The healing power of a group
September 26th 2017, 11:15
For many years, I refused to write about the strange healings that were happening in my workshops because I didn't believe them for one moment, which is to say, I had a hard time handling miracles.
By 'miracles' and 'healings,' I'm referring to genuine loaves-and-fishes-type miraculous events—a series of extraordinary and untoward situations in which people were instantly healed of all sorts of physical conditions after being assembled into a small group and sent a collective healing thought. I am talking about the kinds of miracles that defy every last belief we hold about the way we are told the world is supposed to work.
My own, relatively conventional, view about the nature of reality had first taken a knock after researching my book The Field. The frontier scientists I met during the course of my research—all with impeccable credentials attached to prestigious institutions—had made astonishing discoveries about the subatomic world that seemed to overthrow the current laws of biochemistry and physics.
In countless experiments, they'd shown that our thoughts may not be locked inside our heads but may be trespassers, capable of traversing both other people and things, and even actually influencing them.
I had grown especially curious about the implication of these discoveries: that thoughts are an actual thing with the capacity to change physical matter.
This idea continued to nag at me. 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 just 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?
This new science seemed to change everything we thought we knew about our innate human capacities, and I wanted to test it to the limit. Like a 21st-century doubting Thomas, I was essentially looking for a way to dissect magic.
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. After the publication of my next book, The Intention Experiment, in 2007, 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.
As it turned out, the experiments did work. In fact, they really worked. In the 30 experiments I've run to date, 26 have evidenced measurable, mostly scientifically significant change. To put these results in perspective, almost no drug produced by the pharmaceutical industry can lay claim to that level of positive effect.
A year after I began the global experiments with groups of thousands, I decided to scale down the entire process in my workshops by creating groups of eight people and asking them to send healing intention to one of their members. For me it was just another, more informal experiment, and just as foolhardy a one—until people with long-standing conditions reported instant, near-miraculous healings.
At some point I had to acknowledge that the group-intention experience itself produced some sort of mirror effect that caused big changes in people: changing individual consciousness, removing a sense of separation and individuality, and placing members of the group in a state of ecstatic unity. And this, in turn, proved to be a dynamic so powerful and life-transforming that it enabled individual miracles to take place. I recorded hundreds, if not thousands, of these instantaneous miracles in participants' lives. They healed long-standing serious health conditions. They mended estranged relationships. They discovered a renewed life purpose or cast off workaday jobs in favor of a career that was more adventurous or fulfilling.
And there was no shaman or guru present, no complex healing process involved—in fact, no previous experience necessary.
The inciting instrument for all of this was simply the gathering of these people into a group. Our cover story this month (page 28), an excerpt from my new book, The Power of Eight, is an attempt to understand more about the miraculous healing power of small groups, and also the healing power you hold inside you, which gets unleashed, ironically, the moment you stop thinking about yourself.