Skip to content

Sharing

Sharing and the Community of Spiritual Experience

Spiritual experience has touched people’s lives for thousands of millennia.  There is little doubt that today in America alone, tens of millions of people have had a spiritual experience.

So what makes a personal experience spiritual?  For William James it was  “…the feelings, acts, and experiences” of individual people who in their solitude understand that they have touched “whatever they may consider the divine.”  This definition is both inclusive and expansive. It means many things to many people.

What does spiritual experience mean to you?  If you had one, what was it like ?  How did it change your life? Sometimes we reach a deeper understanding within ourselves if we put something into words meant for someone else.  This holds true even for an experience that in many ways is “beyond words”.

If you’d like to share your experience with others, you can use the comment section below.  Alternatively, you can send your experience, thoughts and questions to Dr. Nelson directly.

36 Comments
  1. Wish I could sit down for a conversation, because I feel like your study and expoloration on the topic has only begun. I have had many personal experiences with out of body, joyful, lucid dreaming, esp, etc. My experiences did not come from fear—-they grew over time with Buddhist meditation, training in Tibetan techniques and other ancient spiritual traditions. The brain locations described I can feel as vibrations in the temp/par regions when someone is talking about me, getting ready to call or praying for me. I have often confirmed these events by contacting the person or waiting a few seconds for the phone to ring. I have had many precognitive events over the last 16 years and recorded them for my family —as they were confirmed. I can testify to the brain locations as I receive these and the locations activated during lucid dreaming. I did not start out my life with this, it just increased as I developed my meditation practice. I also practice Chi Gong, acupuncture and other Eastern disciplnes. I have many friends and other contacts with these abilities and have trained over the years with them. I also have years training in Gestalt Therapy and have worked with therapists on my own issues—–since these events were so strange in the beginning. I am also qualified in Addictions, since I ran the Indiana Dental Ass Wellness program for 8 years. The addictions are a drive for the transcendent experience and begin to awaken it , before it takes over the body and becomes the controller. I would ask you to contiue your study and take it farther into the realm of interpersonal contact between brains. sincerely, J E Gray DDS

  2. Kevin Nelson, M.D. permalink

    Julian,
    Truly remarkable is what come to my mind first about your experiences. I will continue to think about them. Fear I believe is often an important ingredient for mystical oneness. It may not always be 100%, after all, I don’t always feel hungry even though my body might need to eat and we do know that eating and hunger are bound together. I am glad to see your work with the wellness program. I do some related work here in KY and it is satisfying.

  3. Don Knudson permalink

    Dr Nelson,

    I finished reading your book and must tell you that it is the most insightful and informative read I’ve had for many years. I work as a chaplain with elderly folks in Minneapolis, MN and am aquainted with many people whose spiritual experiences are part of their life and end of life journey. Plus I’ve had several experiences myself I would call spiritual and which have helped me in my self understanding and they also help me appreciate the experiences of others.

    I was ordained 40 years ago as a Lutheran Pastor and although I’ve found my faith tradition a “tradition” which values continuity and a knd of conformity, esp. in theology, I’ve chaffed at that agenda and have continued to do a wide range of reading and self educating about other fields of study, discovery, etc. for clues of something that might open a window to reality that can be believed. Our Christian traditions, I believe, are wedded so closely to historical ignorant and quaint views. It’s hard to know if anything of value can be untangled from this weight of history. The dynamic awakening us to a deeper and more sophisiticated awareness of the universe, world and conscious life around us is so powerful it leaves me feeling that what I think I’ve known and might integrate into my life and values today might be trite ignorance tomorrow.

    I have a cousin who is an astronomer who has been looking back into the universe with great excitement and so I’ve been following his work and the work of others like him. I’ve now an awakening to a larger view of the universe as now perceived, as much as I can grasp which leaves my old imaginings in the dustbin.

    So now your book as a journey into the brain and consciousness is just as magnificent, exciting and awakening for me. I have always found it difficult to believe that consciousness somehow was drifting around space or in a haunted house rather than being a phenomonen of the brain. Heaven drifting in space above us never made sense to me. One of the first Cosmonauts commented that he looked around and didn’t see heaven. I remember that reported comment because it showed that the religion against which Russian communism/athiesm had rebelled, was a way of thinkng that was still held as a curiosity, if not as a secret belief. Another strange report recently published in the newspaper claimed that one third of Russian citizens who were surveyed still thought the sun goes around the earth, not the view of Copernicus. So the old views of cosmology accepted by biblical writers still live.

    Back to your work, I appreciate that your work has articulated a medical view that respects the spiritual dimensions of our human experiences as real, important, worthy of investigation and understanding. Thank you for that important sensitivity.

    I didn’t plan this to become such a long piece. Thanks again. I have much to write about the stories and experiences I’ve encountered in the course of my work as a chaplain.

