By Lisa Cedrone
Lessons about the meaning of life, love and the true nature of reality from a near death experience.
A few years back I had the opportunity to receive a final message from one of my mentors and friends, Berenice Andrews, a long-time contributor to Transformation Coaching Magazine. She was an accomplished teacher, scholar and shaman in her 80s, and, just before she died, Berenice shared what she called her last and most important life lesson. She asked a friend sitting hospice to write it down and share it with me for her final article in the magazine:
“My whole life I felt like I was supposed to do something—something big. Lying here on my deathbed, I had it wrong all along. I didn’t come here to do or accomplish something. I came here to BE something. The vibration of BEING ripples out through the realms. It makes a much larger impact than what we can do in accomplishment mode. The greatest thing we can do is just BE.”
These words rang so true in my heart because I came to the same conclusion following my own near death experience (NDE) in 2002: that just being here on Earth is meaningful beyond measure.
Because I stood at the crossroads of life and death, I know what a gift insights like this are. It was psychically impressed up me during my NDE that “this precious life,” as Buddhists often call it, is a rare opportunity to grow in consciousness and learn. Everything I do and realize here on Earth has an impact on what I experience after I leave this world. We do not cease to exist or “die”: We evolve or in some cases devolve, just as we do in this life.
“As above, so below.”—Hermes Trismegistus
I guess I am one of the lucky ones because I have had more than 20 years since my NDE to understand and work with my own insights and hopefully many more years to continue. Along the way I have found that “just being” does not mean inertia; it means becoming an objective third-party observer operating in the now—the present—by learning the lessons of my experiences and releasing my fears about the future. It’s a process…not an event. I can assure you that I have a long way to go—sometimes it’s two steps forward and one back.
My entire second-half of life has been focused on rebuilding my personal truth; rewriting my story or “personal myth”; integrating a new belief system and expanding my own conception of reality. I see it as living a life review process on a daily basis, and I believe it is the best way to prepare for my own physical death—whenever that may come.
My NDE was definitely the “dark night of my soul.” At the time, I was depressed, disillusioned with life, and drinking alcoholically to console my emotional pain. I had everything Western society says makes you happy—the big job, the big, expensive house, the successful fiancé. But I was completely empty inside—a black hole—and I tried to commit suicide a month before my wedding.
What ensued was a 48-hour trip to hell, heaven and back on an important business trip. It was mortifying, terrifying, liberating and profound. I don’t want to spend time on all the details of the story now, but you can read about it on my blog at DragonFlyNation.com.
Rather, I want to focus on what I came away with as it relates directly to how I understand the “the purpose of life”, and how I live my life knowing deep in my heart that what I do every single day, no matter how mundane, is important to my totality of being in this world and beyond this world.
I want to emphasize the words “how I understand.” This is my experience, strength and hope. My way of explaining and understanding my NDE and the vast insights I received. My framework of reference today is rooted in more than 15 years of exploring Jungian psychology, practicing a spiritual path that resonates for me, participating in 12-step recovery programs, and delving into quantum physics 101.
However, when the NDE was happening, I dove into the deep end of the pool and then learned how to swim. It was terrifying, but some incredible things happened:
- I crossed the threshold of physical death and was given the choice to come back and finish what I came to Earth to learn or “do it all over again” in my next life.
- I received an incredible “energy” healing throughout my entire body by what appeared to me as an angel.
- I spontaneously received knowledge (like a big download of information from the cosmic Internet), and I learned that “everything is energy” vibrating at different levels.
- I experienced what I can only describe as the state of true unconditional love and the profound peace that comes with it.
- I also had interactions with what I would call guardian angels, the Apostle Paul (although I had no idea who he was at the time), Lucifer and other things I can only describe as predatory entities.
It’s all out there…I can assure you, and the state I checked out in had a big impact on what I experienced, especially initially (before the divine intervention of the energy healing), and I now know why most cultures and religions warn against suicide. The state of apathy I was in made me susceptible. Something truly evil connected with me, manifested my worst fears, and opened the door to let me bleed into my own personal hell.
These were things I had never studied or read about—material that was way above my pay grade.
Yet I knew at the very core of my being that what happened to me was not some sort of hallucination. I didn’t want to explain it away, and I didn’t want to live in fear and embarrassment, wondering, “What’s the matter with me?” I knew that this was a doorway to find a more meaningful existence, one that could help me find my own truth and stretch the limits of what conventional society recognizes and accepts. I wanted to get closer to my own understanding of what reality actually is.
