My near-death experience occurred when I was five years old, in Russia where I was born and lived at the time, on a holiday trip to the Black Sea where I went with my mother and grandparents.
On this particular day we had all gone down to the beach. The sea was rough, and my mother was standing in the water holding me in her arms. I remember feeling safe and secure, although the waves were huge, enormous from my five-year old perspective, and being excited as they came crushing over my mother and me, one by one. Then this particularly big wave hit us, my mother lost her balance, lost her grip, and I was washed away by the wave.
For a moment I felt the utter fear of death, my body instinctively sensing this being a life-threatening situation. I held my breath and struggled to find something to hold on to, to save myself, but my hands were only grasping water. Only water was everywhere, I was helpless, completely out of control. When I realized there was no use to fight, nothing to get a grip on, I surrendered. I let go of my breathing, let go of trying to save myself, let go of the struggle for life, and allowed whatever was happening to me to happen.
Next thing I remember is feeling the most profound and utter sense of peace I ever felt in my life. Suddenly I was feeling completely safe, being enveloped and protected by something I can only describe as complete unconditional love. This love was all around me, it was everywhere, but at the same time it was also me, the one I was, my innermost essence. There was no longer any fear, no worries, no struggle for anything, and I could’ve gone on being wherever I was, and feeling the way I was forever.
I felt as though I was finally being my true self. There were no limits or limitations what so ever, I could go wherever I wanted, know whatever I wished, do anything. The sense of freedom was inexplicable. I was also strangely aware that the thing we ordinarily call ‘time’ now was suspended, and no longer existed.
Then I was swept away by some unknown force, and started to move at an enormous speed, which felt a lot faster than the speed of light. I traveled an enormous distance, literally traveled ‘beyond the world’. I didn’t have any sense of having a ‘body’, just of moving like a thunderbolt through a darkness toward a point of brilliant light in the distance, and as I came closer to this light my only desire was to get to it, to get to where this light was.
When I reached the point of light I found myself in a world of light. Everything in this place was made of, and radiated light. It was beautiful and radiant beyond expression. ‘Heaven’ would be an adequate description, but I had no religious feeling, and knew there was no such thing as a ‘hell.’ I knew, without knowing how and why I knew this, that this was the place where everyone eventually got when they died, regardless of who they were and what they had done during their lives.
In the midst of the light, stood a male figure. It was radiating this light, and radiating this totally unearthly complete unconditional Love. I was embraced by this being, or enveloped in its light, which felt like an embrace. Suddenly I remembered this place. This was my home, the place that was really my home, and I wondered how I could’ve ever forgotten about it. I felt as though after a long, difficult journey in a foreign country I finally had come home, and the being of light who was there before me was the being that knew me better than anyone else in creation.
The being of light knew everything about me. It knew all I had ever thought, said or done, and it showed me my whole life in a flash of an instant. I was shown all of the details in my life, the one I´d already lived, and all that was to come if I returned to earth. It was all there at the same time, all the details of all the cause and effect relations in my life, all that was good or negative, all of the effects my life on earth had had on others, and all of the effects the lives of others that had touched me had had on me. Every single thought and feeling was there, nothing was missing. And I could experience the feelings and thoughts of all the other people involved myself, almost become them, which gave me pure experiential understanding of what brought other people pain, or joy, the positive or negative experiences and effects of my own actions.
The being was not judging me in any way during the life review, even though I saw a lot of shortcomings in my life. It simply showed my life the way it had been to me, loved me unconditionally, which gave me the strength I needed to see it all the way it was without any blinders, and let me decide for myself what was positive, negative, and what I needed to do about that. I don’t remember any details of the events that were shown to me, neither past nor future, but I remember what was most important.
The being of light showed me that all that was really important in life was the love we felt, the loving acts we preformed, the loving words we spoke, the loving thoughts we held. All that was made, said, done, or even thought without love was undone. It didn’t matter. It simply did no longer exist. Love was all that was really important, only love was real. Everything we did lovingly was as is was supposed to be. It was okay. It was good.
And the love we’d felt during our lives was all that was left when everything else, everything perishable in life, had vanished.
