Living It All Over Again – Life Reviews

Living It All Over Again – Life Reviews

The following post is from Dr. Kenneth Ring’s blog “Notes from the Ringdom” and is reposted with permission. The original can be viewed HERE.

A quarter of a century ago, when I was working on my book Lessons from the Light, I was particularly concerned to make my readers aware of the profound significance of the one feature of NDEs that I felt was the most important of all – the life review. At least from the standpoint of what we all can learn from NDEs without having to undergo one, the life review (which I will abbreviate from now on as LR) represents the key takeaway lesson from these encounters with death. I ended up writing two chapters on the LR in that book and have always advised people that if they could not manage to read the entire book, to please read at least those two chapters.

At the time I was aware that many people, although they may have heard of NDEs, had only a superficial knowledge of the LR. They might say something like, “Oh, yeah, isn’t that when your life flashes before your eyes when you almost drown?” But it is so much more. In the LR, you are actually re-experiencing in real time the scenes from your life and how your actions affected other people, whether you knew them or not. So it’s not just that you are reviewing your life; you are living it over again, and nothing is left out.

Here is just a sampling of some brief excerpts about this aspect of the LR:

The life review was absolutely everything for the first thirty-three years of my life … from the first breath of life right through the accident.

It preceded to show me every single event in my twenty-two years of life in a kind of instant three-dimensional panoramic review … The brightness showed me every second of all those years, in exquisite detail, in what seemed like only a second in time.

My whole life was there, every instant of it … Everyone and everything I had ever seen and everything that ever happened was there.

I had a total complete clear knowledge of everything that had ever happened in my life – even little minute things that I had forgotten.

My life passed before me … even things I had forgotten all about. Every single emotion, all the happy times, the sad times, the angry times, the love, the reconciliation – everything was there. Nothing was left out.

But even these excerpts just scratch the surface of the LR. You don’t just re-experience and relive your life, you see how everything you thought and felt and well as what you did affected others. Case in point:

Mine was not a review, but a reliving. For me, it was a total reliving of every thought I had ever thought, every word I had ever spoken, and every deed I had ever done, plus, the effect of each thought, word and deed on everyone or anyone who had ever come within my environment or sphere of influence, whether I knew them or not … No detail was left out. No slip of the tongue or slur was missed. No mistake or accident went unaccounted for. If there is such a thing as hell, as far as I am concerned, this was hell.

Before I continue, you might want to take a few deep breaths and a few moments to let this last excerpt sink in. At least we’re beginning to grasp the enormity of what the LR has to teach us. It’s as if everything in your life has been recorded and during the LR, it is played back for you, except this time you are able to see how your thoughts and behavior have affected others.

But there’s more and now I am coming to the most important insight that the LR has to teach us. It’s not just that you experience, say, how an unkind action has made another person feel, it’s worse than that. And why? Because you become that other person and what you have done to him you experience as an act done to yourself.

Let me give you just one illustration here from the LR of a person I knew very well. His name was Tom Sawyer (yes, his actual name), and I first came to know him when he visited me at “the Near-Death Hotel” in 1981 after reading my first NDE book, Life at Death. We became good friends after that, and we remained in touch for the rest of his life until his death a few years ago. I wrote a great deal about Tom in my subsequent book, Heading Toward Omega, but all I will say here is that Tom had a profound NDE in 1978 during which he had a LR. In what follows, I will limit myself to recounting just one episode from Tom’s LR. It will be sufficient to make my point.

Here’s what I had to say about that incident, although in this account I did not use Tom’s actual name, but just indicated that he was a friend of mine:

I have a friend who when growing up was kind of a roughneck; he had a hot temper; he was always getting into scrapes. One day he was driving his truck through the suburb in the town where he lived and he almost hit a pedestrian. And he got very aggravated with the pedestrian. He was a very big physical guy and a fight ensued. He punched this guy out and left him unconscious on the pavement, got back into his truck, and roared off.

