Societal interest in afterlife studies has waxed and waned over the years. Multiple periods of intense interest have occurred episodically, such as the era of Spiritualism, which took place during a time ranging from the mid-1800s to the 1920s. During that era, people in European and English-speaking countries frequently engaged in activities aimed at contacting people in the afterlife, such as séances and talking board sessions.
While the era of Spiritualism presented the longest period of such intense interest in these paranormal topics in modern history, popular media has created a revival of that same fascination during modern times. Television shows such as Ghost Hunters, Ghost Adventures, The Ghost Inside My Child, and Long Island Medium all contribute to a flourishing interest in the paranormal, particularly as it relates to survival of consciousness after bodily death.
Ghosts are just one type of evidence that suggests human consciousness survives bodily death and continues on into some kind of afterlife. Evidence also exists for other phenomena possibly indicative of survival of consciousness, such as near-death experiences, reincarnation, life-between-lives experiences, and medium communication. All this evidence offers intriguing glimpses into what may happen after we die.
Psychical researchers, such as Great Britain's Society for Psychical Research (SPR), have engaged in studies of the afterlife for more than a century. The SPR was founded in 1882 and has endured since then as a group that engages in scientific inquiry into paranormal claims. Other similar groups and individuals have continued in the scientific tradition, exploring causes behind claims of the unknown.
Due to the current rising interest in the paranormal and abetted by portrayals of paranormal and psychic investigators in popular media, a number of lay enthusiasts have formed paranormal investigation (or "ghost hunting") teams to examine claims of anomalous phenomena. In cases of these paranormal teams, the method of investigation varies. Many groups choose to take what they term a "scientific" approach to investigation, utilizing equipment originally designed for other, more commonplace uses in order to try and detect environmental changes that may suggest the presence of a ghost or spirit. While these teams do, indeed, use technical equipment, scientific method typically remains lacking in their research, so the term "scientific" when describing the lay teams' approaches might better be described as "technical." This is common methodology, typically demonstrated on television, in books, and in popular media.
Some teams take a more psychic/metaphysical approach, working with the energy of a situation in an attempt to understand from a spiritual, emotional, social, and mental perspective why these events occur and how they can best help. With many paranormal research teams, one will find a combination of these two methods, melding the technical aspects of instrument readings and attempts at disproving claims by demonstrating natural explanations with involvement of people who have psychic abilities. Other teams may take a less structured approach, seeking personal entertainment or satisfaction of individual curiosity instead of scientific or metaphysical understandings of events.
While there are benefits and drawbacks to each of the aforementioned populist methods of paranormal investigation, the simple truth is this: since many paranormal teams receive their training through popular media, such as books or television shows, and lack an understanding of the metaphysical and scientific aspects of the discipline, they may be inadequately equipped to provide genuine help. When a person has a paranormal or metaphysical experience that suggests consciousness does, indeed, survive bodily death, his or her first reaction may be fear. Others having these experiences may feel foolish, wonder if they are going crazy, or quickly enter denial. Others seek refuge in attempts to find logical and natural world explanations for their experiences where none exist. All of these are valid reactions arising from societal, familial, and/or religious conditioning about the socially and scientifically unacceptable and frightening nature of the metaphysical and paranormal. While paranormal and metaphysical entertainment is in fashion right now, in truth, a great deal of fear and misinformation about such topics remain.
One typical approach paranormal teams take is to investigate a location of reported activity with environmental instruments, cameras, and audio and video recording equipment. They may follow their investigation by presenting evidence, such as playing audio clips called electronic voice phenomena, relating personal experiences, or showing photographs and video clips. While this may help confirm or deny the presence of an entity, it provides nothing by way of scientific evidence, nor does it provide support for the person having the experience or the consciousness causing it. Many people have also learned via television that when one encounters some type of afterlife communications, the best place to seek help and counseling is through paranormal teams. Unfortunately, in many cases, these teams are poorly equipped to deal with experiences relating to the afterlife that do not involve ghosts, such as near-death experiences, communications with people who have died via mediums, or past-life recollections. These teams lack the theological, philosophical, metaphysical, and/or scientific background and understanding to provide genuine help in these situations. When faced with such examples of the afterlife, people encountering it often don't have an appropriate place to turn.
With such shortfalls in understanding, paranormal and afterlife research teams need to find ways to provide authentic help to people struggling with such experiences. This is where the metaphysical practitioner enters. The role of the metaphysician involved in parapsychological research and afterlife studies is threefold. First, he or she should seek to eliminate the possibility of natural causes for phenomena by using critical thinking skills and, whenever possible, scientific method to investigate claims. In cases where natural causes cannot be ruled out, it is the role of the metaphysician to provide people having paranormal experiences with spiritual, emotional, and social support. This may take the form of helping people who experience paranormal phenomena come to terms with and learn to work with latent psychic abilities that may be contributing to their experiences. It also may include helping people understand the metaphysical implications of brushes with conscious survival of bodily death, as well as using similar tactics to help provide true spiritual and emotional support for people struggling with an experience that society has deemed unacceptable, fringe, or even crazy.
The third role of the metaphysician involved is paranormal research is to provide support for those spirits whose consciousness has survived their bodily death, but who remain identified with the ego. These are what people commonly identify as ghosts. Because of the ongoing nature of the ego-identification, spirits that remain connected to their earthly personas have forgotten who they truly are as spiritual beings. The metaphysician, then, can communicate with these spirits and help them to remember that, although they once identified with a certain human, they are actually One with their Creator, and that remaining ego-identified keeps them in a place that no longer serves their spiritual path. In this capacity, the metaphysician engages in an ongoing conversation that ultimately allows the spirit to return to the Source instead of remaining ego-identified. This requires a compassionate, deeply loving, and spiritual commitment that may take five minutes, five days, five weeks, five months, five years, or even longer.
I have worked in this capacity for nearly a decade, interacting with hundreds of people and spirits with a broad array of experiences such as continued ego-identification after death, psychic awakenings, experiences of ghosts and hauntings, near-death experiences, and past life recall.
In the (admittedly very long) blog that follows, I will examine some of the literature outlining physical, psychological, spiritual, and metaphysical evidence supporting survival of consciousness beyond bodily death. It is a topic that has been of fascination since the dawn of mankind, and literature is abundant. Next, I will explore how these types of experiences affect both living people and those who have died but remain identified with ego. Finally, I will suggest an approach for working with people coming to terms with experiences suggestive of conscious survival of bodily death, as well as spirits who remain ego-identified. This approach will provide a framework for providing meaningful help to everyone involved, living and dead alike.
Any discussion of survival of consciousness following bodily death should begin with a definition of consciousness. In his book Evidence of Eternity, Mark Anthony offers this definition. "Consciousness is the awareness and intelligence enshrined within a spirit. It contains the attributes that give a person his or her uniqueness. These include personality, observations, experiences, knowledge, and love for others."
