Body - Mind - Heart - Spirit

The Intention Experiment: Using Your Thoughts to Change Your Life and the World by Lynne McTaggart

THE INTENTION EXPERIMENT Can our thoughts affect the physical world? An Interview with Lynne McTaggart by Janice Hughes, Share Guide Editor

An internationally recognized spokesperson on the science of spirituality, Lynne McTaggart is the author of five books, including the international bestseller The Field. In Lynne's new book, The Intention Experiment, she takes the ideas popularized in The Secret and What the Bleep Do We Know? and shows how and why intention works. She explains that thought generates its own palpable energy that you can use to improve your own life, help others, and even change the world. The Intention Experiment is not just a book. Lynne invites us all to participate in cutting-edge experiments to prove the power of intention. She has created a series of web-based experiments with leading scientists around the world to test the power of our thoughts to change the physical world. Thousands of volunteers from 30 countries have already participated in The Intention Experiments thus far. As the architect of the experiments, Lynne is working with leading physicists and psychologists from the University of Arizona, Princeton University, the International Institute of Biophysics, Cambridge University, and the Institute of Noetic Sciences. These experiments have produced amazing results and may cause you to question your idea of the world and physical reality. Lynne's work proves beyond doubt that we are all connected. The implications of this discovery are extraordinary. If a quantum field holds us all together in its invisible web, we have to rethink our definitions of ourselves and how we interact with every facet of our lives. The Share Guide: Lynne, there's a potent quote in your new book that seems to sum up the whole concept of intention: "To think is to affect." Doesn't this idea change pretty much everything about the way our society is set up? Lynne McTaggart: Definitely! Everything we do is based on the concepts of Newtonian Physics, which are 300+ years old. Newton's ideas describe a very well-behaved universe of separate objects operating according to fixed laws in time and space. While Newtonian physics works very well on one level, it doesn't cover everything. New discoveries in quantum physics are indicating that everything is connected. We used to believe that there was a physics of the large and a physics of the small. We're now understanding that there is one physics--the laws of the quantum world are applicable to the world at large, the great big world of visible matter. Those laws suggest that the observer has an effect on reality. And there is evidence that our thoughts have the capacity to change physical matter. That being the case, we have to rethink almost everything, because we've perceived a world based on separation, but the world that we're discovering now is a world of unity, where all things are fundamentally connected at the subatomic level.
The Share Guide: You write about factors that can change the effectiveness of intentions such as preparation, and the right time and the right place. What do you think is the most important factor? Lynne McTaggart: More than anything else, I would say it's a focused mind. But there are many, many factors and it's not just one element. That's why in my book I did a whole section distilling the practice of so-called intention masters, like master healers and qigong masters. All of them use many common techniques and have similarities between them, but the most important thing is first clearing the mind with a meditative state, and then achieving a deep and intense focus.
The Share Guide: So that is the essential difference between masters and just anybody off the street? Lynne McTaggart: Yes. It's the difference between really using intention or just wishful thinking.
The Share Guide: When I read your book I found myself wishing for more dramatic results from the experiments, something that would silence the skeptics completely. So why have as your goal to use intention to increase plant growth 10%--why not go for 50% instead? Lynne McTaggart: Because in real science, an increase of 10% plant growth over the norm is really dramatic. Imagine a child growing 10% faster than usual and you've got an enormous result. What you are suggesting is fireworks going off, but what the scientists have convinced me to do is to take things one step at a time. So we started out with just seeing if we could affect the light emissions of a leaf with our thoughts. Then having accomplished that, we moved on to see if we could change the physical growth rate of plants. We accomplished that with a group of 500 people sending intention from thousands of miles away--from Sydney, Australia. I think that's pretty amazing! Now this year we're doing even more dramatic stuff. We've done another set of experiments since I wrote the book. We changed the cluster structure of water. So now that we know we can affect physical processes with our minds, we want to move into some practical applications. Dr. Gary Schwartz and I are building an ecosphere with a glass terrarium. It's a little mini Gaia, with primitive animals and plants in it. We're going to try to change CO2 levels or the temperature with our thoughts. We'll have lots of equipment inside the terrarium that we can measure and we'll just keep monitoring it. If we can do that, that has enormous implications for our ability to affect global warming. I'm also working with a professor of material science at Arizona State University. We are setting up an intention experiment to change bacteria in water from bad bacteria to good bacteria. If we can do that, that also has enormous implications regarding the power of thought to clean up polluted water. In addition, I'm working with Deepak Chopra and the Association for Global New Thought. We're going to create a giant peace intention experiment in the autumn, which will be sending out intention to lower the crime rate and violence levels in certain hot spots in the world. That, again, is going to have pretty amazing implications--but first you have to start small before you go big.
