My experience was a dream, but it felt too real to be a dream. I have never questioned this experience the way you would question a dream. I think about it every day, multiple times a day, and it influences everything I think and do. 
I was going through a very rough time in my life. I was having overwhelming depression and anxiety about the pandemic, and about the way society seemed to be coming apart. I felt the only thing I could do was pray. I am not a religious person, but I have seen what comfort faith can be to some people, so I prayed for faith. My mom was raised Catholic even though she chose not to raise me in the Catholic tradition. So, I am aware of religious people who are greatly comforted by faith. Even if they were fooling themselves, I wanted that comfort. This was an unusual thing for me because I really didn't think I was speaking to anyone but myself. I didn't know what else to do because I was so depressed and I was out of resources. A few months into my depression and prayer, I had a dream.
In the dream I became aware that I was looking into the sky through a hole in a canopy of trees. There was a bright light coming through the hole between the branches. It was white and it didn’t hurt to look at it. It reminded me of the sun, but for some reason I knew it was conscious, not just light. It was so bright, but I didn’t look away. As soon as I became aware in the dream, and saw the light through the trees, I felt an overwhelming sense of gratitude. It was instant! I've never felt such a feeling of gratitude. And for what? I don't even know! It was so powerful that I immediately said, "Thank You!" in my mind. I don't know what I was thankful for, but it just seemed to make sense. I’ve never felt this emotion before, but gratitude is the closest I can come. Everything was perfect and I was grateful.
Then the light started to recede; it pulled back a bit and then it torpedoed straight into me! It went straight into my body. It was the most overwhelming experience I’ve ever had. My body just couldn’t take the love, gratitude, or whatever emotion that was. It felt other worldly. It was just too much for my body or mind to handle, and I woke up. I laid in bed, paralyzed, for a few minutes. At first, I thought that I stopped breathing in my sleep and that’s why I saw a light, but I wasn’t gasping for air. And when I examined my body, I was actually quite calm. I just lay there in shock, or amazement, for a long time.
My experience was very brief, but it was the most profound experience of my life. The only thing I can compare it to was the birth of my first child. When my first son was born I felt as though we were one person and it took a few days for me to see him as an individual apart from myself. I didn’t tell anyone about my dream for maybe 6 months or more. It felt too personal and I didn’t think anyone would understand, or I wouldn’t be able to express the emotion I felt.
Of course, I had heard about dying people, “going to the light”, but I thought that was just a joke. I didn’t really connect my experience to the same light until I started researching spiritual topics. I became intensely interested in spirituality after hearing an old lecture from Ram Dass not long after my experience. It all made so much sense! I never would have taken Ram Dass seriously before my experience with that light. But everything he said touched me in such a powerful way. I started reading other teachers like Eckhart Tolle, Deepak Chopra and Richard Rohr. I found out about near death experiences and that’s when I knew that the light that I saw was the same phenomenon that others have seen in NDEs.
I ended up changing my job from music teacher to health teacher. I couldn’t face going back to a job where competition was emphasized. It almost seemed abusive to children, the pressure we put on kids to perform and succeed. It all seems so pointless. I can see now what an important subject health is in schools. I teach children about taking care of themselves, getting along with others, social and emotional topics. It’s almost like my brain has flipped a switch.
Sometimes the gratitude will overwhelm me at random times. I’ll be cooking dinner and I’m overcome with emotion that I have all these resources available to me. An egg is a miraculous thing to have! Or I’ll look at a roomful of children and we all seem to be connected. I once had an overwhelming feeling that my mentally disabled students were very close to God and I have an obligation to treat them with special tenderness.
My relationships have significantly improved since my experience. I have a strong feeling that it is very important not to get angry with people. Even anger that stays in my own mind. When I start to feel irritated, it is quickly replaced with understanding about the other person’s point of view. It used to bother me terribly when someone was mad at me, but now I don’t take it personally and I don’t get defensive. They are going through something that is making them irritable, and I can be there for them emotionally when they are ready.
I don’t really have an outlet to express these feelings. I am constantly reading and watching videos about spirituality, but I hide it from my family. They are tolerant of my experience, but they can only handle so much.
I think the light was trying to tell me to prepare for something by practicing gratitude and love. If I want to be able to handle the emotion that the light showed me when I die, I have to practice gratitude and love as much as possible. I am confident that I will see the light when I die and I need to be prepared.

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