In Evidence of Eternity, Mr. Anthony discusses his evidence for consciousness survival of bodily death. Mr. Anthony is an attorney and psychic medium. He provides readings for people wishing to make contact with deceased loved ones, serving as a conduit through which disincarnate spirits can send messages to the living. During his readings, Mr. Anthony communicates with these spirits, often providing detailed information about those who have passed. After the reading, the living souls can verify the information the spirits, speaking through Mr. Anthony, provided. In the hundreds of cases where Mr. Anthony has provided readings, his clients have verified the accuracy of the specific information he has shared with them. Many feel he couldn't have known such information by any means other than talking with the spirits of the dead. Because of this independent confirmation of the details Mr. Anthony receives in spirit communications, he and many others firmly believe he is talking to spirits who have died.
According to Mr. Anthony, these spirits are predominately people who were once embodied in flesh and have now crossed over to the other side, a place known in the Christian religious tradition as Heaven. They return to communicate with loved ones in order to provide messages of hope, comfort, and caring for people grieving for their loss. Mr. Anthony is just one of hundreds of psychic mediums who provide such detailed readings, seemingly communicating with the consciousness--or souls--of those who have died and wish to send messages to those they left behind.
Dr. Gary E. Schwartz
Dr. Gary E. Schwartz has conducted numerous scientifically controlled studies on people who are psychic mediums. The term medium is used to describe a person with psychic abilities who is able to communicate with the souls of people who have died. Dr. Schwartz is a professor of medicine, psychiatry, surgery, and neurology at the University of Arizona, where he has also conducted his studies into afterlife communications.
Dr. Schwartz first outlined his methods and results in his book, The Afterlife Experiments. In that book, Dr. Schwartz described a series of progressively controlled experiments in afterlife communication between mediums and people sitting for a reading. During his experiments, Dr. Schwartz engaged the services of well-known mediums, such as John Edward, as well as mediums that have not found the spotlight for their abilities. Over the course of his research, Dr. Schwartz implemented progressively vigorous controls. For example, the research started off with face-to-face readings with the medium and his or her subject sitting in chairs facing one another. It then progressed to the medium providing readings to an unseen subject, and finally to a subject that the medium could neither see nor hear in order to avoid any visual or auditory cues that might provide subtle information or confirmation to the medium. Yet, even with these progressive controls, the mediums in the study continued to provide specifically verifiable and detailed information from spirits that far exceeded chance. For example, mediums shared names, dates, and life events that had specific meaning to the sitter. Much of the information was also verifiable through third-party sources. These events led Dr. Schwartz and his team to the inescapable conclusion that somehow the consciousness of people no longer alive was communicating via the medium with their living loved ones.
In the early 1990s in the village of Scole, Norfolk, UK, a team of psychical researchers gathered weekly to engage in what have come to be known as the Scole Experiments. Core members of the group included psychic researchers and enthusiasts, as well as psychic mediums that engaged in physical mediumship. As the experiences this group shared came to public light, the Scole Experimental Group, as they became known, invited scientific inquiry from members of the Society for Psychical Research. While several members of the SPR observed and engaged in the experiments, three in particular became a regular part of the Scole Experimental Group: David Fontana, Arthur Ellison, and Montague Keen. David Fontana was a psychologist, parapsychologist, member of SPR, and professor of psychology at Cardiff University. Montague Keen was a journalist and the Committee Chair for the Image Committee at the SPR, as well as a long-time member. Arthur Ellison served as a visiting professor at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology and was the Head of the Department of Electrical Engineering at City University in London. All three had solid scientific backgrounds, along with years of scientific psychical inquiry through their engagement in SPR, and all engaged with the Scole Experimental Group for a period of years during which exciting paranormal phenomena occurred on a consistent basis.
The work of the Scole Experimental Group has served as the foundation for several pieces of literature, including The Scole Report, published in the SPR's journal in 1999, Proceedings of the Society for Psychical Research. Montague Keen, David Fontana, and Arthur Ellison authored the report, which sent shockwaves through the SPR with its bold conclusion that the events occurring within the Scole Experimental Group were, indeed, the result of a collaboration with spirits.
With such controversy and excitement surrounding the findings of The Scole Report, Montague Keen felt it was necessary to address many of the criticisms two years later in the Journal of Scientific Exploration. In a 2001 article titled "The Scole Investigation: A Study of Critical Analysis of Paranormal Physical Phenomena," Montague Keen once again laid out some of the principal findings of the Scole Experiments and analyzed the criticisms received from the scientific community as to the methodology and findings.
The third published work dedicated solely to the findings and experiences of the Scole Experimental Group was the book, The Scole Experiment: Scientific Evidence for Life After Death by Grant and Jane Solomon. Originally published in 2006, the book was written for the masses. Skipping the deeply scientific discussion of the journal articles about the experiments and, instead, sticking to straightforward reporting of the spectacular phenomena the team experienced, The Scole Experiment: Scientific Evidence for Life After Death described the activities and findings of the Scole Experimental Group in layman's terms. The success of the book also sparked a documentary film, The Afterlife Investigations, which premiered in 2011.
What happened in the Scole Experimental Group that sparked so much discussion and interest? The SPR investigators and group participants believe that it was nothing short of communication from and mutual experimentation with the other side.
The Scole Experimental Group met weekly in the basement of the principal researcher, Robin Foy's home. Members of the group also included Foy's wife and two trance mediums, who would go into trance and begin communications with a group of deceased individuals called the "spirit team." The spirit team reported to the Scole Experimental Group that they were seeking to enhance communications with the living from their side of the veil. Society for Psychical Research members also observed and participated in these séances and experiments. As described in The Scole Experiment: Scientific Evidence for Life After Death, the spirit team gave specific directions via the mediums as to how to enhance the communications and phenomena that occurred. As the Scole Research Group followed these instructions, the phenomena increased and intensified. Ostensibly, the group communicated with many spirits from the other side, including Mrs. Emma Bradshaw, an Irish priest named Patrick, and a South American named Manu, among many others. According to the SPR researchers, although these spirits often spoke through the trance mediums, they all had distinct voices and personalities that differed from their channels. Eventually, many members of the spirit team could also communicate with the researchers using what the team termed "extended voice communication," in which the voices appeared to come from all around the room, including, at times, deep within the walls.
Along with the specific voice phenomena and spirit communication, the Scole Experimental Group and SPR researchers noted visual phenomena, such as lights that sped around the room, appearing to enter and move through physical objects, including the researchers themselves. They also noted objects such as the table or a séance trumpet levitating and moving gracefully around the room. In one instance, observers saw a table lift up, tilt on its side, and begin to spin.
On many occasions, the group saw the spirits appear before them, either as full-bodied apparitions or partial body parts, such as a head and shoulders or a hand. Likewise, the group experienced many of these apparitions via a sense of physical touch by holding hands, touching arms and shoulders, and in one case, even receiving a hug. The experimenters describe these encounters as feeling as if they were touching flesh and blood, and not an apparition at all.