Fifteen years later my friend had his NDE and during it, he had a LR. In his LR, this particular scene of the fight took place again. And he said that, as many people do, he experienced this from a dual aspect. There was a part of him that was almost as if he were high up in a building looking out a window and seeing the fight below. But at the same time he was observing the fight like a spectator, he saw himself in the fight. Except this time, he found himself in the role of the other person. And he felt all 32 blows that he had rained on this person 15 years ago now being inflicted upon himself. He felt his teeth cracking. He felt the blood in his teeth. He felt everything that this other person must have felt at that particular time. This was a complete role reversal; an empathic life review experience.

There’s more. Later, Tom went into more detail about what he learned during this experience:

From the time I stepped out of the truck, I hit that man 32 times. I saw what an enraged Tom Sawyer not only looked like but felt like. I experienced seeing Tom Sawyer’s fist come directly into my face. I felt my teeth going through my lower lip. In other words, I was in that man’s eyes. I was in that man’s body. I experienced the physical pain, the degradation, the embarrassment, the humiliation, and the helplessness in being knocked back like that. I broke his nose and really made a mess of his face. I almost killed that man. He didn’t have time to bring his hands up, he fell straight backwards hitting his head on the street…

In the life review, I came to know the man’s chronological age: he was 46 years old. I knew that he was in a drunken state and that the rationale behind his desire to drink to oblivion was that he was in a severe state of bereavement for his deceased wife. He turned to alcohol as an escape mechanism for dealing with her death. I experienced unbelievable things about that man that are of a very personal, confidential, and private nature.

In short, Tom had become the other man and not only felt his physical agony, but came to know his inner life and personal sorrows.

This is one of the most important lessons of the LR.  You are the very person whom you have hurt and you feel the pain you have inflicted on him. But it’s also the case that when you have done a good deed, you experience the blessing of that action because you are now its recipient. And to give you an illustration of this kind of LR, here’s one from another person I came to know during the course of my work on NDEs.  I’ll let Dianne Morrissey tell the story herself:

As the life review continued, I was shown some very special deeds I had performed. [One was when] I saw myself at seventeen, when I’d worked at a convalescent hospital after school. I had grown fond of a toothless old woman who was no longer able to speak clearly, and who never had visitors. She liked to suck on graham crackers before going to bed, but no one wanted to serve her because when she had finished, she would drool as she kissed the entire length of the arm of the person feeding her. While others avoided her, I willingly fed her the cookies she adored, seeing how happy this made her. When that scene was replayed for me, I felt as if every loving spirit in God’s kingdom was thanking me in unison. I was amazed that such an act could have meant so much to God—and to me. I felt humbled and very honored. As these scenes were displayed before me, every emotion I had originally felt returned in full force. I also felt as if God and the angelic being were honoring me for having performed those deeds. I will never forget the love that surrounded me at that moment, or the joy that ran through me. Can you imagine being hugged by God and your angel?  It’s an experience that defies description!

We have only begun to explore the LR, but before delving further into the nature and lessons of this feature of NDEs, I want to introduce you to the man who is about to become recognized as the world’s leading authority on the LR and who will soon be publishing an entire book on the subject which will contain hundreds of such cases along with his incisive and illuminating commentaries on the LR. Indeed, you will find in his book the very cases I’ve just discussed —  that of Tom Sawyer and Dianne Morrissey – and many others some of which I will be citing in the blog to follow. But first, it is now my pleasure to introduce you to this man whom I’m privileged to call my friend, Jeff Janssen.

