For most of her life, Lynn Russell (www.lynnkrussell.com) has been a student and experiencer of a variety of spiritual phenomena. And for 28 years, Lynn was a professional family counselor and loved every minute of it. But when Dr. Jeffery Long of NDERF.org asked for help in researching his vast online database of NDE testimonies, she didn’t hesitate to accept the challenge on the spot. From her research of over 2,500 NDEs, Lynn discovered profound and consistent insights about life and what happens afterward. Through divine inspiration, she published her findings in a book, The Wonder of You: What the Near-Death Experience Tells You About Yourself. Her mission is to share these profound insights – backed up with scientific evidence – to give readers a greater understanding of their own spiritual journey. Her book is filled with thought-provoking answers to humanity’s ongoing quest to better understand the true nature of our existence and to gain a better perspective of the many paths we travel as individuals.
1. Lynn Russell’s Out-of-Body Experience
In May of 1973, shortly after college ended for my second year, I had three magnificent spiritual experiences. Actually, I see them more as episodes that in the end, linked together into one. They blew me away and taught me great insights. In sharing these experiences, I find it difficult to find the right words. Words are extremely poor tools to relate such deep learning.
Each of these events occurred in the middle of the day. My children, Leah and Brad were at school and three-year-old Gwen was down for her afternoon nap. They all happened on different days and always when I was busy doing housework.
The first episode occurred while I was doing dishes. Just above the sink was a window and beyond the window in the yard stood an old fruit tree. Its gnarled branches twisted and turned in awkward directions. I looked out that window at the tree so many times that I ceased paying attention to it. On this particular day I suddenly had the overwhelming and unquestionable feeling that the tree and I were one. I’m not talking about a simple kinship with the tree; I have felt that many times. This time, I became the tree, and the tree became me.
I was overwhelmed with a feeling of great joy and connectedness to all of life. Within the exuberant happiness I had a feeling as though everything was in its proper place and all was humming along, as it should.
Standing with my hands dripping with suds, I thought of various other forms of life; fish in the ocean, lions and elephants in Africa, the bird that sat in the tree and the bug the bird was about to eat. Whatever form of life I thought of, I became so enmeshed with it that I was not able to tell where the creature began and I ended. It felt as though whatever life forms I thought of and myself were identical! There simply was no separation.
That was the end of the first installment in a series of three. While the whole experience lasted less than a minute, it had a lasting effect on me. I no longer saw the world in the same light. I knew deep in the center of my being that everything in the world was wonderfully connected in a way I did not yet understand. When it was over, I was thrilled. I felt extremely privileged as though I had been invited to view one of the mysteries of the universe.
The next piece of the puzzle came a few days later while I was completely unprepared. Again, it was the afternoon. I was doing housework and the house was quiet. This time, I was washing fingerprints from the hall walls. My mind was on anything but spiritual things, yet, as unexpected as before, it was as if my conscious thought was being taken over by something beyond me.
In this second experience, I was intensely aware of an atom in my mind. I visualized the atom’s nucleus with the electrons spinning around the core as though they had a consciousness and knew exactly what they were to do. The planning and order of the phenomenon of an atom seemed to dominate my awareness.
Without warning, my vision changed. I was now viewing our solar system with the sun in the center and the planets spinning around. Again, I found myself concentrating on the deliberate order, rhythm and planning of what I was viewing. Inexplicably, I seemed to know without a doubt there was intelligence behind all I was being shown. I knew deep in my soul that the order and planning of the universe was not just an accident.
The visions continued to expand until I felt as though I was looking at the micro and macro universe simultaneously. Over and over the same message was being given to me. The order and rhythm of everything in the universe is not accidental. There is intelligence and planning behind all that is.
At this point I got a message that kept me wondering for many years. I did not hear a voice, yet the information came to me in such a powerful way I was completely unable to dispute or deny it in any way. It was so strong it hit me in the center of my gut. “Your being is intricately connected with the operation of the universe!”
