477: Proof of Heaven: Neurosurgeon Shares His Journey into the After Life, Dr. Eben Alexander
Ashley James & Dr. Eben Alexander
- Understanding Gateway Valley on Dr. Eben’s life
- What is Earthworm’s eye view
- Interpretation of Near-Death Experience (NDE) and Shared Death Experience
- What is the Coherence Technique of HeartMath Institute
- What is Binaural Beat
NDE or near-death experience, for some people, is an uncomfortable topic to listen to or understand. Some testify to it being able to experience it first hand themselves, and our guests for today, Dr. Eben Alexander and Karen Newell, will be sharing some more insights about NDE, as well as with The Mysteries of Consciousness, Death, Eternal Nature of the Soul, Afterlife, Heaven itself on their personal perspective.
Hello, true health seeker and welcome to another exciting episode of the Learn True Health podcast. If you listen to the last episode with Dr. William Davis, Episode 476, we talked about a very specific strain of really healthy bacteria for the gut, Lactobacillus reuteri, and its many benefits. He shares how to culture it that you can get all the benefits, including a natural antidepressant, and helps even people with lifelong insomnia. He had shared that his sleep problems are lifelong sleep problems recovered after starting to eat the Lactobacillus reuteri. A yogurt that takes 36 hours at 100 degrees to culture and he uses cow dairy. Because my whole family is allergic to cow dairy, and we're dairy-free. I've been experimenting with the different methods of using it. I made the most delicious batch and best batch yet. I was so excited that I wrote out the recipe and put it in the Facebook group. The Learn True Health Facebook group has the non-dairy recipe for making the Lactobacillus reuteri, which an antidepressant. It helps with sleep, increases joy, and stabilizes mood. It helped me tremendously, and I suffered from post-traumatic stress attacks in the last few months. Since eating the lactobacillus reuteri, I learned from Dr. William Davis and it all has in his book. You can listen to the last episode to get that information.
I want to tell you if you're dairy-free and you've wanted to try his lactobacillus reuteri recipe, I've found a way to make it so delicious. I've tried with soy and it tastes really bad but it worked. I got all the benefits from it, but it didn't taste great. Then I made it with coconut, which also did not taste great. I didn't even want to eat it, but it still worked.
Then I tried to make water kefir which was unsuccessful, and I'm going to look into what I can do to see and I still want to try to make a drink out of it. Then I made it with organic raw cashews, and it was successful. So I laid out everything I did and put it in the Facebook group. Come and join the Learn True Health Facebook group. If you can't find the post, just use the search function in the Facebook group and search for yogurt or the word cashew or Lactobacillus reuteri and you'll find it there.
I hope you enjoyed today's interview. It's a bit different. Sometimes we do episodes that aren't about physical health. We've done episodes about addiction, mental health, and emotional health and occasionally, we also cover spiritual health. I think it's really important to have this attitude of no stone left unturned. Keep our minds so open that our brains would fall out. That was one of my favorite sayings. I learned about 14 years ago from a man I was listening to his podcast. He would cover topics so far out there, even for me. It helped me realize when we expand our minds and get into the learning state.
Being open to what we don't know that doesn't invalidate our belief system, like I'm learning different spiritual beliefs, wouldn't make me less Christian. I still have very strong rooted beliefs in my spiritual practices, but understanding other people and other systems help me better understand the world. If we can gain a deeper foothold into our health by taking in new information and seeing the world through other eyes, that is a positive thing.
In today's interview, we have a neurosurgeon who has documented a near-death experience. His brain was so sick that it could not have been performing the hallucinations or the visions that he was having. He had a one in a billion chance of surviving. He was so incredibly sick. All the doctors were amazed when he came back to life when his 10-year-old son was standing there begging him to come back to life and then he did. After seven days of being in a coma, his brain was absolutely beyond damaged. So the doctors were saying– well, okay, pull the plug, let's let him go, that would be a humane thing to do.
He shares his story and his adventures since where he has been studying near-death experiences and sees that there are millions, in fact, documented near-death experiences that all have very similar qualities. So we can take that and look at our own lives and how we're living our own life now. I think this is a positive message for humanity.
In today's interview, if you don't have any spiritual beliefs, it’s going to be beautiful. It won't challenge anything, but for those who are strongly rooted in certain religions, it might not align with your religion, and that's okay, too. This episode isn't meant to change anyone's beliefs about their religion. It complements because what it shows us, God is love. The infinite source of creation is there with a love that has been the documented experience of millions of people who've had near-death experiences, which is fascinating. We explore this topic. We also explore tools that can help people who are in anxiety and depression, feeling disconnected, and feel they've lost their purpose.
Please share this episode with those who would benefit from being uplifted. At the beginning of the interview, I shared that yesterday was the anniversary of my daughter's birth and death. Last year, I faced that question– where's my daughter? What happens to us when we pass and a close family member of mine is in their final moments of life right now? We've been facing hospice care for the last few months, helping with that. My husband's been doing hospice care. Looking at our family and our life from that lens, this time on Earth is short. I hope that everyone listening comes away after listening to this interview feeling uplifted and feeling inspired to live the best life. No matter how long or short it is, leave a positive impact on the world, know that you're loved, and focus on gratitude.
[00:07:45] Ashley James: Welcome to the Learn True Health podcast. I'm your host, Ashley James. This is episode 477. I am so excited for today's guests. We have on the show two amazing people, Dr. Eben Alexander and Karen Newell. This is perfect in divine timing. As far as I'm concerned, this is the feedback I got after doing this podcast for six years now. The feedback I get from my listeners is that I've been searching for this information. I just looked in the last week and then boom– your podcast came up or I was having this problem with my child and the next episode that came out was the answer to my problem. Many times there's this divine timing, although I typically have about ten or so interviews in the hopper to edit and publish. I feel guided when and what to publish. It's like I'm told– okay, now's the time for this topic that needs to be learned. Everyone needs to hear about this next topic. Its divine timing can be for the listeners, but sometimes the divine timing is for me too, because interviews will happen in my life right as I need them. I can't tell you how many times this happened to me and where it was the problem I was going through. It just so happened that the interview was scheduled for the right time.
A very close family member of mine is in the final hours of their life right now. He's been in hospice care for months and to have this interview be today even though we had to reschedule it, who was rescheduled to be at this moment. Where we're all questioning what happens after we die? When we're stuck with this realization, we're not going to be here forever, which is motivating to live your life to the fullest now and do the best work we can while we're here in this earthly realm. So what happens after we die? Do we just decompose? Is that it, or is there more?
What I love, our guests today have so much to share in this realm. The other piece of the divine timing for me in this particular interview was yesterday. I celebrated with my family the birth and death of my daughter. It was our first anniversary. This whole last year, I've been faced with grief and death and thinking about where we go when we die. Where's my daughter? She's not here. Where is she? Is there an afterlife? I've always had the knowledge of believing I was raised and I was Christian. I've had a very strong feeling that I've felt the presence of God with me. But not everyone hasn't had that experience in their life.
To come from a scientific standpoint and in scientific observation, it’s very helpful to get a different perspective. I think today it's going to be really exciting for everyone and this is something that we all have two things in common. We're all born and we're all going to die. That's like if we can just sit around and go. It doesn't matter where we were born, who we were born to. We all have these two things in common. There are a few more things in common like we all need to breathe and drink water. We start to see that we have a lot of common ground, but the fact is, we're all faced with this sense of our own mortality and questions about what happens to the afterlife.
Welcome to the show, guys. I'm really excited to have you here today.
[00:11:45] Dr. Eben Alexander: Ashley, thank you so much for having us on. It's great to be here.
[00:11:49] Karen Newell: Yes. I'm looking forward to this conversation.
[00:11:51] Ashley James: Absolutely. Dr. Alexander, your first book, I believe, was Proof of Heaven, then you wrote the Map of Heaven and Living in a Mindful Universe, of course with Karen. Could you both share what happened and what led you to this point you were authoring these books? I know there are some pretty big stories you have to share.
