Sunday, September 09, 2007

Living Lessons from the Light

The International Association For Near-Death Studies (IANDS) is sponsoring a conference program geared entirely to the integration of near-death states, called "Living Lessons From The Light." It will be held October 20-21, 2007 in Marina del Rey, California. Everyone is invited to attend. The emphasis, however, will be on near-death and near-death-like experiencers and the challenges they face "coming back." Many speakers are scheduled; all will offer practical solutions that work. This is the second such conference IANDS has held geared entirely to integration issues. Unlike last the last time, this one covers TWO full days of really "down to earth" ways of living "lessons from the light."

Attend if you possibly can. For more details, contact Denis Purcell at (310) 237-3696 or Mari Kelley at (310) 478-3711, ext. 48686. Mari's e-mail is You can also contact IANDS, (860) 882-1211 or e-mail at; Cheryl Birch at e-mail This event is not to be missed!!!!!!!

I, too, will be a speaker. My offering will be geared to that timeframe after one has "come back" and the immediate issues and differences experiencers face. Three handouts of mine follow. These will be placed in the packets registrants receive, but, for those who cannot attend, here they are. I suggest that you contact IANDS to see if CDs and/or DVDs will be on sale. If they are, that source will be essential not only for experiencers to have, but for their family and friends, for professionals of all types, and for anyone else so interested.

This is a very, very important gathering!!!!!!! See you there. –PMH


After what happened to me in 1977, I could no longer relate to myself as a person. “Her” habits, personality, clothing, possessions, and lifestyle were foreign and irritating to me; yet, when I looked in the mirror, there she would always be, looking back, all five feet seven, nearly two hundred pounds of her. She was shaped like a pudgy balloon with a deep sadness in her eyes and a washed-out face rimmed with short wavy hair. There was ample proof in her belongings that she had once been a bouncy, spontaneous woman with a love of song and a lust for adventure be it exploring caves or ghost towns, and she adored rocks. Everywhere I turned, there were rocks, even in her purse. Rocks in her head too, I mused. It took me a long time to figure out the whats and wherefores of my own existence, and I went through many stages in what later became a program of self-discovery. Reassessing the nature of “self” was one aspect of that program. Here is what I was finally able to clarify:

I truly am an immortal soul, an extension of the
Divine, who temporarily resides within a carbon-
based form of electromagnetic pulsations that
produces a solid-appearing, visual overleaf of
behavior patterns more commonly referred to as
a “personality.” The name of the person I was is
really a name given to my personality, my temporal
self, but the real me is I AM. And what I AM
everyone else is, for all of us are cells in the Greater
Body, expressions of the One God.

This clarification of my true identity flooded me with so much joy that I could hardly contain myself. Almost immediately, though, I ran afoul of a simple question: Since I am an immortal soul, why do I need a body?

The human body and my presence in one had to be faced if life on the earthplane was ever again going to make any sense to me. Now that I knew my greater identity, maybe my body had a greater identity, to. To find out, I took another look.

Examining my body more closely, I beheld a dense, slow-moving conglomerate composed of layers and levels of multitudinous life-forms arrayed in various sizes, shapes, colors, and designs. Each minute particle was quite alive, active and noisy, intelligent, a being unto itself. I was in charge of this collection in the sense that I as a soul provided the force field necessary to hold everything and everyone together and in place, similar to how God’s Presence holds together and in place all of Creation. Yet we coexist, my body collective and I, as teammates, a miniature version of the universe at large, a microcosm of the macrocosm.

This meant to me that I am the guardian of my part of the universe because mine is the major power source the others within me are plugged into. Should I leave, my teammates would eventually wither and die. As long as I stay, we can all then accomplish our given tasks, learn and experience whatever we need to, grow-change-recycle and grow-change-recycle, until we are free to disconnect our vibratory alignment and go our separate ways - die, if you will, to the physical.

There is choice, mutual choice, theirs to be where they are, mine to be where I am. It is no accident we are together sharing the same journey, but it is mainly up to me to provide the direction we travel for I, as a soul, have a larger energy surge, am more highly developed, and can see farther ahead. As I am the source of power for the membership within my body, God is the Greater Source wherein my help comes. God, then, is the central current, that all-encompassing power source everything ultimately plugs into for the kind of sustenance that enables existence to exist.

In coming to grips with this understanding, life - mine and everyone else’s - began to make sense. I could acknowledge my body as the living temple of The Living God, filled with beings cycling through births and deaths and rebirths as they, too, grew and evolved, all the myriad forms of intelligence, all the promise and the potential, all that was inside me. . . this my body, the incredible collective I wear. What a privilege. What a remarkable privilege to be here, to be me, to be a soul sojourning through the earthplane with a whole conclave of intelligence accompanying me, a conclave that shares my challenges and opportunities All of us evolving. All of us changing.

When I at last accepted my body, I also accepted the responsibility that came with wearing it. In recognizing that I was once again back inside its protective folds, I could then comfortably claim my body as “mine.” If you conclude from this rendering that I was completely detached from self and body as an integral unit following my near-death experiences, you would be correct. I knew myself to be a soul and I knew the Source of My Being. What I could not relate to or even conceive of, however, was the idea that name-body-personality-incarnation could ever be separate or distinct in any manner from my true identity as a soul. this made no sense to me, neither did the earthplane.

When the day came that I could finally claim my persona and my body and feel good about that claim, I was surprised to discover how much my body had changed from before. There were differences, and those differences took some getting used to. After having sessions with thousands of experiencers over several decades, I came to realize that the near-death phenomenon and other similar transformative events, if intense, complex, or at all impactual, can and do produce physical changes in the human body as well as stimulate mental, emotional, and spiritual awakenings. Adjusting to them can be an enormous challenge.