In one experiment orchestrated by the spirit team, a quartz crystal that had been set on the table began to glow. The spirit team instructed Dr. Ellison to pick up the glowing crystal and deposit it in a glass dish in the center of the table, which he did. They then instructed him to pick up the crystal again. When Dr. Ellison tried, however, his fingers went right through the crystal, as if it wasn't there at all. Finally, on another attempt to lift the crystal, it was once again a solid object. All this occurred in full view of the entire experimental group and the SPR researchers.
Another significant phenomenon the Scole Experimental Group noted was the appearance of "apports." Apports occur when a physical object, such as a coin, suddenly appears as if out of thin air. Over the course of the experiment, the group received over 80 apports, including such objects as a spoon, a Churchill crown coin, newspapers from the 1940s, and a brooch. When the apports appeared, they would make a loud bang. These things occurred in spite of repeated inspection of the chamber in which the sessions were held and inspection and search of all group members entering the chamber.
Another notable phenomena to come out of the Scole Experiments, was the ways members of the spirit team were seemingly able to influence modern electronic equipment. The team always used a tape recorder to document the sessions. In some sessions, they also used a tape recorder with the microphone removed and a blank tape inserted. While there was no physical means of anything appearing on these audiotapes, they nonetheless recorded the voices of spirits team that the group heard throughout the room, while not recording the voices of any of the researchers.
The Scole Experimental Group's photographic evidence may be the most compelling of all. Early in the experiments, the spirit team instructed the group to bring into the room an SLR camera with no flash that was loaded with film. The room was entirely without any external light, at all. At one point, a member of the spirit team instructed one of the researchers to lift the camera and take a few photographs. She did, and then set the camera down again. Next, the camera elevated by itself and began snapping pictures and advancing the film on its own. This happened during several sessions. Upon developing the film, the group discovered photographs such as St. Paul's Cathedral during the Blitz and the face of a smiling man in a turban, even though the camera was taking pictures in a dark room, had no night vision, and had no flash.
Eventually, no camera was needed for images to appear on film. Instead, the Scole Experimental Group would supply a commercially sealed box of film that was secured in a padlocked box and under observation and possession of an SPR member the entire time. The SPR member would then develop the film on site, never allowing it out of his possession. The developed strips of film had pictures, writing, messages, alchemical symbols, poems, diagrams, drawings, and other things on them. The languages used on the filmstrips included modern languages, such as English and German, as well as ancient languages such as Romanized Sanskrit.
In the five years that the Scole Experimental Group worked in collaboration with the SPR and spirit team, they experienced and shared findings far beyond what any other individual or group has been able to produce before or since. As often as they were able, they invited independent observers to participate in sessions. These people, as well as the SPR researchers that participated, are adamant that what they experienced was not trickery, but rather was communication with the other side on a grand scale.
Medium communications are just one way in which the living may get glimpses of consciousness surviving bodily death. Anyone turning on the television today can hardly escape the numerous shows about another type of evidence of survival of consciousness: ghosts. Ghost stories have existed since the dawn of humanity and have appeared in virtually every culture. Even the Bible has accounts of ghosts. For example, 1 Samuel 28 in the Old Testament talks about King Saul's encounter with the Witch of Endor, in which Saul had the witch conjure the spirit of Samuel.
Like King Saul's experience, many of the reports of encountering ghosts are anecdotal, stories told by people without any independent confirmation of the encounter. Still, as anyone who believes they have met a spirit will tell you, science be damned, they know what they experienced, and it was real. In A Paranormal Casebook: Ghost Hunting in the New Millennium, noted parapsychologist Loyd Auerbach offers this definition of ghosts:
The term 'ghost' has covered a variety of experiences in many cultures. In general, most people use the term ghost to mean a spirit or some form of a person after he or she has died...In effect, there's often no distinction made as to whether the 'ghost' is a conscious being of some kind or just a recording of past people, animals, or events.
Parapsychologists do make the distinction, and often use the term 'apparition' to refer to the concept of human personality or consciousness appearing in some form after death.
In a Paranormal Casebook, Mr. Auerbach provides case studies for a number of reportedly haunted places he has personally investigated. One of the most intriguing is Mr. Auerbach's investigation of the USS Hornet, a WWII aircraft carrier that is now a museum at Alameda Point in Alameda, CA. Mr. Auerbach began his investigation of the USS Hornet in 1999. Claims of paranormal activity aboard the floating museum included people being touched by unseen hands, disembodied voices, and full or partial-bodied apparitions of enlisted men and officers. People also heard the sounds of footsteps, and one employee at the Hornet believes that once, when he said, "Hornet, give me chain," a new length of chain appeared on the dock. This, he said, happened twice (186-187). Hundreds of people, including Mr. Auerbach, himself, have witnessed many of these phenomena when aboard the USS Hornet. For example, Mr. Auerbach has seen full-body apparitions and has felt tapping on the shoulder. Because of this, Mr. Auerbach describes the ship as haunted.
Dr. Raymond Moody
In Reunions: Visionary Encounters with Departed Loved Ones, noted afterlife researcher Dr. Raymond Moody describes his personal experiences, as well as those of his clients, in his psychomanteum. Dr. Moody set up a psychomanteum in his converted gristmill home as a small chamber with an angled mirror and a chair where one could come to meet with the spirits of people who have died as a way to resolve grief. Dr. Moody himself experienced the phenomena associated with the psychomanteum. After a time spent in there in contemplation of one of his relatives, she appeared in the room in physical form and carried on a conversation with Dr. Moody. Since this discovery, Dr. Moody has worked with many grieving people, allowing them to also experience their loved ones who have passed. In a May 16, 2013 interview I conducted with Dr. Raymond Moody for Paranormal Underground Radio, we discussed Dr. Moody's work with the psychomanteum, which he continues to this day. Dr. Moody feels that this form of afterlife communication is an excellent way to help resolve grief by enabling people to speak with loved ones who have died.
Many others report personal encounters with ghosts, as well. For example, in my three books, Avalanche of Spirits: The Ghosts of Wellington, Dancing with the Afterlife: A Paranormal Memoir, and Pioneer Spirits: Exploring the Haunted Lewis County Historical Museum, I describe my own experiences, as well as the observations of other witnesses that occur in haunted locations. These experiences are similar from witness to witness and include an array of physical sensations such as phantom scents; touches, pats, strokes, and hair pulls; disembodied voices; and anomalous visual phenomena including apparitions, strange lights, and shadows.
In House of Darkness, House of Light, author Andrea Perron tells the story of growing up in her family's haunted Connecticut home. The Perron family story was also popularized (and fictionalized) in the 2013 horror film, The Conjuring. In her book, Ms. Perron talks about the various phenomena experienced by her entire family, as well as many visitors to their home. Phenomena included sightings of full-body apparitions, disembodied voices, physical interaction such as pushes and scratches, changes in ambient temperature of rooms, and less tangible phenomena such as feelings of dread. So severe was the activity in the Perron home that it invited the interest of noted paranormal researchers, Ed and Lorraine Warren, who spent a great deal of time researching the activity there. In an interview I conducted with Andrea Perron on Paranormal Underground Radio on October 3, 2013, Ms. Perron told me her family firmly believes that what they encountered in their home, were, indeed, ghosts.