[00:12:23] Dr. Eben Alexander: Well, of course, it all started with the experience I had back in November of 2008. At that time, I was a 54-year-old neurosurgeon. I'd spent 15 years teaching neurosurgery at Harvard Medical School thought I had some idea of how the brain, mind, and consciousness work. Then I had this extraordinary experience. It was one that absolutely should have killed me, severe gram-negative bacteria, meningoencephalitis. So I go into all the medical details in the book, Proof of Heaven.
Luckily, there's also a medical case report published ten years after my coma by three doctors not involved in my care. Who went a lot further than I did in assessing my medical records, analyzing them, and making two major conclusions. One is that my brain was documented to be way too ill to have supported any dream or hallucination that was not possible given the extent of my illness. The other thing was that I spent a week in a coma due to this severe and very rare and adults of bacterium, Indigo encephalitis.
My doctors had estimated early in the week, and I had a 10% chance of survival. By the end of the week, only a 2% chance with no chance of recovery. That's why on that Sunday morning, day seven of coma, they recommended just stopping the antibiotics and letting nature take its course. But, of course, that's when I came back to this world. But the point that the case report doctors were making is that my recovery was miraculous. The medical peer reviewers at the Journal of Nervous and Mental Diseases published it. The case report in September 2018 challenged the doctors who wrote it and said, how do you explain this? This case is absurd. This kind of patient doesn't end up making a full recovery.
That's when they said, well, because he had a near-death experience, he was gifted with this miraculous recovery. And the peer-reviewing medical scientists said, okay, that's good enough for us, and they published it. The reason why the doctors who wrote the case report knew of other cases, for example, Anita Moorjani, who had advanced stage four lymphoma, a profound near-death experience, and then she came back from all that and cured cancer. Likewise, Mary C. Neal, an orthopedic surgeon, had an over 30-minute warm water drowning and then recovered from that completely. So anyway, that's the main point for all of us because in Learning True Health, truly, the power of this kind of mind over matter healing here even goes far beyond the placebo effect is something available to all of us. And that's one of the main reasons I've shared my story.
[00:15:07] Ashley James: That's so beautiful. We now understand your background. Karen, where do you come into play with all this?
[00:15:16] Karen Newell: Well, I met Eben about three years after his coma and this is before any of his books had come out. We were at a workshop learning how to use sound to get into expanded states of consciousness and I heard that he had a near-death experience. I've met others who'd had near-death experiences. Just to start a conversation, since I didn't know his story, I went right to the heart of the matter. I said, what was the big lesson you learned? What was the big thing you came back with? Because near-death experiencers always come back with some usually deep personal lesson.
He looked at me and said that the brain doesn't create consciousness, and I was confused. I said, well, why would anyone think that it does. When we met, Eben came from this very materialist background where he thought it was birth to death and nothing more. So the physical world is all that exists, and everything else is just an illusion. I was coming from the opposite like you described when I was young. I just had this knowing many of us do, and we have this knowing that we've been here before. This isn't just the beginning, and we may come back again. Certainly, this idea of a soul to me was very certain in my mind, and it wasn't through any specific religious teachings.
Although, like you, I was raised Christian, it just came from my own kind of inner understanding. When Eben said the brain doesn't create consciousness, I never thought the brain created consciousness. I thought that consciousness was what we are, or a soul consciousness, energy, spirit. That's where we realized we were coming from opposite ends of the spectrum and Eben had just learned this profound lesson through his direct personal experience. That's what intrigued him and I was taken aback when he said the most profound lesson he learned had to do with science. To him, this evidence could end the entire worldview belief system of reductive materialism. So I asked him, and I said, didn't you experience love? What about the love? Wouldn't that maybe be a more profound personal lesson? And he said, well, yes, I definitely experienced that love, but you can't bring that back here.
It's so intense and overwhelming on Earth. It’s not possible to experience that kind of love. So I looked at him again, a little confused. And I said, well, I've experienced that love without a near-death experience through spiritual, meditative experiences that I cultivated intentionally. I had experienced the love that many of these near-death experiencers talk about. That's what intrigued Eben and he said–Oh, my gosh, and so you can tell just from that information, how many areas we had to discuss in order to find that common ground that we felt when we met?
[00:18:24] Ashley James: Can you share any details you remember from your near-death experience?
[00:18:30] Dr. Eben Alexander: Yes, there's a tremendous amount to the story, but just too abbreviated for this discussion. It's important to point out that one of the atypical features of my near-death experience was that I was amnesic and had no memory of Eben Alexander's life. I had no words, no language, no knowledge of Earth as the universe, and it really was an empty slate. So I realized in the months after my coma that was absolutely necessary for me to learn some of the deeper lessons of the journey. It had to have some of those atypical features for me to avoid rejecting it out of hand is impossible to make sense of. Then the journey itself and this amnesic state started in what I call the earthworm’s eye view, a very primitive course, a kind of unresponsive realm. It was like being in dirty jello. So there came this spinning malady of light that opened like a portal and led up into this rich, ultra-real Gateway Valley, where I found myself next.
The Gateway Valley would be the kind of realm where all of us would reunite with our higher souls, with souls of departed loved ones, go through life reviews, and then make plans for the next incarnations. All that kind of thing. But in my world in this Gateway Valley, I was a speck of awareness on a butterfly wing. There were millions of other butterflies looping and spiraling and vast formations. There was an incredibly beautiful landscape down below us. That was a meadow surrounded by forests with waterfalls and the crystal blue pools, thousands of beings dancing. They were all dressed in very simple but very colorful garb.
All of the festivities I witnessed there, including all the rich plant life with no signs of death or decay, were being fueled. Because up above are these floating orbs of angelic choirs emanating chants and anthems and hymns that were just thundering through my awareness and completely enlivened that entire scene. That's when I recognized that I wasn't alone on the butterfly wing.
A beautiful spiritual guide was a young woman with sparkling blue eyes, high cheekbones, a broad forehead, and a broad smile. She never said a word. She didn't have to. Her deep emotional truth came straight into my awareness, telepathically and emotionally. That message, I think, was the central message I was to bring back to this world through all fellow beings. You are deeply loved and cherished forever. You have nothing to fear. You're deeply cared for. I can't tell you how refreshing and reassuring that was at that time.
At that point, I was aware of all of the lower four-dimensional space-time, this material world collapsing down all of that spiritual realm of the Gateway Valley, including a different ordering of causality, then I call deep time. That's what allows for things like life reviews, which are not just remembering events of your life but reliving them in a detailed fashion.
I witnessed all that stuff collapsing as the angelic choirs provided yet another musical portal to higher and higher levels. That portal led me up into what I call the core. The core was a complete resolution of all dualities and kinds of paradoxes of this existence, into that oneness with the Divine. An infinitely loving healing force that God forces that so many have encountered.
Over thousands of years, I would say that those encounters are the basis of all of our great religions, from prophets and mystics. I’ve realized that even though when I came back to this world, people who've read Proof of Heaven will realize, I called that deity alm. Because that was the sound, I heard the resonance in this infinity and eternity. That's what I brought back and I realized that it's a waste of time to say whether this is God or Allah, Brahman, Vishnu, Jehovah, Yahweh, Great Spirit, whatever you want to call it. So there's some profound agreement about the love, compassion, mercy, and acceptance of that infinitely loving source of our very conscious awareness. That's what I realized in this core realm.
I was told there would teach you many things, but you're not here to stay. You'll be going back. But, of course, all of those mini-lessons about reincarnation, the eternity of the soul about the fact that we're sharing one mind. All of that was presented to me in this powerful passion. But then I would tumble back down to that earthworm eye view. That's what I came to realize by remembering the musical notes. This melody would conjure up that light portal back into the Gateway Valley, and I always experienced that same beautiful guardian angel on the butterfly wing and different lessons that would happen in that Gateway Valley. But always, I would ascend back up through the angelic light portal into the core realms, that oneness with the Divine.
