What makes us who we are? The psyche – the self – has been a mystery for ages. Now, an intensive care doctor and his team have found a way to start answering at least some of the countless questions surrounding the mystery of consciousness. Through their research, Dr. Sam Parnia and his colleagues have confirmed that consciousness continues to exist, even when the body and the brain die.
Dr. Parnia is the director of critical care and resuscitation research at NYU Langone School of Medicine in New York City. According to Parnia, brain function halts almost instantaneously after the heart stops. Despite this, his study of people who suffered cardiac arrest shows that human consciousness exists, even after the brain is dead.
In the video above, Parnia makes the following claim.
Human mind and consciousness – that thing that makes us who we are, our self – does not become annihilated, when we’ve gone beyond the biological threshold of death.
Parnia and his colleagues have been studying what happens to consciousness and the brain during the period between physical death and when a person is resuscitated. Being one of the largest studies of this type, their research includes more than 2000 people. These individuals all met the physical criteria for death and were resuscitated. Out of the study subjects that were successfully brought back to life:
- 40% had a perception of having had awareness.
- 10% had a very vivid mystical or religious transformative experience.
- 5% had full visual and auditory awareness, to where they were even able to describe events in the room.
- One had awareness for up to 5 minutes after doctors called time of death.
One of the goals of this research is to find ways to resuscitate people successfully, without brain damage. In addition, the research has given us a glimpse of what happens to our conscious self when blood flow to the brain is cut off. The study concludes that The Self persists, even after death, at least for the short term. Of course, it is difficult to say how long this out-of-body awareness continues.
Finally, the researchers claim that when the body dies, the mind finds peace. Parnia states that once people die,
“…they have a perception that the self is detached from the body. They are able to watch things, and they don’t feel any pain. They don’t feel any discomfort. They’re in complete peace. They know they’re being declared dead, but they have no distress about it.”
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About the Author
Anna Hunt is writer, yoga instructor, mother of three, and lover of healthy food. She’s the founder of Awareness Junkie, an online community paving the way for better health and personal transformation. She’s also the co-editor at Waking Times, where she writes about optimal health and wellness. Anna spent 6 years in Costa Rica as a teacher of Hatha and therapeutic yoga. She now teaches at Asheville Yoga Center and is pursuing her Yoga Therapy certification. During her free time, you’ll find her on the mat or in the kitchen, creating new kid-friendly superfood recipes.
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