NDEs, the Afterlife, the Paranormal, and Dreaming

Last week, while I was away in Tucson at the 39th Annual Conference of the International Association for the Study of Dreams (my first time at the conference!), one of my favorite semi-annual events took place in my hometown: the public library sale.

I love attending this 4-day event, and many of the books in my collection on dreams, spirituality, or the paranormal have come from the library sale.

I couldn’t make it to the sale due to my trip, but luckily my good friend Shira was able to. She messaged me upon my return to tell me she picked up a few books for me.

I was so curious! Hardly anyone buys me books these days. Which ones at the library sale did Shira think suited me?

She dropped off the books and I discovered that all three were on the topic of near-death experiences or the afterlife. I’m very much interested in consciousness studies, which certainly include NDEs and the afterlife. However, these two specific topics, especially NDEs, haven’t up until now been primary areas of focus for me.

(Ghosts, yes. Reincarnation and past lives, also yes. Mediumship, kinda. But not NDEs or the immediate experience of the afterlife / Heaven / the Bardo, etc.)

Well, one of my favorite panels at the IASD conference was on this very topic, as well as visitation dreams (dream visits from those who have passed) and using lucid dreaming to assist the dying in the death process. After attending this panel and hearing from the speakers, I surprisingly found myself deeply moved, and wondering if my professional dreamwork with clients would start to include work with the dying, and possibly even the dead.

Perhaps for some in this profession that wouldn’t be such a complicated question, but for me, it is. For many reasons.

For one, it took me almost my entire adult life until now to acknowledge that I wanted to be a healing professional working one-on-one with those in need of support, care, or guidance (as opposed to someone who simply researched, wrote about, and marketed other healing professionals, as I have professionally for the past 15 years.)

It’s an even bigger step for me to consider I may be someone who assists not just those who seek healing, but also those who seek to face the reality that physical healing, in this life, is no longer an option.

Would I be useful in such a role? Could I be strong enough, loving enough?

That evening after the panel, in a dream, I had a brief, but tender encounter with a celebrity who recently died. Without going into the details, I will just say that this encounter, the content of which was pretty emotional for me, touched upon some grief relating to both childhood and the present, and amplified my curiosity.

So did reading one of the books Shira bought me this week — Saved By the Light a memoir by NDE-survivor Dannion Brinkley, co-authored by Paul Perry.

Brinkley’s life was dramatically changed as a result of two NDEs, during which he was transported to an alternate reality-type space, populated by Beings of Light, where he was shown what we might call prophetic visions of the future (some of which have played out in reality in the years since) and given a series of service-related tasks to complete back on Earth. 

In the memoir, Brinkley also reports and details psychic skills he acquired only after the near-death experience, including a kind of combo clairvoyance-claircognizance with which he can now see and know recent events of a person’s life upon touching the person.

Much of what I read in his book (published in the mid-1990s) reminded me of other works or accounts I have read in recent years regarding lucid dreaming, out-of-body experiences while sleeping, dream yoga practices, and extraordinary mystical experiences that take place during deep meditation or while on psychedelics.  

Which is to say, there seem to be clear overlaps and parallels between NDEs, dreams, and induced altered states of consciousness. 

For now, it’s important to add that NDEs and the afterlife remain areas of curiosity and research for me, rather than areas of expertise. However, with that said, if you are someone who has had an extraordinary experience, whether that’s an NDE, an out-of-body experience, or an unexplainable mystical experience, I would be happy to discuss how working together, using methods similar to those I use with my dreamwork clients, may be of benefit when it comes to processing and integrating paranormal or supernormal experiences in your life. 

What kind of experience? I’m open and curious. Alien encounters. Hauntings. Visitations from those who have passed, in waking life or dreams. Sacred encounters with a divine presence. Astral travel. Synchronicities, meaningful coincidences, unexpected interactions with objects or creatures in the environment. You tell me.

Brinkley writes in his memoir how healing it was to finally meet Dr. Raymond Moody (NDE researcher and author of many books on the afterlife), as well as other individuals who had similar experiences to his. As a result, he spent time traveling with Dr. Moody to offer support and validation to individuals who attended NDE lectures, and later became a hospice volunteer offering care and support to the dying and their grieving loved ones. 

Mystical experiences can be awe-inspiring, but they can be terrifying, too…and often can create a severe sense of displacement for the individual experiencing them, especially if the experience was a solo one. Often, our lives don’t feel the same afterwards. Sometimes it’s difficult to go on the way we lived prior to the encounter.

Paranormal experiences, even ones that feel exciting at the time, may later leave a person lonely and depressed if the individual is without a proper support network; whether that’s a parent or a spouse who believes them, a healthcare provider who validates the experience as real, or even just an empathetic friend.

Even very vidid or lucid dreams can leave the dreamer feeling aimless sometimes, wondering how to face a mundane waking life when dreaming feels extra-rich, extra-alive, more real than real. 

When I was first having precognitive dreams, and especially following a few scary lucid dream encounters (read: ominous, otherworldly presence in my bedroom), I felt confused and alone even with a supportive spouse and empathetic friends!

I wished at the time there was a practitioner or a teacher I could speak to who wouldn’t think I was “crazy,” or “imaginative,” or “making more of it than there was.”  I truly wished for a guide, someone who believed me and could offer wisdom from having already been there or done that. I am blessed with a wonderful dreamwork teacher now, as well as an extremely validating and supportive partner (who is also a healthcare practitioner and mystic) and I still want more teachers, more guides!

In my practice I aim to support all types of dreamers, including those who don’t dream, don’t necessarily seek to work their dreams, and don’t even know if “healing” is what they’re after. 

If instead, you could simply use support with navigating, processing, and integrating into your waking reality strange phenomena, sacred encounters, and mystical experiences…I am available for that, as well.

So far, in my experience, you can find a good therapist for a lot of conditions — anxiety, fear, phobias, relationship distress, trauma, etc. — but it’s not often you come across a practitioner whose expertise is in listening to, validating, and helping one integrate strange and unusual paranormal encounters. Reach out to me if this is what you’re seeking.