Meditation Techniques and the Near Death Experience
We'd like to begin by saying what meditation is, for so many confuse the meditation techniques with the goal.
Purely and simply, meditation is a method or technique to tune up your instrument of body, mind and emotion to more clearly perceive Reality. Instead of thinking it's some magical, mystical mystery trip, it might be easier, at first, for you to think of yourself as a technician or mechanic getting to know your 'machinery', then you won't be so likely to be distracted by the mystery.
Perceiving Reality might be variously described as expanding consciousness, knowing your true nature or knowing God.
What method is best? Well, it is said the Buddha taught over 84,000 methods himself. There are also very systematized versions of meditation described by karma yoga, bhakti yoga, raja yoga, etc. Then you have various Shamanic traditions which have their methods, various religions have their methods and you find you have quite a large selection to choose from. Some meditations are active, some are passive.
Some meditation techniques aim at purification, relaxation, increasing energy, mindfulness, etc. Some go all the way to cosmic consciousness, Nirvana, Samhadi... there are as many names for the "absolute" state of consciousness as there are people trying to "get there".
What is it to move to a new level of consciousness? Well, you might want to be conscious during dream-state or even conscious during the death state. Most of humankind is conscious only during ordinary waking consciousness, and experiences a "void" even during sleep. If that's you, the reason you experience this void is because you haven't learned to be conscious during that state. Consciousness itself is universal and doesn't sleep or die, but we are normally "unaware" of its full extent without training.
Through meditation you can realize and be aware of many states of consciousness. Many of you may be familiar with the books dealing with "going to the light" in near death experiences. We can assure you from personal experience you don't have to have a N.D.E. to have the "going to the light" experience. We don't write about these events very often because too many people get caught up in talking about the experience itself rather than trying it themselves. What's important is not whether your experience was weirder than another's, but how you have changed as a result of it.
We've also just read a Reuters article about a British doctor, Sam Parnia, who studied 63 patients who were revived after being declared clinically dead. Since 4 of the patients reported lucid memories of thinking, reasoning, moving about and communicating with others, the doctor concluded that consciousness doesn't die and that the brain is merely a receiving station for consciousness. Not a big surprise to anyone who's practiced meditation!
After you've meditated for a while you'll be aware of more of Reality simply by becoming more intimate and subtle with your physical senses. It's not much different from how, without a microscope we wouldn't be aware of all the bugs crawling on your skin right now, or how without a telescope you cannot see into the further reaches of the universe. However, you won't need instruments to experience your new awareness.
After some of these experiences your language may change, instead of "life after death" you might find yourself saying "consciousness in death". Meditation is not just pondering your belly button or clearing your mind of thoughts. Those are simply meditation techniques. Meditation is learning how to expand into your true nature.