  4. Kevin Nelson, M.D. permalink

    Don,
    I am very glad your post turned into a long piece. I think every aspect will resonate with many other people-including those whose less able to express themselves. I do think that understand the brain helps us understand our place in the universe. My writings are soon headed in the direction of Cosmology, and I will keep you updated. Thanks for your kind words. Although my original intent was to explain some of the “how” of the brain, some of my most interested readers are those of faith.

  5. Michael T. McKenna MD permalink

    Dr. Nelson, Magnificent book! Read it in one sitting. I have been haunted by a personal NDE for two years. It occured during a take-off incident in a MiG-21U here in San Diego. In short, we had a mechanical malfunction and the pilots canopy opened during the Take-Off run at about 190-200 MPH. I (a non pilot) was in the backseat under my own closed canopy. Part of the front canopy assembly hit the pilot in the face and he lost situational awareness. We started to turn over on our back and dive toward the dirt. I shouted at him once and then grabbed the stick and pulled it back to my crotch and to the right. We leveled out, touched the ground briefly, regained flying speed and continued through the top of a Eucalyptus tree on the airport perimeter road. He was struggling to hold the canopy down and I was doing a lot of the flying. The wind noise was terrific and communication was impossible. Pilot seemed to regain his bearings and we landed on the third attempt. I was preternaturally calm throughout this adventure and actually filmed the entire affair with my video cam. When I unsrapped from the ejection seat, I noticed that I had not a drop of sweat on my flight suit and the liner of my helmet was dry. I knew that something had happened to me during the critical first few seconds of the emergency, but I could not retrieve it from my memory. It surfaced two days later. It was a full blown NDE with me astride the spine of the MiG and speeding toward a bright horizontal light. No sound.I believe it occured in the micro second before I realized that the pilot was not in control and I grabbed the stick. Even then, it was a miracle that we survived. Multiple witnesses and the FAA investigated. They did not seek me out even though they had been informed that I had an in cockpit video of the entire affair. The video has remained under lock and key.Nothing came of the investigation and the pilot refuses to discuss the event. I had made 28 previous flights in the Mig but had little actual stick time. I saw combat as a young Marine in Vietnam, made 800 skydives and practice Anesthesia. I am used to pressure, but the NDE really scrambled my circuits. Your book has given me explanation and Serenity. I will recommend it to all my fellow NDE’ers. Thank You.

  6. Kevin Nelson, M.D. permalink

    Michael,
    Wow! I think that your extraordinary experience really pins down the primal nature of these experiences. And primal experiences naturally engage our primal brain. One of fascinating things is that even though you are obviously accustomed to pressure situations, it takes a special confluence of factors to make a near-death experience. Thanks so much for sharing.

  7. Helen Kit-chi permalink

    Dr Nelson,

    Thanks for your book and your research on the subject. I had an enlightenment experience when I was about 16. Below you will find a full account of my experience. But first I would like to bring up a couple of questions I don’t believe I have seen addressed in your book, and would like your comments on.

    First is that my experience, like many other enlightenment experiences I could find described in various religions, has an awakening aspect to it, ie, I was much more awake than any other awaken state I had ever experienced. It was as if I was asleep all my life until that moment when I was enlightened. In your book, you related spiritual experiences with REM sleep and acetylcholine, which is the opposite of being awake. Can you explain how I could have felt so awake at the time, and what neurotransmitters might be involved? Note that there was no drug or medication or bodily distress involved in my experience. And right after the experience, I was back to ordinary consciousness, and had no trouble falling asleep shortly after. So whatever neurotransmitter that was involved in my feeling so ‘awakened’ seems likely to be different from the neurotransmitter that caused people to be awake in the ordinary sense.

    My second question concerns the lasting effect of the enlightenment experience. After the experience, I was not only much happier, but also saw various talents that I previously didn’t have gradually emerged. I have been able to pick up musical instruments and started improvising and playing. I can paint. As a matter of fact, I would ‘see’ the subject, such as a landscape that I would like to paint with improvised music, before painting the musical colors on canvas. Note that I never learned how to play music or paint. I am an engineer by profession. It is obvious to me that my enlightenment experience has changed my brain somehow. I would be interested to know what kind of change you think that might be, and whether the change can be measurable.

    Following is an account of my so-called enlightenment experience and the circumstances that led to the experience:

    When I was fourteen or fifteen years old, I was increasingly skeptical of all religions, got depressed and was in an existential crisis. I decided to experiment on meditation to see whether that would get me anywhere. I tried not to learn the effects of meditation, thinking that may bias the subject, ie me, hence taint the experiment. Only after my enlightenment experience did I read others’ account of such experiences and was able to verify the results to be the same.