The Share Guide: We interviewed Stanislav Grof recently, who wrote a lot about the concept of synchronicity--meaningful coincidences that defy rational explanation, like thinking about a praying mantis and having one suddenly appear in front of you. Do you see a connection between synchronicity and intention? Lynne McTaggart: I guess you could define synchronicity as a kind of thought manifestation. So, yes, there is a connection. There are people who are able to manifest things with their thoughts amazingly well, because they are able to use the power of intention in a very sophisticated way. For me, what's really interesting and compelling is the method used by masters of intention, such as qigong masters, master healers, Buddhist monks, and so forth. They all seem to use very similar techniques. They have individual methods, but they also have a lot of common practices that they've developed for many years--and that seems to allow them to manifest many things. I think experience is what really counts.
The Share Guide: Another person you wrote about that we've interviewed is Dr. Larry Dossey. He has studied the power of prayer for healing, which is a form of intention. In The Intention Experiment you mentioned a couple of famous prayer studies that were inconclusive. Do you think that prayer is viable for healing and they just need to do the studies better to prove it? Lynne McTaggart: Oh, yes, and there are many studies of prayer that have demonstrated that it works. The problem with the big Harvard prayer study and the Duke University study, is that they were destined to fail--they had some real problems in study design. For instance, they just gave the participants the first name or initials of the person they were supposed to pray for. It would be like to trying to call you if I only had the first three digits of your phone number! I've look at many, many healing studies and when they are handled in a very vigorous way, studies do demonstrate that the power of intention and prayer definitely works.
The Share Guide: One thing that Larry Dossey said in his interview with us is that he has trouble with the term "energy medicine" because it's misleading. He said we've got to go beyond energy metaphors to describe how influence happens at a distance. There isn't an energy exchange because we're not actually separate. Would you agree with that? Lynne McTaggart: Absolutely! When you talk about energy healing, it sounds like a sort of mental radio. It's that old Newtonian paradigm I was talking about. In fundamental physics, it's believed that we are separate entities, and if one thing is going to influence something else, you've got to do something physical to it. In other words, you've got to burn it, freeze it, drop it, or give it a good swift kick. Whereas, what we're discovering is this kind of instantaneous effect that doesn't require any energy to go from A to B. That's what's very confusing to people about quantum physics. Two quantum particles that are non-locally connected are like two twins that have been separated at birth. One is in New York and one is in California, but they continue to influence each other instantaneously: if one falls down and breaks his leg skiing at Tahoe, the other one is going to fall down and break his leg at exactly the same moment, even though he's drinking a cup of coffee in New York. We're talking about a kind of instantaneous influence without any force. That's why we need to talk about something more than energy medicine. I really prefer a more defined terminology--even "distance healing" works better for me than energy medicine.
The Share Guide: Is intention more powerful when it's done in person or is distance totally irrelevant? Lynne McTaggart: Distance doesn't matter at all. We demonstrated that with our intention experiments. We had thousands of participants scattered around the globe, and the target was in Arizona, thousands of miles away, yet we showed big effects.
The Share Guide: People seem to get better at intention with practice, just like any skill. Shouldn't we be teaching it more in schools to children so that we can help change the world? Lynne McTaggart: Oh yes, absolutely. The problem is that kids still learn from an educational model that glorifies the individual and glorifies competition--which in turn glorifies separation. Kids also learn about the world as a scientific entity--the Newtonian vision that tends to color every aspect of our lives. They are taught that they are limited by the five senses; there's nothing extrasensory. If children were to learn that their thoughts matter, imagine what that might do? You see, kids learn from a very early age to be competitive and nasty and to think badly of their fellow children, but if they were taught that their thoughts were actually radiating out and affecting things and affecting others, that would probably change things.
