Warning: this gets pretty woo woo so if you aren’t that kind of person you may think I’ve lost the plot somewhat. And I don’t care. *grin*
You know those random things that pop up on your social media from time to time? Well, a few weeks ago one of those led me down a rabbit hole for a while, and it has been a fascinating journey.
Near death experiences, or NDA’s for short. Did you know that there are thousands, possibly tens of thousands of accounts of people who have died and returned, almost died, or been with someone who is dying, who have all described an experience which has so many things in common that it is beyond freaky. I’ve read account after account and they are soo similar that it gives me goosebumps. Obviously someone noticed this at some point because there is even a Near Death Experience Research Foundation (NDERF).
Now, obviously this is not strictly scientific in that you can’t run an experiment and replicate the situation. There is, however, quantitative research such as the famous Brené Brown PhD, LMSW, and her research into shame and vulnerability. The growing number of people of all walks and ages, all belief systems, and across many nationalities, who have described such strikingly similar experiences falls into this quantitative research. In other words, there is so much of it that it seems like it’s a real thing.
Now as someone with a terminal diagnosis, these experiences are fascinating and immensely comforting, however it is the application to those still alive that I found the most interesting.
Almost every NDE involves meeting a ‘being of light’ or a ‘presence’ or a person, who is so loving, so all-encompassingly accepting and non-judgemental, so at peace with who the dying soul is, that when they return it changes their life. There is never any sense of condemnation or shame (Brene might be interested in that) for who they have been in their earthly lives, although some do see that they have hurt others at different points. And the message most of them come back with is that it is ok, in fact it is essential, that they be the most authentic expression of themselves that they can be.
Several people were even given messages to bring back, messages along the lines of, ‘be as you as you can be.’ Authenticity.
So I looked up authenticity and basically it is this: authenticity means that your thoughts, beliefs and actions all align. Other words could be congruence, resonance, alignment, true, having integrity, being real, etc.
Our western culture, but probably any culture, puts incredible pressure on us to fit in, to comply, to be part of the tribe. ‘Girls like pink.’ ‘Boys don’t cry.’ In horse culture you have to fit into the boxes; you’re a dressage diva or a natural horsemanship follower or a tough reiner or campdrafter, and there are certain things that you do or don’t do depending on your label.
Over so many years I was deeply scarred by religious culture, for example. ‘You don’t question the pastor.’ ‘You must believe that certain people go to hell.’ ‘Christian women are quiet and meek.’ (Those who know me are now lying on the floor in fits of laughter at me ever trying to be mild and meek.) It never felt right but for a long time I went along with it and the emotional scarring that it resulted in was because I wasn’t being authentic; my behaviour wasn’t aligned with my thoughts and beliefs and I was in discord. But if I did dare to express what I thought or felt, I was shamed.
I left that scene years ago in my search for authenticity, although at the time I didn’t know that was what I was searching for. It has mirrored my horsemanship too. I used to want to fit into this or that category, but parts of each system didn’t feel right to me and my horses could tell. I’m seeing now that my lifelong horse, Rumble, mirrors my years of inner conflict and lack of alignment in his insecurity and crankiness. Poor guy, I have experimented on him so much. But he still loves me and I love his goofy, cranky, authentic self (see photo above). Horses have an incredible ability to see when we are being authentic or when we are in inner conflict. They use horses in emotional therapy for that reason.
So, how interesting that, now that I am supposedly dying, I am finally feeling free enough to truly explore what is the authentic me and what makes me feel ‘icky’ inside which is the indicator that I am not in alignment. How I wish that I had discovered this years ago, but then I must not have been ready for the message. Perhaps this dis-ease between who we are and who we are trying to pretend we are causes disease. Perhaps if I had discovered this sooner I wouldn’t have cancer. There is one lady whose NDE involved her actually dying of cancer, only to return with the message of authenticity to recover and become cancer free. Hmmm….
Authenticity – the freedom for our actions to match our thoughts and beliefs, free of shame and with total, unconditional love.