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Terri M's Experience

Experience description:   

I had been practicing the mediation according to the instructions in an article I had read for about six weeks, when I has an OBE. I would sit cross-legged on a pillow at the head of my bed everyday at the same time in the morning. My initial attempts to meditate were  brutal: I found it very difficult to sit still and let go of my thoughts, and try to focus on my breath. I got better at it, and was able to sit for up to an hour by week six. One day, the sitting came easy, and I focused on blobs of colors (dark purple and gold) floating before my eyes. I was feeling pleasant, and relaxed. No thoughts. I felt light, and I noticed I didn't feel the need to take a breath. I took one, but I didn't need it. So I decided not to take another. The next thing I remember is an indescribable feeling of peace, and the sensation of floating. It was the most pleasurable feeling I have ever had, so I opened my eyes, fully conscious of my surroundings. Nothing was out of place in my room. I had the shades drawn but they allowed enough light in to see clearly. I could hear cars going by on the road, my dog outside the door pawing to come in. And that's when I looked down on myself, and realized I was "up here" and "down there" at the same time. I wasn't sure what "I" was--I had no sense of a form, but I sure knew what I was looking down on. My physical body was sitting cross-legged on the bed, motionless. I heard the dog bark and the next thing I knew I was looking out of my own two eyes from my sitting position on the bed. I was trembling and felt fearful. I have never been able to meditate since. The experience left me sure of two things: It was NOT a hallucination, and if this is what death is like, it will not be painful.

At the time of your experience was there an associated life-threatening event?   No  I was in good health. I had been practicing hatha yoga, following Richard Hittleman's book and then trying to mediate according to a transcendental meditation practice I read in a magazine. I walked a couple of miles everyday, and had no money for a guru or yoga classes in those days. My husband at the time and I owned a small retail paint store in Delavan WI.

Was the experience difficult to express in words?  Yes     This peaceful feeling is very, very hard to describe. There is nothing like it to my knowledge on the face of the planet. No drug that I know either. And the only words we have to describe it are limited. It was joy and peace and love all mixed together, but those words seem a hollow abstraction next to the direct experience.

At what time during the experience were you at your highest level of consciousness and alertness?    Probably when I opened my eyes while I was above my body. I can still remember clearly everything in the room, the time of day, the daylight light streaming in around the sides of the shades, the dog pawing at the door, trying to get in.

How did your highest level of consciousness and alertness during the experience compare to your normal everyday consciousness and alertness?      More consciousness and alertness than normal   I am not sure how to answer this question, really. I feel that I was more acutely aware of my surroundings and can give details that I would normally never have noticed. The arrangement of the blankets, the closet door ajar, etc. Stuff I ordinarily don't pay attention to.

Please compare your vision during the experience to your everyday vision that you had immediately prior to the time of the experience.
   I am not sure of this question. I felt all my senses were normal and intact. I had heightened attention.

Please compare your hearing during the experience to your everyday hearing that you had immediately prior to the time of the experience.
   I would have to say that in the beginning of the meditation, I took my attention away from the sounds of the day, cars going by etc, and tried to focus on my breath, so during the meditation I had tuned out my surroundings after a time, and then I recall after opening my eyes, everything was normal hearing wise.

Did you see or hear any earthly events that were occurring during a time that your consciousness / awareness was apart from your physical / earthly body?   No  

What emotions did you feel during the experience?   Incredible joy and peace, and the light, floating sensation--unencumbered and free.  

Did you pass into or through a tunnel?   No  

Did you see an unearthly light?   No  

Did you seem to encounter a mystical being or presence, or hear an unidentifiable voice?   No

Did you encounter or become aware of any beings who previously lived on earth who are described by name in religions (for example: Jesus, Muhammad, Buddha, etc.)?   No  

Did you encounter or become aware of any deceased (or alive) beings?   No  

Did you become aware of past events in your life during your experience?   No  

Did you seem to enter some other, unearthly world?   No
I was definitely still in this world, but floating above my body.

Did time seem to speed up or slow down?   No
everything seemed normal.

Did you suddenly seem to understand everything?   No
No, but I had a feeling of unity with the universe and a sudden understanding of myself and others totally unrelated to this experience. It happened some years after the OBE and I had been sick. I did not have an OBE, but an amazing feeling knowing that made me fall to my knees and see that the world as all about love.

Did you reach a boundary or limiting physical structure?   No

Did you come to a border or point of no return?   No

Did scenes from the future come to you?  No 

During your experience, did you encounter any specific information / awareness suggesting that there either is (or is not) continued existence after earthly life (“life after death”)?   No   Not really. I was surprised to find myself looking down on my body. And once the experience was over, I was a little frightened.