The Share Guide: You talk about how negative intentions seem to be stronger than positive ones. That's a little scary, isn't it? Lynne McTaggart: It is scary. People often think happy thoughts are stronger than negative thoughts, but in my book I discuss experiments that show that's not always the case. Sometimes negative thoughts could be more powerful, but in any case negative intention works just as well as positive intention.
The Share Guide: Can't we can use that to our advantage? For instance, with cancer cells, thinking about them negatively is positive for the human overall. Lynne McTaggart: Yes, that's a really important point. Many people, when they try to kill cancer or an infection, are often told to imagine a battlefield and visualize killing the cancer cells or bacteria. That is negative intention and it's used all the time by everyone from healers to individuals to Qigong masters, who use destroying mind to overcome opponents and they use it to great effect. Really effective intention, I think, takes power and experience to have the biggest effect.
The Share Guide: How do you ward off negative intention? Lynne McTaggart: I like the work of Dr. John Diamond, who was the father of behavioral kinesiology. He found that there's only one thing that prevents people from being weakened by negative thoughts, and that is what he calls the "homing thought," which is the sense of what you were put on this earth to do. It's the thing you do that transcends everything. If you keep that in mind when you're bombarded by someone's negative thoughts, that makes you strong.
The Share Guide: What do you think of Dr. Emoto's experiments? He put labels with positive or negative words on jars of water and it altered the structure of the water crystals. This was featured in the film What the Bleep do We Know. Lynne McTaggart: I've had a number of correspondences with Dr. Emoto and we're discussing doing an experiment together. I think that Dr. Emoto will be the first to admit that it's not necessarily proven in any rigorous scientific way, but he's very keen to do that. I think his stuff is fantastic, and very intriguing, and now just needs some more rigorous scientific replication.
The Share Guide: What do you think about the book and film, The Secret? That seems very much in line with what you're doing and I'm wondering why you weren't in it. Lynne McTaggart: I was invited to be in it but I wanted to spend that time with my children. I think they had a really good message and it was a great introduction to these ideas. It was done in a very simple way to bring in an entirely new group of people to these ideas. The one thing I would add to it would be to explain that experience matters. It takes a little while to become a master of intention, but it's open to everyone. There are certain techniques that are better than others but it is a learned skill. I really want to applaud The Secret because they made it so easy and simple and that meant that thousands and thousands of people were introduced to these ideas, which is a fabulous thing. What a book can do, like mine, is provide all the science behind it. That isn't possible in a film that's meant to go to a mass audience.
The Share Guide: Did you have a connection with the film, What the Bleep do we Know? Lynne McTaggart: I'm in the director's cut, Down the Rabbit Hole. They wanted me in the first version of it and my youngest child was too small; I just didn't want to leave her.
The Share Guide: At the end of your book, you encourage readers to go to your website www.theintentionexperiment.com and participate in group experiments. How's that working out? Lynne McTaggart: I'm delighted with what's happened so far because I didn't expect us to go as far as we did in the first year. We didn't know whether or not there was a threshold number, a critical mass needed to have effect with our experiments. Our success was quite amazing to me--even with the tiny group of 100 people in New York sending an intention to Tucson we had success. One of the biggest challenges wasn't proving the power of intention, but figuring out how to overcome the technological challenges of trying to get thousands of people on the website at the exact same moment. The technological challenges were kind of shocking because we just hadn't anticipated it. We went through three web designers, and we tried renting a host of servers--just for an hour during the experiment--which is a very expensive thing to do. Now we have a great web designer who had the ingenious idea to put us on the social networks because they have thousands of linked servers. We're renting from a company that had hosted Pop Idol (the British version of American Idol). We need that kind of server power because we have thousands of people all staring at the same webpage. I think there's 500 linked servers on the network we're using now and that has really held up. So now we've solved that problem and we've also proven with our intention experiments that we can affect a host of physiological processes.
The Share Guide: What do you have planned next? Lynne McTaggart: Now we're pushing into the next level, to see how far can we go with this. We want to concentrate on alleviating the catalogue of illness and misery on the planet. We're looking at intention experiments that can affect global warming, pollution, poverty, or violence. Right now we're planning the Gaia experiment, which is with a little mini world we're creating in a terrarium. We'll try lowering the temperature, changing the CO2 levels, and do many other things on that little terrarium because that, in a sense, will be our test case for planetary changes. We also have a water experiment we are planning where we'll try to clean up polluted water by mutating bacteria. We have an experiment planned for the autumn which will be a massive intention experiment for peace using many, many groups of people sending intention to hot spots around the world. Another thing we want to do is try raising the grade point average in schools, which would be a wonderful intention experiment. So we have many exciting things planned.
