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A Near Death Experience

By Julio Obscura
On February 18, 2011

While driving on a rainy night, my car began to spin out of control and the thought of death was very clear to me. Time slowed down, everything turned silent, and I saw images of certain parts of my life. I also recall clearly having moments of reflection, of wishing I could have done more things and not have done others. I thought of many things and completely forgot my car was spinning; I went completely "blank". Until the car stopped, I was in shock for a couple of seconds. Then, the silence disappeared and I was left breathless asking myself what had just happened?   All of this happened in less than 15 seconds, but it felt like a lifetime.

Why does time seem to slow down during a life-threatening situation? The well known saying, life flash before my eyes, has many different meanings to different people. For some, it is a simple saying regarding time and how quickly it rushes by.  But for others, it means an actual experience, usually during a near death experience.


Time slows down and the person's entire life is replayed in flash images through their mind; thoughts of regret, reflection, and sometimes even spiritual thoughts. Dr. Gilberto Salinas Adjunct Professor of Psychology and Director of Student Counseling & Health Services describes the occurrence as, "There are different theories, but the one I personally adhere to, because of personal experiences, is that when you are encountered in a situation where either your life or the life of those around you is in danger, extreme stress , of course. There are certain parts of the brain that will start being activated, primarily a part called the emigdola, which is the alarm system of the brain. It doesn't necessarily happen at a conscious level, but immediately it hyper-focuses you, to the point that you will even get a little bit of tunnel-vision, and because of the intense focusing is not that time is slowing down, but it appears as if time is slowing down. You assimilate more in a small period of time. I've experienced that in combat situations where things just slow down and you see everything in slow motion."


Although such experience can't ever be proven, people who have survived near death experiences claim that the saying, "my life flashed before my eyes" is true. Dr. Jeffrey Brown, Associate Professor of Psychology and Dean of Graduate Studies & Research explains," How can we test that? It is not like if I put someone in a car spin it around a couple of times and make them fear the possibility of death. Then stop and say ‘Oh, by the way what were you thinking, and can you fill out the survey?' Obviously, I can't do that. That is the reason we know nothing definitive about that." The main trouble with the "life flashing before your eyes" saying is that no one can prove it actually exists. We may never be able to prove the saying, but something Dr. Salinas, Dr. Brown, and I have concluded is that, people who have experienced such events tend to change their lives for the better, and these experiences become engraved in the minds of the people forever.  

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