It was such a strong knowing that I was powerless against it. Still, I don’t have delusions of grandeur. I know when it comes to the universe I’m smaller than a speck of dust. So how could my being have anything to do with the operation of the universe? It took me eleven long years to realize that we are all a part of a magnificent Oneness. It is through our connection with this Oneness that we each play a part in the operation of the universe.
The final experience was even more vibrant and with deeper learning, if that is possible. As before, it too came in the afternoon when the house was quiet. It was several days, or perhaps even a week, after the last event and was fully unexpected.
I had just finished picking up the children’s toys in the living room when the final experience occurred. Standing in the middle of the room, I scrunched down to see if there were any toys under the couch or chair. I do not understand how it happened, or why. All I know is that without warning there was a presence in the room with me. I did not see anything, yet it was undeniable, I was not alone. I felt as though I was engulfed in an enormous blanket of more love, peace and joy than I could ever come close to describing. This overwhelming love was being directed right at me.
Next, I felt as though I had an umbilical cord in my stomach, connecting me to the presence. It was then I heard actual words. The words were external to me and seemed to come from my right. The voice said, “This is where you came from and this is where you will return.”
Then, just as suddenly as it began, the experience was over. No other events followed.
When I think back to the experiences as a whole, I believe that the entire experience was designed to teach me about the Oneness of all. I have come to realize that if we are all one and there is planning, order and an intelligence within the operation of the universe, then we must all be connected to that Intelligence the Oneness.
For months I walked several feet off the ground in ecstasy. Nothing bothered me, not even my father. Before these experiences I was terrified of dying. At night I lay in bed working myself into a worried mess, knowing that eventually I would have to die and there was nothing I could do to stop it. After these events I looked forward to dying. Not that I became suicidal. Still, I knew when the day came it would be a positive experience.
Another change happened after my spiritual experience. I was a serious nail biter. My nails were bitten back so far that I could not chew any more. When I ran out of nail to work on, I chewed the skin around the nails. They looked like bleeding, gnawed, piggy fingers. After these beautiful experiences, one day I looked down at my hands and I had nails. I do not recall stopping myself from biting them. It just seemed to happen unassisted.
2. Kevin Williams’ Brief Analysis of Russell’s OBE
In my opinion, Lynn’s third experience was an out-of-body experience. She felt a presence which was connected to an umbilical cord. This is a clear reference to her becoming aware of her so-called “astral” or “soul” body tethered to her physical body. The umbilical cord Lynn saw attached to her body is known as the “silver cord.” It also appears that her experience was a spontaneous OBE which either bordered on an NDE or may have been an actual NDE. Whatever the case, she certainly experienced the out-of-body phenomenon and the astral realm. As it is with spontaneous OBEs, spontaneous NDEs also happen. For example, I remember watching a British NDE documentary on television describing a spontaneous NDE reported by an elderly British woman. She was merely sitting in a chair reading a book when suddenly she found herself out of her body and looking down on herself. She then flew out into space and had a classic NDE. Then at some point, she immediately found herself back in her body, dazed and amazed. So, these kind of experiences can happen spontaneously when you don’t expect it. However, such experiences are not common.
Lynn’s experience had the side-effect of taking away her habit of chewing your fingernails – a habit often associated with anxiety. Side-effects such as this are very common because NDEs and OBEs are often profound and life-changing.
3. How Lynn Russell Learned God Wanted to Use Her
Can we say no to God? I did.
An enticing slice of sun shone through my window and tickled my longing to be out in it. I was at my desk busily writing a report on a family I’d recently closed. It had almost been a year since I’d joined the Family Therapy Program and I was becoming comfortable with my job. Still, according to Rob Tomlinson, I wasn’t there yet. “It’s not good enough to know this material in your head. It takes a good two years of working in the field to be able to think in families.”
He was right, I wasn’t to the point of thinking in families; I wasn’t even sure what that meant until I’d been working in the field long enough to understand. In the meanwhile, Rob was there to offer his encouragement and support.
When I was struggling with a family, I was comfortable going to him knowing he would willingly help me. “What does your tummy tell you?” he asked. “What are you feeling about the situation in your bones?”
