Sara Jayne’s Near-Death Experience: What do you think?

Sara Jayne is a cardiac diagnostic imaging specialist with over 20 years’ experience in the medical field. After being diagnosed with a life-threatening autoimmune disease, she underwent a profound near-death experience (her second), which turned her life around. She now works in Mind-Body Medicine and Applied Neuroscience, delivering mindfulness-based health & wellbeing programs, workshops and retreats. On a recent episode of Passion Harvest Podcast, Sara Jayne shared her story with the host, Luisa, who had the very good sense to let her speak without interruption. Sara Jayne’s Near-Death Experience testimony (which begins at 18:00) was the most beautiful I’ve ever seen. I was impressed by her modesty, her frank admission that what she saw makes no medical sense, and the powerful transformative effect her experience has had on her life. What do readers think?

For the benefit of those who would prefer to read what Sara Jayne went through, I’ve written a summary of her story.

Sara Jayne’s medical background

Sara Jayne worked in specialty cardio-imaging along with her father (whom she trained with) for a period of 20 years. Shortly before the birth of her second baby, she suffered a hematoma, was taken to surgery and had her first near-death experience on the operating table delivering her son. Her consciousness floated out of her body and she encountered her grandfather, who told her that it was not her time, and that she had to go back. She also accurately remembered what was said by the surgeons on the operating table. For two months, she was unable to sit up, but she didn’t let that discourage her, and eventually went back to work. However, she continued to suffer from inflammation of her heart.

How health problems triggered her second NDE

She fell pregnant again three-and-a-half years later, suffered a stroke, and had to relearn how to talk. When she turned 40, she started feeling exhausted and suffering from brain fog. She was diagnosed with severe autoimmune disease which attacked her heart, rejecting it as a foreign body. That started a ten-year battle, during which the disease also attacked her brain. She suffered from meningitis and was in severe pain. All treatments failed. She finally began aggressive chemotherapy, but that failed too. She tried taking very high doses of a drug, which stabilized her condition. She was then allowed to go home, to wait for an experimental drug that she’d applied for. At home, she was able to spend time with her three children, but she couldn’t interact with them much, as she was very ill and in a lot of pain.

One morning, she woke up with the inexplicable feeling that it was going to be her last day. Her husband brought the children home from school, and they sat on her bed. Her bedroom was dark, and by now, she had no hair, because of her chemotherapy. Looking back, Sara Jayne remembers drinking in every moment of being with her children. They went to bed at 8:30 p.m. Her husband asked her if she was OK. She told him matter-of-factly that she wouldn’t be here tomorrow. Alarmed, her husband then asked her if she wanted to go to hospital, but she wanted to die in bed. To allay his concerns, she promised her husband that she would go to the emergency ward in a city hospital if she felt unwell tomorrow. Her husband, despite trying to stay awake, ended up nodding off. Sara Jayne then felt her body shutting down. That was when her second near-death experience started.

Leaving her body

Bizarre as it may seem, Sara Jayne recalls that her energy, or consciousness, left her body through her feet. As it did so, her pain disappeared. She felt at peace and was able to look down at her body and observe it. She was still thinking thoughts. She was struck by the thought that her body didn’t really look like her. Even though she was no longer in a body, she still felt a strong sense of her own identity: “It was no different to being in the body, only I wasn’t. I was just me.” (20:27)

Encountering God’s Love

Sara Jayne then experienced a transition to a different dimension, where she saw a magnificent bright white light that was emanating everywhere and that had no source. It was the most beautiful love. She describes it as follows:

I knew the light was Love. I knew it was Consciousness. I knew it was where I had come from. I knew it was part of me. I knew it was where I returned to, and I knew it was the foundation of everything.” (21:40)

The light was more powerful than anything she’d met on Earth: pure unconditional, non-judgmental love. She came to understand that God is Love.

Meeting her spirit guides and going through the life review

Sara Jayne then encountered three beings (a Master and two assistants) that she knew were spirit guides, guiding her through each incarnation. She was able to communicate with them telepathically. She then underwent a life review where she was not only able to able to view scenes from her life, but experience them from both her own perspective and that of others who were present. She felt the impact, both positive and negative, of her words on others. She came to understand that the intent behind her words was what was important. The experience seemed to take a long time. When it ended, the guides receded.

Meeting her father

Sara Jayne was then made aware of her father’s energy. Her father had passed away a few months previously. He was 92 when he died, but he looked like he did when he was 35. They communicated telepathically. She then witnessed an unfolding of consciousness.