During your experience, did you encounter any specific information / awareness that God or a supreme being either does (or does not) exist?   No  

During your experience, did you encounter any specific information / awareness that you either did (or did not) exist prior to this lifetime?   No  

During your experience, did you encounter any specific information / awareness that a mystical universal connection or unity/oneness either does (or does not) exist?   No  

During your experience, did you encounter any specific information / awareness regarding earthly life’s meaning or purpose?   No  

During your experience, did you encounter any specific information / awareness regarding earthly life’s difficulties, challenges, or hardships?   No  

During your experience, did you encounter any specific information / awareness regarding love?   Yes   The feeling of peace and joy was also a feeling of love and lightness

During your experience, did you encounter any other specific information / awareness that you have not shared in other questions that is relevant to living our earthly lives?   Yes   We can exist with or without a body. Nothing happened to my body while was I was not in it. It did not turn blue or suffer any of the usual effects you would see in a body deprived of oxygen, while I chose not to breathe.

Did you have a sense of knowing special knowledge or purpose?   No   not really.

What occurred during your experience included:   Content that was entirely not consistent with the beliefs you had at the time of your experience   I had no idea before this happened that I could exist apart from my body.

How accurately do you remember the experience in comparison to other life events that occurred around the time of the experience?   I remember the experience more accurately than other life events that occurred around the time of the experience   This experience changed how I viewed life and death. I feel like I know why the Buddha smiles.

Discuss any changes that might have occurred in your life after your experience:   I have searched long and hard for explanations of the OBE, curious to know if this experience stems from anoxia or if we really do live on. I have two science degrees, and found a piece of research that suggested the OBE is a type of hallucination with specific phases. I can guarantee that my experience was not hallucinatory, and didn't fit their mold. From my experience in critical care, I have learned that patients quite frequently leave their body and come back to tell about it. Most are not hallucinatory in nature and are much like my experience in that everything was normal and they can tell you exactly what was said in their presence, who is dating who, and any other chit chat that goes on among nurses.

My experience directly resulted in:   Moderate changes in my life

Did you have any changes in your values or beliefs after the experience that occurred as a result of the experience?  
Yes   unafraid of death. Less fearful of a lot of things. Tons curiosity and wanting to know more.

Do you have any psychic, non-ordinary or other special gifts after your experience that you did not have before the experience?   No  

Are there one or several parts of your experience that are especially meaningful or significant to you?    
The feeling of peace/joy and weightlessness being outside the body is complete bliss. I can understand why people who make it there would rather stay. But it's the knowledge that I can exist without a body that punctured my belief in death. I agree something happens at the end of this life, but it is not T-H-E end of Life.

Have you ever shared this experience with others?  
Yes  I shared right away. People--except my mother who was an ER nurse--thought I was odd. After I became a nurse, I shared it with nursing colleagues who supported me on the subject, but while I was in college I wrote an essay about the experience in great detail. I got an A on the assignment but the professor thought the experience was "far-fetched." I would discuss it with patients as needed if they were having a similar experience or were frightened, confused or just wanted to be believed.

Did you have any knowledge of near death experience (NDE) prior to your experience?   No  

What did you believe about the reality of your experience shortly (days to weeks) after it happened:   Experience was definitely real   It was definitely real. An amazing experience that at the same time frightened me after the fact. People-friends and family-around me invalidated my experience constantly, so as the years pressed on I wouldn't talk about it. Never once did I think it was a dream. Skeptics--because they have no direct experience--are the first to attack. And then, the inability to find the right words to accurately describe the experience make those who have had direct experience look whacky and so that doesn't help.

What do you believe about the reality of your experience at the current time:   Experience was definitely real   It was definitely real, and now that more people feel comfortable talking about these things it is easier for me to be open about the experience.

Have your relationships changed specifically as a result of your experience?   Uncertain   I don't know how to answer this except that years after the experience I returned to college and received a BS degree in psychology and a BSN-nursing. I was called a "natural" by my supervisors and have enjoyed good relationships with colleagues and all patients, and my family. Prior to the OBE I was shy and always worried about what other people thought. Was the change in me due to this experience or growing up in general? Perhaps a bit of both.

Have your religious beliefs/spiritual practices changed specifically as a result of your experience?   Yes   I do not participate in any organized religion. I do not go to church, but I do have a daily spiritual practice of reading spiritual books, journaling and trying to be as kind as I possibly can to myself, people and animals around me and to the planet.

At any time in your life, has anything ever reproduced any part of the experience?   No  

Is there anything else that you would like to add about your experience?   no

Did the questions asked and information that you provided accurately and comprehensively describe your experience?   Yes  

What could a national organization with an interest in near death experience (NDE) do that would be of interest to you?        Conduct studies scientifically on your data--the information gleaned from the completed questionnaires. You have a wealth of information that could help validate the effects of this experience on the concept of death, the physical body, and on the changes in lives as a result. Forgive me if this has been done, I haven't been keeping up. But I would be interested in the literature.

Are there any other questions that we could ask to help you communicate your experience?                  It is really a comprehensive questionnaire. I suggest maybe creating a separate questionnaire for the OBE in healthy individuals. It is not uncommon for meditators or other perfectly healthy people to have this experience. It would be interesting to me if others had the feeling that they didn't need to breathe, and if like me not breathing had no ill effects on their body. You won't get this picture in a sick or injured person. It would be interesting to have first hand knowledge if it's merely a belief in anoxia that turns us blue.