On March 27, 1979, Yvonne Kason, a young medical doctor at the time finishing her residency, was on a medical air evacuation when the plane’s engines failed and sent Kason, a nurse, the patient, and the pilot down in a crash.
Kason, in her split-second realization that she was going to die, thought “Oh, God! Help!” and in retrospect thought perhaps this was close enough to a prayer that it set her following experience into motion. Even before the plane hit the ground, Kason felt a force of peace descend upon her, pushing down her fear. She felt the word of God permeate her soul and let her know everything would be alright whether she survived the crash or not.
The pilot then heroically made a belly landing on the ice, Kason said, and they would have been safe, except the ice was too thin and as soon as the plane stopped moving, it sunk in a nosedive into freezing waters—the patient did not survive.
In heavy winter clothing, the pilot, nurse, and Kason had to try to swim to shore in the treacherous waters of the Devil’s Gap lake. Suddenly, she found herself about far above her body.
“And I went into this incredible, white light realm that was full of love—absolute, incredible love. The most powerful love I’d ever felt in my entire life,” Kason said. “And nobody had to tell me, nobody had to explain it to me, I just knew somehow, I just knew in my soul that that incredible feeling, that incredible love, that was the love of a higher power, what I had been raised as a child was called God.”
“It was not an old man with a long white beard sitting on a throne judging me,” she said. “What I was actually experiencing was this love power behind the universe, it was more like an infinite force that is infinitely intelligent, that knows everything past, present, future, and loves all of us with the most incredible, unconditional love.”
A tremendous series of coincidences resulted in their rescue, and the three were helicoptered to a hospital and treated for hypothermia.
“And I was brought back into my body,” Kason said. “It felt like a genie being sucked back into a bottle.”
“It changed me profoundly,” Kason said.
In the 1970s, little had yet to be written about near-death experiences, and no one had any medical explanation for what Kason had experienced.
Colleagues she consulted with suggested hallucinations or confusion under distress, but Kason had treated patients with hallucinations and confusions and she knew this was quite different. There was no name for what she had experienced.
So by day, Kason was a conventional, Western medicine family doctor. In secret, she started researching what it was she had experienced.
Kason is the doctor who coined the term “spiritually transformative experiences,” co-founder and president of Spiritual Awakenings International, former president and board member of the International Association for Near-Death Studies (IANDS). In 1990, she became the first Canadian medical doctor to specialize in counseling people who have had these experiences. Today, near-death experience is a robust field of study.
“By twist of fate or divine design, I don’t know why, but I have had five near-death experiences in my life,” she said. Two of these were in her childhood, and three she experienced as an adult.
It was the last of these that solidified Kason’s mission.
The More Difficult Choice
On Nov. 8, 2003, Kason was visiting Niagara Falls when she slipped on black ice and smashed her head against the rock pavement.
“I suffered really serious traumatic brain injury with a brain hemorrhage, and I instantly died,” Kason said.
As soon as Kason’s head touched the pavement, she felt her soul pulled from her body “by a force more powerful than myself,” and then she was rushing into a dark expanse of space.
By now, Kason had been studying near-death experiences for decades, and had some expectation of what would happen next.
Near-death experiencers commonly report things like being above their wounded bodies and observing their own resuscitation as Kason did after the plane crash. They also frequently report moving towards a bright light, being welcomed into another realm by familiar souls, or coming before a higher power. Many describe this taking place in a meadow or valley with nature similar to that of earth but infinitely more beautiful. Also common is the “life review,” similar to one’s life flashing before the eyes in an instant, except the instant is timeless and infinite, and the experiencers can feel the emotions of those around them instead of their own.
“I was being welcomed into the realm, it was sort of like there was an entranceway that was radiating light, and standing there in the entranceway was two beings of light, two saints from my spiritual tradition,” Kason said. For Kason, this was yogi Paramahansa Yogananda and yogi Mahavatar Babaji, and they welcomed her into what she said felt like a celebration, and being enveloped in joy and love.