Next I remember finding myself in some other place, not knowing how I’d gotten there. The first being of light was gone, and I was surrounded by other beings, or people, who I felt as though I ‘recognized.’ These beings were like family, old friends, who’d been with me for an eternity. I can best describe them as my spiritual, or soul family. Meeting these beings was like reuniting with the most important people in ones life, after a long separation. There was an explosion of love and joy on seeing each other again between us all.
The beings communicated with me, and one another in some kind of telepathical way. We spoke without words, directly, from mind to mind, or from spirit to spirit. None of us had any bodies. We were all made of some unknown substance, like a concentration of pure light, we were like dots of light in the light everywhere around us. Everybody knew what everybody else ‘had in mind’ instantly. There was no possibility, or need to hide anything from anybody. This kind of communication made misunderstandings impossible, and made us close in a way almost impossible to describe. We were all individuals, but at the same time we were all one, united by indestructible bonds of love forever, and also united with the light in the world of light around us, being part of it, and part of each others light.
The love these beings of light exuded healed me, swept away all the darkness in me, erased all of the pain and sorrow I’d accumulated during my life on earth. Earth and the life I’d lived on it felt very distant, was getting more distant all the time, almost like it had never really existed at all. I was in this place with my soul family for a period of time that felt like an eternity. No ‘time’ in the usual sense existed here. Neither did the concept of ‘space’, but even so there were different places to go, and spans of time that passed by. This is a contradiction in terms, but it is the only way I’m able to explain it in words. Spaceless space, timeless time. In this place there was only pure Being.
Except being ‘healed’ I don’t remember what we did, just that we were together, and enjoyed it enormously. I remember this ‘world’ of light as being huge, an enormous place, a place without limits or borders, neither individual or external. I remember all beings who were in this place had complete, total knowledge, about all and everything. It was all pleasant, loving, beautiful beyond expression. Every ‘thing’ and ‘being’ in this place was made of light, and everything was light, even though there were individual ‘things’ and ‘beings’. The light is what I remember best. It was living. Alive. A living light, that was everything and all, the essence of everything and all.
Next thing I remember is suddenly finding myself back in the presence of the being of light I’d met first, and told I had to go back. I said: no way, I won’t do it. This was about the last thing I wanted to do. Life on earth, filled with darkness, pain, sorrow, limits and limitations, was like a horrifying prison compared to this wonderful place, and I simply refused to go back. I was told that it wasn’t my time, that I’d been granted a visit ‘back home’, but that I had to fulfill my purpose and do the work I myself had chosen to do on earth. The being of light reminded me that my purpose was to learn more about love, compassion, and how to express them on earth, and that my work was to help other people in any way I could. I had chosen this myself. And it told me that I would be back in the world of light in no time. Never forget, in reality there is no time, only eternity itself, it said.
Next thing I knew I was back, feeling my body, the wave washed me up on shore again, and I was crawling up the shore coughing up a lot of seawater.
As a child, I forgot my near-death experience, and the memory of it didn’t return until many years later. Even so, it has always been with me and given me strength, to cope with difficulties in my own life, and to help and support others. During the whole of my professional life I’ve been working with helping others in different ways. At the age of eighteen I started working with elderly people, dying, senile, physically and emotionally ill people. I worked with people with AIDS and the mentally ill. Later on I worked in the mental health care and social care area, among people with psychological, social, existential, emotional and spiritual difficulties, and always felt my work as being deeply meaningful, even before remembering my near-death experience. Currently I’m also working as a psychosynthesis therapist, which is a branch in transpersonal psychology.
The near-death experience also put the foundation to my lifelong interest in the paranormal, the mystical, the unusual and the spiritual, which I’ve had for as long as I can remember, not knowing why for many years. It has made me explore unknown dimensions, it made me seek and find the answers to many questions, and to constantly strive to learn more about life, death and everything in-between, and to seek out ever new ways of helping others, which for me is the most meaningful things one can do in life. In the end the near-death experience taught me as much about living as about dying. And it keeps on doing so.