    For a couple of years I meditated without experiencing any spiritual experience. But my depression was better somehow, and so I carried on the meditation. Note that I never took any medication for my depression. As a matter of fact, at the time of my enlightenment experience I had not taken any medication at all. Neither had I taken any mind altering or mood altering drugs. Neither was I sick or tired or stressed or hungry.

    It was just a normal night when I was studying for a physics exam. But that night I felt somewhat different. I could hear the silence all around me, like a buzzing sound. And my mind was so clear that I was able to absorb the material I was studying very quickly. I seemed to be able to control time itself and absorb the material at my own pace.

    After studying I went to bed. And as usual, I meditated a little before falling asleep, so as to relax my mind. The meditation technique involved focusing a light in my third eye. But this time, the light expanded and I traveled into the light at tremendous speed. That was accompanied by a very loud buzzing sound, which I later learned is probably the AUM sound that Hinduism describes.

    One thing I would like to point out is that I have a fainting experience once many years after my enlightenment experience, and I could not find any similarity between my traveling into the light and my fainting experience.

    The light kept getting brighter when I traveled further. I saw images falling to the sides while I went further into the light. I didn’t stop to look at any of the images, because somehow I knew that the light is the ultimate and will provide some answers I was seeking. The light was extremely bright. I also felt tremendous love and happiness and intelligence associated with the light. There is also a presence without form I sensed. I felt that everything is perfect as is, and I was one with everything. I also felt awake. So awake that the ordinary awaken state seems like a deep sleep in comparison. The classic spiritual experience, you may say. I kept going further in tremendous speed, and finally arrived at a place of unlimitedness. Everywhere there was the clearest and brightest light possible, with the characteristics I previously described. And I was also this light. I was without bounds and have direct knowledge of everything.

    Later I learned that this clear light is the ultimate that Buddhism and many other religions pursue. For instance, there is a Buddhist saying that when you meditate and see Buddha on the way, kill him. The idea is that any spiritual encounters that involves images, including the image of Buddha, are stepping stones to the ultimate experience, but not the ultimate. So go further. The ultimate is without images, just as Islam preaches. It appears that I had stumbled into the ultimate, or so-called enlightenment experience, partly because my meditation was not associated with any religion, hence I was not caught in any religious imagery or preconception. My cup was truly all empty.

    I do not know how long I was in any unlimitedness state. At some point I willed myself back. And I found myself in bed once again, in ordinary awaken state. The feelings associate with the light was still strong within me, especially the happiness. I thought about the experience for a little while, and then let myself fall asleep naturally.

    The experience was life-changing for me, which as you know, is pretty common. But on top of the usual changes on outlook of life, etc, I also have talents emerged, which I have previously described. I also seem to have the ability to heal others, which I have not tried much, or care to expand on.

    I am really interested to see further brain research into spiritual experiences such as mine. I can see so many practical applications – cure depression, increase well-being, increase creativity … the list goes on.

    Helen

  8. Helen Kit-chi permalink

    Dr. Nelson,

    I just want to share another of my observation. In your book, you pointed out that spiritual experiences can be brought on by hallucinogens and the manipulation of serotonin-2a.

    I remember speaking with some people who had spiritual experiences brought on by hallucinogens. And their experiences seem to be greatly different in terms of degree and quality. To me, it is similar to cracking open a window and seeing a pond of water first time in their lives at a distance, versus jumping in and experiencing the wetness and fluidity, and the underwater world of wonder.

    The difference in quality is also like the difference between the love for asparagus versus the love of your child. And to explain the love for one’s child to a young person who has never had such experience could be difficult. That’s why it is often times difficult for people to relate the full extent of their spiritual experience to other people, because when you say ‘love’, people can only grasp the meaning of ‘love’ based on their own experiences. And all you can say is that this ‘love’ in your spiritual experience is much more intense, much higher quality, and so on, and you know that the other person cannot understand it without experiencing it himself\herself.

    As for the fear that you mentioned might be associated with spiritual experiences, there was absolutely none in my case. As a matter of fact, it was like going home, very much the opposite of fear.

    Concerning sleep paralysis that you mentioned in your book, I recall having a few episodes of that in a span of probably a few months when I was about 9 or 10 years old. It never happened again. My spiritual experience happened when I was about 16. When I first encountered the sleep paralysis, I was able to shake myself internally a bit and became mobile and awake again. I didn’t recall being afraid, perhaps a little odd initially, and took that as part of sleepiness. I am also pretty good (better than average) in retaining my consciousness during the in-between state of sleep and awake, and remembering dreams and images during the time. Also occasionally retaining my consciousness and volition while asleep during dreams – the so-called lucid dreaming I believe.

    Good luck with your on-going research.

