Dying sounds pretty good, to be honest. You get to float about outside your body, feel painless and happy, and you may even see Paradise itself. The only drawback is that pesky part at the end where you never wake up again.
But for a surprising amount of people, death is not the once-in-a-lifetime event it claims to be. Near-death experiences (NDEs), where people get perilously close to the Great Beyond only to get pulled back at the last second, have been described around the globe for eons. But despite – or more likely because of – our inability to find a definitive explanation, NDEs remain one of the most fascinating phenomena in the human experience.
There’s an obvious problem when it comes to studying NDEs scientifically. Researchers can’t predict when someone is going to suddenly die – not without a few major ethics violations, anyway – so studies on NDEs usually have to take the form of hunting down people who’ve had them and asking what it was like.
But there might be another way to study NDEs in humans. A study published this year in the journal Mindfulness has found a group of people who can apparently induce near-death experiences at will: Buddhist monks highly proficient in meditation.