The Power of Eight

By Lynne McTaggart

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 to all of this I maintained a certain incredulity, overwhelmed by a number of awkward questions.

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 to my mind, the most important question of all: What happens when lots of people are thinking the same thought at the same time? Does this magnify the effect?

I wanted to examine whether this capacity was powerful enough to heal individuals, even the world. Like a twenty-first-century doubting Thomas, I was essentially looking for a way to dissect magic.

My next book, The Intention Experiment, compiled all the credible scientific research into the power of mind over matter, but its purpose was also an invitation. Very little research had been carried out about group intention, and my plan was to fill that gap by enlisting my readers as the experimental body of group intenders in an ongoing scientific experiment.

I gathered together a consortium of physicists, biologists, psychologists, statisticians, and neuroscientists highly experienced in consciousness research. 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, in effect, 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 positive, 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, just 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 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 the “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. Afterward, 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 afterward, 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 weightlifting 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 intentions the group tried were 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.

This article was excerpted from Lynne’s new book, The Power of Eight: Harnessing the Miraculous Energies of a Small Group to Heal Others, Your Life, and the World (Atria, 2018), which includes full instructions about how to do group intention and construct your own Power of Eight group.

Lynne McTaggart is an award-winning journalist and the author of seven books, including her latest book, The Power of Eight, and the worldwide bestsellers, The Field, The Intention Experiment, and The Bond, all considered seminal books of the New Science and now translated into 30 languages.

Lynne’s been referred to over the years as a "metaphysical rock star," "the Madonna of the Quantum World," "‘the Malcolm Gladwell of the New Science," and even "The Dalai Mama." She is consistently voted one of the world’s top 100 spiritual leaders for her groundbreaking work with consciousness and the power of intention, and she’s chiefly known for the quality of her writing and in-depth research.

Lynne is also a dynamic speaker who regularly gets standing ovations from her worldwide audiences for her inspiring speaking style. She has spoken and held workshops before diverse audiences in most continents around the world from Kuwait to Kuala Lumpur, and everywhere in between. She’s also an architect of the Intention Experiment, a global "laboratory" involving thousands of readers around the world who are testing the power of group thoughts to heal the world. Lynne, her book and the web-based experiment were prominently featured in Dan Brown’s book, The Lost Symbol, and Brown even created a character partly based on her.

Click here to visit Lynne’s website.

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This article appears in: 2019 Catalyst, Issue 14: The Reuniting Science & Spirituality Summit