    Helen

  9. Kevin Nelson, M.D. permalink

    Helen,
    Let me say from the beginning that I find your experiences absolutely compelling. Here are some thoughts (and certainly no final answers) to your questions.
    “Can you explain how I could have felt so awake at the time, and what neurotransmitters might be involved?”- Probably several, but I would think that serotonin would be near the top of the list (it also plays an important role in depression); what you describe fits what we know of as the serotonin syndrome. I also think the dopamine reward system is key to long lasting revelational experiences (see my depiction of Dostoevsky’s mock execution) Why these neurotransmitter systems should be triggered I am not sure in your case, but often it is the arousal and “fight-or-flight” system, tying this to our primal brain.

    “It is obvious to me that my enlightenment experience has changed my brain somehow. I would be interested to know what kind of change you think that might be, and whether the change can be measurable” What underlies the sustained changes in your brain also remains an incomplete scientific mystery but I must again turn to serotonin and dopamine systems. I think that the serotonin-2a,c that I write about must be playing some critical part. We know that this chemical system causes profound and lasting changes. These are among the most powerful experiences we can have. My last chapter discusses this along with the accounts of Frank, which I think are among the most important in the book.

    Thanks so much for your sharing,
    Kevin

  10. Kevin Nelson, M.D. permalink

    Helen,
    Yes, the serotonin-2a,c system CAN bring one lasting spiritual enlightenment (e.g. the Hopkins study), similar to what you describe. It is literally beyond words (or in terms of the brain) used the brain that evolutionally developed BEFORE words. However, as you point out, simply stimulating the serotonin-2a,c receptors is not enough for many, often leading the the stereotypical “trip”. The brain does often operate on paradox; where fear systems can be triggered yet lead to the direct opposite effect. This is a common expression in brain mechanisms and confuses the unwary. I see that you are experienced in the “borderlands of consciousness”. You might take a look at my latest article in the J of Cosmology.

    Best-
    Kevin

  11. Vicky Dellinger permalink

    I read your book. It gave me the much needed information to just cope with my own brain and my own life and my own perceptions. Nothing is as it appears for positive no doubt sure. Knowing this and living through life everyday can be quite a challenge on my thought processes as well as my emotions and feelings. Your book has been so incredibly helpful. I wonder if you are familiar with Byron Katie. She developed “The Work” which she teaches all over the world. I have always wondered about her brain. I have always thought something happened to her brain that has changed her perception so dramatically. She teaches something that I can’t get… the way she so naturally gets it. It is very dificult to do what she teaches because my brain has not changed like hers did. She had a before and after. Also Eckhart Tolle. He says in his book he no longer wanted to live and that evening upon going to bed he went into a vortex and his life has been forever changed and he is now a “spiritual teacher of NOW. I challenge myself every moment to be present, to be here and to be now but it is hard work because once again I am trying to get my brain to do something that it doesn’t do naturally. He had an experience that I believe changed his brain literrally which is what is so much in your book. Your book confirmed what I felt I knew but could never say out loud because….no one wants to hear that. I also wonder if you have had any contact with Jill Taylor…she wrote A Stroke of Insight. Surely you are familiar with her. Her book really had alot of influence on my feeling like there is so much more to the brain and what happens to us even spiritually. And last but not least I wonder if you have heard of Phineas Quimby. The mingling of minds written by Irvin Seale about Phineas Quimby and also The Quimby Manuscripts. Fascinating man from the 1800″s, how our minds (brain) can be manipulated to have experiences that seem so real. Which puts me in the mind of what you wrote about…the stimulating of or manipulation of certain parts of the brain to get certain results (experiences) with medical instruments (tools of the trade) compared to how this is also done by one mind over another. All belief systems come from minds (brains) and this is so much the foundation upon which Quimby’s life experiences proved to him. The way he healed people was by changing their minds their belief systems which all orignates in the brain. There is really nothing mystical about any of it only that we make it mystical by what we believe. I think you would find Quimby a fascinating read because of what you do. Thank you so much for writing this book. I would be curious to know if you are familiar with any one I have mentioned here.

  12. Kevin Nelson, M.D. permalink

    Vicky,
    Thanks so much for your thoughtful remarks. Yes I am quite familiar with Jill Taylor and hers is stunning story of over-comming and insights into the brain that she gratefully shares. Eckart Tolle I have some knowledge of, but sadly I am not familiar with the rest. No one will have the last word when t comes to the brain and experience, and in particular, spiritual experience. But it is a compelling topic to explore and glean whatever insights possible. I consider my own work as a jumping off point, and I am glad it seems to have served this purpose for you.
    Best-
    Kevin

  13. Hello Dr. Nelson,
    I am very interested in and grateful for your work. I would love to review it and also promote it through my weekly radio show on LA talk radio. You can see some of the other authors and thought leaders I have spoken with here….http://www.latalkradio.com/Wendy.php. The show airs live every
    weds from 12-1 pm pst. Very admirable.
    thanks for your consideration.
    best regards,

