I had grown especially curious about the idea that thoughts are an actual something with the capacity to change physical matter.
Is this a true power and exactly how all-purpose is it? I wondered. What can you do with it? Are we talking here about curing cancer or shifting a quantum particle? And what happens when lots of people are thinking the same thought at the same time? Does this magnify the effect?
I gathered together a consortium of physicists, biologists, psychologists, statisticians, and neuroscientists highly experienced in consciousness research to take part in what I called The Intention Experiment.
Periodically, I would invite my internet audience, or an actual audience when I was delivering a talk or workshop somewhere, to send one designated, specific thought to affect some target in a laboratory, set up by one of the scientists I was working with, who would then calculate the results to see if our thoughts had changed anything.
Eventually, this project evolved into the world’s largest global laboratory, involving several hundred thousand of my international readers from more than a hundred countries in some of the first controlled experiments on the power of mass intention to affect the physical world.
As it turned out, the experiments did work. In fact, they really worked. In the 33 experiments I’ve run to date, 29 have evidenced measurable, mostly significant change.
But that isn’t the most interesting part of the story.
In 2008, in one of my early workshops, I placed participants in small groups of about eight, just to see what would happen if group members tried to heal one of their groups through a collective healing intention.
I thought the group effect would be a feel-good exercise—something akin to a massage or a facial—but I was shocked to listen to more than an hour of instant, near-miraculous healings the following day.
And throughout the next year, in every workshop we ran, whenever we set up our clusters of eight or so people in each group, gave them a little instruction and asked them to send intention to a group member, we were stunned witnesses to story after story of physical and psychic transformation.
Marekje’s multiple sclerosis had made it difficult for her to walk without aids.
The morning after being the target of a Power of Eight group, she arrived at the workshop without her crutches.
Marcia suffered from a cataract-like opacity blocking the vision of one eye. The following day, after her group’s healing intention, she claimed that her sight in that eye had been almost fully restored.
Diane in Miami had with such pain in her hip from scoliosis that she’d had to stop working out. During the intention, she’d felt intense heat and a rapid-fire, twitching response in her back. The next day, she declared, “It’s like I have a new hip.”
For many years, I believed I was witnessing a placebo effect – until I began to realize that the senders were getting healed too.
Wes Chapman, for instance, was in college working on a science degree when he was drafted and sent to Vietnam for the final year of the war. The experience so traumatized him that he did not finish his university degree, and was left in a state of depression. His bad luck seemed to carry on; even the high point in his life – his second marriage – was quickly extinguished after his wife died from cancer.
At 65, he’d gotten to ‘what’s the use’ stage where it was difficult for him to even make breakfast. In August, he joined a Power of Eight group, but sent healing intentions for two group members. Afterwards, he said, he experienced his own amazing shift – a feeling of intense joy. All the activities that would have debilitated him he was able to handle with ease.
During a dream shortly afterwards, he met his 19-year-old self, who told him ‘there’s still time.’ Suddenly he felt compelled to re-engage in writing and even intense exercise, including weight- lifting and 90 minute power-walks.
‘It feels like I’m 25, not 65,’ he says.
Andy Spyros had tried everything to remove old patterns that had interfered with her ability to make a good living. When she joined a Power of Eight group, she shared her intention to find a dream job with ample income.
None of the intentions the group tried was working for her.
Andy then started shifting her intention to a young boy who’d tried to commit suicide.
“Two days after that, I got an unexpected offer to do product development and strategy for an online organization involved in human development, a job that would joyfully bring me money doing work I love!” said Andy.
Working in a large or small group and doing something altruistic activates the vagus nerve, one of the longest of the body, which connects with all the communication systems involved with caretaking. It slows down heart rate, calms the effects of any fight-or-flight autonomic nervous system activity, and initiates the release of oxytocin, a neuropeptide that plays a role in love, trust, intimacy, kindness or compassion.
Increased levels of oxytocin also have a marked healing effect on the body; it lowers inflammation, boosts the immune system, aids digestion, lowers blood pressure, heals wounds faster and even repairs damage to the heart after a heart attack.
Other evidence from neuroscience studies scientists have carried out on Power of Eight groups shows that members of the group undergo major brain-wave changes that are akin to those of a Sufi master during a state of ecstatic prayer: a feeling of blissful oneness.
The powerfully transformational mechanisms at work in my healing intention groups appeared to be the unique power of group prayer coupled with an amazing mirror effect. Focusing on healing someone else brings on a mirrored healing.
Intending in a group is a fast-track to the miraculous.
*Excerpted from Lynne’s new book The Power of Eight (Atria, 2018), which includes full instructions about how to do group intention and construct your own Power of Eight group.