The Power of Eight by Lynne McTaggart

Excerpt from   Our Moment of Choice

By 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?

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.

In my book The Intention Experiment, I compiled all the credible sci­entific research I could find 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 body of group intenders involved in an ongoing scientific experiment.

I gathered a consortium of physicists, biologists, psychologists, stat­isticians, and neuroscientists highly experienced in consciousness research. Periodically I invited my internet audience, or a physical 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 reallyworked. Of the thirty-three experiments I’ve run to date, twenty-nine 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:


  • 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 day after her group’s healing intention, she claimed that her sight in that eye had been almost fully restored.
  • Diane in Miami had 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.”


  • There were hundreds, even thousands, more like this, and each time I was standing there, watching these changes unfold right in front of me.


Working in large or small groups and doing something altruistic acti­vates the vagus nerve, 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, and compassion.

Increased oxytocin levels also have a marked healing effect on the body: they lower inflammation, boost the immune system, aid diges­tion, lower blood pressure, heal wounds faster, and even repair damage to the heart after a heart attack. If oxytocin is considered the “love hor­mone,” the vagus nerve is the “love nerve.”

Other evidence from neuroscience studies that scientists have carried out on Power of Eight groups shows that members of the group undergo major brain-wave changes akin to those of a Buddhist monk during a state of ecstatic prayer: a feeling of blissful oneness. Intending in a group is a fast track to the miraculous.

The powerfully transformational mechanisms at work in my healing intention groups appear to be the unique power of group prayer coupled with an amazing mirror effect and the power of altruism.

Focusing on healing someone else often heals the healer.

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