Shivali Best — Daily Mail July 27, 2017
While no-one knows what happens when we die, many people have riveting tales about what they experienced in a near-death situation.
Such experiences can take many different forms, with common features including seeing a bright light, feeling at peace, and perceiving a tunnel.
A new study has examined how frequently and in what order these different features occur.
The findings, which some say provides a glimpse into the afterlife, suggest that no two near-death experiences are the same.
Researchers from the University of Liege in Belgium have looked at the common features of near death experiences (NDEs).
Charlotte Martial, lead author of the study, said: ‘To the best of our knowledge, no study has formally and rigorously investigated whether NDE features follow a fixed order or distribution.
‘The aim of our study was to investigate the frequency distribution of these features, both globally and according to the position of features in narratives, as well as the most frequently reported temporality sequences of the different near-death-experience features.’
The researchers collected and analysed written accounts from 154 people who had gone through a near death experience.
Their analysis showed that each person experienced around four different phenomena during their experience.
The most frequently reported features were a feeling of peacefulness (80 per cent of participants), seeing a bright light (69 per cent) and encountering with spirits/people (64 per cent).
In contrast, the two most uncommon experiences were speeding thoughts (five per cent) and precognitive visions (four per cent).
In terms of chronology, they found that a third of the subjects experienced an out-of-body experience as the first feature of their near-death experience, and that the most frequent last feature was returning to the body (36 per cent).
Ms Martial said: ‘This suggests that near-death-experiences seem to be regularly triggered by a sense of detachment from the physical body and end when returning to one’s body.’
Overall, the most common order of occurrences was: out-of-body experience, experiencing a tunnel, seeing a bright light, and finally feeling of peace – a sequence that was reported by 22 per cent of participants.
While similar sequences were found between participants, the researchers suggest that each near-death-experience has a unique pattern of events.
Ms Martial said: ‘Our findings suggest that near-death-experiences may not feature all elements, and elements do not seem to appear in a fixed order.
‘While near-death-experiences may have a universal character so that they may exhibit enough common features to belong to the same phenomenon, we nevertheless observed a temporal variability within the distribution of reported features.
‘This raises significant questions about what specific aspects of near-death-experiences could be considered as universal – and what not.
‘Further research is necessary to explore these differences and the precise extent of which content of those experiences reflects their expectations and cultural backgrounds, as well as the neurophysiological mechanisms underlying near-death-experiences.’