AMERICAN CENTER FOR THE INTEGRATION OF SPIRITUALLY TRANSFORMATIVE EXPERIENCES

Changes Following an STE

Note: The following examples of positive changes following a Spiritually Transformative Experience or STE are drawn primarily on research of near-death experiencers, although people who were not near-death, but who had similar experiences, also report the same pattern of changes and challenges. As more research becomes available, this page will be revised.

Collectively, the changes following an STE are transformative because they not only tend to be enduring, but involve almost every major aspect of a person’s life. The changes are generally not sudden, but may evolve over many years of integrating and reflecting upon the meaning, messages and values derived from the experience. These changes can also bring difficult challenges. Once the experience and its accompanying challenges have been fully integrated, the following changes may become part of the remainder of an experiencer’s life.

Young children who have had these experiences may not experience or remember a “change,” but may have naturally incorporated the following and feel different than other children. Children may not initially remember their experiences, but may have these qualities, nevertheless.

  • Strengthened spiritual or religious views
  • Improved behavior and attitude towards others
  • Changes in values
  • Greater empathy and compassion for others
  • A greater sense of well-being
  • A more positive outlook on life
  • A greater desire to learn
  • Increased creativity
  • Increased psychic awareness
  • Greater sense of purpose
  • Loss of the fear of death

Strengthened spiritual or religious views

An STE can reverse, confirm or deny some or all of an experiencer’s prior held spiritual or religious beliefs. Atheists may report complete conversions to spirituality or religion. Some report leaving their religious communities for a more spiritual, individual approach to life and spirit. Some find confirmation and strengthening of their pre-existing spiritual or religious beliefs in their experiences. Some may begin a journey of seeking out a faith that is in accordance with their experience. Experiencers often report a greater acceptance and tolerance of people of different religious faiths than before.

Improved behavior and attitude towards others

Many people experience unconditional love and learn the importance of treating others with great appreciation, compassion and love in their STEs. Experiencers may devote increasing amounts of time and energy into families, caring for children, animals, the sick or dying, or volunteering for nonprofit causes.

Changes in values

Following an STE, people find less interest in materialistic values and more interest in living according to the values learned or derived from the STE.Some may leave their competitively-oriented jobs to pursue work in healing or other human services. Some may give or walk away from their earthly possessions to find ways to serve others or find their spiritual path. They may find less value in impressing others or adhering to hierarchies or routines. More importance may be placed on family, health, the environment and spirituality, rather than on acquiring objects, money or fame. Destruction of the environment, abuse, neglect, dishonesty, greed or harmful, selfish acts may be particularly painful and cause for action. Experiencers may become more engaged in activism, nonprofit causes, religions, spiritual groups, education, community leadership or political arenas where they hope to positively influence people with deeper, more spiritual values. Even formerly shy experiencers may now feel compelled to spread spiritual messages through books, websites and events as way to better the world.

A greater sense of well-being

There may be many factors within the STE that contribute to a greater sense of well-being. Many were embraced by an overwhelming sensation of being unconditionally loved and/or profound peace. Accompanying these sensations, is the knowledge that no matter what happens along life’s way, that love or sense of peace will be there forever. Prior to the experience, an experiencer may have suffered for not feeling good enough, unloved, judged, isolated or even abused. With the reassurance and healing effects of the unconditional love and peace felt from a higher power, the STEr may now feel more confident, more whole and more forgiving of one’s self and others. They may feel more alive, more vibrant, more passionate, healthier and more joyful. They may take more time to appreciate beauty and spend more time in meditation or prayer.

A more positive outlook on life

Most experiencers develop an enhanced appreciation, not just for life itself, but for everyday events, children, plants, animals, learning, art, music, small gestures and beauty. There is an appreciation for what is happening in the moment, while concerns over the past or worries over the future may diminish. Tragedies, difficulties or illness may be more easily accommodated as one looks for positive outcomes and has greater trust in a higher, more spiritual purpose in life’s difficult lessons. Optimism may increase, as well as joy. Along with a more positive outlook life, an experiencer may enjoy greater physical and mental health.

A greater desire to learn

Many experiencers return with a great desire, if not unquenchable thirst, to learn more – not just about such experiences, but about spirituality, science, religious traditions, history, astronomy, physics, psychology, metaphysics, philosophy, sociology, medicine, biology, languages, math, etc. Some learned the importance of knowledge in their experiences or they gained information that they weren’t allowed to remember. Others feel they got only a glimpse and want a bigger picture. Others were given knowledge about things which were entirely new. Upon return, they may want to enhance, share or find validation of that knowledge. People may change careers, majors and directions to engage in pursuits more consistent with their new interests.

Increased creativity

Many experiencers may feel a much greater desire to engage in art, music, dance, or writing.They may become passionate about creating innovations, inventions, or finding cures or solutions. Some may even return with astounding abilities or knowledge in these areas that formerly held no interest for them. By engaging in these areas, many experiencers report feeling more connected with their spiritual selves or with the experience itself.

Increased psychic abilities

Among some of the abilities or gifts an experiencer may report following an STE are being able to communicate with the spiritual realm or with animals, to see or feel or read and/or heal a person’s energy or body, to predict events in the future or know one’s previous lives, to find missing people or objects, etc.These abilities may immediately follow an STE, evolve over time or occur suddenly years later. Some experiencers find these abilities too disturbing or overwhelming and may attempt to shut them down.

Greater empathy and compassion

Many experiences involved life reviews, messages or events that showed them directly how their behavior and attitudes caused others harm. Some were able to feel the emotions of people or spiritual beings around them. Others may have had frightening experiences that motivated them to treat others more kindly. Some experiencers return with the ability to feel others’ emotions or pain. These events or the experience itself, in general, may convince an experiencer of the importance of evaluating their treatment of others and to behave more compassionately and forgiving towards others.

Greater sense of purpose

Many experiencers were told in their experiences that they had a purpose or they developed a desire to know the reason for being born, coming, choosing or being sent back to this earthly reality. Many feel their purpose is to serve others, to better the world, to love or simply to be present and mindful of their actions and the actions around them. Some feel their purpose is highly specific, others feel it is more general. Some may have been told they had a highly specific purpose they must pursue. Many may find more purpose, and meaning in their dreams, synchronistic or unusual events. They may feel and appreciate that everything – even everyday events – happen for a reason.

Loss of the fear of death

For the vast majority of near-death experiencers, in particular, death no longer holds the same meaning. It is no longer viewed as an end, but a transition into a greater, more loving, more beautiful reality.Experiencers may even feel that life on earth is a dream by comparison and that death is an awakening – when one’s spirit is freed from the constraints and pains of the physical body. The afterlife may be viewed as one’s ultimate home, one’s final destination or heavenly rest until one’s next life begins. Not only do they no longer fear death, some may look forward to it. Death in loved ones may not be mourned as deeply. Experiencers may have a sense of relief, gratitude or even joy with anticipation of a loved one’s death.

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