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The 10 Most Common Elements of a Near-Death Experience


Ascent of the Blessed by Hieronymus Bosch

Ascent of the Blessed by Hieronymus Bosch

What it's like to have an NDE, based on reports from 50 people who have experienced it

NOT ALL near-death experiences (NDE) are alike, contrary to a popular belief. In the stereotypical NDE, the person clinically dies, enters a tunnel of light, is greeted by relatives or beings of light, is told that he or she is not ready to pass on, and is sent back to awaken back in this life.

That particular NDE scenario has been reported many times, but it by no means happens for every experiencer. However, there are components of the NDE that are part of the experience for a majority, or at least a good percentage, of people who have reported them.

Noted NDE researcher P.M.H. Atwater has cataloged many of those components in a "Common Aspects Analysis", and Kevin Williams has further analyzed them based on an examination of 50 NDEs profiled on the Near-Death Experiences and the Afterlife website. Williams admits that his is not a scientific or exhaustive study, but it does provide an interesting view of the reported phenomenon.

Here are the top 10 characteristics, according to Williams:


In 69% of the cases, people felt that they were in the presence of an overwhelming love. In some instances, the source of the feeling seem to be non-specific, as if it is just part of the atmosphere of the "place." Other times, this feeling comes from the beings met there. Sometimes they are religious figures (see "God" below) or nondescript beings of light, and sometimes they are relatives who have passed on previously.


The ability to communicate with the people or entities through a kind of mental telepathy was reported by 65% of the experiencers. In other words, the communication was non-verbal and seemed to take place on a level of consciousness rather than physically.


The review of one's life was common in 62% of the cases. While some witnessed the review from beginning to end, others saw it in reverse order, from present day back to the beginning. And while for some it appeared to be a "highlights reel," others felt like they were witness to every event and detail of their lives.


Meeting a figure that appeared to be God or some divine being was reported by 56% of experiences. Interestingly, 75% of people who consider themselves atheists reported these divine figures.


This might go hand-in-hand with the first characteristic, "a feeling of overwhelming love," but while that feeling comes from an external source, the experiencers also feel their own internal ecstasy - the tremendous joy of being in this place, free of their bodies and earthly troubles, and in the presence of loving beings. This was experienced by 56%.

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