Healing from the suffering of this life

Her father then receded, and her spirit guides led her into a room. It was a curved, semicircular enclosure, which turned out to be a healing chamber. She was then directed to the center, where she met three other beings in addition to her guides. She was told she’d be having a healing from all that her soul had gone through in this life. Despite not speaking, the beings emitted a vibrational frequency. At the end of the healing, she was told to go back out through the entrance, where she met her father again. Sara Jayne now acknowledges that other NDE experiencers will have had different experiences from hers. As she puts it: “I didn’t know what NDEs were, and I didn’t understand anything about them, but now I understand everyone has a different experience, and that was mine.” (38:40)

Confronted with a choice: stay on the other wide or go back to her body?

Her father then indicated that they had to go off in a different direction, where she saw everyone she’d ever known in her lifetime who had passed away – the relatives on her father’s side were on her left, and those on her mother’s side were on her right. She felt welcomed. As she progressed further, she became aware of an energetic threshold. She knew that if she stepped over it, she wouldn’t be going back. She turned to her father and he told her she had a choice: stay with him and be free of pain, or go back to her body and suffer pain. Neither choice was wrong. She instantly decided that she had to go back, because she wanted to be with her children.

Back in the body again: Sara Jayne’s surprising recovery

Sara Jayne felt herself falling in freefall, back into her body. As she was falling, she felt as if she were plugged into Consciousness. She was able to download insights about time, space and energy, and past lives. Her body, when she returned, felt dense, heavy and hard. She felt constricted, as if she were wearing tight jeans. She struggled to breathe, and that woke her sleeping husband up. He felt her pulse, and asked if she was OK. She answered that she was. However, she was in immense pain. She was taken to hospital, and managed to finally receive the experimental treatment she’d been seeking: an infusion continuing over a period of months. She then went into remission, and has remained that way for the past four years. She is now able to run, swim, and live a normal life.

Sara Jayne says that she didn’t talk about her experience much when she came back, as she feared ridicule from her medical colleagues. She kept it to herself until she told a friend. In addition, she needed time to process what she’d experienced.

The realization she reached

“We exist beyond this, and we’re all one, part of one Consciousness. We’re all individual aspects of it. That we’re all connected, and the main thing I’ve come back with is: we’re all just Love. It’s really simple. We’re all individual aspects of Love, and we all express ourselves in so many beautiful different ways, but at the foundation, we’re all here to be Love for each other, and be Love, not a burb(?), just to be Love, to express Love, to be whatever our purpose is, do it in service of others, and with Love as your intent…” (50:26)

Her attitude to suffering

“We all have challenging experiences where it may be a little bit hard to turn to Love as our intent, but I think we’re given opportunities in life to help us remember who we are, and remember what we are, and remember where we came from, and what we’re here to be. And I think those opportunities sometimes turn up as an illness, or as loss, and they are perceived as challenges, or suffering, or pain, but they’re portals to opportunities to remembering what our true essence is, and I think I have a very different perspective of what a decade or a little bit more. Processing my NDE was … I don’t call it suffering. I look at it all now as lots of lovely opportunities to remember that I am Love and I am Compassion.” (51:33)

Her personal ethic, in the light of her near-death experience

“I try very hard now, and that’s why I’ve actually made a necklace, and what I have inscribed on it is: ‘What would Love do?’ And in those challenging moments, I now hold it, and every question I now answer with that question. What would Love do here? What would Love say? How would Love turn out? How would it have me act? How would Love have me be in this moment? And I try very hard to anchor into that all the time, now. And I guess that’s my main intent.” (52:52).

Sara Jayne is currently in the process of writing two books. Her Website is and she has just launched a podcast, called Soul to Soul Conversations, with Karina Machado. She also has a charity for auto-immune sufferers. She regards herself as a healer, and she believes the soul communicates with the body via the heart through our somatic experiences, in order to give us feelings which can guide us.

She now counsels people, “Live your life with passion,” and encourages people to master awareness of their awareness.

Questions to ponder:

(1) What do you think is the best explanation for Sara Jayne’s NDE? The best skeptical explanation I’ve been able to find is one put forward by Dr. Jack Wathey, a computational biologist whose research interests include evolutionary algorithms and the biology of nervous systems, in his books, The Illusion of God’s Presence – The Biological Origins of Spiritual Longing and The Phantom God: What Neuroscience Reveals about the Compulsion to Believe. In a nutshell, Dr. Wathey explains the NDE as a supernormal stimulus which the dying brain is irresistibly drawn to.

(2) Although Sara Jayne does not elaborate on the details, her experience contains features which some might regard as metaphysically off-the-wall: spirit guides, encounters with dead relatives, and past lives. Do you think these detract from the veracity of her experience, or do you think we should maintain an open mind? For my part, after having viewed dozens of NDE reports over the past year, I’m now more open to the idea of reincarnation, but I freely acknowledge that the idea is problematic, for a variety of philosophical, theological and ethical reasons (see here and here).