The Share Guide: So people can join this community for free and sign up online to participate in it, right? Is there a list of upcoming experiments on your website? Lynne McTaggart: Yes. People should sign up online and then they'll get weekly information and updates about what's going on. We want to let people know about five or six weeks in advance of each experiment so they can put it down in their calendar. What's happened in the past is everybody comes online at the appointed time and we usually have some Reiki music playing on the website and we have a specific intention posted. We all focus on whatever image is there on the website. When people sign up, we ask some things about them that scientists need to know, such as have they meditated before, what their age is, what part of the world they come from, and so forth. That helps us determine details about our experimental group, because this is going to be written up in a scientific journal. Also, I send people who sign up an abbreviated version of my Powering Up Program because I want them to practice intention techniques. I want everybody to use more or less the same homogeneous techniques.
The Share Guide: Any other plans with your work for the future? Lynne McTaggart: If we're not separate then we have to really rethink the way we do things. Everything we do in our lives is based on separation and competition--from how we educate our children to how we operate our businesses to how we set up our neighborhoods to how we run our countries and our planet. My current work is very much about bringing these ideas into everyday life. Learn more from Lynne McTaggart and sign up to join The Intention Experiments for free at
Editorial Reviews Review "The Intention Experiment is an extraordinary advance in our understanding of consciousness as a field of all possibilities where intention orchestrates it own fulfillment. If you want to empower yourself and use the laws of intention to manifest your material reality, read this book." -- Deepak Chopra, author of Buddha: A Story of Enlightenment --This text refers to the Kindle Edition edition. Review "If you want to explore the latest science behind The Secret, look no further. Science and wisdom collide and make friends in this real-world adventure that is ultimately a guidebook for living."-- Drew Heriot, director of The Secret "Lynne McTaggart has zeroed in on a wonderful collection of experiments and events that shatters our normal materialistic assumptions of time, space, and everything in between (if there is an in-between). It's as mind-bending as it's meant to be."-- William Arntz, producer, writer, and director of What the BLEEP Do We Know!? and author of What the BLEEP Do We Know!? - Discovering the Endless Possibilities For Altering Your Everyday Reality "Very few books are able to transform information into inspiration--concepts into action--word into deed. The Intention Experiment does exactly that. In a style that is highly entertaining and accessible, McTaggart reminds us of an eternal truth too often overlooked: Each of us possesses the power of the Universe WITHIN. Now that is a transformational read!"-- Ward M. Powers, Filmmaker and Director, ONE: The Movie "The Intention Experiment is an extraordinary advance in our understanding of consciousness as a field of all possibilities where intention orchestrates its own fulfillment. If you want to empower yourself and use the laws of intention to manifest your material reality, read this book." -- Deepak Chopra, author of Buddha: A Story of Enlightenment
Product Description The book you hold in your hands is revolutionary, a groundbreaking exploration of the science of intention.Drawing on the findings of leading scientists from around the world, The Intention Experiment demonstrates that thought is a thing that affects other things. It is also the first book to invite you, the reader, to take an active part in its original research. Using cutting-edge research conducted at Princeton,MIT, Stanford, and many other prestigious universities and laboratories, The Intention Experiment reveals that the universe is connected by a vast quantum energy field.Thought generates its own palpable energy, which you can use to improve your life and, when harnessed together with an interconnected group, to change the world. In The Intention Experiment, internationally bestselling author Lynne McTaggart takes you on a gripping, mind-blowing journey to the furthest reaches of consciousness.As she narrates the exciting developments in the science of intention, she also profiles the colorful scientists and renowned pioneers who study the effects of focused group intention on scientifically quantifiable targets -- animal, plant, and human. McTaggart offers a practical program to get in touch with your own thoughts, to increase the activity and strength of your intentions, and to begin achieving real change in your life. You are then invited to participate in an unprecedented experiment: Using The Intention Experiment website to coordinate your involvement and track results, you and other participants around the world will focus your power of intention on specific targets, giving you the opportunity to become a part of scientific history. A new Afterword by the author recounts the successes of the several Intention Experiments so far. The Intention Experiment forces you to rethink what it is to be human. It proves that we're connected to everyone and everything -- and that discovery demands that we pay better attention to our thoughts, intentions, and actions. Here's how you can.