    Wendy Strgar
    http://www.goodcleanlove.com

  14. Jennifer permalink

    Dear Dr. Nelson,
    I am half way through reading your book and I wanted to first of all express my utmost appreciation for the level of respect with which you wrote your book. I am a believer in near death experiences on account of my spiritual beliefs and an experience which my mom had. She has since passed on and I wish to share her story.
    Back in 1999 my mom and a sudden massive heart attack. She was very quickly moved to the ICU with a temporary pacemaker. However, her heart stopped three times that night. The longest it stopped for was almost ten minutes. This is when she feels that she had her near death experience. She remembered being in the tunnel of light. She said that it was very warm and she was wearing a white dress and that she was skinny (my mom was a large woman). Anyway, she said that all of a sudden there was a door in front of her and on the other side of the door was her sister and her mother. She could not see them but knew they were there. They could not open the door for her. She was given a choice but she knew that should she open the door she would not come back. She decided to come back and then she was back in her body.
    Just one question for you, mom did not remember her experience right away upon coming conscious the next morning. Is that unusual? Or do people usually remember right away?
    Thanks for your time and your book.
    BC, Canada

  15. Kevin Nelson, M.D. permalink

    Jennifer,
    Memory is a very complex thing, and is among the first to go when our brain lacks the blood flow it needs second to second. To me it seems natural that your mother’s memory could only come to her after her brain sufficiently recovered from what must have been a serious, but thankfully not lasting, injury. As I read your mother’s account I was reminded of my sister-in-law and how she told of her father’s near-death experience in the book. In many ways the value of the experience transcends its explanation. Thanks for writing.
    Kevin

  16. Kris permalink

    I am wondering what you can speak to those of us with narcolepsy/cataplexy? Your book is our everyday lives. Especially chapter 7! Any way to manipulate that switch to the AWAKE position more often? As a narcoleptic I’d like to sleep withOUT dreaming, sleep paralysis, HH, cataplexy, sleep attacks, out of body experiences, to sometimes feel rested, be able to worship in church, do really exciting fun things, excercise and lose some weight, work full time, etc. etc. the list goes on and on. My neurologist’s answer is amphetamines/provigil which wreaks havoc on my body. Any new and novel ideas for those of us who involuntarily explore the spiritual side regularly, which is very interesting and enlightening, but would also benefit from and enjoy being able to stay conscious in THIS world a little bit more?

    Also, since narcoleptics have a genetic predisposition that we share with about 20% of the human population is it possible that those who share that same predisposition are the “people who have these special experiences…” (page 200). Do others without narcolepsy but who do have these experiences also have this predisposition?

    The narcoleptic brain is always referred-to as defective or disabled. Maybe it is spiritually super-abled? :) Of course I’d like to think so. Maybe more study should be done on the narcoleptic brain!

    Thanks for the work you’ve done and the book is very interesting and enlightening. Of course it resonates with me…

  17. Kevin Nelson, M.D. permalink

    Kris,
    You ask an interesting question. One of my subjects in the book, Matt, was also haunted by narcolepsy. I greatly both of you in your determination not to let lapses of consciousness prevent you from living the fullest life possible. Unfortunately there is no magic bullet for narcolepsy-yet. In just the last few years our understanding of narcolepsy has increased tremendously and I can not help but strongly believe that a far more effective treatment will follow. I suggest periodically monitoring PubMed and the NIH website clinicaltrials.gov.

    Although the narcoleptic brain is often a curse, it can also be a gateway to important spiritual experiences. In this way narcoleptics do have a special capacity for spiritual experience. We found that those with a near-death experience have this disposition as well, just not as strong as is is in narcoleptics.

    Best-
    kn

  18. Richard Galenes permalink

    I cannot explain some unusual events that have happened to me over the course of the last several months. I read while I am in the living room and most times the TV is on. As soon as someone says a world on the TV, I will read the same word in my book. Sometimes this happens four or five times a week. Some times my wife will say a word, and like magic I read the word at the same time. What do you think is going on?

    Regards,

    Richard

  19. Kevin Nelson, M.D. permalink

    Richard,
    The experience you describe is a fascinating one and I have given it some thought after your post. Hearing or reading(seeing) a word simultaneously with a word in one’s thoughts is a rare experience for many people-myself included. Why it is more frequent for you I’ll return to in a moment.

    How could this strange coincidence happen? Is the brain involved or is it more than coincidence? Lets first think about brain processes, and assume the words arise in two separate contexts (to heighten the coincidence) . The fact that it happens with both hearing and seeing words tells me that the pairing is far down the line in language processing, in advanced regions shared by auditory, visual and “thinking” language. Where the sounds and sights become words. This means it is relatively slow (in neural terms). The recognition and the generation of words are closely parallel processes. Now what if a heard or seen word is processed fractions of seconds before and triggers the thinking word so close in time to be imperceptible? Or the perception of time is altered, shifted so they seem simultaneous? Our perception of time is complex but is influenced by the amygdala and other limbic structures (hence our perceptual changes during fear).

