Windbridge Research Center Studying dying, death, and what comes next
Studying dying, death, and what comes next

2021 Afterlife Symposium

Welcome

The mission of the Windbridge Research Center is to ease suffering around dying, death, and what comes next by performing rigorous scientific research and sharing the results and other customized content with the general public, clinicians (like medical and mental health professionals), scientists (like researchers and philosophers), and practitioners (like mediums).

Our intention for the 2021 Afterlife Symposium was to share free content with these four populations in order to normalize experiences, share current research findings, demonstrate the importance of afterlife topics, and lessen death anxiety. We wanted to offer real-world suggestions for bringing afterlife topics into our daily lives, not in a morbid way but with peace and acceptance.

As a charitable organization, we believe we must provide access to our research and educational materials to everyone at no cost. If you benefit from the content of this free symposium, please consider making a donation.

Thank you,

Mark Boccuzzi
Julie Beischel, PhD
co-founders, Windbridge Research Center

Program Committee
Lisa Conboy, ScD
Beth Christopherson, LCSW
Patricia Pearson, MSc

Presentations

Each presentation is listed below. Use the “+” to expand each title and display the abstract and citation. Videos will open in a new tab. The complete video playlist is on YouTube HERE.

View Session 1

Session 1
Welcome and Opening Remarks
Mark Boccuzzi

Session 1 (Intended audience: All)
Welcome and Opening Remarks
Mark Boccuzzi, Windbridge Research Center Executive Director

To welcome viewers to the Windbridge Research Center 2021 Afterlife Symposium, Executive Director Mark Boccuzzi introduces the Symposium’s 11 presenters which include Center researchers, mediums, advisors, and contributors participating in both formal presentations and informal conversations.

citation:
Boccuzzi, M. (2021, August 11). Welcome and opening remarks [Conference session]. 2021 Windbridge Research Center Afterlife Symposium. https://youtu.be/UwY7Gf6Kj7E

Session 2
Cultural Views of Dying, Death, and What Comes Next
David B. Metcalfe
Patricia Pearson
Mark Boccuzzi

Session 2 (Intended audience: All)
Cultural Views of Dying, Death, and What Comes Next
David B. Metcalfe, Editor-in-Chief, Threshold: Journal of Interdisciplinary Consciousness Studies (TJICS)
Patricia Pearson, MS, Contributor and Editorial Board Member, TJICS
Mark Boccuzzi, Managing Editor, TJICS

After an introduction by Windbridge Research Center Executive Director Mark Boccuzzi, Community Advisory Board Members Patricia Pearson and David B. Metcalfe explore how experiencing contact with the dead transitioned from what was seen as common in the folklore of cultures worldwide to Freud calling such experiences “wishful psychosis.” These types of experiences are still not well received within the currently dominant paradigms and establishments. Patricia calls this “a tragic suppression of a vital part of our cultural experience.” Patricia and David also compare and contrast North American ideas with those of other cultures including Day of the Dead celebrations and they each describe their own experiences with the deaths of family members. Finally, Patricia and David propose changes for a better future including agreed-upon common terminology and year-round media attention to death and what comes next.

[Published by the Windbridge Research Center, Threshold is a free, online-only, open access, peer-reviewed journal that focuses on interdisciplinary studies of consciousness as it relates to dying, death, and what comes next. http://www.tjics.org/index.php/TJICS/about ]

citation:

Metcalfe, D. B., Pearson, P., & Boccuzzi, M. (2021, August 11). Cultural views of dying, death, and what comes next [Conference session]. Windbridge Research Center 2021 Afterlife Symposium. https://youtu.be/luzodFePlUw

Session 3
Windbridge Afterlife Acceptance and Validity Study (WAAVS)
Mark Boccuzzi

Session 3 (Intended audience: Researchers, All)
Windbridge Afterlife Acceptance and Validity Study (WAAVS)
Mark Boccuzzi, Windbridge Research Center Executive Director

In the age of COVID-19, death anxiety has increased and that suffering could be alleviated through a belief in an afterlife (that some part of our personality, consciousness, identity, or soul survives after the death of the physical body and continues to exist, at least for some period of time). The aim of the Windbridge Afterlife Acceptance and Validity Study (WAAVS) was to obtain a detailed understanding of peoples’ afterlife beliefs. WAAVS examined the extent to which people believe in the possibility of an afterlife, why they hold those beliefs, and what would be required to change their minds. Demographic and questionnaire response data from this online, self-report survey were collected during a predetermined 45-day period between 2/7/21 and 3/24/21. Respondents provided 528 usable surveys and were 77% female and 22% male with an average age of 57.2 years. Respondents could identify as fully rejecting the idea of an afterlife, tending not to believe, having no opinion, tending to believe, or fully believing in the existence of an afterlife, and were then asked to explain their belief. They were then asked to describe the experiences or proof that would be required to change their minds and allow them to fully accept or fully reject the existence of an afterlife. Across all groups, 74% of participants listed personal experience as the primary factor contributing to existing beliefs or that would be required to change their beliefs. Scientific consensus was listed by a minority of participants (17%) as the contributing factor. While personal experiences can be transformative, they may also be required to change people’s perspectives or world views about the afterlife.

