much of the imagery in near-death scenarios is "accommodation" (i.e., the appearance and age of the aborted son in the previous episode). Similarly, in every case I have investigated, if the NDEr asked what appeared to be God or a light being or an angel if that was what that heavenly host really looked like, the image would immediately dissolve into a burst of radiant light. The individual would then be told that shapes familiar to him or her were used to quell fear and anxiety, that the reality of light worlds was beyond human comprehension.
Yet, again and again, details absolutely impossible for the individual to know are seen and later verified - like descriptions of the accident or hospital room, family secrets, various observations and insights - none of which are accommodations from the temporal lobe yet most of them found interspersed throughout an archetypal storyline as old as history records.
Obviously, there is more to the human spirit than can be proven scientifically, and there is more to living than our sensory faculties define.
What we are left with, at least until we can initiate the next phase of research, a project of cross-cultural, interdisciplinarian measurement studies , is this extraordinary truth: near-death episodes reveal more about life than they do death, and what they reveal is an aliveness and a power above and beyond anything we can presently fathom.
If viewed objectively, there is a reoccurring theme running throughout the phenomenon's research, and that is ... we may be programmed by our very birth to constantly and continuously grow in consciousness and in spirit. What we think are endings may be nothing more than just another beginning.
 I develop the concept of brain shift further in my book Future Memory, hardcover Birch Lane Press, New York City, 1995. And, in the self-published book, Brain Shift: Using the Near-Death Experience as a Theoretical Model to Explore the Transformation of Consciousness. This self-published book is available only from me - details on how to order elsewhere in this website.
 Among presentations of this material is the book Closer to the Light: Learning from the Near-Death Experiences of Children, by Melvin Morse, M.D. and Paul Perry. New York, NY; Villard Books, 1990.
 The International Association For Near-Death Studies (IANDS) has taken it upon itself to establish just such a research project, and it is now soliciting funds from whomever wants to contribute. Send monies, American dollars please, to IANDS, P. O. Box 502, East Windsor Hill, CT 06028-0502; (860) 528-5144. It is now time to move past superstars and media sound-bytes to do the clinical, cross-cultural and interdisciplinarian research needed in the field."