    Why your time perception has changed I can not say. Alternatively it is an experience more akin to limbic phenomena like deja vu and jaime vu. As you can see I don’t have the answers but only preliminary speculation. I am going to keep your experiences in my mind, perhaps preparing it for a new idea.

    thanks so much-
    kn

  20. Gigi permalink

    Looking forward to your guest appearance on Coast this week. I have not read your book and perhaps my question will be answered when I do, however if you would answer it on coast I would be greatful. I am just curious if anyone else has had an experience similar to mine. In 1995 I had a typical (at least in terms of what is commonly described) near death experience after taking penicillin and an allergic anaphalatic shock episode. In 2007, however, I had a totally different experience. Much more dramatic for me and something I have not heard of happening before. I had an outpatient surgery to have an ANS pain managment device implanted on my spine. When I was put under anesthesia, I had an incredible experience. I remember standing beside a man who was on my right side. We were looking down at what seemed to be the universe and all which it contained. Suddenly, I understood everything. It is a bit uncomfortable to use the word everything because it doesn’t seem to encompus the kind of everything I mean. I mean EVERYTHING! I understood mathmatics which haven’t even been invented yet. I understood physics, engineering, medicine, every science we have ever come up with…but there was so much more. I understood spirituality in ways that were beyond anything ever talked about. At that point, I began to weep uncontrollably. I ask, “May I take this back with me?” The man said it was not allowed and I pleaded that if I could just take this..or that…it could change all of humanities understanding. Put an end to war and famine and pain. The anesthesiologist…I suppose…was at this point bringing me out of my slumber and I could feel myself fighting to stay where I was and my mind was trying to hold on to some of the information. When I awoke from the anesthesia I was weeping and I heard a nurse say..”we have a crier”. I could not remember anything except that I had been there and been shown things that I knew for a fact were real. This was nothing like a dream. I could feel the information draining from my mind as if it were being poured out of me like an ocean of liquid. And all I could think was why did you show me this if you won’t let me bring it back? Why can’t I bring it back? Why can’t I bring it back? I just remembered the man saying…”it isn’t the way and it isn’t allowed.” Have you ever heard of anyone having any type of similar experience to this?

  21. Kevin Nelson, M.D. permalink

    Gigi,
    Wow! is my first and lasting impression of your experience.  None of my research subjects had an account such as yours.  I am aware of one by the great psychiatrist Carl Jung, that I chronicle in my book, The Spiritual Doorway.  Like you, Jung was deeply moved by his experience and discusses it at length in his autobiography.  I also spend much time exploring his important experience.

    You are correct, these are nothing like the nightly dreams we normally have because they are not our usual dreams.  However, that does not exclude the idea that parts of the brain that participate in dreaming also participate in extraordinary experiences like yours.

    Think of it like this, the apostle Matthew is believed by faithful Christians to have been divinely inspired when he wrote his gospel in the New Testiment.  I have every reason to believe that he used the same portions of brain for writing the gospel that he used for speaking and writing in every day life.  I am interested in HOW the brain participates in spiritual experience, the WHY is a matter of faith.

    Thanks so much for writing and sharing your experience with me.  I hope you will tune into the show.

  22. Listening to Kevin share with George Noory on Coast to Coast had a sense of tension.

    The ideal of science verses the science of Hocus Pocus is not easily attained..

    I wanted Kevin to know that when George was trying to put to him about the physical brain as spiritual in science can not explain what happens after a person dies?

    The brain is physical is what George said, and when a person dies they don’t have the physical…

    Please let Dr.Kevin know that when a person dies they enter into the physical realm…It is like being asleep….

    In Eternal Life we will still have the same physical body, only a little more on the cutting edge concerning time.

    All of the days of our entire life even from the time period of the womb is still elite. Every moment of every day is still there and also everything else, like Homes, people, animals ect….

    The only thing that is strange about all the places in time concerning our life is work, sex, eating, drinking, talking, these things that we are doing in the present are not happening in the time periods of our life….In other words if you could go back in time to a specific moment of when you were working you would find that you are not working…if you went to the time period of when egg was joined by the sperm of the father you will find that no sexual intercourse had happened…

    The Jews up held the Sabbath and when you look at time you will see and understand why…

    The new body will be physical just like you have allways had but all the days of your life will be as one running concurent….Much more alive!