citation:

Boccuzzi, M. (2021, August 11). Windbridge Afterlife Acceptance and Validity Study (WAAVS) [Conference session]. Windbridge Research Center 2021 Afterlife Symposium. https://youtu.be/eOZLUDn570o

Session 4
End of Life Experiences
Julie Beischel, PhD
Adam Rizvi, MD

Session 4 (Intended audience: Clinicians, All)
End of Life Experiences
Julie Beischel, PhD, Windbridge Research Center Executive Director
Adam Rizvi, MD, Windbridge Research Center Clinical Advisory Board Member

This symposium session is an informal conversation between Julie Beischel, PhD, Director of Research, and Adam Rizvi, MD, Clinical Advisory Board Member and neurologist and neurointensivist. Dr. Rizvi answers questions about his perspective as a physician on the topics of dying, death, and what comes next. Having been at the bedside of nearly 1,000 patients at the moment that they passed away, Dr. Rizvi has extensive experience with this transition and wishes people took more time to consider that we’ll all be there someday. Beyond setting up expectations for the standard physical changes, the dying and their loved ones can prepare for the intangible aspects of the dying process like the emotions that may occur and being able to engage with the other side. In considering what he wished more physicians and other healthcare professionals knew about the end of life, Dr. Rizvi talks about education regarding the non-physical aspects of life and the evidence for the survival of consciousness after physical death. Drs. Rizvi and Beischel also imagine a future for healthcare in which providers are educated in how the dying process is acknowledged and practiced in various traditions so that they are capable of respecting and acknowledging all patients’ beliefs and actions. Though healthcare providers are taught to distance themselves emotionally from patients, Dr. Rizvi suggests that it is possible for providers to adopt a philosophy of loving kindness with dying patients and their families without being taken off-balance by that mindset and without having to be part of any organized faith or religion. Dr. Rizvi also shares compelling real-life stories of deaths he personally witnessed and the related events that occurred.

citation:

Beischel, J., & Rizvi, A. (2021, August 11). End of life experiences [Conference session]. 2021 Windbridge Research Center Afterlife Symposium. https://youtu.be/7hx1yWd0Tns

Session 5
The Purpose and Spirituality of Mediums
Lisa Conboy, ScD

Session 5 (Intended audience: Researchers, Practitioners, All)
The Purpose and Spirituality of Mediums
Lisa Conboy, ScD, Windbridge Research Center Research Associate

In this presentation, Dr. Lisa Conboy describes the findings from a qualitative research study examining the purpose and spirituality of mediums. Mediums are defined as people who report experiencing regular communication with the deceased. This qualitative analysis describes the responses of 114 self-identified mediums and 14 pre-screened Windbridge Certified Research Mediums (n=128) to two open-ended, free-response survey items regarding their explanations for why they are mediums and how their spirituality relates to mediumship. Participants were surveyed between March and May, 2017 as part of the Secular American Mediums Survey (SAMS) Study. Not every participant answered every question. Over 90% of participants were white females; their average age was 54.2 ± 9.6 years. With IRB oversight our team coded the responses by searching for sought themes and emergent themes and condensing responses to each topic across the sample. Responses were double coded and any disagreements were addressed and solved in discussion. Found themes with common examples are reported. Major themes included concepts of being born this way, gifts from a higher power, mediumship as tapping into energy or love, combined consciousness, and multiple levels of consciousness. These results assist in a more thorough understanding of the specific experiences and beliefs of mediums. Our analysis is timely as the number of people seeking mediumship readings to address grief continues to grow.

citation:

Conboy, A. (2021, August 11). The purpose and spirituality of mediums [Conference session]. 2021 Windbridge Research Center Afterlife Symposium. https://youtu.be/1gm_QtV_CAA

Session 6
Perspectives on Death, Loss, and Mediumship
Mark Boccuzzi
Liz Entin

Session 6 (Intended audience: All)
Perspectives on Death, Loss, and Mediumship
Mark Boccuzzi, Windbridge Research Center Executive Director
Liz Entin, Founder of “What the F Just Happened?! – All about the afterlife. None of the woo.”