I went on a five-year rollercoaster ride to reconcile my new reality with my old world, and I almost self-destructed in the process. I had to leave my career as an editor-in-chief, I was diagnosed as Bipolar Type 1, I suffered a clinical depression after my dog and cat died, I left my marriages, I was overmedicated by psychiatrists and then I self-medicated into full-blown alcoholism.
I guess now I am living proof that the apocalypse journey ends with rebirth, and that my traumas and challenges serve as catalysts for spiritual growth.
Finding Meaning in Life
I want to leave you with four impressions I received through “knowingness” during my NDE that can help you finding meaning in your own life.
- We are in the “life learning lab”: I came to understand that we are all here to learn—but we are not all here to learn the same things. That is our quest, or the Hero’s Journey, as the great mythologist Joseph Campbell called it.
Contributor Owen Waters explains it perfectly in this month’s issue: “Your purpose in life includes the development of your own potential so that you can become the most unique ‘you’ possible.” (See the article “The Shift to Expanded Consciousness: Mother-Father God” on page XX.)
During my NDE, I was told by my non-physical guides that I am here to learn how to love—and I found out later that many people receive this message during NDEs, according to researchers like author Raymond Moody and contributor Mark Pitstick, the director of The SoulPhone Foundation and a leading researcher in documenting scientific proof of the afterlife (Soulproof.com). (See the article “You Are an Infinite Being” on page XX.)
I’ve been working on understanding this message for the past two decades. I spiral around the meaning, and it changes over time. I now understand that unconditional love is an overriding state of consciousness—not an emotion. It is existing from place of nonjudgement, acceptance, gratitude, and service to the greater good.
The road to this perspective is paved with a lot of hard work on myself, therapy, prayer and meditation.
- Heaven and hell are states of consciousness, realities of my own creation—whether I am in my body or existing as a non-physical being or soul. Through my own direct experience, I found that proximity outside my physical body is determined by “like frequency.” We all have a unique energetic signature or resonance, which is a culmination of all our experiences, attitudes and emotions. It’s the Law of Attraction in action.
Being fully present in the now is an opportunity to experience a heaven—and I cannot be in the now until I carry forward the learning lessons while leaving the emotional and mental garbage at the trash dump. “We will not regret the past nor wish to shut the door on it” is one of my favorite sayings, and if you are in a 12 Step program, you probably know it well. It means I don’t stay hung up on guilt, shame and remorse, all those feelings that create a hell.
What I achieve in this lifetime—not what I accumulate (my stuff)—is what I take forward, and that influences reality in the “next realm” or the “afterlife” or however you want to reference it. And I do believe in reincarnation because I was told that I would come back “and do this again” in another life if I didn’t finish the lessons in this life. It wasn’t judgement or punishment, I was on a journey of progress…”progress not perfection,” another one of my favorite adages.
- Reality is energy: Quantum physics has expanded our understanding of the “unseen world” showing that “everything is energy” and we exist mostly in a field of empty space. During my NDE, I was shown that it’s all energy in different bandwidths of frequency. We operate in the visible light spectrum, for example, and that aligns with the energy centers in our bodies and the musical scale. Again: “As above, so below.” We live in a world of fractal patterns and the ground state of consciousness behind all things is infinite.
“If you want to find the secrets of the universe, think in terms of energy, frequency and vibration.”—Nikola Tesla
It’s all out there in the “quantum field” of possibility. I now see time and space as the stage upon which we co-create a shared reality. They are merely constructs that form a common framework of reference, not walls that form a prison.
The five senses, as amazing as they are, have been found to detect much less than 1 percent of what’s out there. So the amount of “energy” that I can experience is an exercise in shaping and expanding my own reality in this life—my personal bandwidth.
I live in my own world, and I am sure it’s very different than yours. I have found that I can only grow on the path of direct experience. I can’t read it in a book or learn it on a podcast. That’s why I believe we each need to develop and follow our own roadmap to travel the path of our destiny and reach our highest potential.
Lisa Cedrone currently serves as the editor of Transformation Coaching Magazine and was the executive director of the C. G. Jung Society of Sarasota from 2016 until 2022. She is a mentor and teacher with a passion for sharing the experience, strength and hope from her own life-changing near-death experience and recovery journey. Lisa also spent 15 years as an editor and editor-in-chief for two of the largest business-to-business publishers in the United States. Her universal worldview changed following a profound near-death experience in 2002, during which she was given the opportunity to come back to our world and finish her learning journey in this life. For more information, email Lisa at Lisa@DragonFlyNation.com or visit https://www.DragonFlyNation.com