Intention Experiments and the “Power of 8”
Lynne McTaggart is a journalist and writer who is a globally recognized lecturer on the science of spirituality. She has been active in the field of intention for nearly two decades. Author of seven books, her most recent The power of 8, builds on her findings from the Intention Experiment.
All of which invites a definition as to just what intention is?
According to Deepak Chopra, M.D., “An intention is a directed impulse of consciousness that contains the seed form of that which you aim to create.” For some this is meditation or communion with nature, sending good vibes to the universe. But for others who have learned to focus in prayer, that will qualify as intention.
But she did not start out an expert in this subject. In fact, as a journalist, she was pretty skeptical of the “science” she was experiencing. So in 2007, McTaggart and her colleagues conducted experiments, first with leaves and later barley seeds, to see if intention could be proven.
In their first experiment, two healthy geranium leaves were plucked from a plant in a lab in an Arizona lab. Each leaf was punctured sixteen times in an identical pattern. Then a special camera, used to photograph light emissions from living things, recorded the results.
One leaf acted as the control and the other the focus of intention by attendees in a conference hundreds of miles away. For ten minutes, each attendee was asked to focus on one leaf, that’s image was projected on a screen, and imagine it glowing. Then both leaves were photographed for two hours with this result according to the scientist in Arizona, “You won’t believe it,” he said. “The leaf sent intention was glowing so much compared with the other leaf that it seems like the other leaf had a ‘neglect effect.’ ”
Then they moved on to seeds, but in locations worldwide to test their findings. McTaggart wrote, “In each of these experiments, we asked the audience to choose one of four sets of seeds (30 seeds per set) and then sent an intention for the seeds to grow ‘at least 3 cm by the fourth day of growing.’”3 Participants in the study were in her live audiences (or contributed over the Internet) from areas like Sydney, Australia (600 participants); Hilton Head, North Carolina (500 healing practitioners ); Palm Springs, California (130); Rheinbeck, New York (100); and Austin, Texas (120). In all, there were twelve growth experiments, six controls and six with intention given. All were “carried out under rigorous scientific conditions, with painstaking protocol followed.”4
Studies were conducted with controls in a lab by scientist, Dr. Schwartz and his lab technician Mark Boccozzi (who was kept blind to the seed set selected). They planted 120 seeds under standardized conditions, which after five days, “were harvested and their lengths measured showing “that the intention had a robust effect.”5 In a total of six separate experiments, 1440 seeds were tested.
An intention, as she describes it, uses the power of human thought to change things in our physical world. For some, this might be a prayer expressed in behalf of the seeds, meditation toward seed growth, or it could be just sending out good thoughts for the seed’s welfare. But whenever human action exercised “focus intention” toward growth, in each test case, there was a 30 percent increase of height in sprouts where an intention was employed compared to a control group where none was used.
There was an interesting outcome in one audience, as reported in June 2008 at the Scientific Exploration’s annual meeting: “The audience in Hilton Head, South Carolina, which included 500 long-time practitioners of Healing Touch, produced the most profound effect. These were people who were practiced in the use of intention.”6
The following year, McTaggart and her team tried something more dramatic with their “Peace Intention Experiment” in September 2009. She reported, “The Intention Experiment decided to take a giant leap, to examine whether ‘group mind’ has the power to lower violence and restore peace. The plan was to have readers all over the world join forces on our website to send peace to a particular war-torn area. … the idea of a mass intention for peace under scientific conditions caught the public imagination, creating a huge buzz virally on the web and attracting tens of thousands of sign-ups in just a few weeks.”7
Beginning September 14, 2009, for eight days thousands of people from every continent joined in mass meditation with the intent to lower violence in Sri Lanka’s civil worn torn north. During each of those daily periods of “intention” Roger Nelson, who continuously runs random event generators worldwide, saw a striking drop in violence. However, during the eight-day period, “violence was the highest it had ever been over the entire two-year period during the very week of our experiment,” wrote McTaggart. Then after that high, it fell, “below what [was] expected. From the perspective of these two-plus years, our week of intention may have proved pivotal. During that week, the Sri Lankan army won a number of strategically important battles, which enabled them to turn around the war.”8 By January, for the first time in nine years, the Wanni district of Sri Lanka was liberated. It was this very area that was the target of the Peace Intention Experiment she had run.
However, there was an unexpected outcome among the participants of this experiment: “… 44 percent of our participants noticed changes in their relationships with others during the experiment, notably between parents and children, in-laws of every variety or siblings. Intention apparently helped them to feel more love in general, whether they knew the recipient or not.”9
It was this effect on the participants being healed that led McTaggart to her newest book, The power of 8. Like so many other good ideas, in 2008 on a whim of hers in a workshop she decided to “see what would happen if group members tried to heal one of their group through their collective thoughts.”10 Dividing her audience of one hundred into small groups of strangers, she asked someone in each group with an emotional or physical need to nominate themselves for their group’s intention. Each nominee explained their need to the group that then spent ten uninterrupted minutes sending healing thoughts to that person.
The following day, ten of those who had received the intention, offered testimonials of improvements. One woman who had had not slept well in years enjoyed her first good night of sleep. Another with severe leg pain reported feeling better than she had in nine years. One, who suffered from chronic headaches, said that her migraine was gone. Symptoms from irritable bowel syndrome had stopped with another person. Someone suffering from depression felt it lifted. McTaggart reported that this went on to her surprise for a full hour.
Dismissive of what the experiment suggested, she continued other workshops with similar results. She wrote of these cases: “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. Which is why, for many years, I ignored what was happening.
“As any journalist would tell you, I buried the lede of the story. I didn’t fully appreciate,” it, she said of what had happened to these people, including the effects on those sending intention.11 Those who participated as “healers” were themselves finding healing in the activity of healing others.
At her website, she concludes: “And when people continue to meet regularly in Power of Eight groups, every part of their lives
1 Author biography at Harper Collins
2 Amazon author profile
3 The Germination Intention Experiments
4 Lynne McTaggart, The Power of Eight: Harnessing the Miraculous Energies of a Small Group to Heal Others, Your Life, and the World, Atria Books, Kindle Edition, Prologue
5 Ibid. Germination
6 Ibid. Germination
7 The Peace Intention Experiment: September 14-21, 2009
10 Ibid. Power of 8
11 Ibid. Power of 8
12 The Power of 8