(Ref: Future Memory, P.M.H. Atwater, Charlottesville, VA; Hampton Roads, 1999)


I experienced different aspects of breathing and different levels of aliveness in dealing with the aftermath of my near-death episodes. Certainly our physical body is set up to breathe air and support our activity in the earthplane. But our physical body is not our only body. We have another one, rarefied of substance, that enables us to equally participate in realms of pure essence, our Source Place. The air-breathing body is visible. Its spirit counterpart is invisible. Appearing as separate - a physical body and a spirit body - they’re both simply differing features of the same energy package that helps us to exist here.

One way I found to understand the basics of our immediate packaging was to realize that we operate continuously through four fields of energy: physical, emotional, mental, and spiritual. This is how I would describe their makeup:

* Physical - temperature, odor, electromagnetics,
density factors; all of which are measurable scientifically.

* Emotional - feelings, sensations, attachments,
expressions; all of which are automatically sensed
or felt organically.

* Mental - thoughts, ideas, perception, memory; all of
which are analyzed and processed intellectually.

* Spiritual - insight, wisdom, knowing, creativity; all
of which transcend avenues of definability.

Beyond, yet interpenetrating the energy fields that enable us to function as we do, I observed the layers of rarefied substance that make up our spirit body. They were like sheaths or coverings, and they layered the visible body in much the same fashion as onion skin layers around an onion’s seed core. Each layer was finer and more subtle than the previous, extending out in refinements of energy or spirit essence from the physical body to a distance that fluctuated according to a person’s mood and state of health - from several inches to several yards, or more.

That which can readily be seen is termed the aura and appears as a band of color emanating from the body. Contrary to popular notions, though, the full aura encompasses the totality of the energy fields and layered refinements of spirit that envelope us. Within that totality are myriad strata of hue, tone, and shape.

Our extended packaging has to do with access to and the interrelationships we have with the vastness of the invisible - what some call the paranormal. This includes things like sensing or sighting ghosts and ghostly scenes, apparitions, disincarnates, demons, phantoms, spirit manifestations, nature spirits, strange visuals, bright ones, dark ones, lights of all kinds, guardians, spirit keepers, wee folk, angels, and alien types. We tend to toss anything that exceeds acceptable definitions of reality into the “dust bin of the dubious” - alias, that which is psychic or “occult.”

Occult means “secret.” If you’ve gone to a newsstand recently or watched television, you’ve seen for yourself that reports about extrasensory perception (ESP), psychic abilities, and psychic phenomena are hardly secret. In truth, psychic abilities are really just enhancements of faculties normal to us - varied expressions of one mechanism - that helps us to survive and thrive. Such enhancements enrich our lives immeasurably.

Individual learning styles, I discovered, have more to do with how and what a person accesses from the invisible worlds than anything psychic. For instance, auditory learners often hear voices or pick up the easiest on specific sounds or music. Visual learners respond more readily to shape and color, as with symbols, visions, images, and light. Kinesthetic learners can be very touch-oriented and speak of feelings as if sensation itself was their primary language.

To put the idea of extended packaging into some kind of framework, below is a drawing of islands, which illustrates how in the “ocean” of created things, the realm of the invisible (what is below the surface) extends, supports, and makes possible that which is visible and immediate to our needs (what is on or above the surface).

all that is visible and tangible, the realm of the conscious mind
invisible reality that supports manifestation, the realm of the subconscious mind
interconnecting foundation/source of all existence, the realm of the superconscious

(Ref: We Live Forever, P.M.H. Atwater, Virginia Beach VA; A.R.E. Press, 2004)


After my three near-death experiences, I was challenged to relearn the simple art of breathing, and, in doing so, I rediscovered the aliveness possible for a soul inhabiting a physical body on the earthplane. I had already witnessed the fuller significance of breath while I was on the Other Side. My task at that time was to transfer this greater knowing to the physical and in a practical manner that would make a positive difference in my ability to reclaim my place as an individual who was alive and well. The result was this discovery: how a person holds his/her fingers determines to a large extent how the air flows into each lobe of the lungs.

Anyone who practices yoga learns this, that there are certain finger positions that can be used to direct and control the air we breathe. The science that backs this up is impressive and best learned in a yoga class; still, one of these finger positions is more valuable and in more ways than teachers mention - the position for “low-chest breathing.”

As directed in the drawing:

tips of index finger and thumb
touch lightly to create a circle
- other fingers hang loose
and open.

Placing the fingers of both hands in this position automatically enables the air we breathe to fill all five lobes of our lungs, while grounding or stabilizing our air in the lower lobes - which are located just above our diaphragm and solar plexus (the mid-point in our bodies). Putting your fingers this way as often as you can (while watching a movie or television show, while taking a walk, while meditating, etc.), for at least six months, and once-in-a-while thereafter, retrains your breath flow as it increases your lung capacity. And this is done without special exercises, counting breaths, or learning special techniques. Just get in the habit of holding your fingers in the low-chest position from time to time - and reap the benefits.

I did, and here’s what happened to me: not only were my lungs more powerful after doing this (I could sing a note of music and hold it longer than a trained opera singer), I became more patient, calmer, steady on my feet, felt much more comfortable and at ease with my body, could think better and make reasoned decisions easier, was more alert. . . and became more interested in and motivated by spiritual practices. All this resulted from the simplest of acts, a technique I have taught to thousands of people since, and with the same benefits claimed by those who did it.

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