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Monday, March 9, 2015

The seven ways to have a near-death experience by Rachel Nuwer

 3 March 2015

The seven ways to have a near-death experience

 Rachel Nuwer

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Seeing a light and a tunnel may be the popular perception of death, but as Rachel Nuwer discovers, reports are emerging of many other strange

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In 2011, Mr A, a 57-year-old social worker from England, was admitted to Southampton General Hospital after collapsing at work. Medical personnel were in the middle of inserting a catheter into his groin when he went into cardiac arrest. With oxygen cut off, his brain immediately flat-lined. Mr A died.

"The mental experience of death is much broader than what’s been assumed" — Sam Parnia, researcher

Despite this, he remembers what happened next. The staff grabbed an automated external defibrillator (AED), a shock-delivery machine used to try to reactivate the heart. Mr A heard a mechanical voice twice say, “Shock the patient.” In between those orders, he looked up to see a strange woman beckoning to him from the back corner of the room, near the ceiling. He joined her, leaving his inert body behind. “I felt that she knew me, I felt that I could trust her, and I felt she was there for a reason [but] I didn’t know what that was,” Mr A later recalled. “The next second, I was up there, looking down at me, the nurse and another man who had a bald head.” 

Hospital records later verified the AED’s two verbal commands. Mr A’s descriptions of the people in the room – people he had not seen before he lost consciousness – and their actions were also accurate. He was describing things that happened during a three-minute window of time that, according to what we know about biology, he should not have had any awareness of.  

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Mr A’s story – described in a paper in the journal Resuscitation – is one of a number of reports that challenge accepted wisdom on near-death experiences. Until now, researchers assumed that when the heart ceases to beat and stops sending vital blood to a person’s brain, all awareness immediately ends. At this point, the person is technically dead – although as we learn more about the science of death, we are beginning to understand that, in some cases, the condition can be reversible. For years, those who have come back from that inscrutable place have often reported memories of the event. Doctors mostly dismissed such anecdotal evidence as hallucinations, and researchers have been reluctant to delve into the study of near-death experiences, predominantly because it was viewed as something outside of the reach of scientific exploration. 

But Sam Parnia, a critical care physician and director of resuscitation research at Stony Brook University School of Medicine in New York, along with colleagues from 17 institutions in the US and UK, wanted to do away with assumptions about what people did or did not experience on their deathbeds. It is possible, they believe, to collect scientific data about those would-be final moments. So for four years, they analysed more than 2,000 cardiac arrest events – moments when a patient’s heart stops and they are officially dead.

Of those patients, doctors were able to bring 16% back from the dead, and Parnia and his colleagues were able to interview 101 of them, or about a third. “The goal was to try to understand, first of all, what is the mental and cognitive experience of death?” Parnia says. “And then, if we got people who claimed auditory and visual awareness at the time of death, to see if we are able to determine if they really were aware.”  

Seven flavours of death
Mr A, it turned out, was not the only patient who had some memory of his death. Nearly 50% of the study participants could recall something, but unlike Mr A and just one other woman whose out-of-body account could not be verified externally, the other patients’ experiences did not seem to be tied to actual events that took place during their death.

(Thinkstock)

Instead, they reported dream-like or hallucinatory scenarios that Parnia and his co-authors categorised into seven major themes. “Most of these were not consistent to what’s called ‘near-death’ experiences,” Parnia says. “It seems like the mental experience of death is much broader than what’s been assumed in the past.”
Those seven themes were:

Fear
Seeing animals or plants
Bright light
Violence and persecution
Deja-vu
Seeing family 

Recalling events post-cardiac arrest

These mental experiences ranged from terrifying to blissful. There were those who reported feeling afraid or suffering persecution, for example. “I had to get through a ceremony … and the ceremony was to get burned,” one patient recalled. “There were four men with me, and whichever lied would die … I saw men in coffins being buried upright.” Another remembered being “dragged through deep water”, and still another was “told I was going to die and the quickest way was to say the last short word I could remember”.

Others, however, experienced the opposite sensation, with 22% reporting “a feeling of peace or pleasantness”. Some saw living things: “All plants, no flowers” or “lions and tigers”; while others basked in the glow of “a brilliant light” or were reunited with family. Some, meanwhile, reported a strong sense of deja-vu: “I felt like I knew what people were going to do before they did it”. Heightened senses, a distorted perception of the passage of time and a feeling of disconnection from the body were also common sensations that survivors reported.

(Thinkstock)

While it is “definitely clear that people do have experience at the time that they’re dead”, Parnia says, how individuals actually choose to interpret those experiences depends entirely on their background and pre-existing beliefs. Someone from India might return from the dead and say they saw Krishna, whereas someone from the Midwest of the US could experience the same thing but claim to have seen God. “If the father of a child from the Midwest says, ‘When you die, you’ll see Jesus and he’ll be full of love and compassion,’ then of course he’ll see that,” Parnia says. “He’ll come back and say, ‘Oh dad, you’re right, I definitely saw Jesus!’ But would any of us actually recognise Jesus or God? You don’t know what God is. I don’t know what God is. Besides a man with a white beard, which is just a picture. 

“All of these things – what’s the soul, what is heaven and hell – I have no idea what they mean, and there’s probably thousands and thousands of interpretations based on where you’re born and what your background is,” he continues. “It’s important to move this out of the realm of religious teaching and into objectivity.”

