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Archive for July, 2017


(I decided to post this because someone asked why we are afraid to die. I’m not. I’m not afraid of death, never have been actually, though at times the mode of dying made me a bit nervous. But as said in Conversations With God, I think it was, dying is the easiest thing you’ll ever do. I believe it. So here’s my experience to tell you why.)

Not this crude leather; luminous beings are we.
                                                                       Yoda

In the beginning, I died.

Day of the death skull Stock PhotosI didn’t realize for many years that I had died. Maybe that’s why it took so long for it to rise up into my conscious memory. Since the end of anything is always the beginning of something else, and because death in any form has a mythical or archetypal significance, it gets our attention. Death is a good place to start.

I was alone in the house so there’s no one to verify the event. There was no wailing siren on a speeding ambulance, no EMTs urgently pumping on my chest in an attempt to make my heart beat again or inflating my lungs in an effort to breathe for me. No one called a code blue and I didn’t find myself floating in a corner up by the ceiling watching people in an emergency room feverishly shocking my body to bring it back to life. I didn’t move through a tunnel toward the light and there was no meeting with a spiritual light/being of great power. In other words, there was none of the good stuff so thoroughly depicted in “standard” near-death experiences.

Skeptics say, “Then how do you know you died? If none of those things happened and you’re not dead now, how do you know? How can you say you died?” One person has called my experience “only” a spiritual awakening. Even if that were true, for me it would still be impressive enough. I’ll let you draw your own conclusions.

Recovering Royalty Free Stock PhotoI was 50 when I died. Talk about an actual midlife crisis! I was sitting in my recliner in the living room because that’s about all I had the energy to do. Most of my muscles were board-hard and I ached deeply all over. Even just a light touch could cause excruciating pain. I felt so brittle that every movement seemed like it would crack or break me somewhere. It hurt to move but it hurt when I didn’t move, too. Pain was a constant; the only variable was how much of it.

Fibromyalgia. An innocuous word merely meaning painful muscles and connective tissue. Oh, but the reality is so much more. There’s often a host of various seemingly unconnected symptoms, all of which may come and go with no discernible cause or regularity. This inconsistent and perplexing picture has commonly led to a “diagnosis” of hypochondria and/or psychosomatic disorder with patients often feeling as if their very real distress is dismissed.

If there are no other “legitimate” diagnoses, treatment in such cases is generally ineffective and once again the patient is often made to feel as if she (it’s usually a woman) is somehow at fault or lying or at least exaggerating. The fundamental and invariable symptom, though, has always been unexplained and persistent pain. After about ten years of struggling with worsening symptoms, I had finally accepted early retirement on disability. This was not the Healthy happy runner city running at sunset Stock Photolife I’d expected. I’d done all the right things as far as diet and exercise. I ran, I lifted weights, I counted calories and fat grams.

I did all the things I needed to do to be “successful.” However, the stresses of “doing” so much built up more and more until finally all the stress lines converged, at which point I crashed and burned in a complete collapse. Coming from a long line of what I’d always described as “sturdy peasant stock,” I’d always thought I had more than enough physical strength and endurance to outlast anything. My sense of abandonment and betrayal was utter. Who to blame?

For a long time all I wanted to do was to “get better,” to go back to work when I got “well.” I didn’t want to change, I just wanted to go back to what I had been, to life as it had been, to make it all work out the way I’d planned. Instead, all I could see was that I’d failed. All of it, wasted. So when I died, I was deeply exhausted. This was a bone-deep weariness that I now recognize had the grayness of death around it but I certainly wasn’t thinking in those terms then. I was a morass of confused emotions, just totally bewildered and at a loss to explain what was happening to me. I should have been strong and healthy and vibrant. I did all the right stuff. Why did the stuff seem to work for others but not for me? What was going on?

I would drag myself from my bed in the morning after a painful night of nonrestorative fitful sleep that left me feeling more tired than when I’d gone to bed. I’d sit in my recliner exhausted and in a mental fog for most of the day until I dragged myself back to bed at night, still exhausted. Unable to move or think normally, desperate, I startled myself one day when I exclaimed aloud, “I can’t do this anymore!” I don’t even know what I meant by “this” but it didn’t matter because no one heard me and nothing happened. At least that’s what I thought.

Did you ever have a memory of something you know you never did, something you know you never dreamed? Well, some years after I said I couldn’t do it any more I had this memory pop into my head. I nearly overlooked it but it popped up again some time later and once more I quickly noticed it and ignored it. It was tenacious, though, and it kept irrupting more and more frequently until I finally paid attention and fully looked at it.

