Is there life after death? Literally tens of thousands of people have reported having near death experiences. Many of those people have been clinically dead, yet come back to life and tell of their remarkable experiences. A number of independent studies have been conducted that shed light on what could possibly happen after we die.


One of these studies was undertaken at the University of Southampton (UK), where scientists found evidence that awareness can continue for at least several minutes after death. In the scientific world this had previously been considered impossible. The research is the world’s largest ‘near death experiences’ study, and it was published in the journal Resuscitation.


Here’s what Dr Sam Parnia, a former research fellow at Southampton University, now at the State University of New York, who led the study had to say:

“In 2008, a large-scale study involving 2060 patients from 15 hospitals in the United Kingdom, United States and Austria was launched. The AWARE (AWAreness during REsuscitation) study, sponsored by the University of Southampton in the UK, examined the broad range of mental experiences in relation to death. Researchers also tested the validity of conscious experiences using objective markers for the first time in a large study to determine whether claims of awareness compatible with out-of-body experiences correspond with real or hallucinatory events. ” – to see press release please click here.


The study emphasized how terms such as ‘near-death’ and ‘out of body’ experiences are scientifically imprecise terms, and might not be sufficient to describe the actual experience of death. It also emphasized how more studies need to focus on cardiac arrest because it is biologically synonymous with death (instead of poorly defined medical states like ‘near death.’)


Scientists determined in some cases of cardiac arrest that patients were still visually aware during ‘out of body experiences.’ These experiences in some cases actually corresponded with specific events taking place during the procedure. They also determined that a higher proportion of people may have vivid death experiences, but do not recall them because of the effects of sedative drugs on memory circuits.


As previously stated, researchers at the University of Southampton spent four years studying more than 2,000 people who suffered cardiac arrest – gathering data from 15 different hospitals from the UK, US, and Austria. They found that nearly 40 percent of people who survived described some type of ‘awareness’ during the time they were pronounced clinically dead, before their hearts were restarted.


One remarkable story came from a 57 year old man who, despite being unconsciousness and dead, recalled watching the entire process of his resuscitation. Here’s Dr Sam Parnia again, commenting on this particular case:

“We know the brain can’t function when the heart has stopped beating, but in this case, conscious awareness appears to have continued for up to three minutes into the period when the heart wasn’t beating, even though the brain typically shuts down within 20-30 seconds after the heart has stopped. 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. So we could time how long the experienced lasted for. He seemed very credible and everything that he said had happened to him had actually happened.” Dr. Parnia continues…


“This study is significant, since it has often been assumed that experiences in relation to death are likely hallucinations or illusions, occurring either before the heart stops or after the heart has been successfully restarted… but not an experience corresponding with ‘real’ events when the heart isn’t beating.”  Also see: Dying to be me by Anita Moorjani.


In the medical world, such studies remain controversial despite the fact that numerous other studies indicate that ‘something’ is definitely happening after ‘death’ and is therefore worth exploring. Consciousness is a phenomenon that is increasingly being studied and acknowledged as a force in the realm of quantum physics. You can read more about the scientific developments around the role of consciousness here.


The Southampton University research also found, that from approximately 2000 cardiac arrest patients, a staggering 330 survived and 140 experienced some ‘degree of awareness’ during the time they were clinically dead and being resuscitated. Estimates have suggested that millions of people have had vivid experiences in relation to death but the scientific evidence has been ambiguous at best. However, this research illustrates that further investigation is needed and would indeed be valuable. The evidence of some type of awareness or consciousness existing separate from the body is substantial. See: Noetic Sciences.


Dr. Eben Alexander, a Harvard trained neurosurgeon for more than two decades is also the author of the bestselling book ‘Proof of Heaven: A Neurosurgeon’s Journey into the Afterlife.’ In the book he looks at the past two and a half years of his life spent in trying to reconcile his spiritual experience with contemporary physics and cosmology. He is convinced that his spiritual episode is totally consistent with the cutting edge of scientific understanding and tries to demonstrate it through his work.


Dr. Alexander never believed in the existence of an afterlife, or the soul. That all changed when he was in a coma for seven days caused by severe bacterial meningitis and he claims to have had a memorable journey into the afterlife.


Below are a couple of quotes from him on the subject:

“There are a lot of scientists around the world who realize that when you start getting into the mystery of consciousness, which in essence is the only thing anyone of us truly knows exists, and trying to see exactly what consciousness is, it’s kind of like asking a fish what it’s like in the water. We are so close to it that there’s no way to really separate it out. I assure you that the only thing you’ve ever really known is your own consciousness.”

“We believe that there is this external world out there, the material realm. That’s the realm that materialist science will try to tell you is the thing that exists, but it’s really right at the heart of the deep enigma of quantum mechanics, that our modern society has wrestled with for more than a century now trying to understand. Basically what the results of those experiments have been screaming, is that consciousness is primary and fundamental in this universe, and that is a very important thing for us to understand.”


Below is an extract from The Mental Universe, by R.C. Henry, which further echoes this idea that consciousness cannot be discounted from scientific conclusions otherwise they are in danger of misleading us…

“A fundamental conclusion of the new physics also acknowledges that the observer creates the reality. As observers, we are personally involved with the creation of our own reality. Physicists are being forced to admit that the universe is a “mental” construction. Pioneering physicist Sir James Jeans wrote: “The stream of knowledge is heading toward a non-mechanical reality; the universe begins to look more like a great thought than like a great machine. Mind no longer appears to be an accidental intruder into the realm of matter, we ought rather hail it as the creator and governor of the realm of matter. Get over it, and accept the inarguable conclusion. The universe is immaterial-mental and spiritual.”



The Quantum Double Slit Experiment

The quantum double slit experiment is a great example of how consciousness and our physical material world are intertwined. One fascinating revelation of this experiment is that ‘the observer creates/shapes his/her reality.’ A paper published in the peer-reviewed journal Physics Essays explains how this experiment has been used multiple times to explore the role of consciousness in shaping the nature of physical reality.

In this experiment, a double-slit optical system was used to test the possible role of consciousness in the collapse of the quantum wave-function. The study found that factors associated with consciousness significantly correlated in predicted ways with deviations in the double slit interference pattern. For a visual demonstration of this experiment, click here.


Further Reflections

It is becoming increasingly clear that observing ‘something’, disturbs/interferes with the way that ‘thing’ behaves.

Through the act of observation, we literally alter the way that the electron behaves, which we (at Reach) believe unquestionably underlines consciousness’s relationship with matter. This confirms what many of the ancient traditions would have us believe that we are in fact co-creators in our destiny, with the gift of choice and not merely victims of circumstance and events.

So start looking for ways to positively influence your reality and do not simply resign yourself to the idea of fate. Life is based on the relationship between free will and destiny – so start making choices in line with your hopes and dreams, otherwise those choices will be made for you.


Also see: Intimate Death and Neurotheology