Full text of Joyce Hawkes’ talk: Biophysicist Discovers New Life After Death at TEDxBellevue conference.
Joyce Hawkes – Biophysicist
Have you ever looked at yourself and wondered what’s under the skin? Do you realize there’s one hundred trillion cells in you?
Twenty-five trillion of them are red blood cells. Those red blood cells wear out… last four months. So if you calculate it out while you’re sitting here every second, your body is making two to three million brand new red blood cells. And you don’t have to even think about it.
That unseen part of us is astonishing.
I fell in love with an electron microscope a long time ago, and that microscope led me to a fabulous career. I was at the very top peak of it as a biophysicist scientist, publishing, speaking, run in a lab. I loved this work and I felt all was well. Science was the whole deal.
And then all of a sudden, something else happened. I was home, cleaning house, and this thing was on the mantel. And I was vacuuming in front of the mantel, I didn’t bump it, but it fell off and I took it in free-fall. It hit me on the head.
That was a game changer. Sudden death.
I went down the long, dark tunnel. I never heard of near-death experiences. I didn’t believe in them. If I had heard of them, this was in the late 70s before they were popular.
I had no belief in an afterlife, and greeting me at the entrance to the light was my grandmother and mother; two women that I love dearly who had passed. And they could express their love to me. And they didn’t look like they’d been dead 20 years. They were in great shape.
And then into a place that was exquisitely beautiful with rolling hills and lights. And the emotional sense was you’d never want to leave. Everything was perfect. There is no agenda and nothing going on in my head except being there completely.
That film in the presence of a being of light, once again, unusual. I had no belief. I had no idea. This was just not part of the paradigm in which I worked. I had no discussion about coming back or not.
I had no real life review, but all of a sudden I’m back on the floor with a really sore head and I reach up and touch my head and it’s matted with dried blood. So I wasn’t out a second or two seconds or even a few minutes.
What we’ve figured is probably at least an hour and a half, maybe two hours. And most people out that long are gone. They die. There’s something like 13 million records of near-death experiences in our culture now. Very interesting stories, similarities, but not exactly the same.
I had some take-home messages from this event. The first one, which I’ve put into practice deeply and all the time is housecleaning is very dangerous. Don’t do it.
So then, my scientist’s brain, which is curious but also kind of stubborn, said, well, OK, so you had an event with low oxygen… so and so.
And I discounted the whole thing, but I couldn’t get away from what I had seen in the unseen world. I couldn’t get away from the expansion of my reality. And I couldn’t get away from the emotions that I experienced there.
So I started reading and talking to people, so on and so forth, and slowly began to experience and understand that a healing gift had emerged, not because of near death, but because of becoming aware that all of us are healers.
You’ve got two to three million brand new red blood cells in this last second. Your body is healing all the time. We touch one another with kindness, with love, and that becomes healing. We can meditate and do some things with that.
It took me seven years and a real distinct calling to make that my life work. And so I truly jumped off a cliff and left the lab, trained somebody to take over the lab that I was running. And shook my head a bunch of times since, what have I done.
In the process of trying to understand what, how we touch one another would help, I had the opportunity to go to several foreign cultures. The most powerful one was in Bali.
I experienced 10 years of going back and forth from Seattle to work with a Shaman trans-medium healer there. She was amazing. Her name was Jero Mangku. She worked deeply in Trans. And this is one of her states.
When she was in that state, she could look inside of someone’s body and describe what was going on with them. She described cells. She’d never seen a cell; she’d never heard of cells. She’d never seen a book of histology. She had no education in it whatsoever.
But in her own way, she penetrated to the depth of a person’s issues and could describe that so that I understood it. We shared a lot in those 10 years and I worked exclusively with her during that time. She took me to some very unusual places and unusual temples.
This particular one and this carving you would never find. There’s no sign. It’s not in any tourist book. But I had great experience with her. She would bless me with holy water and from time to time and sprinkle me with a little water. And on this particular day, she decided it’d be fun to just soak me totally.
The experience there was such that when I came back to work with my clients, the work had expanded. I could do things I couldn’t do before. So the learning was not about technique. It was not about protocol. It was about deepening oneself in the practice and sharing that with another.
In more recent years, there’s been a lot of interest, particularly in Richard Davidson’s lab at the University of Wisconsin, and now it’s spread to some other places.
And what goes on, at least in one group of cells, the neurons of the brain, when we’re in a compassionate state and reaching to another or in a meditative state.
So the curiosity for me has continued to expand and move and ask questions, trying to work with both sides: What’s the science of what’s going on here, and what is the spirit of it, and how can we help each other?
This was a bit of research that we did in New York City. There’s a young man up on the table and his brain waves are being shown on the far left computer. Looks like he’s asleep right now. The thinking mind is closed down. He’s got a lot of delta at the bottom of that computer chart. And so that says he’s in a deep unconscious state of sleep.