In his book The Empty Lot Next Door, my friend Arthur Mills has turned his childhood experiences with the spirit of a girl he calls Candleface into a novel. While Mr. Mills has fictionalized his account, he assures me both in person, as well as in an interview I conducted with him on the October 16, 2014 episode of Paranormal Underground Radio, that the book matches his personal experiences as a child. During Mr. Mills' childhood in Texas, he had multiple encounters with this child spirit, including physical touching, conversations, and disturbed dreams that left him with physical marks and injuries upon awakening the next morning. Often after dreams or nighttime encounters with Candleface, Mr. Mills would awake to find small handprints on his windows. Mr. Mill's brother used to have an imaginary friend he called Griffen. Doing research later, Mr. Mills discovered that a boy about his brother's age named Griffen had lived and died in the house that once sat on the empty lot next to his Texas home.
Another phenomena seeming to suggest human consciousness survives bodily death is the near-death experience. Dr. Raymond Moody was the first person to explore the phenomena. Dr. Moody describes the nascent start of his research in his memoir, Paranormal: My Life In Pursuit of the Afterlife:
"It was through a student in my philosophy class who began to question me deeply about his own experience of almost dying that I studied and named the phenomenon known as the near-death experience. Had I not allowed the student to dominate my time with his story, I might have never examined near-death experiences, a path of discovery that led me to write Life After Life and lead to my lifelong exploration of matters related to the afterlife."
Dr. Moody published his initial work on his research into near-death experiences in 1975 in the book Life After Life. Since the start of his research, Dr. Moody has talked to thousands of near-death experiencers, and many have remarkably similar stories. With the likeness between so many reports, Dr. Moody described the phases of the near-death experience, which tended to occur in nine different stages, starting with a strange sound and a feeling of peace, proceeding to an out of body experience that involved moving through a tunnel and rising to the heavens, encountering people and beings of light, experiencing a life review, and then reluctantly returning to their bodies.
In an interview I conducted with Dr. Moody on the November 7, 2013 episode of Paranormal Underground Radio, he explained to me that near-death experiences (NDEs) may only have one or two of these elements, or they may have all of them. He also shared that some people having NDEs have an entirely different experience, and that the experience may have elements that reflect the cultural and religious beliefs of the experiencer, as well. In general, however, Dr. Moody shared that the experiences were remarkably similar from person to person.
In Paranormal: My Life in Pursuit of the Afterlife, Dr. Moody also describes the shared-death experience, in which loved ones sitting at the bedside of someone who is dying also experience some of the elements of the NDE. On my radio show, Dr. Moody stated he felt this was compelling evidence as to the veracity of claims of the near-death experience as a phenomena illustrating how consciousness survives bodily death.
Dr. Eben Alexander
Dr. Eben Alexander discusses his near-death experience in his memoir, Proof of Heaven. Dr. Alexander is a neurosurgeon, and before his experience, he strongly believed that all experiences of consciousness came strictly from brain chemistry and not from the soul. However, following a rare brain illness that completely shut down all of his brain function, Dr. Alexander emerged with a new understanding of human consciousness. During his coma, Dr. Alexander encountered what he believes is the Divine, communicating with consciousness in the spiritual realm, including his deceased sister. When he awoke, Dr. Alexander no longer believed that chemicals were the only cause of consciousness. Instead, he believed that people had souls that continued, even after bodily death.
In an email to me written in May of 2009, my good friend Etta Kirk described a near-death experience she had. While her experience was not the classic NDE, it nonetheless helped her to understand that consciousness survives bodily death. In 1997, Mrs. Kirk was undergoing treatment for acute, aggressive breast cancer. Because of the nature of her cancer, Mrs. Kirk's doctors were pursuing an extremely aggressive treatment protocol that included both chemotherapy and radiation. At one point, the treatment so weakened Mrs. Kirk's body and immune system that she went into heart failure. She was revived and rushed the hospital. Mrs. Kirk went on to make a full recovery and remained breast cancer-free until her death from a brain aneurism in 2013. During the time of her heart failure, Mrs. Kirk had no respiration or heartbeat, yet her mind remained extremely active. In the email to me, she described floating in a peaceful light until she felt the light lift her from beneath.
"It felt as if I was floating on wings of prayer," Mrs. Kirk described. "I could feel every prayer everyone offered me lifting me back into myself. I had more to do in this life."
Dr. Peter Fenwick
Dr. Peter Fenwick, President of the British Branch of the International Association for Near-Death Studies, has investigated hundreds of claims of near-death experiences. He published some of his findings in his 1995 book, The Truth in the Light. In his book, he discusses case studies that best illustrate the most common phases of the near-death experience. He also outlines how NDEs may not follow any perceivable pattern at all, or they may have cultural elements. For example, he looks at three separate cases from India that appear to have patterns similar to one another, but not so similar to Western NDEs. However, as Dr. Fenwick points out, "...we can recognize plenty of parallels." While the manifestation of the elements may be culturally related, they still parallel the Western experiences. For instance, a common occurrence in the Indian near-death experience is meeting a man with a book of their life. This is similar to a Western experiencer having a life review. Likewise, Indian subjects tend to experience being sent back to their bodies due to an administrative error, while Westerners are more likely to leave reluctantly when they realize they have more to do in the flesh. Similarly, Fenwick notes that other cultures' NDEs may appear very different at first glance. However, upon examination of the individual themes of elements, great similarities exist.
Reincarnation experiences also remain suggestive of survival of consciousness after death. I covered reincarnation experiences in a previous (also very long) blog, The Reincarnation Experience as a Bridge to Higher Spiritual Truth. In it, I cited the studies of numerous reincarnation researchers including Dr. Ian Stevenson, Dr. Michael Newton, Carole Bowman, and Dr. Brian Weiss. I also examined the reincarnation experiences of many individuals, including Geoffrey Keene and Dr. Walter Semkiw, as well as my own personal experience. All of this provides powerful evidence that consciousness does, indeed, survive bodily death, and that individual consciousness may move on to other bodies following death.
Life Between Lives
Finally, life-between-life research also offers an intriguing glimpse into the reality that consciousness continues after death. In his book, Journey of Souls, psychologist Dr. Michael Newton describes how he was a firm skeptic about human consciousness surviving death. In his work with his patients, he often used regression hypnotherapy. One day, he was surprised when a client seemingly jumped into a past life during a normal regression session. He was even more surprised when that client, in a hypnotic trance, appeared to experience death, follow a pattern similar to a near-death experience, and then enter, as a consciousness, into the realm of pure spirit. Intrigued, Dr. Newton developed a protocol to allow clients to explore this realm, which he termed life-between-lives (LBL). Since then, Dr. Newton has regressed hundreds of clients. Likewise, a multitude of hypnotherapists around the world trained in Dr. Newton's techniques have also regressed clients to this space. What have emerged are remarkable similarities in descriptions of the afterlife. These come from thousands of cases all around the world, with different therapists, cultures, and life experiences.
