Researchers define a near-death experience (NDE) as a profound personal encounter connected to death or approaching death that shares similar traits. When these encounters are pleasant, a range of sensations may be felt, including a sense of being detached from the body, feelings of levitation, complete calmness, security, warmth, the sensation of absolute disintegration, and the presence of a light. When negative, these encounters can cause feelings of agony, despair, emptiness, destruction, and a void. Individuals frequently claim to have seen the devil and other places and things found in hell.
NDEs have a variety of explanations, from scientific to religious. According to neuroscience studies, an NDE is a subjective perception caused by “disturbed body multisensory integration” that takes place during life-threatening situations. NDE-like descriptions are part of several transcendental and religious ideas concerning an afterlife.
According to some more recent sources, the frequency of near-death experiences is around 17% of patients with serious illnesses,10–20% of those who have nearly died.
Characteristics commonly reported in Near-Death Experiences (NDEs)
Near-death experiences share a number of characteristics, which researchers have observed.  According to Bruce Greyson, the experience is generally characterized by feelings of being outside of one’s physical body, images of deceased loved ones and religious figures, and the transcending of egotic and spatiotemporal bounds. Many common components have been noted.
- A sense of being dead.
- A sense of peace, well-being, and painlessness. Positive emotions. A sense of removal from the world.
- An out-of-body experience. A perception of one’s body from an outside position, sometimes observing medical professionals performing resuscitation efforts.
- A “tunnel experience” or entering a darkness. A sense of moving up, or through, a passageway or staircase.
- A rapid movement toward and/or sudden immersion in a powerful light (or “Being of Light”) which communicates telepathically with the person.
- An intense feeling of unconditional love and acceptance.
- Encountering “Beings of Light”, “Beings dressed in white”, or similar. Also, the possibility of being reunited with deceased loved ones.
- Experiencing euphoric environments.
- Receiving a life review, commonly referred to as “seeing one’s life flash before one’s eyes”.
- Approaching a border or a decision by oneself or others to return to one’s body, often accompanied by a reluctance to return.
- Suddenly finding oneself back inside one’s body.
- Connection to the cultural beliefs held by the individual, which seem to dictate some of the phenomena experienced in the NDE, but more so affects the later interpretation thereof.
- Meeting the dead and hallucinating ghosts in an after-life environment.
Steps in Near-Death Experiences: A Journey into the Unknown
An NDE involves nine steps, according to a 1975 research by psychiatrist Raymond Moody, MD, PhD, on 150 patients who all claimed to have observed one.
- Sudden peace and relief from pain.
- Perception of a relaxing sound or other-worldly music.
- Consciousness or spirit ascending above the person’s body and remotely viewing the attempts at resuscitation from the ceiling (autoscopy).
- The person’s spirit leaving the earthly realm and ascending rapidly through a tunnel of light in a universe of darkness.
- Arriving at a brilliant “heavenly place.”
- Being met by “people of the light,” who are usually deceased friends and family, in a joyous reunion.
- Meeting with a deity that is often perceived as their religious culture would have perceived them, or as an intense mass emitting pure love and light.
- In the presence of the deity, the person undergoes an instantaneous life review and understands how all the good and bad they have done has affected them and others.
- The person returns to their earthly body and life, because either they are told it is not their time to die, or they are given a choice and they return for the benefit of their family and loved ones.
The Aftermath of Near-Death Experience: Effects on Individuals and Their Lives
Changes in personality and view on life are linked to NDEs. It is found that individuals who have had a near-death experience have a consistent set of value and belief modifications. Among these changes, he noticed a greater appreciation for life, higher self-esteem, greater compassion for others, less concern for accumulating material wealth, a higher sense of purpose and self-understanding, a desire to learn, elevated spirituality, a feeling of being more intuitive, no longer worrying about dying, and claiming to have witnessed an afterlife. NDE survivors become more spiritual, but that does not mean they automatically become more religious.