In this memory I’m rapidly approaching a group of several people in robes whoPunakha Dzong, Punakha, Bhutan Stock Image seem to be awaiting my arrival. I’m waving and eagerly calling out, “I’m home! I’m home!” I’m so overwhelmed with relief and love and so many other emotions that my chest feels full to bursting and I can hardly breathe or speak. One strange thing I noticed was the pervasive and overwhelming sense of love and welcome. I was surrounded by, I was infused by, Love. These people were glad to see me. I was loved extravagantly and I could feel it. That astonished me. I had nothing in my life to compare it to. I’d never experienced anything like it. Each time this memory replayed I felt the same awesome and vast feeling of being loved and wanted beyond comprehension.

What finally blew me away was when one day during yet another recurrence of the memory I suddenly realized that these “people” weren’t people in robes as my first impression had been. They were spheres of sparkling electric blue light trailing faint diaphanous white swirls like wispy clouds beneath them. What really shook me, though, was when it finally dawned on me that if they looked like that, then I must look like that, too!

Abstract underwater composition with jelly balls, bubbles and light Stock PhotographyI know this all sounds like a dream but it didn’t feel like a dream. This event had a feeling about it that was realer than real. When I “woke up” to it years later, it still had this feeling of being a real experience. If you want to think it was a dream, that’s OK. But I’ve been awake and I’ve been asleep and I’ve had dreams. It was not something I woke up from as from normal sleep.

I know this sounds terribly woo-woo and now you’re asking, “So what does this have to do with dying?” I started to try to figure out where this memory could possibly have come from and when it might have happened. If I had a memory then at some point I obviously must have had an experience to remember. I gradually came to accept that it, whatever it was, had actually happened but what was it? I think that I literally died when I declared I couldn’t do “it” anymore. Not only was I in pain and drained of energy, I felt that strange exhaustion, different from the fatigue that had become way too familiar over the previous years. I’d innocently said occasionally, before I realized what had happened, that I felt like I was “gonna die of tired.”

I decided that final exhaustion, though it had an actual physical component from many years of relentlessly driving myself, wasn’t just physical. I now believe that it was a result of spirit—or chi or life-force or prana or soul, call it what you will—leaving my body. I clearly remember inertly sitting there, sunk deeply into the recliner with my head leaning against the back and noticing that I was having to remind myself to breathe. I wasn’t struggling to breathe, I wasn’t making any undue effort, I just didn’t feel any desire or need to breathe. I’d breathe out and after a while, even though I didn’t feel any urgency to breathe in again, I’d do it because that’s what was supposed to happen next. After doing this a few times I remember one time I breathed out and I Beautifull woman taking a deep breath at the sunset Stock Imagedon’t remember breathing in. If you don’t think this is unusual, ask yourself how often you remember your breathing at all, much less 10 or more years later. Even if you’re doing a meditation where you deliberately pay attention to your breathing, do you actually find cause to remember each breath the next week? I remembered. Anyway, I breathed out and at some indeterminate point I recall lifting my head, and there I was, sitting in my recliner, in pain and back to life as usual.

I have no proof of what might have happened between breathing out and “waking up” from a “nap” but I believe that’s when I created this memory. I still haven’t called to mind any details beyond my recollection of being welcomed by the “ball-people” although that memory continues to blow me away even now. That, and the overwhelming Love. I believe these were souls welcoming me Home when I died. But there’s so much more other experiencers describe of which I have no recollection, like tunnels and powerful beings of light.

Perhaps I didn’t remember this event for such a long time because I had to learn more about what happens when we die so the memory would have some context for me when I did remember it. Or maybe I had to become strong enough so the memory of this homecoming to overwhelming love wouldn’t inexorably draw me back before I was “scheduled” to return. I remember only the souls that met me and, most especially, the Love that surrounded and penetrated me.

I’ve also hSpiritual light in cupped hands Stock Photoad lots of naps and dreams. I’ve recorded many of those dreams and studied quite a few of them in depth, but never again has anything like that happened, in a dream or otherwise. Most of my dreams are prosaic and contain standard physical world images, highly significant symbolically, maybe, but never bizarre in the way this memory is. Neither have I had any cause to take note of or to remember my breathing again. Whether this was “merely” a spiritual awakening or an actual NDE doesn’t really matter to me. I have no doubt that something momentous happened.

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