New York Times best-selling author Anita Moorjani speaks on Dying To Be Me at TEDxBayArea. Below is the full transcript.
Listen to the MP3 Audio here: Dying to be me! Anita Moorjani at TEDxBayArea
It’s such a thrill for me to be here. And I’m so happy to see all of you.
You know, one of the biggest reasons that I’m happy to be here is because I shouldn’t be alive today. I should have died on February 2, 2006. That was supposed to be my last day here, in this physical life, because on that day, the doctors had told my husband and my family that I only had a few more hours to live.
I was dying from end-stage lymphoma, which is a form of cancer of the lymph nodes. I had struggled with cancer for four years up to that point. For four years, this disease had devoured my body. It had traveled through my lymphatic system. It started with a lump in my neck, and then, it spread throughout my lymphatic system and by that point, by the end of four years, I had tumors, some of them the size of lemons that had spread from the base of my skull all around my neck, down into my chest, under my arms, and all the way to my abdomen.
By that point also, even before I had gone into the coma, my lungs had been filled with fluid, and every time I would lie down, I would choke on my own fluid. My muscles had completely deteriorated so I weighed about 85 pounds. I looked like just a skeleton with skin on.
I had these big gaping-opened skin lesions where the toxins were oozing out of my body. I wasn’t able to digest any food. I had a persistent low grade fever, I couldn’t walk, because my muscles had been deteriorated, so I was constantly just lying down or being taken around in a wheel chair. I was connected to an oxygen tank all the time. I couldn’t breathe without the aid of oxygen.
And on that morning, on February 2, 2006, I went into a coma. The doctors had said these were my final hours because now my organs had shut down, my organs were failing. So my family were told that if there was anybody that had to see me before I died, this was the time.
Unbeknownst to everyone around me though, even though it appeared that I was in a coma, and my eyes were closed, I was aware of everything that was going on all around me. I was aware of my husband who was distressed, but he was by my side holding my hand. I was aware of everything the doctors were doing: they were putting tubes in me, they were removing fluid from my lungs so that I could breathe easier. I was aware of every single thing that was happening.
It felt as though I had a 360-degree peripheral vision. I could see everything happening all around my body. But not just in the room where my body was, but even beyond. And it was as if I had expanded out of my body. I was aware of my physical body, I could see it, lying there on that hospital bed, but I was no longer attached to that body. It felt as though I could be everywhere at the same time.
It was like wherever I put my awareness, there I was. I was aware of my brother, who was in India. My body, I was in Hong Kong. This was happening to me in Hong Kong. My brother was in India and was rushing to get on a plane to come and see me. He wanted to see me before I took my last breath. And I was aware of that. I felt as though I was with him. I saw him on the plane.
And then I also became aware of my father and my best friend, both of whom I had lost. Both of them had crossed over, had died. But I became aware of their presence with me, as though they were guiding me and communicating with me.
One thing that I felt in this amazing expansive state, I felt I was in like a realm of clarity, where I understood everything. I understood why I had cancer. I understood that I was much greater, in fact all of us are much greater and more powerful than we realize when we’re in our physical bodies.
I also felt as if I was connected to everybody, like all the doctors that were treating me, the nurses, my husband, my mother, my brother, and everybody, I felt as though we all shared the same consciousness. I felt as though I could feel what they were feeling, I could feel the distress they were feeling, I could feel the resignation of the doctors.
But at the same time, I didn’t get emotionally sucked into the drama, but yet, I understood what they were feeling. It’s like we all share the same consciousness, it’s like when we’re not expressing in our physical bodies, you, and I, and all of us, we’re all expressions of the same consciousness. That’s what it felt like.
I felt as though my father was trying to communicate with me that it wasn’t my time, that I needed to go back into my body. At first, I didn’t want to go back, because I still felt as though I had a choice, whether to come back or not. So at first, I absolutely did not want to go back into my body because I couldn’t see a single good reason to go back into this sick and dying body. I was a burden on my family, I was suffering, there was no good reason. So I didn’t want to go back.
But in the next instant, it felt as if I completely understood that now that I knew what I knew, and because I understood what caused the cancer, I knew that if I chose to go back to my body, my body would heal very, very quickly. And so, in that moment, I made the decision to go back, and I heard as though my father and my best friend said to me, “Now that you know the truth of who you really are, go back and live your life fearlessly.”
And it was in those moments that I woke up from the coma. And my family was so relieved to see me. And the doctors, they couldn’t explain it. The doctors were there, and they were surprised, but they were being very, very cautious, because there was no way of knowing; I was still so weak. There was no way for anyone to know whether I was going to stay out of the coma, or heal, or go back.
But I knew I was going to be fine, and I was telling my whole family, “I’m going to be fine, I know I’m going to be fine. It’s not my time.”
Within five days, the tumors in my body had shrunk by 70%. After five weeks, I was released from the hospital to go home. I was completely cancer free.
Now, what has happened is that I’ve had to pick up my life from that point, and as you can imagine, my life feels completely different. It changed my view of the world. That experience changed my view of our physical bodies, of my physical body, of illness, and how I perceive the world. I found it very difficult to integrate back into life again, after that experience.
And the best way I can think of to explain what it feels like would be to use metaphors. And a metaphor that I like to use is one of a warehouse. I’d like you to imagine, if you will, that we are in a totally darkened warehouse that’s pitch black. Just imagine that right now, you’re in a warehouse that’s completely pitch black, and you can’t see anything because it’s so dark. You can’t see anything in front of you, anywhere.