About the Author Lynne McTaggart is an internationally recognized spokesperson on the science of spirituality and the award-winning author of five books, including The Field, which has been published in fourteen languages. She is also co-executive director of Conatus, which publishes some of the world's most respected health and spiritual newsletters, including What Doctors Don't Tell You and Living the Field. She lives in London. Excerpt. © Reprinted by permission. All rights reserved.
PREFACE This book represents a piece of unfinished business that began in 2001 when I published a book called The Field. In the course of trying to find a scientific explanation for homeopathy and spiritual healing, I had inadvertently uncovered the makings of a new science. During my research, I stumbled across a band of frontier scientists who had spent many years reexamining quantum physics and its extraordinary implications. Some had resurrected certain equations regarded as superfluous in standard quantum physics. These equations, which stood for the Zero Point Field, concerned the extraordinary quantum field generated by the endless passing back and forth of energy between all subatomic particles. The existence of the Field implies that all matter in the universe is connected on the subatomic level through a constant dance of quantum energy exchange. Other evidence demonstrated that, on the most basic level, each one of us is also a packet of pulsating energy constantly interacting with this vast energy sea. But the most heretical evidence of all concerned the role of consciousness. The well-designed experiments conducted by these scientists suggested that consciousness is a substance outside the confines of our bodies -- a highly ordered energy with the capacity to change physical matter. Directing thoughts at a target seemed capable of altering machines, cells, and, indeed, entire multicelled organisms like human beings. This mind-over-matter power even seemed to traverse time and space. In The Field I aimed to make sense of all the ideas resulting from these disparate experiments and to synthesize them into one generalized theory. The Field created a picture of an interconnected universe and a scientific explanation for many of the most profound human mysteries, from alternative medicine and spiritual healing to extrasensory perception and the collective unconscious. The Field apparently hit a nerve. I received hundreds of letters from readers who told me that the book had changed their lives. A writer wanted to depict me as a character in her novel. Two composers wrote musical compositions inspired by it, one of which played on the international stage. I was featured in a movie, What the Bleep!? Down the Rabbit Hole, and on the What The Bleep Do We Know!? Calendar, released by the film's producers. Quotations from The Field became the centerpiece of a printed Christmas card. However gratifying this reaction, I felt that my own journey of discovery had hardly left the station platform. The scientific evidence I had amassed for The Field suggested something extraordinary and even disturbing: directed thought had some sort of central participatory role in creating reality. Targeting your thoughts -- or what scientists ponderously refer to as "intention" and "intentionality" -- appeared to produce an energy potent enough to change physical reality. A simple thought seemed to have the power to change our world. After writing The Field, I puzzled over the extent of this power and the numerous questions it raised. How, for instance, could I translate what had been confirmed in the laboratory for use in the world that I lived in? Could I stand in the middle of a railroad and, Superman-style, stop the 9:45 Metroliner with my thoughts? Could I fly myself up to fix my roof with a bit of directed thought? Would it now be possible to cross doctors and healers off my list of essential contacts, seeing as I might now be able to think myself well? Could I help my children pass their math tests just by thinking about it? If linear time and three-dimensional space didn't really exist, could I go back and erase all those moments in my life that had left me with lasting regret? And could my one puny bit of mental input do anything to change the vast catalog of suffering on the planet? The implications of this evidence were unsettling. Should we be minding every last thought at every moment? Was a pessimist's view of the world likely to be a self-fulfilling prophecy? Were all those negative thoughts -- that ongoing inner dialogue of judgment and criticism -- having any effect outside our heads? Were there conditions that improved your chances of having a better effect with your thoughts? Would a thought work any old time or would you, your intended target, and indeed the universe itself have to be in the mood? If everything is affecting everything else at every moment, doesn't that counteract and thereby nullify any real effect? What happens when a number of people think the same thought at the same time? Would that have an even larger effect than thoughts generated singly? Was there a threshold size that a group of like-minded intenders had to reach in order to exert the most powerful effect? Was an intention "dose dependent" -- the