Dr. Michael Newton
Dr. Newton and other therapists shared their client's stories as case studies in the 2009 book, Memories of the Afterlife, which was Newton's fourth book focusing on the subject. Newton also described specific locations, experiences, soul group structures, activities, jobs, and education in the afterlife in his other book, Destiny of Souls.
All these elements of afterlife research: medium communications, ghosts, near-death experiences, reincarnation, and life-between lives experiences offer intriguing glimpses into the reality of consciousness surviving death of the body and carrying on in some capacity as an individual soul. The research and experiences of the people and described herein make a compelling case for the survival of consciousness after death.
Laying a scientific foundation for the survival of the soul after one dies is currently a difficult road to travel. Scientific research groups such as the Society for Psychical Research, scientists like Dr. Gary Schwartz, mediums like Mark Anthony, and parapsychologists like Loyd Auerbach have observed, studied, and recorded phenomena for years, providing compelling evidence for survival of consciousness. Yet many skeptics still continue to dismiss these types of findings as pure hokum.
In his 2001 Journal of Scientific Exploration paper defending the conclusions of the Scole Report, "The Scole Investigation: A Study in Critical Analysis of Paranormal Physical Phenomena," Montague Keen rightly pointed out how notoriously difficult skeptics are to convince, even in light of overwhelming evidence.
"A closer look at the critics' arguments reveals some fairly fundamental misconceptions," Mr. Keen noted. "One is the confusion between evidence and expectation."
Mr. Keen went on to say that many people couldn't explain away the phenomena except by decrying fraud but remaining stuck in scientific dogmatism despite evidence of spectacular paranormal phenomena. Mr. Keen posited that perhaps because the activities of the spirits, such as ringing cowbells and moving things around the room, seemed to lack gravitas, it was difficult for them to accept such silliness as scientific.
For the living that have had afterlife experiences such as meeting a ghost or having a near-death experience, it is this persistent belief that afterlife topics outside of religion are frivolous, disingenuous, or even arising from mental instability that can make living with the aftermath so difficult. With such scientific, religious, and societal pressure to fall within certain norms and belief systems, people who have had these experiences may question their own integrity and sanity, or they may feel embarrassed and marginalized. Likewise, because there is a lack of support structure, as well as a prevailing atmosphere of denial that such incidents can and do occur, many people who have come face to face with the afterlife may experience strong feelings of fear, anger, denial, or other emotions due to the lack of social, spiritual, and emotional support. Much of this marginalization of people who proclaim experiences with the afterlife comes from powerful dogma that exists just as strongly within the ranks of scientists as religious dogma exists in organized religion.
About this scientific dogmatism, in the documentary film, The Afterlife Experiments: The Scole Experiments, Dr. Rupert Sheldrake of SPR noted:
"There's a dominant materialism in science that grew up in the 19th century. It's become part of the culture of science, but it's really a dogmatic belief system rather than a testable theory. Within science based on a materialistic point of view, the mind is the brain, so anything that suggests there might be more than the brain goes against the theory and therefore most scientists don't want to know about it."
In the same film, Emeritus Professor at the University of California and afterlife researcher Dr. Charles Tart expounded on this idea. He noted:
The idea that life after death is impossible and that we're nothing but our brains and bodies is really a function of an outmoded view in science: a Newtonian worldview. The Newtonian worldview works very well for everyday events, but one of the most interesting things about modern science --especially when you look at stuff like quantum theory--is that the world is far more mysterious than we think. And we now have experimental evidence of what Einstein called spooky action at a distance... that we instantaneously could affect something in a distant part of the universe... If consciousness has any of the qualities of this quantum level of existence, then phenomena like survival of bodily death are probably not so mysterious after all.
It's true that the scientific field has set a very high bar in order for something to qualify as scientific fact. It is also true that research into survival of consciousness after bodily death fails, in many ways, to clear the bar that is currently set for such research. The question we should ask ourselves, however, is this: Are the experiences of thousands of people over thousands of years incorrect, or do we need to make room within science for afterlife research? Due to the nature of paranormal phenomena, it is very difficult to find ways to control variables, generate repeatability, and create falsifiable and testable hypotheses using scientific method. However, many researchers, including members of the Scole Experimental Group, Loyd Auerbach, Michael Newton, and Dr. Gary Schwartz believe they have done just that. They have produced compelling evidence of the afterlife under rigorously controlled conditions. While many scientists decry this as pseudoscience, evidence of the afterlife continues to pile up at a prodigious rate.
According to science, one must discard all of the aforementioned research and experiences because they do not meet very specific, provable, repeatable, and falsifiable principles. However, how can one discard the sheer volume of evidence of the afterlife? Is the world really that full of charlatans, fools, and the mentally ill? The people whose research and experiences I've shared would very likely answer that the evidence shouldn't be disregarded, but should be addressed as a whole. In a January 2, 2014 interview I conducted with Loyd Auerbach on Paranormal Underground Radio, I asked Mr. Auerbach about discarding evidence like personal experiences. In response, Mr. Auerbach told me that personal experience is key in studying the afterlife because of how notoriously difficult it is to utilize scientific method to prove paranormal phenomena. Mr. Auerbach also pointed out that the SPR has conducted a number of scientifically valid studies into the nature of the afterlife, and that they, indeed, have reached the scientifically sound conclusion that survival of consciousness phenomena are very real.
My friend, Darren Thompson, of Washington State Paranormal Investigation and Research, has something he always says when he speaks. To paraphrase Mr. Thompson, one will never convince a true disbeliever that the paranormal exists, nor will one convince a true believer that it does not.
I have found Mr. Thompson's sentiments to be quite true. I've worked in the field of afterlife research as a psychic medium, paranormal researcher, magazine writer, author, radio host, and journalist for nearly a decade. During that time, I've talked to hundreds of believers and disbelievers about the paranormal. In such conversations, I've been called a genius and I've been called a fool. People have respected me and laughed openly at me. However, no matter what evidence I've offered, research I've shared, or experiences I've related, I've never changed the mind of anyone who was truly entrenched in his or her position. Of course, there are always the fence sitters. I was one of those for many years. I've had psychic and mediumistic abilities all of my life, but chose to ignore them for many years because my logical brain just couldn't seem to mesh with what I called my "woo woo brain."
I was kind of a spooky kid. I knew things I had know way of knowing, I felt other people's feelings, and I saw people who nobody else saw. As a child growing up in a religious family in the Christian church, I quickly learned just how unacceptable this was, and I learned to suppress those abilities. Now, more than three decades later, I understand that what I experienced and shut down as a child were my abilities as a psychic medium, clairvoyant, and empath. I ignored those abilities to my own detriment from my 'tween years through my early forties. As a result, I experienced increasing anxiety as I moved into my 20s and 30s. This anxiety is common among many of my psychic medium friends who denied or ignored their own abilities, and it seemed to grow more severe the longer one suppressed his or her gifts. This was my experience, as well.
