Before I discuss in greater detail some neurophysiological aspects of brain functioning during cardiac arrest, I would like to reconsider certain elements of the NDE, like the out-of-body experience, the holographic life review and preview, the encounter with deceased relatives, the return into the body and the disappearance of the fear of death. 

4.1. The Out-of-Body Experience

In this experience people have veridical perceptions from a position outside and above their lifeless body. NDEers have the feeling that they have apparently taken off their body like an old coat and to their surprise they appear to have retained their own identity with the possibility of perception, emotions, and a very clear consciousness. This out-of-body experience is scientifically important because doctors, nurses, and relatives can verify the reported perceptions. This is the report of a nurse of a Coronary Care Unit:

“During night shift an ambulance brings in a 44-year old cyanotic, comatose man into the coronary care unit. He was found in coma about 30 minutes before in a meadow. When we go to intubate the patient, he turns out to have dentures in his mouth. I remove these upper dentures and put them onto the ‘crash cart.’ After about an hour and a half the patient has sufficient heart rhythm and blood pressure, but he is still ventilated and intubated, and he is still comatose. He is transferred to the intensive care unit to continue the necessary artificial respiration. Only after more than a week do I meet again with the patient, who is by now back on the cardiac ward. The moment he sees me he says: ‘O, that nurse knows where my dentures are.’ I am very surprised. Then he elucidates: ‘You were there when I was brought into hospital and you took my dentures out of my mouth and put them onto that cart, it had all these bottles on it and there was this sliding drawer underneath, and there you put my teeth.’ I was especially amazed because I remembered this happening while the man was in deep coma and in the process of CPR. It appeared that the man had seen himself lying in bed, that he had perceived from above how nurses and doctors had been busy with the CPR. He was also able to describe correctly and in detail the small room in which he had been resuscitated as well as the appearance of those present like myself. He is deeply impressed by his experience and says he is no longer afraid of death.

4.2. The Holographic Life Review

During this life review the subject feels the presence and renewed experience of not only every act but also every thought from one’s past life, and one realizes that all of it is an energy field which influences oneself as well as others. All that has been done and thought seems to be significant and stored. Insight is obtained about whether love was given or on the contrary withheld. Because one is connected with the memories, emotions and consciousness of another person, you experience the consequences of your own thoughts, words and actions to that other person at the very moment in the past that they occurred. Hence there is during a life review a connection withthe fields of consciousness of other persons as well as with your own fields of consciousness (interconnectedness). Patients survey their whole life in one glance; time and space do not seem to exist during such an experience. Instantaneously they are where they concentrate upon (non-locality), and they can talk for hours about the content of the life review even though the resuscitation only took minutes. Quotation:

“All of my life up till the present seemed to be placed before me in a kind of panoramic, three-dimensional review, and each event seemed to be accompanied by a consciousness of good or evil or with an insight into cause or effect. Not only did I perceive everything from my own viewpoint, but I also knew the thoughts of everyone involved in the event, as if I had their thoughts within me. This meant that I perceived not only what I had done or thought, but even in what way it had influenced others, as if I saw things with all-seeing eyes. And so even your thoughts are apparently not wiped out. And all the time during the review the importance of love was emphasised. Looking back, I cannot say how long this life review and life insight lasted, it may have been long, for every subject came up, but at the same time it seemed just a fraction of a second, because I perceived it all at the same moment. Time and distance seemed not to exist. I was in all places at the same time, and sometimes my attention was drawn to something, and then I would be present there.”

Also a preview can be experienced, in which both future images from personal life events (sometimes remembered only later in the shape of “déja vu”) as well as more general images from the future occur, even though it must be stressed that these surveyed images should be considered purely as possibilities. And again it seems as if time and space do not exist during this review. Quotation:

“I had a nice eye contact, they looked at me full of love, and then I surveyed a great part of my life to come; the care for my children, the terminal illness of my wife, the circumstances I would be mixed up with, in my job and besides. I surveyed it completely; and then I got the feeling that I had to decide now: ‘I may stay here, or I have to go back,’ but I had to decide now.”

4.3. The Encounter with Deceased Relatives

If deceased acquaintances or relatives are encountered in an otherworldly dimension, they are usually recognized by their appearance, while communication is possible through thought transfer. Thus, during an NDE it is also possible to come into contact with fields of consciousness of deceased persons (interconnectedness). Sometimes persons are met whose death was impossible to have known; sometimes persons unknown to them are encountered during an NDE. Quotation:

“During my cardiac arrest I had a extensive experience (…) and later I saw, apart from my deceased grandmother, a man who had looked at me lovingly, but whom I did not know. More than 10 years later, at my mother’s deathbed, she confessed to me that I had been born out of an extramarital relationship, my father being a Jewish man who had been deported and killed during the second World War, and my mother showed me his picture. The unknown man that I had seen more than 10 years before during my NDE turned out to be my biological father.”

4.4. The Return into the Body

Some patients can describe how they returned into their body, mostly through the top of the head, after they had come to understand through wordless communication with a Being of Light or a deceased relative that “it wasn’t their time yet” or that “they still had a task to fulfil.” The conscious return into the body is experienced as something very oppressive. They regain consciousness in their body and realize that they are “locked up” in their body, meaning again all the pain and restriction of their disease. They also realize that a part of their consciousness with deep knowledge and understanding as well as the feeling of unconditional love and acceptance have been taken away from them again. Quotation:

“And when I regained consciousness in my body, it was so terrible, so terrible… that experience was so beautiful, I never would have liked to come back, I wanted to stay there… and still I came back. And from that moment on it was a very difficult experience to live my life again in my body, with all the limitations I felt in that period.”

4.5. The Disappearance of Fear of Death

Nearly all people who have experienced an NDE lose their fear of death. This is due to the realization that there is a continuation of consciousness, even when you have been declared dead by bystanders or even by doctors. You are separated from the lifeless body, retaining the ability of perception. Quotation:

“It is outside my domain to discuss something that can only be proven by death. For me, however, the experience was decisive in convincing me that consciousness lives on beyond the grave. Death was not death, but another form of life.”

Another quotation:

“This experience is a blessing for me, for now I know for sure that body and mind are separated, and that there is life after death.”

Following an NDE people know of the continuity of their consciousness, retaining all thoughts and past events. And this insight causes exactly their process of transformation and the loss of fear of death. Man appears to be more than just a body.