Have you ever wondered if there is something more than this reality? I just devoured an excellent book that goes into this idea through a Near Death Experience (NDE) that Neurosurgeon Dr. Eben Alexander had in 2008. After contracting bacterial meningitis, Dr. Alexander fell into a coma, only to wake up seven days later with no lasting physical effects. He did not suffer any brain or physical damage, but was profoundly changed. Dr. Alexander documented his NDE to the best of his abilities in his book, Proof of Heaven: A Neurosurgeon’s Journey into the Afterlife.
In his comatose state, Dr. Alexander’s neocortex was no longer functioning and his family was prepared for him to die. While they made arrangements around him, he was experiencing a reality unlike the one we think we know. Within the book, Dr. Alexander brings up medically based explanations for his experience, all of which are refuted because medically speaking, for those seven days, he was “brain dead”. This makes the book even more fascinating.
I have a strong belief in spirituality and the idea that there is something greater than us out there. Dr. Alexander’s account was not only fascinating, but also reiterated many ideas I already hold true. With his scientific background, even he had a hard time believing his experience to be real. And yet personal accounts such as his and current research are starting to shed light on what consciousness truly is and how little of it we understand. Just recently, researchers in the UK and Belgium found they were able to “communicate” with patients believed to be brain dead. They were not able to communicate with words or physical movements, but used brain imaging to track responses.
Modern medicine keeps us alive far beyond our bodies ability to, which I think may almost trap our consciousness within this experience. Maybe this is why we are just beginning to realize that consciousness can exist without the physical body?
So how is this relevant to yoga? Mediation can be an exercise in shedding the physical body (albeit temporarily) to become more in touch with your consciousness. When you can let go and remove yourself from your body during a deep meditative state, then I’m sure you can probably let that jerkface who cuts you off on the freeway have a break. During savasana, I know that 90% of us fall asleep (I do!) because we are so sleep deprived. But what if you stayed awake? And what if you were able to become so relaxed and detached from your physical body that you could almost visualize yourself on the mat? Now this is not something I am claiming to be able to do – I’d have to stay awake long enough to get there – but it is an exciting new experiment and exercise to try during your next mediation period.

Have you read Proof of Heaven? What was your reaction?