When I was 22 and living in my first apartment out of college with my new husband, I started having strange experiences. My husband was in the Navy. He went out to sea on a Trident submarine for three months at a time, leaving me alone in the apartment. When he was gone, strange things happened there. Latched doors opened and closed, faucets turned on and off, and I frequently experienced the presence of an invisible person, who would sit down on the bed next to me and whisper, "I love you," in my ear. These were very real experiences, although I convinced myself I was simply nuts. I spent a lot of time worrying that I was losing my mind. Then, one day I came home from work and found a six foot inflatable Godzilla that we normally kept in the living room sitting up tall on the middle of our bed. No one had been in the apartment all day. I fled to the Super 8 Motel, where I spent a sleepless night certain I'd completely lost my marbles. As soon as my husband came home from his patrol, we moved. I spent the next 20 years denying I'd ever had that experience and doubting my own sanity. Looking back now I realized that this was because of the social and religious conditioning I'd had as a child. It's really hard to shake that off.
This is a common experience with people who experience the afterlife. In the past several years, when people who have discovered that I work in the metaphysical and paranormal fields, they often take me surreptitiously aside and whisper their own experiences of the afterlife to me. For many, I am the first person with whom they ever have shared this information, and they swear me to secrecy. Like me, they fear the social and/or religious stigma associated with people who believe in a non-religious afterlife. Like me, they have been societally and religiously conditioned to believe that these experiences are utter nonsense, fraud, or the first signs of mental illness.
After my experiences in my apartment, I remained effective at shutting down my abilities, or so I thought. However, at the same time, I was attracted to everything supernatural and spiritual. I read books and watched television shows about afterlife topics. I scoured the Internet (once it was invented) for research about afterlife studies. Due to social embarrassment, however, I kept this hobby to myself and felt ashamed of my activities. In my early 30s, I started attending the Unity Church, believing that because it was still technically a Christian church, it would get my family off my back about my lack of church attendance. It didn't. My family made fun of it, calling it "The Church of What's Happening Now," and a friend pointed out that I was attending a Satanic church. Once again, I cast all of that "woo woo" stuff aside and continued on my life. My anxiety continued to grow.
When one ignores the pull of what the soul wants, however, the universe grows more insistent. This certainly happened in my case. About eight years ago I was approached to write for Paranormal Underground Magazine. I jumped at the chance, and it opened the floodgates. Everything I had been suppressing came roaring back. At first, I thought I'd keep my participation in the magazine to myself, not telling anyone what I was doing. However, as I began the research and writing I was so energetically pulled to what I was doing that it grew into a large portion of my life. Writing for the magazine gave me the excuse I needed to legitimize my exploration of the paranormal and metaphysical, and with that excuse at hand, it was suddenly socially acceptable for me to participate in afterlife research I'd always longed to try, such as paranormal investigation, psychic readings, and past-life regression hypnotherapy. As I did this, my joy and enthusiasm grew while my anxiety faded away to nothing. As I embarked upon a number of paranormal investigations, my long-suppressed psychic abilities returned. I realized that while investigating, I received specific and verifiable information about people, places, and events in the locations I researched. I also discovered that spirits would talk to me, and when I looked into the things they told me, it frequently bore out in research.
Two events involving my friend Robyn were extremely convincing. I was in my studio making some jewelry. Doing this is a form of meditation for me. It clears my mind. While I was working and thinking of nothing in particular, the names, "Robeano" and "Robbie" kept popping into my head. Finally, I texted my friend Robyn. Her mother had been dead for several years. In the text I asked if her mom ever called her Robeano or Robbie. Robyn indicated that both had been her mom's nicknames for her. I was overcome with the urge to get a pen and a notecard, and as I put pen to paper, I wrote what was in my head. As I wrote, the same voice that was saying "Robeano" kept admonishing me to watch my handwriting, and to carefully form my letters and not be sloppy. When I was done, I photographed the message on the notecard and texted it to Robyn, since it was addressed to her. According to Robyn, the message it contained were words her mother had spoken to her many times throughout her life. When I told her about the nagging about my handwriting, Robyn laughed and said her mother was a stickler about handwriting, and that she'd always nagged Robyn about hers.
A few days later, Robyn's name once again popped into my head, but this time it came from a male voice. I called Robyn and asked if there was a young male who might want to talk to her, too - someone like a cousin, friend, or brother. It turned out Robyn's brother had died, as well. I described him to her, and she said it sounded like him. As I was describing his mustache, the word "pornstache" kept popping into my head. Out of political correctness, however, I refused to say the word. However, the voice kept saying it louder until he finally shouted, "Dammit! Say pornstache!" When I uttered this word aloud, Robyn burst into laughter. It was, apparently, a private joke between the two of them. He'd always told her that if his mustache was as thick as her hair, he'd have a pornstache.
Incidents like these and many others grew my confidence, and I began working with South Sound Paranormal Research as a psychic medium. In my years in that capacity, my role has evolved as I've expanded my understanding of metaphysics and life after death.
I was on the fence, but personal experiences and my own research convinced me that consciousness did, indeed, survive bodily death. I know others with similar stories that were never disbelievers, but it took personal experiences to help them believe. On the other hand, I've met many people who do not believe in the afterlife, and nothing I've ever told them could convince them otherwise. It is very hard to move people who are firmly entrenched in any belief system, something borne out in research performed at Dartmouth University, in which sending educational materials counter to deeply held beliefs about vaccinations actually caused people to dig even deeper into their own belief system.
This dichotomy between scientific proof and belief or disbelief continues to plague the field of afterlife research. Many researcher point to Occam's Razor, a problem solving principle, as the best way to judge things that can't be adequately proven by scientific method. Occam's Razor (also known as the law of parsimony) essentially states this: all things being equal, the simplest explanation is the most likely. As members of the SPR have frequently pointed out, physical and social sciences can be as dogmatic as religious belief, making it very difficult to bridge the gap. Even extreme phenomena experienced under controlled circumstances like that experienced by the Scole Experimental Group can be "debunked" by people determined to stretch Occam's Razor to its very limits in order to prove fraud. Still, as Montague Keen noted in his article in the Journal of Scientific Exploration, when you have to twist things even harder to find a logical explanation for a phenomena, perhaps the simplest explanation is that the phenomena is real.
Most paranormal teams don't use scientific method in their past life research. Some do employ critical thinking and use technology to take measurements and readings, but there are very few non parapsychologist-led teams out there today who are utilizing scientific method to form and test hypotheses. Instead, they seek a piecemeal approach, measuring atmospheric conditions such as temperature and electromagnetic frequency, using recording and photographic equipment in an attempt to capture audio and visual anomalies, recording personal experiences, engaging the use of psychic mediums, and attempting to "debunk" claims of activity.
