“Death is part of life”. I don’t remember exactly when I first heard or read this sentence – it still impresses me today. It is so simple and so true. People who are afraid of death are often also afraid of ‘real’ life, not daring to really live what they want to live. On the other hand, I have met people who have made their peace with death, who lived their lives impressively intensively, clearly and respectfully, shaping them according to their own ideas and not asking what others might think of them. “Fear eats up the soul” – another phrase … the title of a feature film by Rainer Werner Fassbinder that has etched itself deeply into my memory. Fear makes us small, manipulable, it is the opposite of love, and it has many faces. The worst things in this world happen out of fear.
When I tell about my encounters with death, it may seem painful at first glance, but at second glance it makes clear how positive they were for my development. Death had a great influence on the way I lead my life, on my self-image, on my inner attitude towards life – and in the end it brought me deep joy of life and trust in the meaningfulness of all events.
Already as a child I could ‘see’ or better: feel dead people, just like my sister, but I rejected this rigorously, because it simply frightened me. This was also not diminished by my first experience with death: My beloved hamster, of which I had dreamed in the night, lay one morning as if frozen in its cage. My father and I then buried the poor thing in a cookie jar in the woods. For a long time I didn’t want to know anything about death – and pushed it and its apparitions aside. I thought I had thrown myself fully into life, until my father died “suddenly and unexpectedly” (as one reads in obituaries) in a motorcycle accident at the age of 49. Although already 27 years old, this was a disturbing event for me, which changed my point of view towards my past, present and future life direction – and released completely new energies in me, suddenly made me feel what is in me and where I want to go with it. Death set me in motion, let me end my relationship – and also go through other, necessary and fundamental changes relatively easily. In other words, death showed me my personal life force.
And then suddenly these phenomena were there again: Especially in the first three nights after the accidental death of my father, I felt his presence, this cool breeze on my skin, smelled leather and motorcycle exhaust fumes in the hallway, perceived these diffuse movements behind and beside me, could communicate with birds that suddenly no longer flew away when I stepped onto the balcony of my parents’ bedroom, where they had built a nest – or when I lay on the meadow to take a break from the family chaos. I was not the only one who doubted my sanity in between – and I had that fear again, of death and its dead, the incomprehensible. I explained to myself that it was probably due to the emotional stress that I was hallucinating, imagining all sorts of things in order to be able to cope better with the pain. If it hadn’t been for my friend, who had the same or very similar perceptions. And if it hadn’t been for my well-known and fearless curiosity, which wanted to know what exactly was going on.
So I began to do research. As a student of ethnology in Heidelberg, I had access to a wealth of literature about death, dying and the countless ways of dealing with it that exist all over the world. And as a freelance journalist for many years, I had learned to report on rather difficult topics. So I wrote my master’s thesis on “Dealing with dying and death in Germany. A field study at the hospice association in Würzburg” – and first moved back home. This phase of life was characterized on the one hand by the self-imposed responsibility for the now ‘headless’ family, and on the other hand by an irrepressible lust for life, which I tried to live out in an ‘easy rider existence’. I spent my free time on the road, many kilometers across Germany, France, Spain, the Czech Republic, on the pillion of my new partner’s motorcycle or at rocker parties. And if you’re on the lookout, you sometimes get lost in the process. Again I was busy with many things, but not with myself and my life path. And again death changed my life.
August 20, 2000, a scorching hot Sunday, which made me – before we got on the new Harley in the morning, in jeans and barefoot in biker boots – quickly cut off the sleeves of the shirt, so that the wind could cool my skin directly. Oh, this is freedom,’ I thought to myself. And then leisurely off in the direction of Franconian Switzerland. To this day, it is not clear how the accident happened. Police research indicates that we overbraked, the motorcycle, which was traveling slowly but could no longer be tamed, slid toward the oncoming tractor and its two fully loaded trailers, I landed underneath it and, after the tractor had rolled me over, I became entangled there and was dragged along for about seven meters.
Later, in a police photograph, I see myself sitting on the road leaning against the huge tractor tire, just as if everything was all right. I know I was not in pain, saw paramedics and a helicopter land, and wondered what was going on that everyone around me was so upset. To my right, my friend was lying in the street, awake and in the midst of a lot of blood, and when I answered his frantic question about how I was doing, suddenly everything went dark. And then I was gone.
