It was April 2008, a year after I’d launched the big global Intention Experiments, testing the power of thoughts to affect the physical world. I’d invited readers from around the world to send a designated, collective thought to a well-controlled target set up in the laboratory of one of the scientists who’d agreed to work with me.
We’d run about four of them by that time, sending intention to simple targets like seeds and plants, and recorded some remarkably encouraging results. Now I was trying to scale down these effects to something personal for people, something that would fit well in my first weekend workshop, to be run in Chicago that summer.
On a crazy whim, I decided to put them into small groups and have them send a collective healing intention for someone else in the group with a health condition. I thought the group effect in our Chicago workshop would produce nothing more than some minor physical improvement caused by a placebo effect, a feel-good exercise—something akin to a massage or a facial.
On the first day of our workshop, we divided our audience of 100 into small groups of about eight and asked someone in each group with some sort of physical or emotional condition to nominate themselves to be the object of their group’s intention. They would explain their condition to the group, after which the group would form a circle, hold hands and send healing thoughts in unison to that group member, holding the intention for 10 minutes.
I instructed the audience in some techniques I’d distilled from the most common practices of intention ‘masters’—master healers, Qigong masters and Buddhist monks—with a little breathing exercise, then a visualization, and an exercise in compassion to help people get into a focused, energized, heartfelt state. I also showed them how to construct a highly specific intention, since being specific seemed to work best in laboratory studies.
All the members of each group were to hold hands in a circle because it seemed important to maintain an unbroken physical connection. “Don’t invent any improvement that isn’t there,” I told them.
On Sunday morning, I asked those who’d received the intention to come forward and report on how they felt. A group of about 10 people lined up at the front of the room, and we handed each of them the microphone in turn.
One of the target women, who had suffered from insomnia with night sweats, had enjoyed her first good night’s sleep in years. Another woman with severe leg pain reported that her pain had increased during the session the day before but that it had diminished so much after her group intention that she had the least pain she could remember having in nine years. A chronic migraine sufferer said that when she woke up her headache was gone. Another attendee’s terrible stomach ache and irritable bowel syndrome had vanished. A woman who suffered from depression felt it had lifted. The stories continued in this vein for an hour.
I was completely shocked. What on earth had I done to them? The lame may as well have been walking. For all that I disparage woo-woo, the biggest woo-woo was occurring right in front of me.
I dismissed the possibility of an instant, miraculous healing. But throughout the next year, no matter where we were in the world, in every workshop we ran, no matter how large or small, 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 the same experience: story after story of extraordinary improvement and physical and psychic transformation.
Marekje’s multiple sclerosis had made it difficult for her to walk without aids. The morning after her intention, 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.
There was Heddy in Maarssen, Netherlands, who suffered from an arthritic knee. ‘I couldn’t bend my knee more than 90 degrees, and it was always aching. Going up and down the stairs was always difficult for me,’ she said. ‘I usually had to carefully make my way down, step by step.’ Her Power of Eight group had placed her in the middle of the circle and sat close to her, with two of the group members placing a hand on her knee.
“At first I didn’t feel anything. And then it got warm, and then my muscles started to shake, and everyone was also shaking with me. And I felt the pain going away. And a few minutes later, the pain was gone,” she said.
That night Heddy was able to climb up and down the stairs easily and go to the hotel sauna. The following morning, the pain was still gone. “I got out of bed, and I was going to the shower and forgot that I had to go step by step. I just walked downstairs normally.”
There was Laura’s mother in Denver, who had scoliosis. After her turn as the intention target, she reported that her pain had vanished.
Several months later, Laura wrote to me, saying that her mother’s spine had altered so much that she’d had to move the rearview mirror in her mother’s car to accommodate her new, straightened posture.
And there was Paul in Miami, whose tendonitis in his left hand was so bad that he’d had to have a brace on it at all times, until he was the target of a Power of Eight group, and stood in front of the audience the next day, showing how he could now move it perfectly.
There were hundreds, even thousands, more, and each time I was standing there, watching these changes unfold right in front of me. I should have felt good about these amazing transformations, but at the time I mainly viewed them as a liability. I believed they were going to undermine my credibility in what I saw as my ‘real’ work: the large-scale global experiments.
Nevertheless, during the large-scale Intention Experiments and workshops and masterclasses that I began holding regularly, participants of groups both large and small continuously described the same sort of transcendent state when sending collective intention in a group. And there continued to be miraculous effects: healed bodies, healed relationships, healed lives.
What were the possible mechanisms for these miraculous effects?
In her new book The Power of Eight: Harnessing the Miraculous Energies of a Small Group to Heal Others, Your Life, and the World, Lynne McTaggart explores answers to this profound question. McTaggart refers to hundreds of case studies, and the latest brain research. The book provides solid evidence that there is such a thing as a collective consciousness. And The Power of Eight shows how anyone can learn how to unleash the power we hold inside to heal your own life. You can order the book here.

Past Editions of The Optimist View:

An ode to America’s first organic winery that’s now recovering from devastating fires (November 12, 2017)
Trust, time, money and blockchain (part 3) (November 5, 2017)
Trust, time, money and blockchain (part 2) (October 29, 2017)
Trust, time, money and blockchain (part 1) (October 22, 2017)
Reversed industries: Building with wood, making paper with stone (October 15, 2017)
What came before the Big Bang? (October 8, 2017)
Feed the world? Get rid of fracking? Let’s do 3D (sea)farming! (October 1, 2017)
Get bored and 5 other steps to working—and resting—better (September 24, 2017)
More and Better: A new business strategy for the planet (September 17, 2017)
How to fight inflammation, the root of all disease? (September 10, 2017)
Preventing “500-year” floods, regenerating ecosystems and revitalizing economies with… mangroves (September 3, 2017)
Welcome to the Silver Age! (August 27, 2017)
10 ways to peace after Charlottesville (August 20, 2017)
Rising inequality, how to rescue good ideas, and the need to change one rule/ (August 13, 2017)
It’s worth paying taxes for a better joint experience (August 6, 2017)
The world is a better place than you think (July 30, 2017)
Two plants that can cure the planet (July 23, 2017)
Let’s stop flushing forests (July 16, 2017)
Autonomous driving: A cure for the deadliest disease (July 9, 2017)
Meeting the methane challenge with an open mind (July 2, 2017)
Never trust predictions: The future will be better than you think (June 25, 2017)
You need to get ready for digital money (June 18, 2017)
Reforesting the Ocean (June 11, 2017)
Pathways to peace through understanding and meditation (June 4, 2017)
Message from the man who brought back a rainforest: trees, trees, trees (May 28, 2017)
Obamacare, Trumpcare… or Self care (May 21, 2017)
Donald Trump has brought respect for truth back into the world (May 14, 2017)
Welcome to Planet Trauma—and what you can do about it (May 7, 2017)
Just one drop: An introduction to homeopathy (April 30, 2017)
Why you should take supplements—and which ones (April 23, 2017)
Every day I make a decision not to give up (April 9, 2017)
We can reverse global warming… and we’re doing it (April 2, 2017)
A Supreme Court hearing, today’s truths and the bestselling book of all time (March 26, 2017)
Every crisis is also an opportunity (March 19, 2017)
Ubuntu or why we cannot be human alone (March 12, 2017)
We are saving so much oil so quickly… (March 5, 2017)
Cultivating peace and an economy of sharing: toward a more just society (February 26, 2017)
Global warming: The air pollution bypass (February 19, 2017)
Democracy? Let’s do it. (February 12, 2017)
Trains, Power, and Trump (February 5, 2017)