The Power of Eigh®

By Lynne McTaggart

In 2004, I had grown especially curious about the idea that thoughts are an actual something, with the capacity to change physical matter. A number of bestselling books had been published about the law of attraction and the power of intention — the idea that you could manifest what you most desired just by thinking about it in a focused way — but as an investigative reporter by background, to all of this I maintained a certain incredulity, overwhelmed by a number of awkward questions.

Is this a true power? Exactly how “all-purpose” is it? I wondered. What can you do with it? Are we talking about curing cancer or shifting a quantum particle? And to my mind the most important question of all: What happens when lots of people think the same thought at the same time? Would this magnify the effect?

After my book The Intention Experiment was released, I gathered a consortium of physicists, biologists, psychologists, statisticians, and neuroscientists highly experienced in consciousness research. Periodically I invited 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 effectively 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. Of the 36 experiments I’ve run to date, 32 have evidenced measurable, mostly significant change, and three of the four without a positive result simply had technical issues. To put these results in perspective, almost no drug produced by the pharmaceutical industry can lay claim to that level of positive effect.

But as amazing as that is, it 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, to see what would happen if group members tried to heal one of their group 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 the following day I was shocked to observe more than an hour of instant, near-miraculous healings.

For the next year, in every workshop we ran, whenever we set up our clusters of eight or so and gave them a little instruction to send intention to a group member, we were stunned witnesses to story after story of physical and psychic transformation.

At a talk I gave in Denver, for instance, I met Sande, a 63-year-old, lifetime athlete — until one of her knees was shot. “When I walk I can feel when my knee is going to pop out, which it does, and then I fall. I’m in a lot of pain.” Fearful she would break a bone if she didn’t take care of it, she had scheduled knee replacement surgery in a month’s time.

During the talk, when I put members of the Denver audience in Power of Eight® groups, tears rolled down her cheeks as she felt what she described as pressure around her knee on both sides, “as if somebody with big mitts was holding my leg. It was warm, not hot. I never felt that before. It went down my whole leg, going down to my ankle — and I hadn’t told them about my ankles. When we opened our eyes, we looked at our hands and everyone’s hands were vibrating, with lots of tears.”

When I asked the audience if anyone had had an experience, Sande was the first to put up her hand. “Look,” she said, “I can bend my knees.” She leaned over and squatted down. “I could not do that before.” Three days later, the healing effects persisted. “When I walk, I don’t get that feeling that the knee will pop out,” Sande replied. “I can go upstairs without pain.” Since the Power of Eight® group, she no longer needed her brace and was able to cancel her surgery.

Beverly, a massage therapist, hadn’t planned to come to my Denver talk, because she’d been recovering from a car accident. “My crunched ribs were uncomfortable; my shoulder was singing a high-pitched, exquisite pain and wouldn’t stay in place without support,” she said. Nevertheless, a church group member was particularly persuasive, and Beverly arrived, holding her shoulder in place.

She described that during the Power of Eight® circle, “I felt all the tension of the car wreck fall out of my left side. Supported by my groupmates, bubbling, Kundalini-type energy poured out onto the floor through my arm. My shoulder slid back to normal position, my ribcage released, and I took a full breath for the first time in the six weeks since the accident.” Nearly two months later, Beverly wrote a progress report: Her shoulder had remained in place, “almost exclusively pain-free.”

And there were many others, even among the senders: a woman who’d had a stroke and could no longer focus her eyes went back to seeing normally; a fellow with bursitis could raise his arm all the way up again. Another woman, who had arrived with a migraine, said her pain had completely cleared. One of the senders arrived with a cane and walked away from the event, no longer needing it. Someone else felt the ache in her back immediately begin to dissipate. “I’m a real skeptic, and yet it worked.”

What would happen if people met regularly in groups of eight, I wondered? Would everything in their lives begin to heal? I decided to run an intention masterclass, with members meeting in groups while I monitored their progress for an entire year

Mitchell Dean, 44, suffered from depression for as long as he could remember, and at times even harbored thoughts of suicide all day long.