Although Jeff had written to me more than a decade ago to express appreciation for my NDE work and to tell me that he had already read three of my books on the subject, I had no recollection of that kind note until Jeff recently reminded me of it. In any case, eight years passed before I heard from him again. This time, in 2019, he was writing to let me know that in the intervening years, he had been engaged in a deep study of the literature on NDEs and had just published a book on the subject, which he entitled 10 Life-Changing Lessons from Heaven. I remember that when I started to peruse and read through Jeff’s book, my immediate thought was, “This book is so much better than Lessons from the Light!” My book had been an attempt to provide my readers with the knowledge and tools to learn to apply the lessons of the NDE to their own lives, but Jeff’s book, written with the same goals in mind, was much better organized than mine and showed how much Jeff had learned about NDEs, and how effectively he could offer that knowledge to his readers. Suffice it to say, I was more than impressed, and ever since I have enthusiastically recommended it, along with David Sunfellow’s book, The Purpose of Life, as the best books now on the market for anyone who wants to learn about NDEs and how to use that knowledge to inform their own lives.

In his letter to me, Jeff also mentioned that he and his wife would soon be coming out to California and wondered if we could arrange to meet during that time. Naturally, I jumped at the chance and in October of 2019, a few months before COVID struck, we were able to meet at a nearby restaurant where I was able to learn a good deal about Jeff’s fascinating life. To give you a little background on this man, I will now share at least a little about what I learned about him at the time (and afterward).

Photo by Dimitris Panagiotaras

Jeff is now 52, but when he was 42, he suddenly began experiencing crushing chest pains, shortness of breath, and pain radiating down his left arm. After nearly suffering a massive and likely fatal heart attack, his doctors discovered a 99% blockage his coronary artery. Fortunately they caught it just in the nick of time and Jeff survived.

That was Jeff’s “wake up call.”

At that time, Jeff was a leader in the field of mentoring coaches. Here’s just a bit about his work drawn from a website he sent me:

Widely considered the world’s top expert on Sports Leadership, Jeff Janssen is the founder and president of the Janssen Sports Leadership Center. Jeff’s pioneering work in launching and conducting college athletics’ first Leadership Academies with student-athletes and coaches began over a decade ago. His groundbreaking work is what originally started the whole field of sports leadership development and continues to be the gold standard today.

His work in this field led him to most of the big name universities in this country. I will spare you the list, but you would be familiar with all of these universities and colleges.

But his near-fatal heart attack drastically changed Jeff’s life trajectory and quickly led to his immersion in near-death studies. In that connection, he has now spoken with, studied and analyzed more than 3500 NDErs. Aside from Raymond Moody and PMH Atwater, I don’t know anyone who has had more contact with NDErs than Jeff.

Anyway, at that meeting, I found Jeff to be warm, personable, humorous and altogether delightful. We hit it off and have been dear friends and colleagues ever since.

Here’s a selfie we took at the time to commemorate our bromance:

At the time, I know we discussed the importance of the LR to which subject Jeff had devoted a portion of his book, but he was intent on a new goal – writing an entire book on the LR to show even more clearly how important it was for people to know about and to learn from. And Jeff has since done that. His new book, just published, is called Your Life’s Ripple Effect, and having read a draft of it, I can assure you this book can truly change your life, as I made clear in my endorsement of it:

Jeff Janssen’s Your Life’s Ripple Effect is the book I have not only been waiting for; it’s one I wish I had written! Jeff shows the reader how to learn from the most important feature of near-death experiences, the Life Review, and does a masterful job drawing out its implications for one’s daily life. It is a cliché to say ‘this book could change your life’, but in this case, it really will once you begin to absorb its lessons. I simply cannot recommend this book strongly enough! Now pick it up and learn how near-death experiences can teach us how to live.

If you would like to learn more about Jeff’s book and purchase a copy, just go to this link:

Dr Ken Ring

DR. KENNETH RING

Kenneth Ring, Ph.D., is a past Professor Emeritus of Psychology at the University of Connecticut, and an internationally recognized authority on the subject of near-death experiences on which he has written five books and nearly a hundred articles. He is also the co-founder and past President of The International Association for Near-Death Studies and the founding editor of its quarterly scholarly journal, The Journal of Near-Death Studies, which began in 1982 and continues to this day. Dr. Ring has appeared on many television and radio programs and been often interviewed in the press in connection with his work on near-death experiences.

To read more posts by Kenneth Ring, click HERE.

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