There finally came a time when they weren't kidding, and I could no longer conjure up the musical notes of the melody to bring me that passageway up out of the earth worm's eye view. To say I was sad at that point would be an understatement. I also realized a trust in the universe at that point. That's also when I witnessed six faces that turned out to be what are called vertical time anchors. Five of them were physically present in the ICU room for the last 24 hours, and I was in a coma. One of them was Susan Ranches, a family friend I'd first met back in the early 1970s in freshman college English class. So many decades later, my family knew that she had done channeling work with coma patients, which helped some of them return to life. My family asked her to intervene. She channeled to me from 120 miles away. Her presence was clear to me as the physically present people in the ICU room.
I had first-hand experience of the absolute reality of channeling, which I would have denied to even existed before my coma. But, of course, I've grown a lot from this coma, and at any rate, it was at that point that the six-face that I saw were the ones that brought me back to this world. That was the face of a 10-year-old boy, who was my son Bond. Even though I said, my amnesia was still very active. I had no idea who this being was. But it was on day seven of coma.
Sunday morning, the doctors had just till the family conference, saying it was time to withdraw medical care and let me go. When Bond overheard that, even though they protected him from the worst news during the week, he ran down the hallway. I was lying there on my ventilator as I had been for the last seven days. He pulled up my eyelids, and I promise you, I did not see him with the eyes. I didn't hear him with my ears. But he was pleading with me– Daddy, you're going to be okay as if somehow that would make it. And now, all of a sudden, deep in the spiritual realms, I had assumed that this whole adventure could continue or cease. It didn't matter. All of a sudden, I realized there was another soul involved. I had a tremendous responsibility to him. I did not understand his words, but I could sense that I knew I had to come back to this world from his pleading.
When I did, within the next few hours, opening my eyes, struggled, and fought the ventilator. That's when the doctor pulled the breathing tube out. To their shock, I was coming back and saying words and showing some neurologic signs of progress. Although I still didn't recognize loved ones at the bedside, my mother, sisters, and sons, those memories came back very rapidly. As did language over hours and the next few days, all my semantic knowledge of cosmology, physics, and neuroscience came back over about two months.
During that time, of course, I was wrestling back and forth with how to interpret my experience. When I first tried to tell my doctors about it, they said we couldn't even understand how you're coming back to us. But you can forget about it because a dying brain plays all kinds of tricks. My first statement to my son, Eben the fourth, who was majoring in neuroscience at the time and came home two days after I got out of the hospital, I told him it was way too real to be real. That's how I interpreted the experience in the context my doctors tell me the dying brain plays all kinds of tricks. But over the next weeks and months, going back to the hospital, talking about doctors, going through medical records, neurologic exams, scans, all of that. I realized that my brain was in no shape to harbor any dream or hallucination, much less the most extraordinary, detailed, memorable, and meaningful experience of my entire life. How did that happen when my brain was so demonstrably offline? That's why the medical community takes my case so seriously. You find it probably mentioned, for example, in the recent bigelowinstitute.org contest concerning the best scientific evidence for survival of consciousness beyond permanent bodily death.
[00:27:32] Ashley James: This experience that you've had and other people have had, it's not common. A lot of people who are in comas, not everyone has the experience you had. But some have the medication, and it was the coma, and it was brain damage, and just things are firing off weird. Someone could explain it like that, but this isn't common. If that were the case, then everyone in a coma or with brain damage or an infection in their brain would have the same experience?
[00:28:16] Dr. Eben Alexander: Well, this is the beauty of my case. The facts when you line them up from a medical perspective, as that case report does. They make it crystal clear that this brain could not have had any experience. There was no way for it to support a dream or hallucination because of the extensive damage to the neocortex. Then, of course, you've got the healing to explain. The healing completely defies medical expectations. There are no other cases of this kind of severe meningitis resulting in somebody who makes a full recovery. So that's why this kind of exceptional case makes the point.
But to get back to your original statement, it turns out that NDE is quite common. Probably 15 to 20% of people with cardiac arrest have some elements of a true near-death experience. They're insanely common when you start to look at all of it. So when you follow Gallup polls, that kind of information suggests 3 to 5% of people on Earth have had NDE. Four hundred million people or more have had NDE. Their commonality is far more striking than that they don't happen to everyone.
[00:29:29] Ashley James: You call it a near-death experience. A friend of mine was pronounced legally dead and then came back to life and shared his experience with me of what we don't know what to call heaven paradise. The Bible says we go to paradise first and heaven later. Wherever he was, he was clearly in the presence of God. He describes that tremendous love that is so intense, beautiful, and divine. He says it was like God is a son, that we're all orbiting around his experience. His friend, whom he had met, had committed suicide and was distraught about that.
He met up with his friend, and his friend said that his guilt kept him from getting close to his love. It kept him like Pluto is like way out there orbiting but just not close enough, and that he was wrestling with the guilt of what he had done. And the hurt that he had caused his friends and family. So my friend ended up having a near-death experience again, saying that his friend had resolved it in the spiritual realm, had resolved and healed from it. Just these interesting experiences that people are having, and there are commonalities like everyone describes that love. Intense love is the sensation of being close to God and being close to our Creator. So that it is, it’s intense love.
Karen, you say that through your spiritual practices you have tapped into that and have experienced it. Do you teach this in the book Living in a Mindful Universe?
[00:31:26] Karen Newell: Somewhat, you can teach with your words but the experience of love must be generated as an experience. When we just talk about it, it doesn't have the same sort of impact. Yes, I teach practices where people can start cultivating these kinds of experiences. I know for me, at first, it wasn't easy. I grew up in a family where we were not demonstrative when it comes to our love. We weren't saying I love you and all of that. We were a perfectly normal family. There wasn't abuse going on or anything like that, but I wasn't used to expressing love. As I got older, my parents had been divorced. I had a whole idea about how love is not necessarily always successful. I just was so curious, and eventually, when I started reading about it, I could only understand it intellectually, which is just not the same as the experience.
It was the work of HeartMath Institute that brought me to where I am now. That's because they've been studying the heart for decades. They find that the heart emits an electromagnetic field. It expands and contracts around our body, and the brain also has one. The heart’s electromagnetic field is much, much bigger than the brain. The electric part is 60 times greater, and the magnetic part is 3000 times greater than the brain. So it expands and contracts around your body based on your emotional state.
Emotions like love, happiness, and joy will create a very large electromagnetic field, whereas emotions like grief, sadness, or anger might create a small electromagnetic field. What's interesting is that this electromagnetic field seems to influence people around you. Whatever emotions are inside of you are the ones that are being radiated by your heart naturally. So I took this very seriously. I don't want to have anything in my heart that might offend someone else. I was thinking mostly about my family and friends. I don’t want to affect them in a bad way.
I started to learn some of the HeartMath techniques, and they have one called Coherence Technique. It's as simple as generating a feeling of gratitude in your heart, and it sounds simple. Let me generate a feeling of gratitude, and all I could do was generate thoughts of gratitude. I could think of things I was grateful for, but it didn't change how I felt. I took the advice given and had to go over several different kinds of sessions where I had memories from my past. What made me feel joyful? What can I be grateful for? It's going to be different for each of us. It was a memory of a stray dog my mom had taken in and turned out to be my childhood dog through college. She ended up having puppies underneath my bed just a short time after we adopted her, and for me, it was a magical moment. My mom probably thought it was a big mess, and I thought it was just beautiful, living, cute, little, lively creatures right there under my bed. And my dog trusted me to have them under my bed, not my brothers.
It was to memory, and from there, I remembered all the dogs I had ever known and loved. That connection with dogs and animals started to allow me to feel this flicker, this warm, glowing flicker in my heart. I thought— Oh my gosh, that’s it, and then it went away. So I had to go to a little practice. Eventually, when you're able to generate these feelings of gratitude, you can have the intention to attract that love that exists from the source, from God, from the universe, whatever you want to say.