This session is an informal conversation between Mark and Liz. Being a “science-y skeptic” and “culturally Jewish,” Liz found the idea of an afterlife, if she thought about it at all, akin to a fairy tale for most of her life. After her father became ill and died in 2015, however, Liz began investigating what science had to say about the matter. The mediumship readings she subsequently witnessed appeared to her to defy the known laws of the universe. Liz and Mark discuss how her father’s death left her utterly hopeless and how contact with her father through mediumship allowed her to experience joy and hope again. Hearing about those transformative experiences affected Liz’s skeptical mother and her peers as well. When she is asked by people what one thing was most evidential for her on this journey, Liz notes that it was not a single fact or event but rather the collection of support for the reality of an afterlife from several fields of study including the mediumship research at the Windbridge Research Center and the near-death experience (NDE) and children’s reports of previous lives research at the Division of Perceptual Studies at the University of Virginia, as well as the personal experiences that she and millions of others report.

citation:

Boccuzzi, M., & Entin, L. (2021, August 11). Perspectives on death, loss, and mediumship [Conference session]. 2021 Windbridge Research Center Afterlife Symposium. https://youtu.be/yhZTRGDQ0eU

Session 7
Assessing Afterlife Beliefs in Psychotherapy
Beth Christopherson, LCSW

Session 7 (Intended audience: Clinicians)
Assessing Afterlife Beliefs in Psychotherapy
Beth Christopherson, LCSW, Windbridge Research Center Clinical Advisory Board Member

By increasing their comfort and competence in assessing and addressing afterlife beliefs, mental health professionals (MHPs) can better serve many of their clients. In this presentation, social worker and psychotherapist Beth Christopherson, LCSW, based on the peer-reviewed journal article “Assessing Afterlife Beliefs in Psychotherapy” (Christopherson & Beischel, 2018; http://www.tjics.org/index.php/TJICS/article/view/29/24), first reviews the research demonstrating the importance of assessing and addressing religion and spirituality (RS) in general and afterlife beliefs specifically in a psychotherapy setting. Although afterlife beliefs are often neglected in the psychospiritual literature and in many published spiritual assessment tools, a belief in the afterlife is prevalent, human relationships are of central importance in psychotherapeutic settings, relationships do not end when someone dies, and afterlife beliefs may be related to psychological health. Christopherson then provides an overview of the SRRT Afterlife Assessment Guide which follows the recommended two-phase approach for assessing RS. The development of the SRRT was informed by social work ethical standards and research in the fields of bereavement, spiritually oriented psychotherapy, and trauma. The SRRT consists of sets of modifiable sample questions organized around four concepts: Significance, Relationships, Resources, and Treatment. In the initial assessment phase, the SRRT is used to determine if afterlife beliefs are significant to the client’s well-being or the presenting issue. In the second comprehensive phase, a framework is provided for assessing the effects of afterlife beliefs on clients’ relationships, identifying potential spiritual resources for clients, and collaborating with clients in order to implement client-centered forms of treatment.

citation:

Christopherson, B. (2021, August 11). Assessing afterlife beliefs in psychotherapy [Conference session]. 2021 Windbridge Research Center Afterlife Symposium. https://youtu.be/Z70aLo75LXU

Session 8
Optimizing Communication Before, During, and After Mediumship Readings
Julie Beischel, PhD
Daria Justyn
Laura Lynne Jackson
Traci Bray

Session 8 (Intended audience: General)
Optimizing Communication Before, During, and After Mediumship Readings
Julie Beischel, PhD, Director of Research, Windbridge Research Center
Daria Justyn, Laura Lynne Jackson, and Traci Bray, Windbridge Certified Research Mediums (WCRMs)

In this panel discussion, Windbridge Research Center Director of Research Julie Beischel, PhD, interviews three Windbridge Certified Research Mediums (WCRMs) who have previously been screened, trained, and tested under controlled laboratory conditions. The WCRMs discuss what sitters (people receiving mediumship readings in order to connect with their deceased loved ones) can do to optimize the experience. WCRM Daria Justyn talks about what sitters can think about and do prior to a reading taking place. WCRM Laura Lynne Jackson discusses the mindset sitters can adopt while a reading is happening. And WCRM Traci Bray suggests tasks a sitter might want to consider in the days and weeks following a reading.

citation:

Beischel, J., Justyn, D., Jackson, L.L., & Bray, T. (2021, August 11). Optimizing communication before, during, and after mediumship readings [Conference session]. 2021 Windbridge Research Center Afterlife Symposium. https://youtu.be/MKuGqVhSuWE

