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John C's Experience

Experience description:   

The physical conditions environmental and meteorological are as follows: We (me and a crew of 1) depart Frankfort Michigan  harbor into Lake Michigan at exactly 9AM August 19, 2005 into  rather confused 3-5 seas: i.e. high waves coming from predominantly one direction but given to irregular other waves deviating from dominant direction causing the boat to pitch, yaw and roll considerably. The boat is well found (60 ft, 60,000lbs) and handled the conditions easily, albeit anyone at the helm has to be constantly vigilant; constantly re-adjusting the positioning of the rudder to maintain course by turning the wheel. A good helmsman adapts to the rhythm of the sea state and makes modest incremental adjustments; an inexperienced helmsman over steers in each direction. I am an experienced helmsman. Neither I nor the boat were in any difficulty, real or perceived. On balance the conditions were what we expected when we prepared to depart and we both had previously been through more extreme; both crew and I wear clad in yellow waterproof foul weather gear when ‘on deck’; I was alone at the helm, my crew resting below. 

Sometime between 10:15AM (I had looked at my watch) and 10:30 I experienced an odd and never before sensation as if a pressure gradient was being drawn about my head which ultimately drew out or forced from my body what I can only describe as ME or my consciousness of myself. That consciousness/me moved above and behind my external body some distance (maybe 20-30 ft, although time and space seemed suspended during the experience). I was suspended in an incredibly brightly lit isotropic ‘universe’ bathed in a light of incredible clarity and brightness but not disturbing in its intensity; a limited number of two dimensional objects somewhat round in nature floated without purpose in all directions and attitudes; there also floated (stationary but unsupported) 2 larger, square, two dimensional woven fabric-like wafers with very loose  warp & waft, so that I was able to see through them. The one closest to me was reddish in color, the other neutral; I had the ‘feeling’ or even more the ‘knowledge’ that the red wafer was a source of great distress (threat?) to me. The wafers, through which I could see, were situated between the conscious ME and the unmistakable yellow clad physical me (slowly decreasing in size as if the spatial distance between was increasing) observed from behind (including my balding crown) standing at the helm with my hands at the 10 & 2 o’clock positions of the wheel with legs separated for balance, as I was before all this started. I had no perception of any physical movement of the water, boat, wind or ambient temperature, although I was ‘aware’ of the physical surroundings. The physical world seemed to be suspended as to time & place. 

There was an overwhelming feeling, sensation, perhaps more aptly ‘understanding’ of peace, tranquility, serenity and yet these words are not exactly adequate, as if language has no frame of reference to describe it ; tranquility is the absence of and thereby implies (needs) the existence of chaos for its meaning; I need a word to describe the feeling of  peacefulness and serenity of tranquility in which chaos never existed. As I ‘realized’ (sic!) I was moving away from the physical me, my consciousness protested; I ‘said/heard’  ‘No, No not yet’ (or to that effect) and in what felt like a struggle at some level, I ‘willed’ the cessation of the sensation of moving away and after a time (time?) “I” passed thru the fabric-like wafers as the yellow-clad me got larger. I had the sensation of re-entering at my head but the pressure gradient ‘going-in’ was multi-layered and of significantly greater intensity than the earlier ‘going-out. I found myself standing as I was/had been at the steering wheel totally conscious and aware of the incident I had just experienced ; it took a few seconds for the pressure to subside enough to allow me to call for my crew to come and relieve me at the wheel. Since he was below in the cabin and not dressed for the elements it was perhaps 5-10 minutes before he relieved me at the helm during which time I had no difficulty in steering and maintaining my position, i.e. functioning normally. 

At no time during all of this did I feel dizzy or faint. There was no pain either in my head or thoracic region; no numbness. I have no idea of the time that elapsed (duration) except to say that given the sea condition it could have been no more than 10-15 seconds or else the attitude of the boat, without course correction from the helm, would have become quite noticeable to my crew and he would have come up from the cabin to see what had happened. 

Once relieved at the helm I went below and ingested 2 aspirin, then went up and lay down in the cockpit of the boat for a time trying to sort out all I had experienced. 

No subsequent similar experience has occurred since. I have initiated a program of physical and neurological evaluation to determine if there is an organic origin to the experience (doctors eye me with some degree of incredulity!). If such is found I will deal with it appropriately. If there is no organic causation, it is certainly the strangest but most extraordinarily wonderful experience of my life.

Was the kind of experience difficult to express in words? Uncertain      ordinary language is inadequate to describe all sensations, light, etc.

How did your highest level of consciousness and alertness during the experience compare to your normal every day consciousness and alertness?    More consciousness and alertness than normal

If your highest level of consciousness and alertness during the experience was different from your normal every day consciousness and alertness, please explain:            nominal increased alertness due to conditions of the sea state

Did your vision differ in any way from your normal, everyday vision (in any aspect, such as clarity, field of vision, colors, brightness, depth perception degree of solidness/transparency of objects, etc.)?  Yes     the inadequacy of language makes it difficult to qualify or quantify; more vivid, clear, sharp, etc. Purity in the sense of ambient perfection.

Did you experience a separation of your consciousness from your body?     Yes

What emotions did you feel during the experience?            incredulity, a certain quasi-curiosity; apprehension upon the perception that I was not going to be reunited with my physical self; determination that I was not going to leave my physical self.

Did you pass into or through a tunnel or enclosure?          No      

Did you see a light?           Yes     the ambient light was brighter than I had ever experienced although not disturbing to the eye; light of a greater clarity than I had ever experienced

Did you see or visit any beautiful or otherwise distinctive locations, levels or dimensions?            Uncertain      I perceived I was in another dimension which was "superior" to the normal world; since I could "look down" on the real world and the physical ME I was aware of the comparison

Did you have any sense of altered space or time?   Uncertain      real world time & space seemed suspended, stopped; the event time & space had movement but did not possess quantification or did not require measurement

Did you have a sense of knowing special knowledge, universal order and/or purpose?     No      

Did you reach a boundary or limiting physical structure? Uncertain      at some point I perceived that I was moving toward some unseen boundary from which I would/could not return to the physical world. at that point I 'refused' to go further and willed my return (see narrative)

Have you shared this experience with others?         Uncertain      I sought medical evaluation within 10 days of the experience. The typical reaction might best be described as 'sympathetic'.

Did you have any knowledge of near death experience (NDE) prior to your experience?    Yes            media reports

How did you view the reality of your experience shortly (days to weeks) after it happened:            Experience was definitely real    The  beginning and ending to the experience was felt physically; there was no unconsciousness or dizziness or fainting at any time; the possibility of hallucination seems limited given the circumstances under which the event occurred. I committed the experience to writing 2 days after the event so as to accurately reflect the details of the event.

Were there one or several parts of the experience especially meaningful or significant to you?    it was an experience of incredible beauty and purity of sensation.

How do you currently view the reality of your experience:            Experience was definitely real    I can call to mind with perfect clarity all the details, both as to the physical world conditions and the 'experience' ambiance.

Have your relationships changed specifically as a result of your experience?           No      

Have your religious beliefs/practices changed specifically as a result of your experience?           
No           

Following the experience, have you had any other events in your life, medications or substances which reproduced any part of the experience?         No      

Did the questions asked and information you provided so far accurately and comprehensively describe your experience?         Yes     to the extent the experience can be 'described'