On the last nice weekend in October 1985, a few good friends and I decided to go horseback riding at a summer camp ranch in West Virginia where we had been teaching as department directors in our various fields. It was a beautiful day, clear blue skies, cool but comfortable breezes and a perfect day for riding. We rode around the pastures for several hours without incident. We went back to the corral, staying mounted in the saddle but slowly walking the horses around the ring, waiting for staff to come and take our horses in, one at a time.
Suddenly, everything seemed to happen simultaneously.... the horse in front of me seemed to get spooked by something and the rider lost control as the horse bucked and backed into my horse. I was so relaxed that I was totally unprepared to suddenly have to reign in and control my horse and he bucked very fast and high. The next thing I knew I was airborne and landing very hard on my head and my neck bent inward so intensely that my face was forced onto my chest. My left leg was also yanked forcibly out of the stirrup, tearing the ligaments in my groin and thighs as I landed hard.
At this point, my consciousness seemed to 'bifurcate' and I was simultaneously aware of what was happening to my body, hearing and feeling the bones crack and the ligaments and muscles tear, but not feeling pain, and I was also suddenly watching a "Life Review"! It made me kind of laugh, thinking, "Oh, it's true! You do see your life pass before you!" It struck me as kind of funny for some reason and very fascinating as I watched the 'movie' of my life play. The recording went backwards, scene by scene, throughout my entire 31 years, every second, relationship, activity, feeling.... then finally back to the womb and the moment of conception....
Then, there was blackness for a moment (but there was no sense of time; it all was happening at the same time) ...this narrative is taking longer than the event in physical time. Then all of a sudden, I (my consciousness) was in a tunnel, traveling so fast and faster toward "Light".... I had no 'body' sense.... just pure beingness, consciousness....
Then there was suddenly a sense of quiet and total peace in this Light. I became aware of another consciousness near me and then another (no bodies!), so it seemed as though these were my Guardian Angels (or maybe my "Higher Self" and an angel??) We had a 'discussion' (there were no words, it was all like instantaneous understanding) ...I was given a choice to come back to the body or stay. I wanted to come back because I felt that I had things that I had to do in this lifetime. It seemed that I was also given a choice of 'paraplegic', 'quadriplegic' or just to be in constant pain for the remainder of my life in this incarnation....
I chose the latter, but when I came back to consciousness of my physical body, there was a brief moment when I had to again make the conscious decision to re-connect with my physical body so that I could move my limbs....
At that point, I re-connected with my body and opened my eyes to see my friends and staff all gathered around me, yelling and trying to figure out who to call and what to do. I insisted that I did not want to go to the hospital, for many reasons, including fear of doctors and hospitals from my first near-death at 7 when my appendix burst! (That didn't scare me, but the doctors did.) I also had no insurance, and I did not want to sue the ranch, which belonged to my employer, where I loved working.
I was carefully taken home by my friends and I laid in bed for over a week 'healing', only getting up with difficulty for bathroom breaks and food. I did have to get chiropractic care a few months later when my arms stopped working normally. My neck literally had 'disconnected' from the spinal column and then was 'snapped back' into place (by the angels?) when I came back into my body. It was a disarticulation which badly damaged the cervical vertebrae and twisted the thorax around off-center. (A few years later, a truck hit my vehicle and smashed the lumbar vertebrae, but that was not an OOBE or NDE.)
I think the only reason I did not die when I fractured my neck was because I had been doing yoga and meditating for about 8 years at that point, so I was both strong and flexible...and of course, because of 'G-d'! In retrospect, of course, now I wish I had gotten medical care at the time because I am in constant pain.
One of the very intense realizations was that life is very, very short and we need to love every moment of it and everyone. The cold weather causes me more pain than usual, so I moved to the Caribbean shortly after this. I asked myself how I would feel in my 80's looking back at my life if I chose to continue living in an environment that caused my body to hurt so much.
I also felt that I had so much more to offer and do than I could do where I was. I had been working as an artist and teaching both art and in my synagogue, which I loved doing, but the art field was changing (becoming digital, which it is totally virtual now!) and I just felt it was time to make a move.
From the islands I moved to south Florida, where I married and changed careers to animal medicine (which again, I loved and was very good at!) I think working with animals did a few things for me including helping that "animal" body of mine heal, and it opened my heart in a way that was new, in a totally unconditional way, which I think helped me in all other ways in relationships and teaching.
After another twelve years, I divorced and went back to school for a degree in Earth Science and Biology, and am now working on an ecology doctorate; my intent is to spend the last years of life teaching kids and adults meditation and yoga, organic gardening and art. It is possible, G-d willing, for me to live another 30+ years and I hope to do so.
I still think about the life review a lot. Your body is recording everything, like a biological recording device.... I think that I am still processing that part especially, and I've learned that it's very difficult to tell people about it (especially in the academic science world!). It's 'awkward' conversation because they either think you're crazy, you've gone 'woo-woo', or you're not being professional (my committee is not in favor of meditation, even though hundreds of studies now show it is beneficial for increasing awareness...of everything, including nature (ecology)). Yoga is ok with them: it has gone mainstream, I guess, but they can't see the connection between yoga and ecology...yet.
Now I can see how visual arts, healing arts, and science can merge in this last third of my life.