When you hear about a near death experience it usually involves an unpleasant or painful event like a car accident. For me it was simply a great snorkelling event one summer a few years ago.
I was at Phillip Island (Victoria, Australia), snorkelling in some rock pools at low tide one summer’s day. I had been snorkelling for about half an hour in deeper water admiring fish and anything else that moved and then decided to go back to shore. On the way back, I found a very small rock pool that was very shallow, about a foot deep and because it was so small the water had been warmed up by the sun so I decided it would be a good spot to rest and enjoy the warmer water after being in colder water.
As I floated there I noticed that I could no longer feel my body, there was no gravity due to the water buoying my weight and the water temperature must have matched my body temperature as I could no longer feel anything, also my breathing had slowed so much that I couldn’t perceive my breath. The next thing I realised was that there was no sound, my head (and ears) were under water and the rock pool was motionless. I couldn’t smell anything in my mask and so the only perception I had left was that of sight, so I thought, if I close my eyes, I wonder what it will be like?
Well… the experience was profound, as soon as I closed my eyes, I became huge, it was an expansion that felt as though I was the universe, nothing existed and yet everything was blissful and perfect. I needed nothing and I was everything, there was no room for thought, it was unnecessary, it was simply joyful being.
Eventually I opened my eyes and came back to this reality and felt as though I’d had a spiritual enema, my heart felt huge and clear and there was a deep appreciation for all that is. It was later, upon reflection that I realised that this is what it’s like to die.
What I experienced was a temporary letting go of the body and mind and everything associated with it and what I was left with was consciousness. Nothing existed but I was conscious and formless! I realised that this is my true nature and there’s nothing to be afraid of in dying when that moment comes.
Every thought we have pretends to be important for us because this reality called living seems so real to us. We think that because we FEEL pleasure or pain, that those are real, they’re not, they’re only relative to what we perceive. It’s only when we begin to put a gap between what is perceived and the perceiver that we begin to find what’s real.
The best way I know to do that is through the breath. Be aware of your breath as it enters your nose and lungs and then out again. Practice this as often as you can in all situations (you’ll notice that you can notice the breath and still do everything else). This “noticing” puts a space in between you and what you’re doing and will enable you to make clearer decisions and also to not get so caught up when you find yourself getting into a heated discussion.
I wish you well.
Angelo Campione is a writer and publisher of Mindfulness related articles. He has real life experience in dealing with emotional pain and now walks the path that has him live a life of Purpose, Joy and Freedom. He is passionate about helping to raise consciousness in the world and runs an online Mindfulness Series Free of charge.