Common cases
So far, the team has uncovered no predictor for who is most likely to remember something from their death, and explanations are lacking for why some people experience terrifying scenarios while others report euphoric ones. Parnia also points out that it’s very likely that more people have near-death experiences than the study numbers reflect. For many people, memories are almost certainly wiped away by the massive brain swelling that occurs following cardiac arrest, or by strong sedatives administered at the hospital. Even if people do not explicitly recall their experience of death, however, it could affect them on a subconscious level. Parnia hypothesises that this might help explain the wildly different reactions cardiac arrest patients often have following their recovery: some become unafraid of death and adopt a more altruistic approach to life, whereas others develop PTSD.

Parnia and his colleagues are already planning follow-up studies to try to address some of these questions. They also hope their work will help broaden the traditionally diametric conversation about death, breaking it free from the confines of either a religious or sceptical stance. Instead, they think, death should be treated as a scientific subject just like any other. “Anyone with a relatively objective mind will agree that this is something that should be investigated further,” Parnia says. “We have the means and the technology. Now it’s time to do it.”

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How to Digitally Record/Video a UFO sighting:


Como registar digitalmente ou gravar um vídeo de um avistamento de um UFO:




Stabilize the camera on a tripod. If there is no tripod, then set it on top of a stable, flat surface. If that is not possible lean against a wall to stabilize your body and prevent the camera from filming in a shaky, unsteady manner.

Estabilize a camera com um tripé. Se não tiver um tripé, então coloque-a em cima de uma superfície estável. Se não for possível, então encoste-se a uma parede para estabilizar o corpo e evitar que a camera registe de maneira tremida e instável.

Provide visual reference points for comparison. This includes the horizon, treetops, lampposts, houses, and geographical landmarks (i.e., Horsetooth Reservoir, Mt. Adams, etc.) Provide this in the video whenever is appropriate and doesn’t detract from what your focus is, the UFO.

Forneça pontos visuais de referência para comparação. Isso inclui o horizonte, cimo das árvores, postes de iluminação, pontos de referência geográficos (como o Reservatório de Horsetooth, Mone Adams, etc) Forneça esses pontos no vídeo sempre que for apropriado e não se distraia do que é o seu foco, o UFO/a Nave.

Narrate your videotape. Provide details of the date, time, location, and direction (N,S,E,W) you are looking in. Provide your observations on the weather, including approximate temperature, windspeed, any visible cloud cover or noticeable weather anomalies or events. Narrate on the shape, size, color, movements, approximate altitude of the UFO, etc and what it appears to be doing. Also include any unusual physical, psychological or emotional sensations you might have. Narrate any visual reference points on camera so they correlate with what the viewer will see, and thereby will be better able to understand.

Faça a narração do vídeo. Forneça pormenores sobre a data, hora, local e direcção (Norte, Sul, Este, Oeste) que está a observar. Faça observações sobre as condições atmosféricas, incluindo a temperatura aproximada, velocidade do vento, quantidade de nuvens, anomalias ou acontecimentos meteorológicos evidentes. Descreva a forma, o tamanho, a cor, os movimentos, a altitude aproximada onde se encontra o UFO/nave, etc e o que aparenta estar a fazer. Inclua também quaisquer aspectos pouco habituais de sensações físicas, psicológicas ou emocionais que possa ter. Faça a narração de todos os pontos de referência visual que o espectador irá ver e que, deste modo, será capaz de compreender melhor.

Be persistent and consistent. Return to the scene to videotape and record at this same location. If you have been successful once, the UFO sightings may be occurring in this region regularly, perhaps for specific reasons unknown, and you may be successful again. You may also wish to return to the same location at a different time of day (daylight hours) for better orientation and reference. Film just a minute or two under “normal” circumstances for comparison. Write down what you remember immediately after. As soon as you are done recording the experience/event, immediately write down your impressions, memories, thoughts, emotions, etc. so it is on the record in writing. If there were other witnesses, have them independently record their own impressions, thoughts, etc. Include in this exercise any drawings, sketches, or diagrams. Make sure you date and sign your documentation.

Seja persistente e não contraditório. Volte ao local da cena e registe o mesmo local. Se foi bem sucedido uma vez, pode ser que nessa região ocorram avistamentos de UFOs/naves com regularidade, talvez por razões específicas desconhecidas, e talvez possa ser novamente bem sucedido. Pode também desejar voltar ao mesmo lugar a horas diferentes do dia (durante as horas de luz)para ter uma orientação e referência melhor. Filme apenas um ,inuto ou dois em circunstâncias “normais” para ter um termo de comparação. Escreva tudo o que viu imediatamente após o acontecimento. Logo após ter feito o registo da experiência/acontecimento, escreva imediatamente as impressões, memórias, pensamentos, emoções, etc para que fiquem registadas por escrito. Se houver outras testemunhas, peça-lhes para registar independentemente as suas próprias impressões, pensamentos, etc. Inclua quaisquer desenhos, esbolos, diagramas. Certifique-se que data e assina o seu documento/testemunho.

Always be prepared. Have a digital camera or better yet a video camera with you, charged and ready to go, at all times. Make sure you know how to use your camera (and your cell phone video/photo camera) quickly and properly. These events can occur suddenly, unexpectedly, and often quite randomly, so you will need to be prepared.

Esteja sempre preparado, Tenha sempre uma camera digital, melhor ainda, uma camera vídeo consigo, carregada e pronta a usar sempre que necessário. Certifique-se que sabe como lidar com a sua camera (ou com o seu celular/camera fotográfica) rápida e adequadamente. Esses acontecimentos podem acontecer súbita e inesperadamente e, por vezes, acidentalmente, por isso, necessita estar preparado.

Look up. Be prepared. Report. Share.

Olhe para cima, Esteja preparado, Relate, Partilhe.

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