    Take care Dr. Kevin,

    Randy J Berton…

    rebolives@Gmail.com

  23. Joseph Webb permalink

    Listening to you right now on coast to coast is a wonderful experience. It is so hard to communicate what you go threw with near death experiences. I myself have had two, in 2003 I was shot at work and my bad had severe reactions to the gunpowder and I suffered from major infections. One night in the hospital I remember waking up but not understanding why the hospital was pitch black and no sound . All of a sudden there was a bright light and family members who had passed on we’re gathered at my bed side. I began to rise from body and was saying that I was ok with it and ready to go . In one voice I heard them all say no it is not your time and do not give up . I remember returning to my body and then it was lick someone hit a switch and everything was normal. The next day I began my rehabilitation and took my 1 st step . My second experience was 2006 in which I went to the hospital and was discovered I had a aneurysm the size of a small sausage sitting on the right side of my head affecting my sight and other functions. . I was in the hospital a couple of days later when I returned because I signed myself out in shock. No sooner then the surgeon had spoken to me I was lying in the bed sleeping and I sat right up and was unable to do anything. Luckily the guy in the bed next to me notice what was going on and called for help. The nurse immediately came in and disconnected me from everything and whisked me away. I remember knowing I was dying and being comforted by the nurse . Then there was nothing but black . I remember feeling warm and wrapped in a soft light and I could hear the voice of my grandmother speaking to me , comforting me telling me to relax and that I would be ok . I couldn’t respond but it was the last thing I Remember . A month later after major brain surgery I walked into my neuro surgeons office and to his surprise had fully regained my sight , my motor skills and was almost 100% recovered. He even referred to me as superman. It’s hard to tell the stories and they are very painful and even harder when people don’t believe them . I know what I felt and what I experienced! Thank you for giving people a forum to tell there stories.

  24. Tony RN permalink

    Dr Nelson,
    Thank you for teaching healthcare providers the wisdom of communicating to our non-responsive patients as if they were fully alert! I had been taught that by military air evac and casualty staging nurses decades ago when I began practice! And since then, I feared it was becoming a lost art!
    But, for me today as a survivor of what others may call near death, for me it was truly a NEAR LIFE event!
    Mortals may fear death, but once spiritually enlightened the self grows to ascend!

  25. Alyce permalink

    I had an unexplained experience about 25 years ago.
    One night I had a dream which seemed, when I woke up, to be not too unusual as far as dreams go. I dreamed I was at work in my office but there was a live puppy standing on top of my computer keyboard. (I don’t know why a puppy because I had no interest in dogs at the time and didn’t own one) In the dream, my co-workers kept coming up to me and remarking about the puppy and how cute it was. I just told them I didn’t know how the puppy got there, it wasn’t mine. So, that morning I got dressed and went to my job, forgetting about the silly dream. I opened my office door and directly over my computer was a huge poster 4′ x 3′ of a puppy. The entire poster was of a puppy. The night shift person, whom I had never met, put the poster up during the night. All day long, different co-workers would come by and immediately remark about the “cute puppy” on top of my computer. I had to keep repeating all day that the poster was not mine and I wasn’t sure who put it there. I felt like I was re- living the dream all day long.
    This could not have been a coincidence. I never thought about puppies or dogs back then nor had any conversations, so it’s not like this was something that could’ve been “in the back of my mind”.
    I’ve had quite a few instances in my life where I would think something and someone would blurt out what I was thinking, and these instances I agree could possibly be coincidence. But that one dream has got me convinced that somehow we are “connected” to something out there.

  26. Dr Nelson,

    I died in an EMS truck decades ago. I had NO odd experiences, just a blackness, with no consciousness. How common is this ?

    Also, in a sleep lab for apnea, the doctor said that in REM I move about freely — I do not “freeze” or become immobile. He said that this is “extremeely abnormal.” mHow odd is it ?

    Your coast to coast show was one of the best I have ever listened to,

    Don H

    .

  27. jan shaughnessy permalink

    dr. Nelson, i heard you on coast to coast. yous poke about an increase in strokes in a certain location. i had a stroke1 0yearsago . i am wondering if you have insight on healing loss of function from stroke. i’ve tried several techniques in my healing journey but at a standstill presently. i’ve tried reiki, sound healing,cranial sacral,traditional physical therapy and now Christian Science prayer. in CS prayer i’m supposed to become conscious that i’m divinely spiritual and not in nor of matter.once i feel this link to being purely spiritual i will be free ofimy liitations. i’m having trouble feeling this spirituality. i want to move my left hand and leg.i’ve had some sucess loosening and opening my stroke hand. Do you have any ideas how i can accessspirituality in the brain? thank you loved the show jan

  28. Kevin Nelson, M.D. permalink

    Jan,
    Your story is very moving. With your stroke, concentration may be difficult but I still think their is great benefit in meditation, and for you one that involves tehh Christian Science faith. I also think that you would find the readings of Thomas Merton inspiring. If reading is difficult for you, perhaps someone can read them to you.
    Kindly,
    kn

