"The reality of God is [now] part of every breath I take," she said. "And God's presence is part of every thought that I have."
Dr. Mary Neal's entire life was rocked when she found herself trapped beneath eight feet of raging water while kayaking in Chile back in 1999—an experience that she says led her to die, visit heaven—and return.
Neal, an orthopedic surgeon from Wyoming who authored the new book, Seven Lessons From Heaven: How Dying Taught Me to Live a Joy-Filled Life, recently appeared on "The Billy Hallowell Podcast" where she described her harrowing experience and revealed the stunning ways in which it transformed her life and perspective.
Before her accident, Neal was a doctor and scientist who was nominally Christian. But what followed—her purported visit to heaven and interaction with Christ—changed everything,
"We were kayaking on a section of river well known for its waterfalls," she explained. "As I crested the waterfall, I knew that things were not going to go well for me."
Within seconds, she was submerged and experienced what she said was a "radical shift in time and dimension." Suddenly, despite being in the midst of drowning, she felt immense comfort.
"I was being held and comforted and being reassured that everything was fine, regardless of whether I lived or died," she said, noting that she knew it was Jesus who was comforting her. "I was taken through a life review that was the first of many very profound parts of this experience for me."
In the end, she said that the experience truly challenged her. As a scientist, Neal wanted to dismiss it all as impossible, but she said she quickly came to the realization that God is more than real.