Once you're able to generate it from within, it expands, and you attract this greater love. It is a framework of how it works, but that's exactly how it worked for me. Everyone can learn how to do this, and we feel that love is just as overwhelming as your friend was driving. I can't know if it's the same as when in your near-death experience or feeling it may not be as intense. But wow, it’s certainly wonderful to feel. If I'm just feeling a fraction, five or 10% of what they're feeling is worth it. So you feel this warm connection to something greater. You feel like you are always well in the universe that nothing can be wrong even if you're in the middle of hardships, and all seems to make sense.
The love that I feel is our birthright when you think about the term making love. Ideally, we're making love when a baby is created. I love how Eben puts it, and he calls them homes for souls. When you create a baby from the love between two individuals, you're creating and making love. You're creating a home for a soul to live in. I always think it wouldn't be just an ideal world if that's how every baby was created. But if not, we can still rediscover that love even if we’re not gifted with it throughout our lives.
[00:37:18] Ashley James: My husband had a similar experience growing up. Similar to that, there wasn't a lot of demonstrative affection and love in his household. His dad just said to my husband in his 50s, just two months ago, said I love you for the first time. There’s a lot of emotional healing going on. In my life and my family's life, just imagine being 50. So what is my husband,53? For the first time hearing, I love you, and his dad never said it to anyone. He didn't see his dad give you a handshake, not a hug. These last few months, there's been a lot of love and a lot of discovery of gratitude. So when our daughter was born and died, we turned to gratitude to focus on what we're grateful for, or you’re focusing on what we don't have.
A lot of people get wrapped up, especially in the material world. If only I had that Tesla. If only I had a house and only I had a million dollars. If only I had a better job. If only I had a better body or this or that. If only I had this carrot on a stick that we get wrapped up in. It's the chasing of what we don't have. I find it interesting to look at other religions or spiritual practices like Buddhism style or Zen. They say attachment creates suffering, and I would say attachment to what you don't have to create suffering because the things I do have them attached to if I can stay focused on the gratitude around what I have. So what I have now, be grateful for what I have that makes me feel so much joy and thankfulness. That's a prayer that I love to do. I take God if you don't know what to pray for. It's like we're not asking Santa. It's not like a Christmas list. I don't want a pony. So when we're praying, we could just be grateful. It could just be listing off everything you're grateful for every day. Just thank You, God, for what you’ve given me. Thank You for what I have. Thank You for the help I do have.
[00:40:00] Karen Newell: You bring up an interesting point that we often look for objects outside of us to meet our needs. One way that we like to teach intention. If you want to create something in your life, it's not to think– oh, that Cadillac or Tesla, whatever it is. But it's what is the feeling you would have when you have that thing. Instead, focus on the feeling you'd like to feel. Generate that feeling. Just imagine you already have that thing that you want. What does it feel like?
When you generate that feeling instead of a thought of a particular thing you want, somehow the universe seems to know how to provide you with whatever will continue for that feeling to go on. Sometimes we don't know if that Tesla may not be the thing that makes us feel that way. Maybe it's a vacation to South Africa. Who knows? Sometimes, when we get an attachment to things can be so damaging because they may, even once we finally get them, not satisfy us in the way we had hoped. So it's just a different way.
[00:41:05] Dr. Eben Alexander: I just pointed out one of the deepest lessons from a near-death experience. I think most near-death experiencers would agree that the true currency of a soul in terms of successfully navigating and growing through this life is all about relationships. You've been able to share love and kindness and compassion and mercy with others. The more successfully you can harvest the love of the universe for all that is. This focus on material things definitely falls away after a near-death experience because we learn truly. It's all about our relationships. The more we can foster that sense of love and kindness and help others, our lives will be better.
[00:41:52] Ashley James: I did an interview a few years ago with a man traveling the world and studying depression and addiction. He talked about a study where they looked at cultures with the most material possessions and cultures with the least—looking at the level of satisfaction, fulfillment, and joy in one's life. What I found fascinating is that you think the child with the most toys would be the happiest, and it's the opposite of the children in South America who have one possession, and that's a soccer ball, are the happiest. They're far happier. These families with far less are far happier, more satisfied, feel more grateful, and have less depression than those in North America who have all the possessions we could ever want because they have the one soccer ball.
These kids have one soccer ball, and they get like 15, 20, and 30 friends together to play. It's the relationships they have. In Latin America, the focus is strongly on the family. Everyone has cousins and aunts and uncles in the family structure, and relationships are important. More important than possessions. In America, culturally, it looks like we value possessions more than relationships. So it's interesting to shift what we value.
[00:43:35] Dr. Eben Alexander: I would say the whole world of addiction and alcoholism is all about this notion of trying to fill this hole with material goods, material stuff, and substances that give you certain feelings. And what you realize in that addiction and alcoholism were you're trying to fill a spiritual hole with material stuff. The only way to fill a spiritual hole is a spiritual matter. So growth of [inaudible 00:44:03] soul and a deeper understanding of one's relationship. Sometimes you have to sacrifice the ego because the ego-mind, that little voice in our head, is not our ally in this journey.
The ego would rather see a toe’s dead and see itself dead that's why many therapists do a ritual sacrifice. The ego allows it to be reborn in a much healthier kind of higher soul form, and not one so self-centered because that ego can lead us into tremendous toxicity, trying to satisfy its needs. The more we come to recognize this kind of bigger picture of who we are, it's all about relationships, and it’s all about love and sharing kindness and compassion and mercy with others. The more satisfied we are with our lot in life. That's done with gratitude, and forgiveness gives us tremendous tools to overcome most of the apparent hardships that human beings face.
[00:45:48] Ashley James: In the early days after your coma, did you begin to look at other examples? Can you share some other stories that struck you that made you realize others have had the same experience? You did mention two or three people shared the stories of what surprised you as you were in the early days you were doing your research and understanding that what you had was a visit to heaven.
[00:45:32] Dr. Eben Alexander: One of the people common things to encounter in near-death experience or just the dying experience in hospice care, in terminal patient care. What are you encountering in the soul of the departed loved one? In fact, for me, that means you've got an authentic experience right there. But, of course, the [inaudible 00:45:52]coma has said that the hallucinations you're encountering as a whole of a departed loved one. I now know those are very real encounters; in fact, that’s imprimatur proving it to be real. Many other features of NDEs are quite common. The notion of going from darkness into light is sometimes described through a tunnel. Certainly, encountering that infinitely loving and healing God force is something that many NDEs involve. They also can involve encountering religious figures, although that's much less common. For example, encountering Jesus Christ or Muhammad or something like that is not very common. Certainly, the encounters with the souls of departed loved ones can be very evidential to help someone realize that it's all about relationships and that our souls do not die.
The biggest gift to me in this whole experience of sharing my story publicly is that thousands of people share their experiences with me. That kind of thing has proven the reality of this. We shared the resonance and overlap of these stories in the second book, The Map of Heaven. In our third book, Living in Mindful Universe, we go the distance to make this argument that science and spirituality are coming together. So the only way for them to move forward is by this kind of shared acknowledgment of rehab of spiritual reality. So that is one where our minds are all connected. That's one of the deepest pieces of evidence for the reality of this afterlife, and all that is this notion of one mind.
I would say that the game has just changed dramatically in the last year about this question of an afterlife. Robert Bigelow, an aerospace engineer in Las Vegas, put up $1.8 million in prize money and challenged scientists who study this question– what is the best evidence for survival of consciousness after permanent bodily death? He received over 200 essays written by groups studying the question of the afterlife for more than five years from a scientific perspective. The 29 winning essays are available to the public for free right now, at bigelowinstitute.org.
If you go and read the first place essay by Jeffrey Mishlove, who spent more than half a century studying this evidence, you'll realize, of course, there's an afterlife. We don't understand how it works yet. Certainly not going to fit into you all kinds of religious or scientific wishes of the day. The more we investigate and the more we find out its reality, not only in the afterlife realm. Many of those essays also discuss the scientific evidence for reincarnation.