  29. Kevin Nelson, M.D. permalink

    Don,
    Even in the extreme of cardiac arrest, only about 12% of people will have a near-death experience. In my book, “The Spiritual Doorway in the Brain” I extensively discuss how the brain makes some people very likely to have a spiritual experience. And thanks for the very kind words.
    Kevin

  30. Kevin Nelson, M.D. permalink

    Randy,
    I appreciate you sharing your thoughts. And yes, the concern of my book is about the physical science alone. The rest, and perhaps most interesting questions, are beyond today’s science.
    Best-
    Kevin

  31. Kevin Nelson, M.D. permalink

    Joseph,
    Thanks so much for sharing your amazing and powerful experiences. You truly ARE super for your remarkable strength of will and spirit.
    Best-
    Kevin

  32. Kevin Nelson, M.D. permalink

    Tony,
    There is much wisdom in what you say as well. I remained puzzled why so many healthcare workers forget that patients take in much more than is apparent, and failing to understand that is to fail to give the best possible medical care. I also agree that the term near-death emphasizes the wrong attribute, that is ignoring a new vital feeling for life. Thanks for writing.
    Kevin

  33. Kevin Nelson, M.D. permalink

    Alyce,
    Was the dream unusual in any other way that you can remember? Did something change in the office before your dream? I enjoyed reading of your dream. thanks.
    Kevin

  34. Alyce permalink

    The office had a lot of blank walls. It wasn’t so much as an “office” more like a large computer room. The walls were blank with about 3 computers on tables that were placed up against the walls. There were printers and fax machines. I used one particular computer all the time.
    Nothing unusual happened before the dream. I was newly married and had zero interest in dogs or puppies. In fact it wasn’t until a decade later that I wound up getting a dog for my children.
    So the big poster was placed directly over my computer….it could’ve been put on another wall.
    In my dream, it was a REAL puppy on my computer, but in reality it was a poster. Although this was not a premonition about something important like an earthquake, I am still perplexed about how these things could happen.

  35. Saraphin permalink

    Dr. Nelson, I’m about half way through your book and find it extremely fascinating. I’ve always been a very inquisitive person particularly when it comes to spirituality. (I don’t mean religion necessarily) I’ve had several ‘spiritual’ experiences in my lifetime, but a couple I would like to share, and then ask a question. I have been a prolific dreamer my entire life. I can remember some dreams I had as a child, and some just last week. I’ve made a habit of writing them down the past 6 years or so and find that many have led me to life changing events. Some were ‘prophetic’, some revealing things about others and so much more. At 21 I was awoken by a nightmare, and sought help from G-d. As soon as I did, I experienced a burning sensation at the crown of my head, and it enveloped my entire body leaving through my toes. I sensed an enlightenment and turn of events coming. I’ve always been a spiritual person, and sought ‘religion’ as my connection to G-d, as all people find what works for them. My entire life since I was a child, I’ve always known and sensed a ‘presence’ that walked with me, although I don’t know who/what it is. Sometimes I feel a presence ‘thicker’ than others, by this I mean the air nearby becomes thick and sometimes I can feel it behind me looking over my shoulder. One other incident was about 6 years ago I was sitting at my desk by my bed facing my bed and my daughter was on the bed and we were talking about spirituality. I had flip flops on and my feet were under the bedskirt. Suddenly I felt something cold and wet on my left foot and seep between my toes. I put my foot up on the bed and my daughter and I looked with amazement at the water that appeared on my foot from no where. There is no water under my bed or anywhere near my bedroom. There was no logical explanation for this. Now my question, I have had tinnitus since I first noticed it at about 12 years old. There is no logical reason for this, and I’ve not had any hearing loss or injury, nor subjected to loud noise in my lifetime that could be attributed to this. I have all sorts of noises, whooshing, the sound of the ocean, followed by a high pitch, and then the constant ‘white noise’ of continually buzzing. I hear plenty of noise even when I plug my ears. If as doctors say it is noise through the ears by hearing, how is it explained that I can hear it, when my ears are plugged from outside interference? Could this noise be coming from somewhere else within the brain? Some odd misconnection or picking something up from other dimensions?

  36. Kevin Nelson, M.D. permalink

    Many, including some of my children, have felt a sensed presence. And as far as the brain is concerned, we know that workings within the temporo-parietal area are the portions that participate in these powerful sensations.

    By far and away, tinnutus does NOT arise from within the brain but from the hearing organs deep within the ear. The reason you hear it even with plugged ears is because it is not from the outside, but the hearing organs deep within the skull but outside the brain.

    Thanks-
    k

Leave a Reply

Note: XHTML is allowed. Your email address will never be published.

Subscribe to this comment feed via RSS