What I learned while dying in an ambulance
You are about to discover the awesome power of the mind, breath and miracles
in medical emergencies and in everyday life!
The following real life changing event unfolded in 2007 in
the town of Langebaan. It took 8 years to find the words to
describe this experience…
I tried to get out of bed early that Sunday morning after
a sleepless night caused by a strange and progressively
intensifying pain in my chest. Getting up was no good as
everything began to spin and I collapsed a few meters
from my bed. The pain was becoming unbearable. I had
no idea what was happening to me.
The ambulance brought me to the local hospital where they
took me through a routine of checks. The pain was getting
worse every minute and breathing became difficult. They
couldn’t find what was wrong with me. Looking up from
my bed in that emergency room I saw question marks in
the faces of the hospital staff. One doctor, while observing
the bulging and erratic pulse in my neck, remarked: “this is
very interesting”, not very reassuring. My chest felt like it was
being filled with acid and my lungs enmeshed in razor wire.
Each inhalation became more and more excruciating.
Nobody had any answers. Nobody could help me. I was
loosing my ability to breathe. My system was beginning to
Finally the doctors concluded that the issue had something
to do with my heart and they decided to have me rushed
to a hospital with a cardiology department in Cape Town.
I had to endure a journey that would take at least an hour
and since my condition had not yet been diagnosed, no
medical intervention was permitted. Things were rapidly
going from bad to worse.
By this stage I was unable to inhale whatsoever and my
body was becoming starved of oxygen. How was I going
to survive an hour? And even if I did endure this nightmare
journey, would they even be able to help my once we got
to the next emergency room? I was suffocating.
Then, the most terrifying enemy in a situation like this
showed up… PANIC!
Scenes of my life began to flash through the twilight of my
fading consciousness. Was I on my way to reconnect with
my mother who had died a few months earlier? My beloved
wife was racing to meet me at the hospital. What if I didn’t
make it there alive? What about the vision I had for my life?
Dying in this ambulance was not part of that picture.
I knew I had to prevent panic from sinking its venomous
fangs into me if I was to get through this ordeal. Surely it was
not my time to go. Then, like a bolt of lightening, suddenly
it struck me that breathing was essential if I was going to
survive (obviously), but since I could not breathe physically,
I would have to imagine breathing and pretend that my
body was getting sufficient oxygen. Crazy, but it was the
only option that made some weird sense to me at the
time. I began imagining that my chest was expanding and
receding as I pretended to inhale and exhale.
Would this really help? The pain was still intensifying. What’s
the point? Then I remembered the famous adage: pain
is inevitable, but suffering is optional. Suffering in this case
was what I was doing in my head – hopeless and helpless
thinking. I knew that in order to endure this, I had to stay
out of my head and be present in my body. So, I kept my
attention as much as possible in that ‘breathing body’ of
mine and in order to not be swept away by suffocating
thoughts, I just let them be…
Whatever gave me the idea that I could imagine
breathing, also reminded me that thoughts are harmless,
unless you believe them. Believing those scary thoughts
that were flooding my mind was feeding the panic. In
choosing to observe my thoughts coming and going,
instead of believing them to be true, the panic was
disabled. The pain was there, but my mind was no longer
making it worse. I became highly present and felt as if my
consciousness had expanded beyond my body. I began
to sense myself ‘being breathed’. Then it occurred to
me: “All will be well.”
At the emergency room I got wired up to a heart-rate
monitor and soon I had a diagnosis – pericarditis – an acute
inflammation surrounding my heart which was treated
rapidly by injecting a large dose of anti-inflammatory. I
cannot explain the relief! Not only was the pain gone, I was
still alive! A couple days in the intensive care unit helped
me to really appreciate that.
To this day, I know for sure that had I not have used that
life-saving technique, I would not have made it to the point
where medical intervention could help.
Since then, one of my passions has become helping people
overcome panic attacks and performance anxiety using
approaches like the one that helped me. Of course, most
people who experience panic and anxiety can actually
breathe, although their way of breathing at that time is
part of the problem. Thus, when they learn to breathe in
a more resourceful manner while broadening their mode
of perception (peripheral awareness), they begin to
experience themselves ‘being breathed’, which in turn
helps them to remain cool, calm and collected.
That ambulance emergency and my journey through life
subsequent to it has enabled me to appreciate more fully
that “Life is not be measured by the number of breaths we
take but by the moments that take our breath away.”
Always remember: You are capable of more than you
think, because you are more than you think you are!
Thank you for reading this. I hope it inspires you to cherish
Download a free MP3 where Jevon teaches a
technique like the one that saved his life: http://
What I learned while dying in an ambulance
Written by Jevon Dangeli – NLP Trainer, Transpersonal Psychology Practitioner