Scientists may have unintentionally proven awareness - or universal consciousness - while studying clinical death resuscitation.
An international study of near death experiences concluded that nearly two-in-five people resuscitated from cardiac arrest experienced awareness for several minutes after their brains stopped functioning.
About 30 seconds after the heart stops, the brain normally shuts down. But a team of researchers (called AWARE – AWareness during REsuscitation) is working to extend that time frame. They claim that there might be a larger window for people to be ‘brought back to life’ than previously thought.
Researchers at the University of Southhampton dedicated four years to studying cardiac cases in the UK, North America, and Europe. After interviewing 140 of the 300 survivors in their study, they found 39% of them shared similar experiences.
Most people recounted seeing bright lights, being dragged through water or even separating from their body. Others shared that they felt their senses sharpen during the experience.
Researchers heard several recollections similar to the patient’s below, who described in great detail how a hospital team resuscitated his heart three minutes after he was clinically ‘dead.’
“The man described everything that had happened in the room, but importantly, he heard two bleeps from a machine that makes a noise at three minute intervals,” said Dr. Sam Parnia, a former research fellow at Southampton University who led the study.
The fact that he could hear the very specific beeping and describe the hospital’s procedures in detail is proof that the man’s awareness existed past the lifespan of his body. It certainly was evidence enough for Dr. Parnia.
The lead researcher and his team also hide items in hospital rooms of their subjects that would visible from above. If patients talked about “floating above the room” but not seeing the items, the team records that as a false memory.
This is the third study conducted by Dr. Parnia and his team into near-death experiences. They are not seeking to find proof for an afterlife but are more keen to discover how blood flow to the brain is affected during resuscitation and how to reverse the effects of clinical death.
The team has also conducted studies looking at post-traumatic stress among patients resuscitated long after their hearts have stopped beating.
Christopher French, a skeptic of the afterlife and psychology professor at the University of London, calls near-death experiences like the one Parnia studies “complex hallucinatory experiences.” Dr. Parnia argues that death is more of a fluid concept, however, happening gradually rather than at a specific moment.
His argument is that, in at least some cases, death is a “potentially reversible process.” He hopes these studies will encourage more research into the field.
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