After I explained what I thought, he encouraged me to listen to those feelings and follow what they were telling me. It was, he said, the best indicator of all.
On this particular day, I hunched over my report and concentrated on what I was doing. Suddenly, I clearly heard a voice speak to me in my head.
“I want to use you,” it told me.
A flood of emotions smashed through me with a loud crash of chaotic jumble. I was alone in the office and immediately jumped up to open the door and make sure no one had spoken beyond that barrier. The hallway was empty and quiet. It appeared that most of my co-workers were off seeing their clients or working quietly in their offices. In truth, it hadn’t really been necessary to check the hall; I knew instantly where the voice had come from. Still, I didn’t want to acknowledge that reality.
Slowly I closed the door and returned to my seat while confusion, apprehension and unreasoned fear danced in my mind. I wanted to reject the whole thing. Alarm for my sanity rolled around in my thoughts. Then again, I thought, I was perfectly sane a moment before I heard the voice, so why would I think I had lost it in an instant.
“What do you want to use me for?” I asked the voice … nothing.
“I want to know what you want me for, then I’ll decide if I’ll do it or not!” … nothing.
“I don’t want to be seen as weird or strange, I don’t want to end up like those people who stand on street corners praising the Lord!” … nothing.
“Why didn’t you choose a good born-again Christian? I don’t even know the Bible!” … nothing.
For the next year I dug in various corners for answers … again nothing. Psychics couldn’t give me any ideas on what I was to do. Ministers and preachers wanted to pray for me and clear out the demons. Eventually I let it go and decided that it was just my imagination.
Four years passed since I’d begun working. I loved every moment and every family. Yet there was just so much one person can accomplish alone and with three teenagers. I felt like I was stretched as far as I could go. At times it seemed I was hanging on to the side of the Grand Canyon by my fingernails. That was when I heard the voice one more.
Saturday afternoon brought a list of chores that needed to be done. Pick up some groceries, go to the cleaners and buy shoes for the kids. Gwen, now fourteen, her friend and I were enjoying a treat in a crowded doughnut shop. We’d been fortunate to find a seat as I watched people flowed in and out, in and out with eager anticipation of their coming pleasure. Gwen and her friend were giggling over some silly teenage thing when I heard that voice again.
“I still want to use you, you know,” it clearly said.
My instant reaction was one of surrender. “Okay,” I willingly thought, “but, I have nothing left to give.”
“Don’t worry,” the voice returned, “I am preparing you now.”
Then I had a flash of a man and money. I had no idea if the man owned the money or if the money was completely separate from him. And, I had no idea what role the man would play in the opera of my life.
A short while ago I got another message that the time had come. I knew it was this book and the next book that I was to do. The Wonder of You: What the Near-Death Experience Tells You about Yourself is the result of researching 2,500 NDEs from Dr. Jeffrey Long’s website. My next book (half written) is entitled “Paradise Restored” and its purpose is to prove the Oneness of all that exists.
I also have a workshop on Science and Spirituality and a future book on the same topic. I look at quantum theory, cosmology, holographic studies, research on the brain, and the search for consciousness. The purpose for my workshop is to show people how amazing they really are.
4. Excerpts From Russell’s Book “The Wonder of You”
From the Chapter on Oneness
While the NDErs full memory of their identity remained, they were miraculously transformed into the Being of Light. They knew — in a way they could not understand — that they had, at the very fundamental level, been intricately involved in the creation of the universe. This awareness was not simply a metaphor; it was a complete and genuine fact. Additionally, they realized they had taken an active role in the formation of every single thing that exists everywhere.
In order for us to know a full human experience, it is important we have individual egos which bring separation. It is through separation that we learn to consciously reach out in love and understanding. The lessons of the physical existence would not be possible if we retained the awareness of our connection to the Oneness. At that level the essence of our being is to love and we cannot be otherwise. For us to learn to reach out to one another, as well as understand all that is available for us here, we need to know existence from and individual perspective.
From the Chapter on Creation
The Source not only creates because it wants to, it creates because it must. There simply is no other choice. This Loving Creative Energy is a vast power greater than the Big Bang. It produces an ecstatic joy because the Love Force that is the essence of Its being compels nothing less.