(3) What do you think of Sara Jayne’s personal ethic (“What would Love do?”), which has transformed the way she interacts with others? Do you think it is practical for everyone to live according to such an ethic? Why or why not?

(4) Sara Jayne regards suffering as an opportunity to learn. Do you think this “learning paradigm” applies to all varieties of suffering? For example, do you think Sara Jayne’s approach to suffering would be of any consolation to Jewish victims of Hamas atrocities, or Gazan victims of Israeli bombings? Are there some forms of suffering that simply make no sense?

(5) What do you make of the light of Love that Sara Jayne encountered?

Over to you.

14 thoughts on “Sara Jayne’s Near-Death Experience: What do you think?

  1. People of many cultures have had out-of-body experiences, often induced by purposeful actions such as sleep deprivation, long rhythmic dancing, drugs, etc, and that have been psychologically transformative. I had three experiences of this broad category, drug induced, 50 some years ago, and some of the understandings have stayed with me all my life. I think that such experiences may/do say something about how our everyday consciousness is not all that our consciousness is capable of, but I think these are psychological experiences with culturally-mediated content, not genuine experiences of what life after death might mean.

  2. I also think there are some deep commonalities arising from the human condition that are cross-cultural in their general form but not in their specific content. For instance, it is a fact the life can have great positive emotions and great negative, painful ones, and that, since human beings are learning creatures, that we can learn and grow from both. That doesn’t somehow add a positive to suffering itself, or in no way excuse or mitigate in any way terrible suffering such as is going on in Israel and Palestine. But people have tremendous resilience (which sometimes breaks), and find ways to live with the suffering because giving up and dying is the alternative.

  3. Hi aleta,

    Thank you for sharing your experiences. I agree that caution is warranted when interpreting NDEs, and I would also say you’re right about human resilience. If you don’t mind, I have a couple of questions for you:

    (i) Many NDEers describe their experience as being even more real than everyday reality. Would you say that about your own psychologically transformative experiences?

    (ii) Many NDEers say they were able to feel how their words and deeds had impacted other people, for good or ill. Have you ever experienced anything like that?


  4. Thanks for the questions, vj. Here are some comments

    1. My experiences were not as extreme as the ones you describe, and definitely were not “near death” experiences. However, I had three transformative experiences that left me with some deep understandings that have continued to influence significant parts of my life and to inform important philosophical aspects of my everyday consciousness.

    One experience was an immersion in the extremely rich nature of reality: every aspect of the natural world (spending a day along a shallow creek in the Ozarks) was vibrantly uniquely alive with existence. Hard to describe (of course), but that sense opened me up to the natural world and even today I occasionally have “magical moments” while out in nature where these feelings return a bit.

    The second experience was mystical: I experienced how every moment of the entire universe was a whole, moving from one moment to the other, and that the components parts of reality I experienced in my everyday life were illusory abstract fragments created in my mind but not really separate in reality.

    Interestingly enough, these two experiences were on opposite ends of a spectrum, and both perspectives have lived with me: both that the world is full of minute detail, each piece no matter how small having a unique reality and existence and that, on the other hand, all those unique details are part of a comprehensive whole.

    My third experience was of a personal higher being from which a sense of serving others flowed. This was not the Christian God (I have been a non-believer all my adult life), but rather, looking back, more like an experience of a Buddhist or Hindu connection were universal compassion. I have no belief in an external higher being of this sort, but do feel that this sense of compassion and service is something that can be found within our deepest psychological natures, and is a feeling that I have manifested and actuated in my life.

    As to your second question, have I experience how my words and deeds had impacted other people, for good or ill, my answer is of course, although I can’t think how they have been for ill. I’ve know I lived my life, in my careers, community activities, relationships with family and friends, etc. in ways related to the three experiences I mentioned as well as a lifetime of exploring in various ways the themes that arose in those experiences.

    Thanks for the questions. It’s been a pleasure to write this brief summary.

  5. I watched a few minutes (of the 59 min video). Not sure if it would be a good investment of my time.
    Regarding all the words written about it, I would be maybe impressed if there was just the slightest bit of evidence that something interesting/unexplained was happening. but all we seem to have, yet again, are the emotional thoughts of someone who is suffering a serious medical crisis. Sure, she came out convinced that the universe is love, that her father thinks she is not ready, etc etc, but is there a single fact from this incident that should cause us to question our current understanding of things? So yes, the account is quite moving, and I wish her well, but other than that, whats the point ?

  6. graham2,

    Hi Graham
    I agree someone with a materialist world view will be skeptical of NDE experiences. If you are coming from a theistic world view as I am then the stories seem to be compatible within the biblical context of an afterlife. The interesting thing to me is the common themes in most the NDE recollections.