Session 9
Scientific Evidence for Life After Death: The Accuracy and Experiences of Mediums
Julie Beischel, PhD

Session 9 (Intended audience: Researchers, All)
Scientific Evidence for Life After Death: The Accuracy and Experiences of Mediums
Julie Beischel, PhD, Director of Research, Windbridge Research Center

In this conference presentation, Julie Beischel, PhD, cites evidence demonstrating mediums’ accuracy under controlled conditions and reviews the theories of Survival Psi and Somatic Psi (these terms together more accurately reflect the proposed theoretical framework attempting to explain mediumship and have replaced terms like ‘super psi’ and ‘living agent psi.’) Dr. Beischel then reviews the findings from three phenomenological studies which examined mediums’ experiences in an attempt to break the tie as the better explanation for mediums’ accuracy. Dr. Beischel concludes that the best explanation for modern mediumship is that at least some mediums are communicating with the deceased.

citation:

Beischel, J. (2021, August 11). Scientific evidence for life after death: The accuracy and experiences of mediums [Conference session]. 2021 Windbridge Research Center Afterlife Symposium. https://youtu.be/knEmUM_1OKE

Session 10
Applying Controlled Remote Viewing to Afterlife Research
Mark Boccuzzi

Session 10 (Intended audience: Researchers, All)
Applying Controlled Remote Viewing to Afterlife Research
Mark Boccuzzi, Windbridge Research Center Executive Director

Although information about what the afterlife is like has been included in mediumship readings, channeled content, reports of near-death experiences, and religious texts, the VISTA (Validating Independent Surveys of The Afterlife) Research Program at the Windbridge Research Center aims to incorporate experimental controls including masking/blinding, randomization, and detailed data analysis in order to acquire information about ‘where’ consciousness goes after physical death. A Controlled Remote Viewing (CRV) protocol was used in which participants were only given random alphanumeric target IDs (e.g., 8392Y8) and asked to provide any relevant information about the target including people, locations, and/or activities. Three target IDs were associated with the afterlife in general, a deceased individual (a discarnate), and a physical life target to serve as a control. Although analyzing the results of an “unknowable” target like the afterlife can be difficult, CRV has been used since the 1960s, is tightly controlled, has produced multiple published papers and meta-analyses across different domains that show an effect, and involves an active population of Remote Viewers interested in research many of whom are comfortable working under “laboratory conditions.” The details of an exploratory pilot phase of the VISTA protocol are described. Blinded descriptions of the afterlife included terms like expansive, enchanting, forever, warm, non-judgmental, synchronized, open, and intriguing. These preliminary data are the first of their kind and may serve to alleviate death anxiety when replicated and combined with other survival research.

citation:

Boccuzzi, M. (2021, August 11). The VISTA Program: Applying Controlled Remote Viewing to afterlife research [Conference session]. 2021 Windbridge Research Center Afterlife Symposium. https://youtu.be/DsHM8V6D6sk

Session 11
Closing Remarks
Julie Beischel, PhD
Mark Boccuzzi

Session 11 (Intended audience: All)
Closing Remarks
Julie Beischel, PhD, Windbridge Research Center Director of Research
Mark Boccuzzi, Windbridge Research Center Executive Director

To close out the 2021 Windbridge Research Center Afterlife Symposium, Julie Beischel (Director of Research) asks Mark Boccuzzi (Executive Director) to comment about the motivation behind putting together the symposium. Boccuzzi also discusses the four populations that the Center serves through its research and education missions: researchers (scientists and philosophers), clinicians (medical and mental health professionals), practitioners (mediums and psychics), and the general public. Boccuzzi and Beischel further talk about the main challenges the Center faces: limited potential funding sources, biased media coverage, and a general social reluctance toward death and related topics. Finally, it is suggested that people can support the Center by making a donation at https://www.windbridge.org/donate/ and should feel free to share the free Symposium content with family, friends, and colleagues.

citation:

Beischel, J., & Boccuzzi, M. (2021, August 11). Closing remarks [Conference session]. 2021 Windbridge Research Center Afterlife Symposium. https://youtu.be/oaQ6q41qT5I

Presenter Biographies

Click the “+” to show/hide each presenter’s biography.

