A recent CBS News report focused on the University of Virginia in Charlottesville, where research about consciousness has been taking place for decades. For more than 50 years, the Division of Perceptual Studies (DOPS), founded by Ian Stevenson, has been applying rigorous scientific analysis to fundamental questions about consciousness.
Senior research specialist, Marieta Pehlivanova, Ph.D., explains their focus on "survival research" which "examines the hypothesis that some part of consciousness survives physical death." Near-death experiences offer evidence that this may, in fact, be the case. "There are documented cases of near-death experiences that occur during brain conditions that wouldn't even allow normal cognitive functioning, let alone something as vivid as an NDE."
The news report refers to the case of neurosurgeon Eben Alexander, who contracted meningitis due to a brain infection in early November 2008. While in deep coma, he experienced an entirely new dimension of consciousness and wrote about it in his book, Proof of Heaven.
Led by Bruce Greyson, MD, DOPS carried out an independent study of Alexander's medical records to determine the degree of brain damage that existed during the time that Alexander had vivid memories of a profound spiritual odyssey. In 2018, a case study that documents these efforts was published in the Journal of Nervous and Mental Disease. It suggests that Alexander's full recovery from a normally fatal disease was related to the spiritual elements of his experience.
On a recent episode of The Unexplained, Alexander states that "as much as we want to pretend that things like mind and consciousness and personality are all stuck in the brain, they're really not."
Scientists at DOPS don't claim to have all the answers, and yet, they acknowledge that this sort of evidence continues to build. They've gathered more than 2,000 cases of past life memories in children with the past 15 years being focused on children who live in the United States. DOPS leads the way on highlighting the need for science to incorporate these sorts of phenomena into the current mainstream understanding of consciousness.
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Knowing how to maintain a core sense of presence and balance creates a foundation of strength to move from empathy to compassion, and at your finest, altruism, when you take action to help another without concern for yourself.