For many people who have shared their personal experiences with the afterlife, the word debunk is inflammatory, because it implies they are making up their experience or perpetuating fraud. To a person who is already in spiritual and emotional disarray due to such an experience, being told that someone is coming to "debunk" his or her claims seems to be a form of gaslighting, albeit unintentional. This can cause further emotional distress to someone who is already concerned about the social or mental implications of sharing his or her experience. In his January 2013 interview on Paranormal Underground Radio, Loyd Auerbach took issue with paranormal teams using the word "debunk" in their investigations, because the definition of debunking indicates that some fraud is present. While investigators may certainly wish to try and find natural causes for phenomena, assuming the perpetration of fraud on the part of the person reporting possible afterlife experiences is not a constructive approach to investigation. Instead, attempting to find logical explanations by seeking natural conditions that may lead to the experience is more constructive.
The multi-pronged approach to paranormal and afterlife investigation and research doesn't come so much from science or parapsychology as it does from popular media. Television shows like SyFy's Ghost Hunters, Travel Channel's Ghost Adventures, and A&E's Paranormal State all demonstrate investigators following the methods that teams now use. Many paranormal research teams copy their methods, touting this as taking a scientific approach. What they are really doing, however, is using technology and critical thinking in pursuit of the afterlife. Unfortunately, in the name of what they believe to be science, many of these teams discount important indicators of afterlife experiences: psychic communication and personal experiences. On Paranormal Underground Radio, Loyd Auerbach stated that these experiences were of paramount importance in paranormal investigation. However, the push towards scientific dogmatism causes many to render these experiences unworthy of note because they don't fit within the framework of what current skeptics say will convince them. Ironically, however, as Montague Keen noted in his article in the Journal of Scientific Exploration, even extremely compelling and scientifically controlled evidence failed to convince the skeptics in the case of the Scole Experimental Group.
Unfortunately, all of this debate about what is scientifically valid and what is not only creates noise that draws attention from what is truly important in paranormal research: helping the living deal with these activities, and helping any souls who are disembodied but remain ego-identified to move on so they can follow the true path of their spirit.
From all my experiences in my years of afterlife and paranormal investigation and research and being a psychic medium, as well as from the research and experiences shared by those quoted in this paper and others to whom I have spoken, I am firmly convinced that there is sufficient evidence supporting survival of consciousness after death. I also realize my belief is unlikely to change the larger discussion between believers and disbelievers. This is why my role in the afterlife research has changed, and why I believe that other metaphysicians involved in afterlife research should re-evaluate their roles, as well. While I certainly advocate for people to continue striving to collect evidence of the afterlife through careful research and personal experiences, I also realize that, as a metaphysicians, we have a much more important roles to play. We are here to help.
Over the years, I've talked to hundreds of people involved with paranormal research teams. I have met them at conferences, interviewed them on my radio show, answered their emails, and interviewed them for the magazine. Nearly every person I've talked to says their main goal of paranormal and/or afterlife research (aside from satisfying personal curiosity or proving ghosts exist) is to help others. One of the television ghost shows is notorious for investigators showing up at the door of their clients and saying, "We're here to help."
Since I started talking with these investigators, one question kept coming up in my mind. "How do you help?" With that question ringing in my mind, I began asking it aloud. A majority of the people I talked to said they helped by finding natural explanations for what is going on in a reportedly haunted location. When asked, "How does that help?" the response was typically either, "I don't know," or something along the lines of, "Because now they know it's not paranormal." Providing explanations--especially natural explanations that show activity isn't paranormal--is certainly helpful. Knowing that the creaking of floors or opening of doors can be caused by natural wood expansion and not disembodied spirits can alleviate fear. However, how does a team help if the house has a genuine spirit? How do you help the living? How do you help the spirits?
During the course of their investigations, some teams use a technique commonly referred to as provoking, in which they enter a home and demand the spirits show themselves and interact, often using insulting or profane language, aggressive posture, and a loud tone. How does this help either the living or the dead, particularly if they leave a home or business with a bunch of angry or insulted spirits left behind after their treatment at the hands of the investigators?
These questions weighed heavily on me during my first few years as an afterlife researcher, until I one day found myself in the office of hypnotherapist Howard Batie. I was interviewing him for the local newspaper about his life-between-lives hypnotherapy practice. Howard was as fascinated by what I do as I was by his work, and after peppering me with a series of questions, he asked me this: "How do you help?"
There I was, faced with the question I'd secretly been asking myself. At the time, I was going to locations, documenting activity and experiences, providing natural explanations, offering any audio or visual evidence, and then leaving. Howard's question hit at the very root of my concern that I wasn't doing enough to help the living or the dead to deal with the aftermath of true brushes with the afterlife. With the question now burning in my mind, I went home and thought about it. I prayed and meditated. I offered affirmations that, in my work, I genuinely helped. I offered gratitude to the universe for providing me with a way to help. It changed everything. It changed how I chose to work with people who have experienced the afterlife, as well as with the spirits in the afterlife themselves. It also changed my role on the team. Determined to be of actual help, I returned to my work with a new sense of purpose.
As always, as soon as I was ready to make a change, the universe provided me with the means to do so. On our next several investigations, I began working with the living who had brushes with the afterlife in a different way. My approach became much more consultative. I started doing walk-throughs independently of the team and having long discussions with the home or business owners who'd reported the experiences. During the walk-throughs, I spent a great deal of time first talking to the spirits to learn if they were there, why they were there, and what (if anything) was keeping them there. I would then have long conversations with the home or business owners about their fears, expectations, and personal lives. From the living, I quickly discovered that in many cases, the activity occurred because there were one or more people in the home with latent psychic abilities. In those cases, I spent time talking to them and helping them learn to come to terms with and work with those abilities. I also taught them techniques for grounding, centering, shielding, and filtering. Typically, I also offered them techniques for meditation to help tune in to the messages they were receiving from their higher selves. In cases where latent psychic abilities didn't appear to be present, I spent time discussing with the people their feelings of social pressure or anxiety to not have this happening, and their fears or concerns associated with their personal religion, and their fears about death and the unknown. I helped them better understand from a metaphysical perspective what was going on and what it might mean for them.
As for the spirits, I began talking to them in depth. I discovered that not all souls I communicated with were stuck here as ghosts. Many had crossed over to the other side but came back in order to offer information, comfort, or love to those left behind. These spirits could be just as insistent as those who were actually ego-identified, causing ghostly phenomena just as the spirit team did for the Scole Experimental Group. Those cases were easy to resolve, because all I needed to do was pass on the message, and the souls on both sides of the veil were satisfied and happily went about their business. I discovered just how important this communication was for people on both sides of the veil. For the living people receiving the message, they often had fears about what had happened to loved ones after they died. They might also have felt the presence of deceased loved ones, but thought it was their imagination. Some of the living harbored guilt about unresolved relationships, or worried that their loved ones had not made it to heaven. On the side of the disembodied consciousness, they often wanted to communicate love and comfort, to offer forgiveness, or to help alleviate the worries and fears of loved ones. Facilitating this type of communication quickly helped resolve many of these negative or fearful feelings so that the spirit could go about his or her path while the living soul could begin to fully engage in his or her life again.