It was only much later that the ‘images’ came back, which I now know are part of many near-death experiences in this or a similar form. My perspective had changed, and I saw the accident site from above, from the point of view of a bird sitting on a tree. And after I was sure that my friend was well taken care of, and I had nothing more to do, I turned away, felt myself being pulled upwards frantically, and within a split second I was facing an incredibly bright light. A previously unknown feeling of warmth, security, safety, freedom from pain and worry, joy, love, lightness spread through me, through my almost formless being. I felt like a ‘light-energy-ball’, which rests highly concentrated and yet completely free in itself – and at the same time is in connection with all being.
Today I call this the state of being-all-one, which one can experience in very good, but rather rare moments also here on earth. A fulfilled, serene, desireless state, which I by no means wanted to give up. But then a light blow on the top of my skull surprised me and sent me tumbling back towards earth. I felt like a crashing bird that spun around itself, then landed on the earth and suddenly had very hot claws – the asphalt was blistering from the heat on this midsummer day. In this perception the borders of the worlds blurred…
I really woke up again in the intensive care unit. I still remember that first intense fear that I might have lost my left eye because I couldn’t see anything when I opened my eyes. But it was just the swelling. Polytrauma was the diagnosis – so it didn’t look so good. Broken or fractured thoracic vertebrae I thought was the trickiest thing because that could have meant, if the bones didn’t hold or grow back together, that I would have had to spend the rest of my life in a wheelchair. There, in that blinding white, tender light, I had learned that I had to come back to earth, my time was not up yet, my life was not over. Since then I know that fear – and many other things – is an illusion, although it also grips me from time to time. What this means in all consequences became clearer to me only in the following two years, which I needed for the way back to my ‘normal life’ – and it still becomes clear today.
So while I was learning to walk again in various rehab centers, I gradually understood what being human could be about. And I brought back from the other world a “mission” – another oddity reported by many who have had a near-death experience. For me it is, on the one hand, to tell every person who wants to know, that death does exist as the end of earthly being, that is, of the physical body, but not as the end of our actual being. We ‘only’ go back, home, dissolve in and become part of the cosmic or divine being again. Fear of death is therefore unnecessary. Secondly, we (still) possess unimaginable powers, which every human being can find and use within himself – if he trusts himself, life, his inner voice, and if he can allow this ‘self-efficacy’, this ‘inner doctor’ to become active. If we are interested in how we can encourage and support this ‘health maker’ and ‘life shaper’, how we can take our life into our own hands, we will also learn which techniques and methods are available and which of them is the right one in each case. Reiki is one – and my most important.
I also radically changed my life after this second, even more intense encounter with death. I set out again on a search – but not, as last time, on the outside, but on the inside, in the depths. I wanted to know “what holds the world together” (Goethe), what I had experienced ‘up there’, what was true about these memories, the images from my near-death experience, and how others who had had this experience had fared. And above all, I wanted to know what I could do to avoid having to go through life in a wheelchair. And this time, I began to find. I found books, techniques, teachers, read about self-healing, did education and training. I began my professional reorientation by training as a non-medical practitioner for psychotherapy, learned hypnotherapy, various relaxation techniques, learned to look at the knowledge from my studies in a completely different way again – and early on in the post-accident period, in 2001, I encountered Reiki. Until today my most important mainstay and my greatest teacher, even though I have made a variety of different, valuable education and training.
My Reiki. “Simple, effective, honest” is how I summarize it today. It explains so much – and yet leaves so much room for everyone to keep and live their own truth. It is uncomplicated in its application, direct, a source of impulses and inspiration, profound and lasting, gentle and powerful in its effects. Reiki connects with any other knowledge, if you want it to. And so, as a “hunter-gatherer”, I collected a lot of traditional and modern healing knowledge in the meantime (and still do), in order to finally combine it into a new whole in ‘my’ Intuitive Reiki. Meanwhile I was allowed to accompany hundreds of people with Reiki and to train them in Reiki. What a gift of life – or death? – to me that I am allowed to do this!
First published in Reiki Magazine, issue 1/14
You can also find this text in my new book published in 2021: “Ein Leben mit Reiki. Erlebnisberichte von Reiki AnwenderInnen”.