Out of body, near-death

She was having doubts about her boyfriend, Michael Chohaney.

Samantha McNamara, a friend of mine, revealed a piece of her love life that was unbeknownst to me.

I assumed they always had a rosy relationship, but she proved me wrong. Their intense love for one another came into question.

“I really didn’t feel he was interested in me,” the former MCCC student said.

There was more to the story.

In the midst of her inner turbulence, she drafted a Dear John letter to end the relationship.

“My tired heart will stop beating. Maybe it has already. It will take a powerful electric shock to revive me,” she said in the breakup note.

After a car wreck in Texas, her boyfriend arranged to arrive at her house upon his return with a bouquet of flowers. He sensed the impending end.

Then the magic happened. In the flurry of excitement at seeing him at her door, she forgot, in the moment, about the break-up letter in her nightstand. She forgot long enough for Michael to whisk her away to his apartment down in Toledo.

That evening, as they laid in bed together, they found themselves transported into another dimension.

Chohaney describes what happened in a Facebook message:

“I realize this and fall off the heart-to-heart ‘third space.’ And she knew it. She turns over and I look at her and plead with her to come back and say something, but I know she is somewhere else; her ti bon age is floating above.”

McNamara explains that she and her boyfriend had out-of-body experiences (an OBE).

The Atlantic magazine describes OBEs as leaving your body and seeing your own self from a distance. People who have had OBEs describe themselves flying in midair and can feel “blissful, terrifying or neutral” in the experience (The Atlantic).

Chohaney said during his “third space” adventure he was able to fly, visit an island and see rooms of light. As he and Samantha floated into different dimensions, he had a glimpse inside of his girlfriend’s heart.

“I will never forget that moment – we are on the ti bon age space. I can see her pain, it was so real, so sad, her mother had raised her in fear, but she has done a tremendous job of finding love,” he wrote.

In Chohaney’s journey, his love for McNamara was raised to another level:

“Sam later confirmed seeing the exact same thing. Sam was waiting for me. She always waits for me. Her love is true, she is patient, and she is kind. She knew, she had infallible faith in me to find the light again and join her on the “next level,” he said in the message.

For McNamara, he had been the other half she was looking for.

“I had no doubts or reservations after that,” she said.

“To me that experience was like plugging into another person.”

McNamara, a student of psychodynamic therapy, transpersonal anthropology and social work, has studied altered states of consciousness and various fields in psychology.

Her encounters inspired her to compile a 411-page book, be a guest speaker, and forfeit law school.

Chohaney, a PhD student at The University of Toledo, is a social scientist, geographer, and Romani studies aficionado. He has presented his notable work at the Association of American Pacific Geographers 74th Annual Meeting in San Francisco, and he recently spoke at the Human Trafficking conference in Toledo this month.

So can OBEs be explained?

Melissa Grey, an assistant professor of psychology at the college, said psychologists use the scientific method to see if an out-of-body claim is verifiable.

Grey cited an out of body experiment where healthy subjects sat on chairs wearing head-mounted displays and connected with cameras behind their backs. The objective of the study was to show whether or not out-of-body experiences were illusionary.

The experimenters probed a person’s real chest and a false one on an “illusionary body” using plastic rods. The participants could only see the false chest, but in reality, the experimenters were sitting by them poking their real one.

An interesting observation surfaced throughout the experiment.

“I report a perceptual illusion in which individual’s experience that their center of awareness, or “self,” is located outside their physical bodies and that theylook at their bodies from the perspective of anotherperson, H. Henrik Ehrsson said in the study.

In other words, the studied individuals were able to perceive feelings as their own through another person.

“There’s no evidence that we go outside of our bodies,” Grey said.

“But people can have sensations out of their body.”

At least two biological factors can cause out-of -body experiences, according to Grey: An endorphin rush and a lack of oxygen.

A pilot is more likely to have an OBE during a fast acceleration, she said.

Anotherphenomenon similar to OBEs is near-death experiences (NDEs).

“I think the circumstances are certainly different,” Grey said about people experiencing OBEs and NDEs.

NDEs are defined by the Cambridge Dictionaries as “an experience described by some people who have been close to death, in which the person feels as if they have left their body and are watching themselves from above.”

From children to adults, many books have been written on a person’s account of the afterlife.

“It’s an amazing phenomenon,” said John Piippo, an MCCC adjunct philosophy professor and pastor of Redeemer Fellowship Church.

Eben Alexander is a neuroscientist, who had an NDE while laying in a deep coma from a rare strain of meningitis. Much of his brain shut down and his prospects of living were ominous. His bestselling book, Proof of Heaven, details his journey into a world unlike our own. He also explains the scientific impossibility for his brain to construct these complex experiences. The book has been on the New York Times bestsellers list for at least 49 weeks.

“The place I went was real. Real in a way that makes life we’re living here and now completely dreamlike in comparison,” Alexander said in the prologue of his book.

“My experience showed me that the death of the body and the brain are not the end of consciousness, that human experience exists beyond the grave.”

Piippo said Alexander’s encounters with God are possible examples of non-physical realities. Non-physical realities are anything that extends beyond the natural world (supernatural).

“If NDEs demonstrate non-physical reality, this would refute philosophical naturalism,” he said.

“Philosophical naturalists believe that all reality is only material. Philosophical atheists tend to be materialists. If atheism is true, then there are no non-material realities. If NDEs are what they claim to be, then their existence would provide evidence refuting atheism. The argument would go like this:

If atheism is true, then reality is only material (physical).

NDEs provide evidence of non-physical realities.

Therefore, atheism is false,” he said.

“A lot of our perceptions are in our head,” Grey said about how NDEs may be shaped by culture and religion.

“There’s no way to know from a psychological standpoint.”

“The question of whether there is an afterlife is not a scientific one – it cannot be answered by science,” Grey said.

Piippo says there are scientists who believe in NDEs like Alexander. According to Piippo, if a person is ‘scientific,’ believing in naturalism, seeing God in the afterlife, is impossible to believe.

“That’s a worldview, not science,” he said.

“If there is no God, matter and molecules are all there is,” he said.

“If someone already has this worldview, then of course they will interpret NDEs as purely physically induced. Since I could never be a philosophical materialist I am open to the possibility of NDEs as real and descriptive of non-physical realities.”

Near death experience are not only reduced to the Western world, but span across the globe.

“It seems there’s a little more variability when you go to different cultures” Grey said.

Grey said Christians and Buddhists see more tunnels in an NDE than Native American groups. .

“Cross-cultural variability supports that NDEs are influenced by our life experiences – if NDEs represented one afterlife, we would expect NDEs to be essentially the same for everyone, and they’re not. They are associated with our culture,” she said.

Whether you believe in an afterlife or not, many who have entered through its gates remain transformed.

“But now that I have been privileged to understand that our life does not end in death of the body or the brain, I see it as my duty, my calling to tell people about what I saw beyond the body and beyond this earth,” Alexander said.