Reincarnation was never anything I considered as part of reality before my coma. My coma journey showed me very clearly that our souls come back again and again. In this process of continued refinement, but given the importance of relationships, you never have to worry that a loved one who is reincarnated before they would be available to you at your own passage. Some people worry a lot about that. That's where that whole notion of deep time and a different causal ordering from this spiritual perspective is so important to get. So if you go to bigelowinstitute.org and start reading those essays, you'll find a tremendous amount of evidence. Reading those essays, no rational person will ever doubt the reality of the afterlife and reincarnation again.
It just means we need a much bigger theater of operations to understand and explain the brain-mind relationships and the nature of reality that we seem to witness as human beings.
[00:49:49] Ashley James: In science, because of your latest book, you talk about how science is now catching up to the spiritual in understanding it. Is there anything from your book scientifically that helps us better understand the spiritual realm or the afterlife?
[00:50:12] Dr. Eben Alexander: Yes, we go into great detail in the book Living in a Mindful Universe to do two major things. One is to make the scientific case for the primacy of consciousness of philosophical opposition, known as objective idealism. I think the whole world of quantum physics has been poised to acknowledge that reality for a long time. And the founding fathers of the field sifted the primacy of consciousness and the oneness of mind. In fact, in the second place winning essay Dr. Pim Van Lommel wrote a beautiful scientific explanation based on NDEs that he studied for over decades as a cardiologist.
Towards the end of this essay, he makes the argument for the one mind. We're all sharing this one consciousness of [inaudible 00:51:02] to top-down calls of principles of the universe. He lists four scientific resources for this one-mind idea. One is the book, One Mind, by our friend and colleague, Dr. Larry Dossey, which came out in 2013. A wonderful expert vision of this oneness of mind between human beings that we share with other life forms, too—a very important concept.
He also mentioned the book Spiritual Science by Steve Taylor. He mentioned a Beautiful Paper by Bernardo Kastrup. I think it's in the Journal of Consciousness studies entitled The Universe in Consciousness. Then he lists our book Living in a Mindful Universe as the fourth major scientific resource of the one mind. I would add Pim Van Lommel’s book, Consciousness Beyond Life. I think those five resources together will give people a full-blown scientific view of this concept of the one mind and how top-down causality from the mental air of the universe explains a tremendous amount of quantum physics about the hard problem of consciousness. So this is an impossible problem for materialism to try and conjure up a way for phenomenal experience to emerge from any arrangement of physical matter like the substance in the brain.
We also go into the apparent unity of consciousness, known as the binding problem in the philosophy of mind. Especially in this discussion of the consilience of supporting the one mind hypothesis for the primordial mind hypothesis, as we call it in our book, Living in a Mindful Universe. All the evidence for nonlocal consciousness comes out of the world of parapsychology. So this is the kind of evidence that I would have dismissed and debunked before my coma out of pure willful ignorance.
I know now that's a pretty foolish position to take the evidence for things like telepathy, remote viewing, precognition, presentiment, psychokinesis, distance healing, power of prayer, near-death experiences, shared death experiences. These are identical in quality to near-death that happened in very healthy people and past life memories and children suggestive of reincarnation.
You go to uvadops.org— University of Virginia Division of Perceptual Studies. For more than six decades, they've accumulated over 2500 cases of past life memories in children, 1700 plus of those cases have been quoted solved. That is the research. They identify the person described as living the previous life of that described by that child. All this evidence is what we cover in Living in a Mindful Universe. It takes a store to a very profound consilience and consolidation of scientific evidence supporting the notion of the one mind. Our souls come back and again in this refinement process towards oneness with the Divine.
[00:54:04] Ashley James: Karen, as you wrote this book with Eben, the Living in a Mindful Universe, I always like to talk to authors because although they are the experts of their book, they're also the students. To get into that position of learning while you're researching for your book, I love what unfolds for authors. What unfolded that surprised you the most as you guys wrote this book together?
[00:54:36] Karen Newell: What unfolded surprised me? Eben is very scientific, as you can hear from how he explains everything. Our goal was to make it accessible to the non-scientific mind while also ensuring that these science-minded people would not be thinking– Oh, you took shortcuts and all of that. I thought science was not something that was my forte and one of the exercises we went through in the book is when Eben did write with a very scientific passion. So I had to understand that goal, and that's how it would stay in the book.
I learned a lot about quantum physics and the experiments in quantum physics, the double-slit experiment. Everyone always talks about the difference etween a photon and a wave. None of that had been of any interest to me, and I had to learn that. So in the process of doing it, I learned how to describe it in ways that laypeople would understand. That was interesting, a topic that I had avoided for my whole life. Then, suddenly, I was helping to try to explain it so that other people could understand it.
That was a really interesting few months, and we still go through that now. Not as much because I've learned so much, but when he's trying to explain a concept, if I don't get it, the burden is on him to make sure that I do. That’s been an interesting exercise to bring together the hardcore heavy science into a more accessible format. So that people who are more spirit-minded can access it and understand why it matters in our daily lives. Because of all of these things we can talk about, the philosophers pontificate about the reality of our universe, but when it comes down to it, it's the experience. Individual people are walking around in this world. So that's what matters. So that's what we brought together. For me, that challenge was bringing science in.
[00:57:02] Dr. Eben Alexander: I would simply add that was a huge part of our effort. The book was not just to explain these things from a scientific perspective. But to offer people tools to explore their own life and consciousness because I had come to realize within two years in a coma if I had any hope of understanding the deeper nature of my journey. I had a much more active cultivating, navigating, and exploring my consciousness, which I ended up doing through meditation.
In Living in a Mindful Universe, we also talk about Karen’s work. She's the co-founder of Sacred Acoustics, and that's a form of binaural beat brainwave entrainment that I use an hour to a day and have been doing for the last ten plus years. In my own personal exploration, we wanted to share a personal experience with people. The book also has some indicators and information to help people in their own exploration of consciousness.
[00:58:00] Ashley James: I love hearing that a neurosurgeon likes the binaural beats music and uses it. So this is exciting because I’ve loved listening to these different melodies with different wavelengths, and I've always found it really helpful. I found this one on YouTube that's like—come, focus and study for ADHD people, and I put that on. I could focus for like an hour while I was listening to it. It's just beautiful melodies going back and forth. It helps me focus that I always laugh because it's like for ADHD people to focus and study. I juggle so many things, I have a kid at homeschool, taking care of everyone and everything in my life, and then I've got the podcast. I'm constantly being interrupted by all these other things. So I think it's my environment that makes me ADHD.
[00:59:04] Karen Newell: You're not alone. It's not just you don't have to label it as ADHD. We all can use the tools to help us get into a better state of focus you mentioned in these YouTube videos. We create at sacredacoustics.com. We create the same type of recordings. Just to caution on YouTube, the audio quality can only be so high when you merry it with a video. You're not getting the best quality, the best potential to deliver binaural beats. You might want to check out sacredacoustics.com.
We have a free download that you can get by entering your email address. We also have something called the whole mind bundle, and it includes recordings that deliver Delta, Theta, and Alpha signals. Those Alpha signals that you're probably listening to help you get into that more focused state. Theta signals will help you go a little deeper into a more meditative state, and Delta signals will help you sleep. So many, many people listen to these recordings to help them sleep.
So this whole mind bundle it's available at sacredacoustics.com. We use that in a pilot study. A psychiatrist in New York City applied them in her psychiatric practice. She prescribed this set of recordings that people can sometimes listen to flexibly while doing other activities, just like you said. Also, there are shorter recordings that people can use for like 20 minutes a day to help them establish a regular meditative practice.
What she found with Dr. Anna Yusim and then published in the Journal of Nervous and Mental Disease in February 2020 was that a 26% reduction in anxiety occurred. People were able to sleep better, focus better, and reduce their anxiety. The control group, the patients in the same practice, did not listen to the recordings but only had regular therapy. Over the same period of about two weeks, they saw a 7% reduction in anxiety. So 26 versus 7% just by adding listening to these recordings.