Questions and Answers
Any associated medications or substances with the potential to affect the experience: No
Was the experience difficult to express in words? Yes
What was it about the experience that makes it hard to communicate? At the time of my experience I was five years old, and didn´t have the vocabulary to express it in words. Even now it´s difficult to express, because this experience takes place in another realm from our ordinary waking consciousness, a realm where words do not apply. They are a human, earthly means of communication. There is also no vocabulary to describe the kind of experiences and feelings involved, so one almost has to invent it.
At the time of the experience, was there an associated life threatening event? Yes
Describe: I was near drowning when bathing in the ocean.
What was your level of consciousness and alertness during the experience? More alert, more expanded than ever. It was actually like I knew everything about everything. Total, complete knowledge. Total, complete, consciousness.
Was the experience dream like in any way? No, it was REAL, more real than any reality I have ever experienced either before or after. This was reality in truth. That is also why I´ve called my company, where I work as a therapist, Reality Center. This life, the ‘ordinary’ life I lead on earth, is more like the dream compared to the NDE.
Did you experience a separation of consciousness from your body? Yes.
Describe your appearance or form apart from your body: Pure ‘mind’, pure ‘consciousness’, without limits or limitations. The substance I, and the beings I encountered in the world of light, (see above) were made of, was like a concentration of light. We were the light, only of a different density than other things and beings around us.
What emotions did you feel during the experience? Complete, profound peace, overwhelming joy, uttermost sense of freedom, complete all-encompassing unconditional love, mostly love. A love no words can describe. Also deep sadness and sorrow, on returning and leaving the world of light.
Did you hear any unusual sounds or noises? No
Did you pass into or through a tunnel or enclosure? Uncertain.
Describe: I passed, traveled, through a darkness before reaching the world of light. At the time, though, I had no notion that what I was passing through was a tunnel. I didn´t care. I just wanted to reach the light, so I guess I didn´t notice.
Did you see a light? Yes.
Describe: A living light, that was all and everything, the essence of everything and all. I didn´t only ‘see’ this light, me, all the other beings I encountered, and everything in this place WAS this light. This, I believe, is the foundation for what many spiritual and religious teachings and traditions have described, being at one with everything. If everything in its essence consists of this light, then everything really is one, and that is what I experienced.
Did you meet or see any other beings? Yes.
Did you meet or see any other beings? Yes
Describe: Described above.
Did you experience a review of past events in your life? Yes.
Describe: Described above.
Did you observe or hear anything regarding people or events during your experience that could be verified later? Yes.
Describe: …but nothing that could be considered as ‘evidence’. It mostly concerned personal issues in my family and my life, things I´ve found out many years later and already ‘knew,’ remembering them from the life review.
Did you see or visit any beautiful or otherwise distinctive locations, levels or dimensions? Yes.
Describe: Described above. I don´t know of any other ‘levels’ in this place where I was during the NDE.
Did you have any sense of altered space or time? Yes.
Describe: No time. No space. Eternity. Infinity.
Did you have a sense of knowing special knowledge, universal order and/or purpose? Yes.
Describe: My personal purpose was to learn about love and all the ways to express it on earth, and to help other people in any way I could. In a way I believe it is the true life purpose of all, especially learning about love and expressing love. Only love is real. When everything else is gone, only love will remain.
Did you reach a boundary or limiting physical structure? No.
Did you become aware of future events? Yes.
Describe: I know I was shown events that would come to pass and people I would meet if I went back, but unfortunately, or fortunately, I´ve forgotten them all. Sometimes when things happen in my life, and I meet people I know I´ve physically never met before, I ‘know’ and ‘remember’ them.
Were you involved in or aware of a decision to return to the body? Yes.
Describe: This part of the experience was the most ‘practical’. The being of light told me I had to back, and I said: nope. I remember in this the being treated me kind of like an adult would treat a child, I was a child, but this was more like being a child in a spiritual sense – and an adult in a spiritual sense. It kind of smiled at me and firmly but tenderly told me: you have to. This is you work. This is your part. You have to do it. It reminded me that I had chosen it myself. And I acted like a child, I just refused to do it. Since remembering my NDE I´ve also remembered this refusing to go back to life on earth, and found it to be the foundation to many existential and emotional problems and difficulties I´ve had in my life since. I had to work on this in therapy, and finally came to the point where I did accept to go back, chose it myself, something I never did during the actual near-death experience.