  7. As I said above, these kind of experiences happen to people in all cultures, often purposefully induced, and the themes reflect the cultural backgrounds of the person involved. Of course a Christian is going to have an experience consonant with their conception of an after life, but the experience of a person from another background will be different, and reflect their background. No surprises here, but these are not evidence of something external to the culturallly-embedded aspects of their psychology.

    Try reading about the analogous experiences of Buddhists, Native Anericans, Australian aborigenes, etc. A background in comparative anthropology will make this clear.

  8. aleta:
    As I said above, these kind of experiences happen to people in all cultures, often purposefully induced, and the themes reflect the cultural backgrounds of the person involved.

    I don’t know how well this is going to work, but it is a graphic illustration of your point. I don’t know how to expand this image.

  9. Hi aleta, graham2, colewd and Flint,

    A couple of quick comments:

    (i) There is some objective evidence for the reality of the out-of-body experiences during NDEs. Here’s a good link:

    (ii) It is not necessarily the case that people’s experiences during an NDE reflect their religious upbringing. For instance, I have viewed videos of Christians who have turned New Age after their NDE, Hindus and Muslims who have turned Christian, and agnostics and atheists who have turned into theists. Not all NDEers refer to God in the same way: some regard Him as a Personal Being (a Heavenly Father), while others just refer to God as Source. Many NDEers come to regard each human individual as an aspect of the infinite God, while others still think of themselves as very distinct and fallible individuals. Some good people end up having hellish experiences, while some people who have led bad lives have heavenly experiences. Go figure.

  10. Hi everyone,

    From a psychological aspect, another remarkable feature of NDEs is their ability to bring about life-changing transformations (e.g. the acquisition of positive new habits; giving up destructive old habits) in a matter of minutes. Usually, this sort of transformation takes years, if not decades. The recent NDE of Jacob King illustrates this point. Here, he tells his story of how he recovered from a drug overdose and a traumatic childhood, to lead a new life in which the old desires no longer have a hold on him because he is no longer ego-driven, as his sense of self has completely changed (23 minutes):

    Make of it what you will.

  11. Thanks for the reply, vjt.

    Two comments.

    There is a distinction, I think, between possible “paranormal” experiences which point to consciousness being quite more than we think it is based on everyday experience, on the one hand, and such experiences being truly about what is metaphysically “beyond death”, if anything. The fact that many people have had such experiences under the extremity of being near death doesn’t cover similar experiences which people world-wide over the ages have had from other extreme conditions such as drug use, rhythmic dancing, extreme fasting, etc.

    I personally am open to consciousness being considerably different from our everyday conceptions of it but quite skeptical that the experiences of something really “out there”, metaphysically.

    Which brings me to my second point. I don’t doubt that some people’s religious orientation has changed due to their experiences, but I would guess that they had had experience of alternate religious or philosophical positions in their life: their knowledge of Buddhism, for instance, didn’t just come out of a vacuum which any prior experience with Buddhist thought.

    I also think that there are some commonalities among all human beings that underlie the cultural content of our experiences, one notable one being the ability of many to have, under various conditions, an ecstatic and profound sense of deep understanding of what they think is central to the world. However, as you point, they vary across the whole religious and philosophical spectrum.

    I’ll make my perspective explicit. My original college degree was in anthropology with an emphasis on religion and belief systems. I have studied religion in various ways over the years (including Christianity, Eastern religions, and “primitive” religions), as well as philosophy (especially metaphysics and the philosophy of both math and science) and psychology. I have spent many hours discussing, debating, and/or arguing about these topics. I have thought deeply about what they mean to my life and my desire to be a good, useful human being.

    My firm belief, supported, I believe, by lots of evidence, is that all religions are cultural inventions, valuable sociologically and psychologically in ways, but not actually true ontologically. None of the gods envisioned by humans exist, nor are the stories related to them true.

  12. aleta:
    I personally am open to consciousness being considerably different from our everyday conceptions of it but quite skeptical that the experiences of something really “out there”, metaphysically.

    My take is, consciousness involves some serious evolutionary trade-offs. There is great benefit to be had from visualization, from creativity, from thinking abstractly, from deriving the general from the particular to see patterns and trends. Unfortunately, the downside is we necessarily live in a world of false positives. We “see” gods that aren’t there, life after death without evidence, conspiracies under every bed. We impose patterns on all we observe, seeing faces in the clouds, biological shapes in the constellations, imputed motivations behind random events. And these are entailed by the nature of our consciousness. Creativity and madness are inextricably paired.

  13. The same or similar experience have been reported by both many patients and neurosurgeons with deep brain stimulations…

  14. I saw what some people would call the UFO. My son and I were ignoring the Sun eclipse but eventually we did looked at it. At some point something “flew by” at at speed 10-20 times faster than a regular plane leaving chemtrials for a fraction of a second…

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