Monday, July 11, 2016

Near Death Experiences and Spiritual Awakening

Spiritual life, spiritual freedom, spiritual awakening, near death experience, spiritual opening
I happened to read an article about near death experiences while sipping tea in my favorite local tea shop, and I realized that this was a topic that I'd not really discussed before. The topic of the article was more about why they happen and the ambiguous line between life and death. But I'm not so interested in whether these experiences are proof of an afterlife or a whole lot of brain hypoxia (a brain starving for oxygen). I'm interested in what happens afterwards because many people who have near death experiences come to dramatic and life-transforming realizations. Many of them consider their near death experience (NDE--for the rest of this post) to be a spiritual awakening.

So let's take a look at this amazing experience and how it propels many people to live a renewed life if not a totally reborn life.

Let the Afterlife Be for Now

Many people have questions about the afterlife. I am not interested in delving into those for a variety of reasons. For one, you'll find out about the afterlife soon enough. Death is a truth of human life. It'll come for all of us, and it'll come a lot faster than we expect. Secondly, the unconscious ego is always grabbing for more ideas. Ideas and beliefs are the ways that the ego attempts to distract or soothe us depending on the issue. For many people, they are afraid of death, and so the idea of an afterlife is a way to self-soothe this fear rather than to really confront it. Thirdly, people are doing a pretty poor job of living as it is. There are so many opportunities for joy that are missed, and human beings can be so self-punishing through abuse to ourselves or to others (what we do to others we ultimately do to ourselves).

So let's deal with one world at a time. If you are in a body and are reading this blog, then you've got some life left in you yet, and how you engage with this world is important. If you are at peace and in love with this moment, this world is more than enough for you, and as I said, the afterlife will come soon enough.

Spiritual Awakening: Awakening to the Brevity of Life

As you may know, I'm fairly picky about how I define spiritual awakening. A lot of what arises after a near death experience from what I've read are profound revelations. In a NDE, the individual has a lot of truth revealed to them, and because there's nothing like being medically-declared dead or nearly dying to ring the alarm that life is short, this experience does a fantastic job of motivating people to take action on the revelations they feel. Other revelations we have during our lives can still be forgotten or avoided. People are good at that, but death strips away of a lot of illusions, including the illusion that you have more time. I can't emphasize enough how little time we all have. Even a hundred years is a blink of an eye, so there is no time to wait to embrace life.

I think if someone has a spiritual awakening after a NDE then the unconscious ego is probably more willing to embrace change, inner hardship, and life than ever before. This path to consciousness may have a bit more force than the awakening that arises sitting on your couch or at a spiritual retreat. In those latter experiences, the illusion that you have time is probably still lurking around. Most of the stories that come my way aren't about having death breathing down someone's necks. A lot of spiritual awakenings are much more subtle, yet profound. A NDE is not subtle, and that in-your-face-you're-not-living-forever-ace confrontational nature of almost dying can spark an inner awakening that ignites the energetic system and drives you towards your inner growth and love.

Choosing to Grow Spiritually

Yet, as powerful as a NDE can be, people still need to choose to grow spiritually. I think it is a very common issue for realizations and revelations to stay stuck in the mind. Certainly, the mind is important, and if you've had a NDE, then I encourage you to write down as much as you can to remember or record it in someway. Video or audio recordings are fine too. In so doing, you can commit something to the physical world because memory is such a slippery thing. Memory can shift and change, and the ego can doubt or re-frame over time. And for such a profound experience, I think it can be very helpful and grounding to record this experience. Then after that, I would encourage you to share it with a few people. You don't have to shout your experience to the world, but talking about a NDE is another way to make it real for you. Sure, there will be doubters in life, but there are doubters about everything. People used to doubt that the Earth revolved around the sun. Doubt is just another function of an ego mind that doesn't want to see the truth.

Now, let's make a delineation between doubting something and healthy skepticism. If we are in alignment with spiritual truth, we can question things that others say. But most of the time, doubt is a product of wanting to maintain our beliefs rather than expand our minds. A healthy skepticism will keep you engaged with a situation or idea and offer you an avenue to expand your mind rather than to close it. This kind of change in orientation in our minds is a key part of spiritual growth, and for someone who didn't believe that NDEs were possible and then had one, then you're going to have to let go of doubt to fully integrate your experience.

Awakening the Kundalini

For many people, a NDE will start a process of spiritual growth. Because this will probably be the most profound experience a person has ever had, the use of the term "spiritual awakening" is simply a way for the person to describe this shift in consciousness when they have no other term to explain it. But if they haven't awakened, they may find themselves drawn towards spiritual tools that do bring awakening in the  process of embracing their lives. This can be as startling or more startling than the NDE. It's hard to imagine that something would be more startling than almost dying and the associated experiences, but spiritual awakening can pack quite a punch.

As such, if someone's kundalini energy starts to move, then a whole new level of inner work opens up. A lot of initial spiritual growth before awakening is about clearing space to be you. Being you means allowing yourself to grow and change. It means allowing your energy to move you through your inner divine intelligence. Once that energy starts moving, then the game changes because this inner force directs you. You need to join with this intelligent direction. It'll show you where you need to address issues inside you and where the true you really wants to be in life. This is an unmistakable force, although it doesn't have to be profound. It's simply that most of us wake up out of alignment. A tree growing upside-down in the ground has a lot of work to do to stand up straight than a tree that has been growing upwards the whole time.

Specifically to a kundalini awakening, the energy moving through the back can be amazingly intense. For more on that, you can check out this blog post.

Kundalini Awakening and Kundalini Experiences

Coming to Terms With Life After Almost Death

Mainly, I believe a NDE and/or a spiritual awakening is an invitation to live. A big aspect of integrating after either or both experiences is about coming to terms with your life. How are you living? Are you really living the life that feels true to you? I like to say "feels true to you" rather than the life you want or that feels good because we can be so confused about what we truly want and what feels good doesn't necessarily guide us towards our truth but towards whatever our egos consider to be comfortable and safe. And perhaps a NDE helps the most of any kind of spark for major life transitions and transformations because it shows how ephemeral safety is. In an instant, someone can have a heart attack or get hit sitting at a stop light in their car. Suddenly, that idea of safety is gone.

So inner change may take you towards a path that isn't outwardly safe at all. It may put you in harms way, but if this is your truth, then something in you is alive and engaged in an amazing way. You can feel the freedom in your inner space even as you deal with difficulty in the external world around you. Maybe some of those places in which you are guided to work may even threaten your life. But after having glimpsed beyond this life, maybe that threat no longer holds so much power over you. Perhaps this is one of the greatest gifts someone can receive from a near death experience. In which case, you truly have been given an extraordinary freedom to live your life fully.
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