Julie Beischel, PhD, is the co-founder and Director of Research at the Windbridge Research Center. She holds a PhD in Pharmacology and Toxicology with a minor in Microbiology and Immunology. Dr. Beischel is a five-time recipient of Bial Foundation grants and she has published research examining the accuracy, experiences, psychology, and physiology of mediums (individuals who experience communication with the deceased) and the use of mediumship readings during bereavement. She is also interested in spontaneous, facilitated, assisted, and requested after-death communication experiences. She lives in Arizona with her husband and research partner, Mark Boccuzzi, and their two nearly-feral dogs. [Sessions 4, 8, 9, 11]

Mark Boccuzzi is the Windbridge Research Center Executive Director and the Managing Editor of Threshold: Journal of Interdisciplinary Consciousness Studies (TJICS; https://www.tjics.org/). He is a two-time recipient of grants from the Helene Reeder Memorial Fund for Research into Life after Death for his research into the use of electronic devices to facilitate interaction and communication with the departed. Mark is also an innovator at the intersection of science, technology, education, and interactive visual arts. After 13 years, he is still deliriously in love with his wife and research partner, Julie Beischel, who wrote this bio. [Sessions 1, 2, 3, 6, 10, 11]

Traci Bray is a Windbridge Certified Research Medium. She is a native of Clinton, Iowa, and currently lives in Montgomery, Alabama. Traci has a master’s degree in Law Enforcement and Justice Administration and has been a practicing medium for over 30 years. https://tracibray.com/ [Session 8]

Beth Christopherson, LCSW, is a member of the Windbridge Research Center Clinical Advisory Board. Beth is a psychotherapist in Houston, Texas, whose presentations and published articles concern the ethics and clinical practice issues of assessing and addressing spirituality and afterlife beliefs in the psychotherapy setting. Beth is EMDR-trained and a Certified Clinical Trauma Professional (CCTP). She frequently presents at local universities and medical schools on topics such as intimacy and quality-of-life issues. http://bethchristopherson.com/ [Session 7]

Lisa Conboy, MA, MS, ScD, is a Research Associate at the Windbridge Research Center. Dr. Conboy is a social epidemiologist and a sociologist with an interest in the associations between social factors and health. She is published in the areas of Women’s Health, Complementary and Alternative Medicine, qualitative research methodology, and complexity science. An Instructor at Beth Israel Deaconess Medical Center, Harvard Medical School, she is also faculty at the New England School of Acupuncture. Dr. Conboy is a founding member of the Kripalu research collaborative which examines the mental, physical, and spiritual benefits of yoga, meditation, Ayurveda, and other holistic and mind-body therapies. [Session 5]

Liz Entin is founder and author of “What the Fuck Just Happened?! – All about the afterlife. None of the woo.” She also runs the social media for Forever Family Foundation. After a loss, she took a shot in the dark and decided to see if there was any evidence of an afterlife. She was blown away by what she discovered. Info on her book, podcast and contact info can be found at https://www.wtfjusthappened.net/ [Session 6]

Laura Lynne Jackson is a Windbridge Certified Research Medium and has been a practicing medium for 26 years. She is the author of the NY Times Bestsellers Signs: The Secret Language of the Universe and The Light Between Us. http://lauralynnejackson.com/ [Session 8]

Daria Justyn is a Windbridge Certified Research Medium and has been a practicing medium for 19 years. She is the author of Angels Whisper to Us: Decoding the Messages in Daydreams. http://www.dariajustyn.com/ [Session 8]

David B. Metcalfe is a researcher, writer, and multimedia specialist focusing on the areas where creativity, culture, and consciousness collide. In 2011 he established the Liminal Analytics Applied Research Collaborative to focus on building multidisciplinary lines of communication through applied scholarship, digital media, and social network development. David is also currently the Editor-in-Chief for the Windbridge Research Center’s free open-access journal, Threshold: Journal of Interdisciplinary Consciousness Studies (https://www.tjics.org/). https://davidmetcalfe.wordpress.com/ [Session 2]

Patricia Pearson, MSc, is a journalist who has authored several books exploring human consciousness and psychology, including Opening Heaven’s Door: What the Dying May be Trying to Tell Us about Where They’re Going, A Brief History of Anxiety: Yours and Mine, When She Was Bad, which examines the motives of violent women, and, her most recently book Wish You Were Here, which is about unsolved murder and the complicated grief that ensues. She is based near Toronto, Canada, and currently devotes most of her time to plucking gypsy moth caterpillars off of her fruit trees. www.patriciapearson.net [Session 2]

Adam Rizvi, MD, is a member of the Windbridge Research Center Clinical Advisory Board. Dr. Rizvi is a board-certified neurologist with fellowship training in Neurocritical care at Stanford University. He was raised in both the Catholic and Islamic traditions and later obtained his Bachelor’s Degree in Comparative Religion from the University of Rochester. He has continued to pursue his exploration and practice of spirituality with a focus on the world’s nondual traditions. He is currently the Neuro ICU director at Carondelet St. Joseph’s hospital in Tucson, Arizona. [Session 4]

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Thank you!
We hope you have enjoyed the symposium.