Life doesn’t really tell us what awaits, but sometimes personal experiences bring hints of a joyous afterlife
By Annie Katz
Humans are curious about what is on the other side of the mountain, the other side of the world, the other side of the moon, and the other side of death. There are many accounts of people who believe they have come back from the dead with clear memories of the afterlife. Some folks think their memories prove that there is life after death. Perhaps every one of us creates a unique hereafter shaped by our cherished beliefs, our worldviews and our habitual thoughts and behaviors.
But I’ve learned to question everything, so other people’s experiences, thoughts and beliefs are never proof enough for me. My own experiences don’t prove anything about reality either, but they do make me wonder. I’ve had a handful of what I think of as out-of-body experiences, and they have given me clues about what might lie beyond waking consciousness for me.
When I was 25 years old in a hospital room awaiting surgery, I was given a drug to relax me. It relaxed me so much that my consciousness floated out of my body and hovered up in the corner of the room above the door.
I saw my body lying under the white sheet in the hospital bed, but I didn’t feel concerned that I was no longer inside it. I was curious about what was happening in the hallway, and I wondered if I could go through the wall or if I needed to duck down and exit through the doorway. Before I decided how to leave the room the nurse came back to check on my body.
I felt guilty for wandering about and popped back into my body, opened my eyes and giggled. She seemed surprised to see me. She said, “You’re supposed to be asleep.” I told her I was sorry, but I couldn’t stop giggling. I felt as if I’d done something deliciously naughty and gotten away with it.
When I was 50 years old, I was in a neighborhood park working individually with a tai chi master who was teaching me by direct transmission. I would touch his arm while he held a basic pose, and knowing how to hold the pose passed from his arm into mine. His energy was powerful, and I started to feel lightheaded and dizzy.
I told him what I was experiencing, and he immediately broke our connection and had me stand facing him. He gently massaged my wrists to ground me, and the next thing I knew I was flat on my back staring up at his concerned face. I felt giddy and happy. I didn’t know where I had gone or how long I had been away, but I was so deliciously joyous and free that wherever I had gone must have been wonderful.
I sat up and asked him what happened. He said my consciousness shot straight out the top of my head and my body had dropped to the ground. I asked him if that was normal for the work we were doing, and he said it wasn’t. He’d only seen it happen once when someone was doing sitting meditation, but never when someone was standing up.
I told him that I had been doing two hours of sitting meditation every day for several weeks, so maybe that had something to do with dropping the body that way. The experience didn’t upset me, but it upset him so much that he refused to work with me again.
What I have learned from those two times and from several similar experiences is that there’s nothing out there to fear. The realm beyond consciousness must be a happy, lighthearted place, because I always come back laughing.
Annie Katz is a retired educator living in Ashland. She has studied philosophy and spiritual practices all her life and now writes novels for fun. Readers may contact Annie at email@example.com.
Want to contribute? Send 600- to 700-word articles on all aspects of inner peace to Richard Carey (firstname.lastname@example.org).