A Near-Death Experience (NDE)is a controversial phenomenon reported by many people who have recovered from a state of clinical death. Quite often, reports of Near-Death Experience occur after traumatic accidents or during surgical procedures. During the time when respiration and blood circulation have stopped, some people report a sensation of euphoria or contentment or in some cases fear. Others have claimed to rise above their bodies, sometimes observing the resuscitation efforts. Many people have reported interactions with deceased relatives or friends, while others with strong religious beliefs describe encounters with God or Jesus or another spiritual entity. The most common description of a near-death experience involves traveling through a tunnel towards a distant light. Some report reaching the source of the light, only to be returned to their physical bodies at the time of resuscitation.
There can be no doubt that the near-death phenomenon remains controversial. Those with strong religious belief structures routinely describe the process in spiritual terms, which cannot be measured scientifically or medically. For these people that claiim near-death experiences, the episode is generally viewed as positive and faith-confirming. Seeing deceased relatives and friends or meeting their spiritual creator brought feelings of contentment not regularly experienced in their ordinary world.
Many religious survivors of an near-death experience report a feeling of profound disappointment as a spiritual presence orders them back to their physical bodies. Some say they were asked to decide whether or not to return to their lives on Earth. For many survivors, the decision to remain with the living proved to be difficult. Near-death survivors who report a lack of interest in religion before the experience often become more dedicated and focused after it.
From a scientific and medical point of view, however, there are some tangible explanations for many of near-death experiences. Some researchers believe that the brain itself may be responsible for many of the experiences described by survivors. As the brain begins to suffer from a lack of blood and oxygen, it may go into a self-protective mode to prevent further damage or prepare for imminent death. Some scientists believe the images seen by dying patients are generated as the brain processes repressed memory banks. The sensation of euphoria could be the result of a deep sleep state, much like getting a very good night's rest. As the brain continues to shut down, memories of deceased relatives and friends may appear in the form of a lucid dream. Lucid dreams often involve a sensation of real interaction between the dreamer and the visions.
The light seen at the end of a tunnel could be the oldest repressed memory of them all - the moment of childbirth. A baby's first memory may be of going through the birth canal and seeing the lights of a delivery room. The experience of meeting God or Jesus or another spiritual force could be another form of lucid dreaming, based on the innermost spiritual experiences of the patient. Once the body has been resuscitated, the subconscious is reunited abruptly with the conscious brain, which can be a jarring experience. This could explain the sensation of being torn away from another reality.
Near-death experiences cannot be readily explained away by conventional wisdom. Many people who have been declared clinically dead do not report any near-death experiences. On the other hand, non-religious patients have described spiritual experiences during near-death situations. Some NDE survivors may not feel comfortable discussing certain aspects of their experiences. Others use their near-death experiences as a foundation for religious testimony or ministerial work.