Spirits that remained ego-identified presented more of a challenge. I worked with them to understand why they were staying in the space and helped them to resolve any issues that might be keeping them identified with ego. The reasons they presented were many, from worrying about living loved ones or possessions to fearing their misdeeds would send them to Hell. Even in the case of souls who are no longer living, I found that religious teachings and belief systems could result in ongoing fear that caused these spirits to remain ego-identified instead of moving along their souls' paths. My role was to talk them through these issues so they understood it was safe and in their best interests to let go of ego identification and move fully over to the other side. In some cases, this became an ongoing conversation that continued to occur over a period of days or weeks until the spirit had resolved what he or she felt was necessary and finally moved on to the afterlife.
Once proving evidence of the afterlife to skeptics is off the table, if the primary goal of the paranormal or afterlife researcher is to help, then taking a metaphysical approach to working with the living and the dead is essential in accomplishing this goal. As I discovered in my own work, metaphysical paranormal researchers can help both the living and the dead through education, emotional support, energy manipulation, and counseling.
Providing education for living people having experiences of the afterlife--whether reincarnation memories, ghosts, medium communications, or near-death experiences--can help them replace fear with knowledge and understanding. The type of education provided depends largely upon the needs of the client. Some people with strong religious indoctrination, for example, may fear that any of these experiences are not consistent with Christian belief systems. Others may fear that ghostly activity is a sign of a demon. For these people, sharing others' experiences, exploring the nature of life after death, and finding explanations that fit within their religious framework may help ease these fears.
For spirits that are still ego-identified, education includes helping them to understand the implications of having chosen to remain attached to the human realm instead of moving along on their spirit's path. Discussion of moving on, life on the other side, Heaven and Hell, moving through doors, and the ability to see missed loved ones can all help the spirit to begin to consider moving forward on his or her path.
For both the living and disembodied spirits, counseling goes hand-in-hand with education. With the living, it is important to ask questions about fears and experiences. Metaphysical practitioners should attempt to discover social, mental, emotional, or psychic reasons behind haunting experiences, for instance. In many cases, what the client experiences is not a true haunting, but rather a manifestation of physical, mental, or emotional stress. In these cases, the metaphysician can offer resources such as psychological counseling, or they may be able to work with the clients in order to understand how these factors may be affecting their physical environment.
In cases of true afterlife experiences, regardless of the type, the metaphysician can offer counseling in the form of reframing experiences so they are no longer frightening. To determine the best way to help, metaphysical practitioners should actively question their clients, determining what type of resolution they would like to see and how the client best feels the practitioner can help. Being supportive and letting the clients know you are there for them and that they are not alone can also help them deal with any difficult emotions they may be experiencing as a result of their brushes with the afterlife. Sometimes all they need is for someone to support and believe in their experience to no longer feel so alone.
Counseling disembodied spirits who remain ego-identified is quite similar to counseling the living. If the metaphysician is a psychic medium, he or she can enter into a conversation with the spirit. If he or she is not, then he or she can work with a medium that can facilitate such a conversation. During this conversation, the practitioner should attempt to learn why the spirit has chosen to remain ego-identified. Through active listening and careful conversation, the metaphysician can help remove any fears or resolve issues that are blocking the spirit from moving on. While this can happen instantaneously, in some cases it may take ongoing conversation to resolve the issues. Likewise, the metaphysician can engage the spirits and guides of loved ones who have already crossed to come aid in the crossing.
Working with the energy of the situation can help spirits transition, and it can calm the energetic field of the client, helping them through what they may see as a frightening situation. Metaphysicians can use any type of energy healing that works for them, whether providing metaphysical treatments, offering affirmations and visualizations, using energetic crystals, burning herbs, engaging in prayer, or offering energy healing techniques such as Reiki, Chios, Quantum Touch, or other modalities. The energetic healing approach works with both the living and the dead, because on the soul level, we are all beings of light and energy.
In some cases, a metaphysical approach may not help in spite of one's best efforts. In these cases, the clients may require some other type of assistance. For example, if a very religious person believes he or she is dealing with a demon and nothing can be done metaphysically to help that person, then a referral to clergy in their religion is the best possible choice. In cases of suspected mental illness, referral to trained mental health professionals may be necessary. In cases where a physical illness may be causing perceived afterlife or ghostly experiences, then referral to a physician is likely indicated. In cases where environmental conditions such as high levels of electromagnetic frequency, radon poisoning, or carbon-monoxide may be contributing to the perceived activity, referral to a home inspector and/or contractor is vital to the health and safety of the occupants.
Providing help to spirits and people experiencing them requires a delicate touch. Practitioners of metaphysics in these situations must be grounded, centered, and compassionate. They must rely on their higher creative power to attain individual solutions depending on the needs of the client. All of the aforementioned techniques are mere suggestions, and each practitioner must seek guidance from their higher self as to how to best help in any given situation.
Over the past century, afterlife research has provided intriguing data suggesting that the human soul does survive bodily death. Researchers with the Society for Psychical Research, the Scole Experimental Group, and many others have shared findings and experiences that clearly indicate that something is occurring that exists outside of the bounds of traditional science. Unfortunately, there remains a prevailing dogmatic belief that if things don't completely mesh with material science, they must not be real. This leaves people who have these experiences worrying that they may be mentally ill or mistaken. It also pushes people who continue to attempt to learn from such experiences in the margins of society, often working in the dark with little social, emotional, or spiritual support.
From the other side of the veil, this societal, scientific, and religious atmosphere of disbelief about survival of consciousness phenomena such as reincarnation, ghosts, medium communications, and near-death experiences renders it extremely difficult for spirits to pass important information or loving messages onto the living. Since the messages many of these spirits have are messages of love, inspiration, and comfort, it is extremely important to the bodied and the disembodied that such messages get through. It also may contribute to ego-identified spirits remaining in the earthly plane, either unable or unwilling to move on. These types of spirits require the compassionate assistance and guidance of a metaphysical practitioner, who can help them reunite fully with their higher self.
In order to resolve these issues, it is essential that there are metaphysical practitioners that facilitate these communications, helping souls both living and dead to understand their experiences. Many living people, seeking help for such experiences, turn to the "experts" they see in popular media, which are typically ghost hunting groups who have been inadequately trained in providing support to bodied and disembodied souls. While it appears that these paranormal teams are here to stay, the groups would do well to find metaphysical practitioners to assist or consult in their investigations as a regular part of the team. Aided by their higher selves and using metaphysical understandings, healing methods, and communication techniques, these practitioners can provide the true help that the souls of the living and the dead need to continue to move forward on their soul's path.
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