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The Science Behind Near Death Experiences

Updated on September 24, 2014

What happens when we die? Most people give thoughts about this question that never fails to stimulate the mind. It's the subject of most watercooler talk. Do you believe that heaven exists? Do you go to hell if you commit suicide? Many questions are left unanswered until now. I was watching the Doctor Oz show and they talked about what happens to the brain and spirit when we die. The discussion is anything but dull because it gave insights to our mental health and spiritual life. Many skeptics including this scribe have turned into "believers" after the discussion.

Investigative Journalist and author of Glimpsing Heaven Judy Bachrach was a guest on the Dr. Oz show. She had a life altering experience when her mother was diagnosed with Alzheimer's disease. She interviewed people who have had near death experience. She called these people "Death Travelers". These people who experienced "death" had voyages. They meet people along their journey and come back to Earth with new experiences.

One of the people they showed on the clip was a man named "David". He was a chief engineer of the vessel Aloha. One time, the ocean was up to 25 to 35 ft. The waters were violent. He was catapulted into the ocean and had absolute darkness. He drowned. When he was unconscious, he saw the future. He had a premonition that he had cancer and that he would live beyond cancer. He saw a light and heard a voice that told him "This is not your time. Go back". In 2000, he was diagnosed with lung cancer that metastasized into his spine. After 6 months, he was cancer free.

The common themes that are recurring during death are a case to case basis. According to Bachrach, most people who have experienced death encounter beings who are either spiritual or actual human beings who don't exist. Many people have a "life review" meaning they look back on their lives and see what they did wrong and what they did right. Almost everybody she interviewed found peace and happiness after the experience.

A man named William explained in the footage a similar experience. His heart stopped three times and the doctors brought him back to life three times. When the heart stops, your energy saps. He couldn't hold on to his life. He saw he was in outer space. He saw all the stars and planets. There was a thread connecting all the stars and the planets. He called the scenario "love energy". He encountered a being and told him to feel his mother's heart. He could feel the pain she felt when she died. He knew he needed to come back. He experienced heaven through "love energy".

Doctor Oz explained what happens to the body and brain when we die. When you are dying, breathing slows and heart stops beating. The oxygen carries blood throughout the body. When heart stops pumping, the oxygen is no longer there. Bubbles appear and the synapses and neurons stop firing. When we come back to life, we see splotchy areas in the brain where some areas recover while some don't. Some areas recover faster than others. You have out of the body sensations. The areas where you sense things, see things, and hear things come back while the part of the body that grounds you does not come back. Death Travelers come back with memories that they shouldn't have had. They feel much better because brain gets better.

Andrew Newberg, who spent 20 years studying this phenomenon, coined the term Neurotheology meaning brain meats spirituality. He is also the author of How God Changes The Brain. The biology part doesn't explain all the experiences such as the experiences that David felt when he died. The doctors couldn't explain the premonition that David had that he would be getting cancer and ends up being cancer free in an unusual way. There is a spiritual explanation where a spirit or a soul can go out into this world or into heaven that can tell us about ourselves, about our world, or future. There are a lot of explanations but none can explain clearly the phenomenon. According to Bachrach, it doesn't matter how we die. The people who commit suicide or die naturally have had near death experience.

A woman named Tikka confessed that she was afraid to die. One day in college, somebody violently attacked her. Spirit left her body. She saw a light and everything was quiet. She felt free and had nothing to worry about. Her face was swollen and her vocal cords were damaged. She didn't think she saw heaven, but she knew everything was still and peaceful. After that, she wasn't afraid of death anymore. Bachrach explained that it doesn't matter what the cause of death is. When we die, there is happiness and peace. Newberg added, that it brings out positive experiences and it changes the way we think about our lives. We no longer feel afraid of death. The recurring event that happens is that people don't feel lonely when their gone.

Some may raise eyebrows about this topic. But this is one topic that makes sense to all of us. This is another proof that Science and Religion don't contradict. Science explains how while Religion explains why. This topic will evolve and turn into a lengthy discussion in seasons to come.

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