Even if you're listening to them to help you focus, they could potentially help to reduce your anxiety. One obvious way is if you're able to focus and get your work done, you're not as anxious about getting everything finished. Do they seem to play another role in really helping to relax the brain? Beta is the state we're in when we're walking around, talking, and anxious, and that's a higher state. Binaural Beats are designed to deliver these lower states of awareness by delivering one signal to one year. A slightly different signal to the other ear. The difference between those two frequencies gives you the brainwave state we're trying to deliver.
So Delta, the border between delta and theta, is right at four hertz. So many of our audio recordings deliver a four-hertz signal that borders between awakening asleep. So this allows you to support the body and profound relaxation, but the mind doesn't fall asleep. It's still aware. That’s the meditative space, the hypnagogic state where we can start to release all the emotional traumas, focus on feelings that we want to manifest in our lives, ask questions about problems that we might be having, and get some answers. We can also use that space to do lucid dreaming kind of activities.
It's also possible to connect with your departed loved ones. Those who have passed from this world are often trying to contact and stay connected to people who are still here living on Earth in their human bodies. So when we are more open to that, when we can get into a relaxed state, we might more readily notice this attention they're trying to give us.
There are many applications that people use these recordings for, not just focus. Certainly, the focus is one of those primary tasks that we all need help with during the day. Certainly, these days, anxiety, addiction, all of that is just running rampant. So any kind of tool that people can use at the beginning of COVID, that's right when this study came out. Actually, right when it was published. I wanted to make these recordings available to others right when we entered into these lockdowns when people were panicking and so nervous and upset about what was going on.
I drastically reduced the price of these recordings to $19 for a whole set of nine recordings and a PDF guide that teaches you how to use that. I also made a free option because many people are in financial uncertainty. I didn't want there to be any barrier at all. So many people have taken us up on that offer, and I feel gratitude towards them because I understand we are all part of one mind or one consciousness and one heart. So I feel that each of us takes the time to quiet the mind, release emotional traumas, focus on that essence of who we truly are, and find that meaning and purpose in our lives. As each person does that, I am so grateful because that contributes to the whole. So this is what I feel every one of us can do to contribute to the whole. We're not only helping ourselves, but we're helping everyone else by bringing our health into balance.
[01:05:08] Ashley James: I love it, and thank you so much for making that free for those in financial hardships. I am so grateful for people who are helping people. That experience of being we are all connected, I said that at the beginning. We’re all born, we all die, we have a lot in common, and if we could take on this idea that we're all part of these raw pieces of the puzzle. I read something once God loves you so much. You're one of his children. He also loves you so much that he is like your worst enemy. The person that you hate so much. He loves them just as much, and it's like being a parent with two fighting kids.
If you can look at that person who you despise, maybe because of where they come from, or their background or what they believe in, their different political beliefs or different religious beliefs, or they're just on the opposite spectrum of one of your values or one of your beliefs. You look at them, and you can't understand them. You don't like them as an entire group of people because they're on the opposite part of the belief system than you. If you can look at those people and get that even though on this plane of existence at this very moment in the mindset and you guys can't see eye to eye. You might not like each other because of your beliefs and values and whatever it is.
If you can both get that you were born into a family, you all have many things in common. That God loves you. That you are loved, showered with love and gratitude, and can transmute even your worst enemy in your mind. When you realize that this person, as much as you don't like them or because of their beliefs, you guys have so much more in common than you think. If we could all live that way, we could all look at every one. Imagine if all politicians could look across the other side and go; we have so much in common.
Why don't we focus on what we have in common and the common good we want to do? Of course, it doesn't sell headlines. The mainstream media wants to keep us in fear, keeps us like it’s clickbait. Life right now could be social media’s clickbait and everything that is causing turmoil. There have been studies done that prove that things on Facebook and Instagram are increasing suicide among youth. I think suicide is now the second leading cause of death in youth under the age of 24. Mental and emotional health that's the true pandemic right now. If we look at how many people are on antidepressants and anxiety meds.
I love that you talked about what we're missing in cultivating spiritual health when we cultivate spiritual health that helps us heal our mental and emotional health. I found a new church. I just love it and have been going several times a week. And that's where I've been doing so much of my emotional healing and working through the post-traumatic stress that I've had over the last year. We're worshiping and praising, and we have so much gratitude. Everyone is in a state of gratitude, and then the whole, there are hundreds of us, and we all feel what's described as the Holy Spirit. We all feel a connection to God, and it is so intense and so beautiful. It just feels so real.
I understand what you said about how you can practice spiritual experiences, especially with gratitude that gets you in that state of love. I'd love for you guys to talk about– either one of you. What kind of tools could be helpful that you already have mentioned a few? Do you have any more tools that could be helpful for those who are suffering from grief, loss, depression, and anxiety which is something I feel that so many are suffering from right now?
[01:10:05] Karen Newell: What is one of the very simple tools I often recommend to people is just to imagine that your breath is moving in and out of your heart. You can imagine your breath. A lot of meditative teachers will have you practice imagining what is coming in and out of your left toe. Something anywhere on your body it’s an exercise in moving your awareness. But when you imagine that it's moving in and out of your heart, it's filling up a bubble around your body, a little sphere. If you can imagine that your breath moves in and out of you in all directions, this really moves you out of your thinking mind. That's where your distress is coming from. The heart does not have a linguistic center. Interesting Heart Math will tell you that the heart sends more information to the brain than the brain sends to the heart.
I feel like it's collecting information out in the world and sending it up to the brain. Then the brain has to assign meaning to it and come up with words to describe it. We can escape those words, that little voice that maybe is telling us we're not good enough or keeping us in a state of procrastination instead of productivity. Whatever it is, move your awareness to your heart. Imagine your breath is moving in and out of there. That's a beautiful exercise that can help get people wrapped around it. I will tell you that some addiction doctors have used our free recordings, the alm recordings, right on patients when they're in distress. They'll come in, and they'll be all strung out, and they can't get them to come to have a conversation. So this doctor will pop the headphones. You have to use headphones to get the full power of these recordings. Put the headphones on the patients, and they just get calm right away. So lots and lots of tools related to the sound and just how you hold your awareness.
[01:12:14] Dr. Eben Alexander: The only other point I was making is a key starting point for people. Kind of new to this is in this kind of meditation, going within what you're doing is acknowledging that this kind of mental air of the universe is something shared throughout the universe with great influence. The important step to take at the beginning of any such meditation is that one has to realize they are not to identify without running a stream of thoughts in their head. So many people think the running stream of thoughts in their heads is who they are. It's their identity.
I'll point out that it is your ego-mind, and that certainly serves some purpose in the general survival of biological systems on Earth. And yet we are far beyond the predator, prey, and dance that involves so much of biology. So that's no longer humankind of preoccupation. My point is that we can discover that we're much more than just our physical bodies. So we're much more than just running a stream of thoughts.
In his book, The Untethered Soul, I love how Michael Singer calls running a stream of thoughts in your head the annoying roommate, and that's a very important way to look at it because that's not truly who we are. We can come to much greater discovery by cultivating the sense of connection across the veil with a unified mind with God-consciousness that has the highest and best good for all involved as its primary interest.
There's something I would paraphrase from Einstein, and he said the true value of this whole depends on how much they've liberated themselves from the concept itself. That's where this ego-mind, this voice in our head, can be so misleading. And Rene Descartes, a renowned French philosopher of hundreds of years ago, said, I think therefore I am. I wish he clarified it a little bit and said, I am aware of my thoughts, and therefore I exist.