To be a psychologist suffering from depression was doubly difficult, and as an integrative therapist, over the years he’d tried everything, from diet and supplements to Chinese herbs and chiropractic, but nothing had seemed to help.

He had joined a Power of Eight® group, and not long after joining his group sent an intention to help him with his condition. As a result, Mitchell was inspired to work with a chiropractor, who ran 46 tests on him. When he got the results back, 45 were fine, but the 46th showed that one of his liver filtration systems wasn’t working. That meant that some of the toxins his body took in were going directly to his brain. Mitchell started a new regimen of Chinese medicine, diet and supplements, and this time, they worked.

Finally he’d had a true breakthrough; although the depression returned for a day or two now and then, it had subsided. But the most profound effect on himself occurred whenever he held an intention for someone else.“It just feels like there’s more good fortune that comes my way,” he said. “Something in me feels more central, more grounded, more hooked up — like a conduit to spirit.”

For many years I believed I was witnessing a placebo effect — until I began to realize that the senders were getting healed, too. 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 were working for her. So at my insistence that she ‘get off of herself,’ she started shifting her intention to a young boy who’d tried to commit suicide. “Two days after that,” she reported, “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!”

What is the mechanism for these instant healings? In 2016 Dr. Stephanie Sullivan, a neuroscientist at the Life University, the world’s largest chiropractic university, carried out a study of my Power of Eight® groups and discovered that members of the group undergo major brain-wave changes as soon as they begin intending in a group:  a sharp decrease in activity in the brain’s frontal lobes (behind the forehead) and in the parietal lobes, at the back of the top of the head.

The purpose of the parietal lobe is to figure out where you end and the rest of the universe begins, and portions of the right frontal lobe is the area of the brain associated with negative thinking and worry. According to the late Eugene d’Aquili of the University of Pennsylvania and his colleague Andrew Newberg, these are the identical brain wave signatures to those of Sufi masters during rituals or Tibetan monks and Franciscan nuns at ecstatic prayer.

This shutting down of frontal and parietal lobe activity would make it easier to access creative imagination, says Newberg, and a sense of oneness, which might explain why those experiencing a state of enlightenment often describe feelings of bliss.

This suggests that the participants in our global experiments and Power of Eight® groups were experiencing something akin to a moment of ecstasy, which then may have proved transformational in their lives.

But unlike Newberg’s nuns, monks or Sufis, our group members didn’t require years of devoted practice. In every case our participants had been transported into that state in an instant. Sending altruistic thoughts of healing in a group appears to be fast track to the miraculous.

Adapted from Lynne McTaggart, The Power of Eight®: Harnessing the Miraculous Energies of a Small Group to Heal Others, Your Life, and the World (New York: Atria Books, 2018), which includes full instructions about how to do group intention and construct your own Power of Eight® group.

Lynne McTaggart, one of the central authorities on the new science and consciousness, is the award-winning author of seven books, including the internationally bestselling The Power of Eight, The Intention Experiment, The Field, and The Bond. Her books have been translated into more than 30 languages. She is also editorial director of What Doctors Don’t Tell You, one of the world’s most respected U.S. health magazines, now published in 15 languages, and Get Well, a holistic health expo. What Doctors Don’t Tell You was named Best and Most Popular Website of the year for Health and Wellbeing and Ethical Business of the Year.

As architect of the Intention Experiments, a web-based “global laboratory” to test the power of intention to heal the world, Lynne was prominently featured in the plotline of Dan Brown’s blockbuster The Lost Symbol. A highly sought-after public speaker who has spoken on nearly every continent, Lynne has also appeared in many documentaries, including What the Bleep Do We Know?!, Down the Rabbit Hole, I Am, The Abundance Factor, and The Healing Field. 

Lynne has been included multiple times in Watkins Mind Body Spirit magazine's list of the “100 Most Spiritually Influential Living People.” 

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This article appears in: 2021 Catalyst, Issue 4: Science of Healing Summit and Women's History Month