After reading the text book chapter on consciousness I was hooked on the concepts of Out-of-Body Experiences (OBE) and Near-Death Experiences (NDE). An out-of-body experience can be defined as the sense of our consciousness leaving our body; usually describing oneself floating a few feet above the scene. A near-death experience is a type of OBE experienced by people who have nearly died or thought that they were going to die. Remarkably OBE are very common; "about 25% of college students and 10% of the general population report having experienced one or more of them."
NDE's differ depending on cultures and beliefs; one study claimed that Christians and Buddhists usually experienced walking through a tunnel while North Americans, Pacific Islanders and Australians often do not. A drawback to NDE's is that it is very difficult to replicate as well as the fact that "the evidence is insufficient to support...extraordinary claims." In terms of Occam's razor, NDE's can be explained as physiological changes in the brain; one example for sensations of "peace" may be a result of a release of endorphins in the body.
I have actually experienced 2 OBE's a couple of years ago; the first is inappropriate for this blog but the second one is just as interesting. About 3 years ago I had my first match as an amateur boxer...I trained for months prior to my debut. By the end of the first 5 rounds I knew I was going to lose; I was down on points and could barely stand up. Amazingly I was able to knock my opponent out in the last 13 seconds of the 5th round; and in those last few seconds I was watching myself from the ringside. Even though I know it's impossible, whenever I try to recall the end of that match I can only remember myself as watching from the side lines.
The link below is an interesting video about people have OBE/NDE's as well as researchers trying to find other explanations for these phenomenon.
Ken San Juan
Ken San Juan