“But then a little part, my ego, a little voice on my shoulder was going, uh-oh, here comes the life review,” she said. “And I mean I try to be a good person and have a good life but everybody makes mistakes, so I was sort of not looking forward to my life review.”
“And it was so incredible, because it was like the two saints could read my mind … because one of them just turned and glanced at me, and with that glance blew away my worries like blowing a fleck of dust off my shoulder,” she said. “The understanding that came with that glance was that, just like a loving parent, if a child is learning, learning to walk, stumbling, falling, skinning its knees, bumping its head, it might even break something. When it falls, the loving mother doesn’t punish the child. But instead, the loving mother comforts the child and says, that’s OK. You can try again, you’ll do better next time.”
With that, Kason let go of any worry. She had what felt like an instant “download” of “vast amounts of information all at once.” She re-experienced not just her lifetime as Dr. Yvonne Kason, but many lives.
“It was like ‘aha!’ Because suddenly when I remembered all my past lives, it felt like ‘oh yes, I’ve always known this, how could I have forgotten it?” she said. “I could see how they all fit together like pieces of a jigsaw puzzle, just fitting perfectly together.”
Kason had always thought that her life as a medical doctor teaching at the University of Toronto, and having all sorts of spiritual and mystical experiences, was quite unusual. Now she saw it as part of a larger cosmic plan. She felt profound joy and consciousness as she experienced it all, and then the two saints, the beings of light, appeared again and gave her two choices.
“They said, you may now choose whether to incarnate in the body of a babe, or to return to the body of the maimed form to further serve the divine,” Kason said.
“And for me, this was the perfect question because my prayer for many, many years had been I wanted to be God’s instrument in whatever small way I could. And so to be given a choice of two different ways to serve was the perfect choice for me.”
“In that expanded state that I was in on the other side, with my heart wide open, completely trusting the wisdom and the love of the higher power behind the universe, my heart just instantly responded: Oh masters, please guide me. What is the higher choice? I want to do God’s will,” Kason said.
Without words, but with complete understanding, the saints “so lovingly, so sweetly” communicated to Kason: “It will be more difficult, but to return to the injured body.”
Her heart responded “I accept” and in an instant she was waking up in her body—the body that had just suffered a severe traumatic brain injury.
“It was like my life had flattened,” Kason said.
‘Volcano … Erupting in the Center of My Brain’
Prior to the injury, Kason led a very active life. She practiced medicine, had written books, was a speaker, and volunteered often at her son’s school where she was very involved.
“With a traumatic brain injury, I couldn’t do any of that. I was disabled,” Kason said.
She underwent neurorehabilitation for many years, and worked hard at getting back to prayer and meditation, which had been a big part of Kason’s life, and very difficult to do with such a brain injury.
Then on Feb. 24, 2016, Kason was meditating on a holy spot in Encinitas, California during a retreat, when “all of a sudden, inwardly, I perceive this volcano of liquid light erupting in the center of my brain.”
“The center of my brain had been in darkness for over 12 years, and now the lights came on,” she said. “It felt like waking up. And my brain healed. I experienced a miracle: my brain was healed.”
With the disability, Kason had been in something of a “locked in” state unable to access large parts of her brain; now it felt like the “floodgates opened.”
“All these ideas, my experiences, and what to share in my future books were pouring out of my consciousness, and this strongly inspired urge to write, to write, to write—and I got the very strong inner guidance: Pass on what you have learned.”
In the first year after the healing, she wrote the first draft of two new books.
“I am living proof that miracles do happen,” Kason said. “Never give up hope. No matter what our problems are in life, miracles do happen. If one can happen to me, maybe one could happen to you.”
After publishing the book “Soul Lessons from the Light” sharing her story, she felt that higher spirit urge her forward again. In 2020, months after the pandemic hit, Kason started Spiritual Awakenings International, an online educational nonprofit organization for people to share their spiritually transformative experiences.
The almost three-year organization now has subscribers from 77 countries, and Kason is seeing more and more of these spiritual experiences and stories emerge than she has in her career.
“Everyone, the whole planet, is in a spiritual awakening right now,” Kason said.
With reporting by NTD News.