larger the group, the larger the effect? An enormous body of literature, starting with Think and Grow Rich,1 by Napoleon Hill, arguably the first self-actualization guru, has been generated about the power of thought. Intention has become the latest new age buzzword. Practitioners of alternative medicine speak of helping patients heal "with intention." Even Jane Fonda writes about raising children "with intention."2 What on Earth, I wondered, was meant by "intention"? And how exactly can one become an efficient "intender"? The bulk of the popular material had been written off the cuff -- a smattering of Eastern philosophy here, a soupçon of Dale Carnegie there -- with very little scientific evidence that it worked. To find answers to all these questions, I turned, once again, to science, scouring the scientific literature for studies on distant healing or other forms of psychokinesis, or mind over matter. I sought out international scientists who experimented with how thoughts can affect matter. The science described in The Field had been carried out mainly in the 1970s; I examined more recent discoveries in quantum physics for further clues. I also turned to those people who had managed to master intention and who could perform the extraordinary -- spiritual healers, Buddhist monks, Qigong masters, shamans -- to be able to understand the transformational processes they underwent to be able to use their thoughts to powerful effect. I uncovered myriad ways that intention is used in real life -- in sports, for instance, and during healing modalities such as biofeedback. I studied how native populations incorporated directed thought into their daily rituals. I then began to dig up evidence that multiple minds trained on the same target magnified the effect produced by an individual. The evidence was tantalizing, mostly gathered by the Transcendental Meditation organization, suggesting that a group of like-minded thoughts created some sort of order in the otherwise random Zero Point Field. At that point in my journey, I ran out of pavement. All that stretched before me, as far as I could tell, was uninhabited open terrain. Then one evening, my husband, Bryan, a natural entrepreneur in most situations, put forward what seemed to be a preposterous suggestion: "Why don't you do some group experiments yourself?" I am not a physicist. I am not any kind of scientist. The last experiment I had conducted had been in a tenth-grade science lab. What I did have, though, was a resource available to few scientists: a potentially huge experimental body. Group intention experiments are extraordinarily difficult to perform in an ordinary laboratory. A researcher would need to recruit thousands of participants. How would he find them? Where would he put them? How would he get them all to think the same thing at the same time? A book's readers offer an ideal self-selected group of like-minded souls who might be willing to participate in testing out an idea. Indeed, I already had my own large population of regular readers with whom I communicated through e-news and my other spin-off activities from The Field. I first broached the idea of carrying out my own experiment with dean emeritus of the Princeton University School of Engineering Robert Jahn and his colleague, psychologist Brenda Dunne, who run the Princeton Engineering Anomalous Research (PEAR) laboratory, both of whom I had gotten to know through my research for The Field. Jahn and Dunne have spent some thirty years painstakingly amassing some of the most convincing evidence about the power of directed intention to affect machinery. They are absolute sticklers for scientific method, no-nonsense and to the point. Robert Jahn is one of the few people I have ever met who speak in perfect, complete sentences. Brenda Dunne is equally perfectionist about detail in both experiment and language. I would be assured of no sloppy protocol in my experiments if Jahn and Dunne agreed to be involved. The two of them also have a vast array of scientists at their disposal. They head the International Consciousness Research Laboratory, many of whose members are among the most prestigious scientists performing consciousness research in the world. Dunne also runs PEARTree, a group of young scientists interested in consciousness research. Jahn and Dunne immediately warmed to the idea. We met on numerous occasions and kicked around some possibilities. Eventually, they put forward Fritz-Albert Popp, assistant director of the International Institute of Biophysics (IIB) in Neuss, Germany, to conduct the first intention experiments. I knew Fritz Popp through my research for The Field. He was the first to discover that all living things emit a tiny current of light. As a noted German physicist recognized internationally for his discoveries, Popp would also be a stickler for strict scientific method. Other scientists, such as psychologist Gary Schwartz of the Biofield Center at the University of Arizona, Marilyn Schlitz, vice president for research and education at the Institute of Noetic Sciences, Dean Radin, IONS' senior scientist, and psychologist Roger Nelson of the Global Consciousness Project, have also offered to participate.

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