That awareness of them, that's the part that outlasts the death of the body and brain. That's the part that actually expands when we die. That's what near-death experiencers tell you: your awareness doesn’t shrink down to nothing as a materialist would postulate. Still, it expands when you're liberated from the shackles of the physical brain and body. This is something we can all practice through meditation. Flipping these surly bonds of Earth in the material realm and the apparent here now and this kind of sense of self. We all have the freedom within meditation and centering prayer to escape from that kind of false imprisonment of the illusion of being isolated as an individual physical being. We're much more than that, and that's really one of the deepest lessons to start within this adventure is exploring that shared consciousness.
[01:15:20] Ashley James: Now, you lost your sense of self. You had mentioned that it's like your ego wasn't there, you didn't know who you were, but that needed to happen so you would learn and accept what was going on? I’ve heard of near-death experiences where people didn't know who they were, and they did see fellow members who had passed or met Jesus and knew who they were.
[01:10:50] Dr. Eben Alexander: Right.
[01:15:52] Ashley James: Is your experience uncommon that people don't know who they are? Or are there some experiences people do and some don't know? How can we better understand near-death experiences if this really happens when we die?
[01:16:15] Dr. Eben Alexander: I think the important thing to point out is that near-death experiences, as we said earlier, probably 400 million people around the world patterns are very common. And when you study them, you find a lot of commonalities, and you're exactly right. Most people go into this with full memory of their lives. All this tells me is if my experience was incomplete, if I’m going to die, I would have gone on to that next level of going through the life review. Now it's important to point out, though, that I did witness life reviews with a very powerful passion, even though I cannot have an Eben Alexander life review because of my amnesia.
The way I saw them, and these both occur in separate passages through the core realm, first was what I call the Flying Fish analogy, and that was basically where I experienced becoming flying fish. And when we're down in the water, we are dumbed down. We didn't have all the knowledge of our higher soul. We were buying into this material incarnation and that's it. It gives a skin in the game. But then when I popped up out of the water into the air, as flying fish, I was in that space between lives and reunited with a higher soul and all that kind of thing.
Now, this next vision was even grander and happened on a separate passage through the core; it's what I call the Indras Net Vision. That was this extraordinary higher dimensional network of interconnected threads, and the threads represented soul lines of an individual soul from multiple incarnations approaching this incredible enlightenment and oneness with the Divine. In that particular vision, that ultimate goal was reflected as this kind of golden center to this web network to which we were all kind of attached and working our way through these incarnations. The life review and reincarnation were very clearly presented to me in these visions.
Now the important thing to stress is months after my coma, and this is something we explained in Living in a Mindful Universe. If I had scripted my NDE first and foremost, my father would be there. My doctor father was a world-renowned neurosurgeon. He was very important in my life. It passed over four years before my coma. And surprising to me, especially because I've never had NDE in the literature before after my NDE, at the advice of my older son majoring in neuroscience, who knew every time you revisit a memory, you change it. So he told me to write everything that I could remember from my NDE before I read anybody else's NDE. That was important information. I wrote 20,000 words over six weeks or so.
And then, I started reading the NDE literature and that's when I was totally blown away by a lot of similarities. I was surprised by the absence of my father and we explained that especially in the third book, Living in Mind for Universe, how he appeared to me in meditation two and a half years after my coma. It made it very clear that if he had been apparent to me as he could, he could not be apparent to me in my NDE. Despite a one in ten million diagnosis from an E.coli bacteria of meningitis in an adult, despite a one in a billion recovery, if my father had been the one on there, I would have been more tempted to dismiss it. So you only see what you want to see all the way out. So it's a psychological factor, that's why my guardian angel had to be who she was. Someone deeply important to me in my life. Anyway, that's kind of the longer version of NDEs, of life reviews, of my father’s presence and discovering the importance of why he couldn't be there in my original NDE.
[01:20:07] Karen Newell: You touched on how we can know that Eben’s experience or people who have near-death experiencers have the same kind of experience we would have when we actually go on to die. Fortunately, we have data on that. Christopher Kerr is a director and doctor at Hospice Buffalo, and he started doing studies on hospice patients some years ago. He wanted to hear from them directly. So what is it that you're experiencing as you get closer to death because up until then, it was only clinicians who had reported their observations of what people were going through?
No, actually asked for dying patients themselves and that was brought up at the institutional review board where this is going to be proper. Dr. Kerr explained that these patients are actually benefited by having the opportunity to talk about their experiences. What's so remarkable is that around 90% of the subjects stated did have what he called End of Life Dreams and Visions. The dreams happen when the subject is asleep. When they're awake and have these experiences, they're called visions.
It's the same type of experience that the subject is usually the same whether you're awake or asleep, which is so weird for us. People who just have dreams think they're a little different at any rate. These were very realistic types of dreams. These people reported them to be hyper-real, more real than real, and they would say as if they were actually lit. Which is remarkably exactly how near-death experiencers describe near-death experiencers. Their experiences say that they're more real than real.
The other thing that happens is that people will say that there are scenes of travel where they know they're going somewhere, that they're packing or they're in a car or bus, and they're going somewhere. But they don't necessarily know where they're going. So the idea that it's the end is not really brought out in these experiments. The other thing that's very common in these experiences is that people will start to relive their life.
So when Eben talks about this life review, people in the– let's say a couple of weeks before they die, say they're in the hospice center. The first dreams that they started to have are up to their childhood. They'll stretch or relive childhood events and connect with people they knew back then. They could still be alive, or they could still be dead at this point. But as they get closer to death, the prevalence of dreams and visions involving deceased relatives increases dramatically.
Often they're just seen as being present, quietly observing, always emanating this loving energy, and other times they actually interact. We can be quite certain that actual death is very similar to what near-death experiencers tell us. It seems that life review starts to begin before you actually die. Once you actually die, it just continues in another form. And near-death experiencers, of course, are dying, necessarily in a natural way. So many people are oftentimes natural because it couldn't have to do with a heart attack or something, but it's a sudden way. If they're not being led into death over many weeks and then days and then hours. It happens suddenly and they just pop right into their life reviews without a chance to start gradually. So this gives us a lot of information that can make us very confident that our awareness continues that we encounter the souls that departed loved ones. That love is a thief that's another thing they say is that– everything is related to love and those loving bonds. We often call it the binding force of love because it keeps us connected even into the afterlife.
[01:24:23] Ashley James: We've talked about beautiful positive things. I'm going to turn to something negative now, but I hope there's hope here. I feel like we're in dark times. Hopefully, not everyone feels the same way. Hopefully, there are people who don't feel like we're in dark times, but there's a strong sense that there's a spiritual war. A lot of people that I know believe that there are demons. There are negative entities that there are forces out there that are not wanting what's in our best interest. In your research in studying near-death experiences, studying the afterlife, and spirituality. Have you come across the concept where people are struggling with demonic possessions or a feeling like there are negative forces that are hindering them from being able to live that life full of gratitude and love and connect with God and move into a positive spiritual realm?
[01:25:37] Dr. Eben Alexander: I would say, especially, when you look at the broad literature on near-death experiences and combine it certainly with Christopher Kerr's work as Karen was discussing the end-of-life experience so commonly encountered. You find that 90 to 95% of it is just this beautiful, blissful kind of finding of a spiritual realm. You don't find that there's some battle between good and evil going on in the spiritual realm. In fact, even that kind of predefined set of near-death experiences that are turned into hellish NDEs or negative NDEs is often involved– for example, someone who has been so busy handing out pain and suffering to others that their life review might seem kind of hellish because you have to be on the receiving end of that in life.
Your life review is not from your perspective. But from the perspective of those around you who were influenced by your actions and thoughts. But the overall ambiance of that kind of community and those reports. This even includes, for example, if you go to the really negative kind of expectations, you might have to say, for example, inadequate prison where with rapists and murderers, you find that when prisoners work as hospice workers for fellow prisoners, they still uncover these same stories of kind of redemption of forgiveness of people facing the bad that they've done in this life, but seeing it in this light of love that guides them more towards a loving presence.