Did you have any psychic, paranormal or other special gifts following the experience you did not have prior to the experience? Yes.
Describe: After the experience I acquired a kind of ‘seeing’ that enabled me to see through, and beyond peoples outer appearance, seeing their hidden pains, wants, needs and yearning, their hidden agendas and subconscious life strategies. This ‘ability’ have given me quite some problems, until I learned to live with it and put it to good use. Sometimes I get precognitive dreams and a lot of intuitive ‘knowings’.
Did you have any changes of attitudes or beliefs following the experience? Yes .
Describe: I really don’t know what I would’ve grown up to be without the experience since I was a child without readily formed attitudes and beliefs. But I’m pretty certain it´s the experience that’s made me a spiritually inclined person without any prerequisites for dogmas or religious rituals. It has also made me very open for concepts like reincarnation, and I feel more drawn to eastern spiritual teachings and practices than western, and more to experiential spirituality than beliefs or intellectual teachings.
Has the experience affected your relationships? Daily life? Religious practices etc.? Career choices? The only career I’ve ever done or wanted is as a ‘helper’. This has always been the most meaningful line of work for me, even though I’ve often worked without recognition, in jobs with no, or very little social ‘status’, low salaries, and among people who often are considered to be more or less worthless and among the most outcast in contemporary western society. I’ve loved, and continue to love my work. It has affected my relationships in a more mixed way, both positive, since in all and everything I do I try to have love as a foundation, and negative, since I’ve often experienced being misunderstood with the outlook and goals I have in life. I don’t care for material things, for money, for ‘success’. The only things I care about in life is the ones that the knowledge I gained through the NDE conveyed to me. I always look for the deeper meaning of life. There are also people who have not very much appreciated my ability to ‘see’, since there often are semi truths, untruths and hidden agendas between people, which in our society is almost considered ‘normal’, when the ‘normal’ mode of communication and interpersonal relationships for me is total truth and not hiding anything. This ability of mine has sometimes been difficult to integrate in everyday life.
Have you shared this experience with others? Yes.
Describe: Very different, from fascination curiosity, and being deeply touched, to disbelief, to fear and rejection. Naturally, the ones that understand the experience and it´s effects the best are other NDErs, but I’ve often also found it very meaningful to share it with people who are ill, maybe even dying, and people who are fearful of death, which I´ve found to be a huge common fear in western society.
What emotions did you experience following your experience? Joy, wonderment, peace. Also sadness and sorrow upon coming back and having to enter this realm of darkness, pain and limitations, which it is compared to the world of light.
What was the best and worst part of your experience? The worst was the fear of death before the experience started, and coming back. The best was meeting the being of light I was with during the life review. It was the being most important to me, ever.
Is there anything else you would like to add concerning the experience? The near-death experience puts us face to face with death, and accordingly puts us face to face with life. Life and death are intertwined, inseparable part of each other. Learning to live is learning to die, and learning to die is learning to live fully. As long as we are afraid of death, we are afraid of life. If we are afraid of dying, we are also afraid of really living.
Has your life changed specifically as a result of your experience? Yes
Describe: Described above.
Following the experience, have you had any other events in your life, medications or substances which reproduced any part of the experience? Yes .
Describe: Some deep self-exploration work I´ve done, meditation, spontaneous experiences of light and unusual peace, experiences occurring in close, loving relationships.
Did the questions asked and information you provided accurately and comprehensively describe your experience? Yes.
Explain: Good questions!
Please offer any suggestions you have to improve the www.nderf.org questionnaire? Do you think there was any reason for your getting this experience?:)
Yes. I believe many NDErs around the world are actually having an impact on, and changing the collective consciousness of the current times. They are bringing the perspective of universal understanding, universal unity, universal humaneness and compassion, universal love, things that are badly needed in our times.