In 2008, Dr. Eben Alexander’s brain was severely damaged by a devastating case of bacterial meningitis, and he lapsed into a week-long coma. It was almost certainly a death sentence, but Dr. Alexander miraculously survived – and brought back with him an astounding story (told in his best-seller Proof of Heaven: A Neurosurgeon’s Journey into the Afterlife). During seven days in coma, he was plunged into the deepest realms of consciousness, and came to understand profound truths about the universe we inhabit. What he learned completely violated everything he ever knew about brain, mind and consciousness, and drove him to question some of the most fundamental assumptions of conventional science, leading to a complete flip from his former worldview.
A rich literature has developed about NDEs, focusing on their frequency, common features, possible physiological and psychological causes, and common aftereffects. This information has been greeted by the public, to a large extent, as comforting entertainment, and it has been dismissed by scientists, to a large extent, as meaningless tricks of the brain. Are NDEs more than that? Are they important enough to demand the serious attention of both scientists and the public? I argue that NDEs are far more than entertainment or brain tricks, but in fact are critically important to experiencers, to scientists, and to the public at large. I will outline why NDEs matter to experiencers, why they matter for our scientific view of the relationship between mind and brain and for scientific ideas of survival of consciousness after death, why they matter for how we provide medical care, and finally why they matter for how we all lead our lives and view our role in the universe.
I have spoken to the IANDS group in the past regarding my 1999 NDE after drowning while kayaking in South America. In the past, I have focused primarily on the story-telling aspect of my experience and less on the lessons contained within the experience. I have discovered that what I learned not only that changed my own life, but these lessons have the ability to change the daily life of others. In sharing these lessons with other people, I hope to show that the joy-filled life that was borne of my transformational NDEs is available to all people, not just those who have had a spiritually profound experience.
According to our current medical concepts, it is not possible to experience consciousness during a cardiac arrest, when circulation and breathing have ceased. But during the period of unconsciousness due to a life-threatening crisis like cardiac arrest patients may report the paradoxical occurrence of enhanced consciousness experienced in a dimension without our conventional concept of time and space, with cognitive functions, with emotions, with self-identity, with memories from early childhood and sometimes with (non-sensory) perception out and above their lifeless body. Since the publication of these prospective studies on NDE in survivors of cardiac arrest, with strikingly similar results and conclusions, the phenomenon of the NDE can no longer be scientifically ignored. It is an authentic experience which cannot be simply reduced to imagination, fear of death, hallucination, psychosis, the use of drugs, or oxygen deficiency, and people appear to be permanently changed by an NDE during a cardiac arrest of only some minutes duration. According to these studies, the current materialistic view of the relationship between the brain and consciousness held by most physicians, philosophers and psychologists is too restricted for a proper understanding of this phenomenon.
When Jeffery Olsen had his horrific automobile accident, experiencing his own NDE, his Level One Trauma Physician also had an amazing Shared-Death Experience while overseeing Olsen’s care. Best selling author and international speaker Jeffery Olsen is now joined with Dr. Jeff O’Driscoll, MD as they share their perspectives from both the doctor and patient experiences surrounding the incredible gifts manifested out of the Near-Death, Shared-Death and Out-of-Body Experiences. Dr. O’Driscoll experienced communications from Olsen’s deceased wife, who was killed instantly at the scene of their traumatic accident, while Olsen was having a near-death experience of his own and is now willing to share publicly as well.
Live Streaming and Video on Demand (VOD) of presentations in the main ballroom is now available. See the Live Streaming Schedule: click on the individual talk links to view the presentation details. Prices are shown on Live Streaming Pricing.
A panel of doctors, psychologists and nurses will discuss how a patient’s NDE should be handled. Panelists include: Liz Dale, J. Timothy Green, Krista Gorman, Debbie James, Erica McKenzie and Julijan Naskov. Moderated by Lee Witting. Details.
Jan Holden, NDE researcher and editor of the Journal of Near-Death Studies, will lead a panel in discussing what topics should be the focus of future NDE research and what the challenges are in conducting such research. The participants include Jan Holden, Alexander Batthyany, Mitch Liester, Robert Mays and Suzanne Mays. Details.
Panelists Virginia Hummel, Silvia Guersenzvaig, Heidi McClure, and Sheryl Hill will discuss their insights into After Death Communications. Moderated by Debbie James. Details.
Physician panelists Mary Neal, Rebecca Valla, James Kwako and Rajiv Parti will share how NDEs have impacted their practices. Moderated by Diane Corcoran. Details.
We have many workshops to choose from! Each 2-hour, 3-hour or 4-hour workshop allows you to explore a topic in more depth with an expert, sometimes with direct participation and experiential learning! The workshops are priced separately from the conference registration. Full List of Workshops..
Spend an hour and a half with your favorite speakers, enjoying enlightening conversation and excellent food! Check out when the speakers you are most interested in are scheduled and sign up early — only nine lucky attendees can join in.
Healing sessions are available each day, by qualified energy healers, using Reiki and other modalities. You can purchase multiple 20-minute healing sessions and schedule them on any of the conference days.
We will have a Thursday night Meet & Greet gathering where you can meet new conference goers and greet your friends from prior conferences. On Saturday evening, we will have a Social Time to share conversation, light snacks and a cash bar. This year, we are planning special entertainment like Tony Redhouse, shown here in Scottsdale in 2012.
On Friday evening we will have our traditional Fund Raising Banquet, featuring an elegant plated dinner. A keynote speaker will give a short presentation — all to help raise needed funds for IANDS’ mission!
At selected times during the conference, the authors will be present for Book Signings, where you can chat with your favorite author and have your book signed.
A number of informal discussion groups will be held during the conference on topics such as the aftereffects of NDEs and distressing NDEs. The discussions will be led by people who are expert in the subject area and are open to all attendees. The times and topics for these informal sessions will be included in the detailed schedule at the conference.
During the breaks and over lunch, be sure to visit our Bookstore, stocked with new books, books by our speakers, the classics of NDE literature and many related topics. Also many gift items!
The Group Leaders’ Seminar is a special program on Wednesday afternoon for IANDS NDE Group Leaders and those interested in becoming a Group Leader. Our Group Leaders are a special set of people who run the IANDS NDE Support Groups in various cities in the U.S. and across the globe. If you think you might be interested in starting an NDE Support Group, check this out!
Eben Alexander, MD
Light hors d’oeuvres, cash bar
Jeff Olsen & Jeffrey O’Driscoll
Enjoy an elegant dinner, fascinating conversation, and a short talk by one of our keynote speakers!
Pim van Lommel
Schedule as of 4/11/2018
The times, speakers and topics listed here are subject to change.