That's why I think overall, the evolution of humanity, given this huge kind of factor NDEs and the loving ambiance in the background, that over a period of time, we do become more loving and move away from this kind of false sense of separation in comes of materialistic thought. I would agree with you that our current world is very apparently conflicted, polarized, lots of conflicts, violence, warfare, economic polarization, corporate greed, climate change, and all that. I would say that the answer to that is a spiritual awakening. It simply involves more and more people becoming aware of this deep truth about our existence that in many ways is very optimistic.
When you look at the big literature on NDE reports, for example, the ions website hosts thousands and thousands of reports with these kinds of experiences. The overall background is one of a very positive transformation of humanity. Kenneth Ring is one of the founders of the International Association of near-death studies. He wrote it three decades ago. It’s about how just people knowing NDEs could change their own reality.
You don't have to have an NDE just knowing about these experiences and their commonality helps all of us to come into a deeper sense of the higher good that we can practice in meditation, centering prayer, and through the way that we live our lives and all the choices, we make every day. But despite the apparent hardships, and I would say that the hardships are there, just as in the world of alcoholism and addiction study where people have these hardships that they're dealing with. It's like getting a bottom, a gift of desperation that they're able to bounce back up and gain the energy to improve themselves.
Likewise, society is facing a collective gift of desperation with all these apparent hardships, conflicts, political polarization, etcetera. There is a way out, and that is for humanity to truly become wise. Homo sapiens, the word sapiens, means wise. Yes, you could attribute much of the scientific advances in medicine, communication, transportation, etcetera. Over the last two centuries to been a wise move. When you look at the ugly underbelly of all our addiction to fossil fuels, the floating gyre of plastic twice the size of Texas floating in the Pacific Ocean, these are obviously very negative sides of our technological growth. So it's time for humanity to really grow up and quit living this kind of myth of false separation from each other.
We're all in this together. We need to take care of each other. And we need to have a much longer timescale. Politicians and corporate leaders look at the next quarterly report for next year's elections. We need to look at 50 years in the future and our children and the quality of their lives and start doing what's right for them. So that's where I think this world can start to take stewardship as we should truly. If we're going to call ourselves Homo sapiens and start leading this world in a much more positive direction, that's beneficial to all.
[01:30:39] Ashley James: Your book Living in a Mindful Universe, there's a lot of tools, a lot of actionable steps, can you guys certainly want to leave with us or teach the listeners today?
[01:30:51] Dr. Eben Alexander: I think the main thing is just to take time each day to go with that. Realize that little ego voice with a lot of its demands on you is not who you truly are. To try and cultivate a richer relationship across the veil with that primordial mind, that God force that has love, kindness, compassion, and mercy right at the core of all of this activity.
[01:31:15] Karen Newell: When we say go within, that may look different for each of us. It really is incumbent on each of us to try different practices. Find that combination of practices that work best for you because it's going to be different for each of us. We are both very big fans of using sacred acoustics recordings to get into expanded states that not everyone will respond the same way, and so if that doesn't work, you try something else. Some people like to do movement sorts of things, and others do centering prayer. I like how you said when you go to your church, and there's a community of people, you're all focused on generating that connection to the Holy Spirit together. Doing this with other people can strengthen the experience exponentially. I like to imagine that it is all about our heart energies interacting, and we are supporting each other in this effort. When you're not nearby other people, you can always imagine that your highest energy expands all the way out to the entire Earth. It's interesting at Heart Math when they measure that electromagnetic field. Whatever device they use, we seem to go to the maximum distance that it can measure. Who knows, it might be unlimited. Eben will always remind me that we can't get confused and think that the electromagnetic field, which is a material thing, is all that it is. It's a very useful mechanism that we can focus on that we know is happening, whether we realize it or not.
[01:32:53] Dr. Eben Alexander: There's a much deeper form of information overlay between minds that presents in quantum physics as entanglement, and that would be my point. This kind of communication goes beyond just electromagnetic things that will be limited by the speed of light. Also, in adding to the comments you were making, I would point out that we've started developing a community of like-minded people, and you can access that at unitedinhopeandhealing.com. Very specifically, Karen had the idea that since all of our jobs were canceled back in March 2020 for the summer, she decided we would interview the scientists and fellow experiencers that we would have been meeting up with at those conferences. We would just interview them for the benefit of the public at large, and those interviews we did once every two weeks for most of the pandemic. They're available at unitedinhopeandhealing.com for free to the public. We hope that those will help people realize there's a community of like-minded people growing up around all of this kind of teaching and effort.
[01:34:00] Karen Newell: On that same website is a membership platform. The webinar access is all free. People can also connect, and we do on our platform, our teaching platform, where we have some core classes, but then also we do monthly Q&As, where people can submit any questions they want. So we take about 90 minutes to answer them. That's also going on that same website if people are interested.
[01:34:25] Dr. Eben Alexander: There's also a course available for mental health practitioners co-taught by Karen, myself, and Dr. Anna Yusim. I would say that course can be very valuable in helping people deal with mental health issues in the modern era.
[01:34:43] Karen Newell: One last resource is an online companion workbook that we created to go with Living in a Mindful Universe, and it's called your 33-day journey into the heart of consciousness. If you go to ebenalexander.com, you'll find a link to that 33-day journey. It's an email. Just get an email once today with a note and a personal practice, and it's all related to the book Living in a Mindful Universe.
[01:35:15] Ashley James: Excellent because I was actually just to ask about the free online course that you guys have, that's ebenalexander.com/33days. Of course, the links to everything you talked about are going to be in the show notes for today's podcast, learntruehealth.com. So listeners go to learntruehealth.com to catch that or in the description whatever podcast platform you're listening from. Go in the description, and I'll make sure that all those links are there, of course, the links also to the books as well. This is such a beautiful thing to focus on. You've given us so many tools. I love the idea of making sure that we take time every day to stand in gratitude. To imagine when it comes to wanting something we don't have, imagine what it would feel like to have it. Then imagine yourself having that feeling, that same feeling, and what other things you can experience or other relationships you can cultivate that will also give you that feeling. Stepping away from– I will be happy until I have this physical object and stepping towards your whole complete imperfect now as you are in and your possessions aren't really don’t bring joy. But focusing on building relationships and staying grounded in love. Remember that even those people you don't necessarily like or understand or get along with they're just like you. They're all part of the same soup. We're all in it together. We're all God's children. And even these little mind shifts can help us live a more fulfilled life and a life where we're focusing on being just beautiful human beings. I saw someone yesterday who was wearing a pin that said—humankind, be both. It's exactly, be both, be kind and be human.
[01:37:31] Dr. Eben Alexander: I would like to think they go hand in hand.
[01:37:34] Ashley James: Thank you so much for coming on the show guys. This has been a pleasure and if you have more resources or discover more information and you want to come back and share more science. I would love you back.
[01:37:50] Dr. Eben Alexander: Ashley, great talking with you. Thanks for having us on.
[01:37:53] Karen Newell: Yes, and thanks for all you do to help others as well and get all of this information and 20 more other people that you interview out into the world. Thank you so much.
[01:38:03] Ashley James: It is my pleasure.
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Health Coach, Podcast Creator, Homeschooling Mom, Passionate About God & Healing
Ashley James is a Holistic Health Coach, Podcaster, Rapid Anxiety Cessation Expert, and avid Whole Food Plant-Based Home Chef. Since 2005 Ashley has worked with clients to transform their lives as a Master Practitioner and Trainer of Neuro-linguistic Programming.
Her health struggles led her to study under the world’s top holistic doctors, where she reversed her type 2 diabetes, PCOS, infertility, chronic infections, and debilitating adrenal fatigue.
In 2016, Ashley launched her podcast Learn True Health with Ashley James to spread the TRUTH about health and healing. You no longer need to suffer; your body CAN and WILL heal itself when we give it what it needs and stop what is harming it!
The Learn True Health Podcast has been celebrated as one of the top holistic health shows today because of Ashley’s passion for extracting the right information from leading experts and doctors of holistic health and Naturopathic medicine
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