From the Chapter on Illusions
With the certainty of our existence, we need to know we are far more than just connected to one another by an invisible cord. It is imperative we realize we are the Muslim women behind their burkas and the homeless people in the inner cities of the world. In precisely the same way, we are multimillionaires living in luxury, and simultaneously the African dying of AIDS.
From the Chapter on Our Reality
Anthony de Mello tells us to “Wake up and discover your true reality.” He tells us that we are an amazing and glorious creation of Love and even the smallest atom of us is sacred — we are consecrated ground.
According to those who have had a near-death experience, we are already there. There is no need to strive to be closer to spirit, we already are. As Yoda in Star Wars said, “Do or do not. There is no try.”
5. Reviews of Russell’s Book “The Wonder of You”
“Lynn does something in this book nobody else has done. She shows you how near-death experiencers, in sharing what happened to them and what that meant to them, are actually describing the truth, the real truth, about each and every one of us … anywhere in the world! She gently and relentlessly, puts the full-brunt of the near-death experience in your lap, right where you live and love and have your being. Near-death states strip away the trappings of the mind, to reveal the substance of soul. Thank you, Lynn, for helping to awaken us.” — P.M.H. Atwater, L.H.D., near-death researcher since 1978, investigating nearly 4,000 cases of adult and child experiencers. Latest findings in “Dying to Know You: Proof of God in the Near-Death Experience.“
“There are many books about the near-death experience, but The Wonder of You; What Near-Death Experiences Tell You about Yourself is absolutely exceptional. Lynn Russell is a recognized NDE expert. She has researched over 2500 NDEs; more than virtually anyone else in the world. This book is scholarly in its depth of understanding NDE, but also is very clearly written and easy to read. With each turn of the page you will find a treasure trove of insights and inspiration. After reading this book you will understand the profound truth of what a wonder you truly are. This simple but powerful awareness could change your life.” — Jeffrey Long, MD, founder of the Near-Death Experience Research Foundation, and author of the New York Times bestselling Evidence of the Afterlife: The Science of Near-Death Experiences.
“Buy, beg or borrow a copy of The Wonder of You; What Near-Death Experiences Tell You about Yourself, by Lynn Russell. This book will help to make sense and tie together all the books and stories of others’ near-death experiences. Plus it will reveal what those experiences tell us about ourselves. Ms. Russell describes her own life-changing spiritual experiences, and how, through them, she learned that there was no difference, no separation between her and all life forms on the planet — way before the term ‘oneness’ was understood. Her background makes for a great foundation for this book; one I feel will become the new Bible for NDErs. She did an extensive two-year research on NDEs with Dr. Jeff Long, M.D and his wife Jody Long, J.D., who later wrote Evidence of the Afterlife: The Science of Near-Death Experiences. She has studied over twenty-five hundred reports by people who experienced NDEs. Early on, she began to see a pattern that their experiences were deeper messages like buried treasures brought back from what we call death or the other side that were a legacy for all of us.
“She relates some of these 2,500 stories, grouped by categories of their experiences. Although no two NDEs are alike, the similarities in what they experienced when they ‘died’ are extraordinary. The incredible stories, and Ms. Russell’s way of weaving them together by topics, makes the book hard to put down. You will want to keep this book and make it a permanent part of your library, underline and mark it for future study. If you’re like me, you will experience a change in consciousness after reading The Wonder of You. I believe I will never look at death quite the same. The love of our Creator and the vast array of experiences awaiting our soul, when it’s ready to permanently exit the physical form, or experience its own NDE, is exciting to consider.
“I LOVED this book. Kudos to Ms. Russell for excellent research and a job well done on a book that people of all ages will be helped and inspired by for decades. The Logos Center has pre-ordered 20 books — I’m sure we will place many more orders.” — Anne Puryear, Vice-President, The Logos Center, Scottsdale, Arizona. Author of Stephen Lives! My son Stephen, His Life, Suicide and Afterlife and Messages from God.