The Intention Experiment: Where The Lost Symbol's Fiction Becomes Fact

Millions of people are in the midst of reading Dan Brown’s latest best-seller The Lost Symbol, but few may realize that one of its central ideas — that thought alone, or intention, can alter things in the world — is being practiced every Sunday and on the Web site featured in his book.

I was astonished several weeks ago to learn that Brown had prominently singled out me, my book The Intention Experiment, and my Web site for special mention in the blockbuster, claiming that one of his main characters was "fascinated" by my work and experiments.

The premise of my book and our global experiment — that thoughts can change and even heal the world — plays an important part in The Lost Symbol’s plot. While this seems extraordinary, and even impossible, every week we demonstrate that it can work.

Testing the power of thought

I run formal experiments through the Intention Experiment, the first Web-based global laboratory to test the power of thought, using my international readership to take part in experiments with scientists around the world.

Like Katherine Solomon, the main character in The Lost Symbol, I am especially fascinated by the power of group mind and whether it magnifies the effect.

Besides these laboratory experiments, every Sunday we lead our Web community in an intention from our Web site — usually to help heal one of our participants or now, in the wake of the financial crisis, to ease someone’s money worries.

These ‘mini’ experiments are also intended to be pieces of research, and we are documenting some extraordinary successes. For instance, Daniel suffered severe burns to his hands after a gas explosion at work. While his colleague, who had similar burns, opted only for orthodox treatment at the hospital, Daniel decided to also ask for help from our intention group.

Astonishingly, Daniel’s hands dramatically improved in six days — weeks before those of his work colleague. His doctors wanted to study him as a medical miracle.

In other instances, Don, a Vietnam vet, a victim of ankylosing spondylitis, became virtually pain-free. John, the victim of a serious motorcycle accident, mended in record time. We’ve even had a runaway teenager return home and reunite with her parents.

Although these individual successes are wonderful demonstrations of the power of thought, we attempt to prove it in rigorous, laboratory-controlled experiments, working with scientists in prestigious academic centers such as at the University of Arizona, Penn State University, the University of California at Davis, Princeton University, and prestigious universities in Europe.

To date, my Web site has facilitated 19 such experiments, each time focusing on a philanthropic target with large implications for world healing. We’ve tested whether group thought can increase the growth of plants to make food more plentiful. We’ve run a large number of studies testing whether we can purify polluted water. We’ve even run a large-scale experiment to study whether we can lower violence in war-torn Sri Lanka.

These experiments have captured the public imagination, attracting up to 15,000 participants from 90 countries on every continent except Antarctica, who come onto the Intention Experiment Web site and follow our instructions to send the same thought at exactly the same moment.

Discovering the positive results

The results have exceeded my wildest expectations. Of our 19 experiments to date, 16 have shown significant positive results. In fact, psychologist Dr. Gary Schwartz and his team at the Laboratory for Advances in Consciousness and Health at the University of Arizona, a frequent partner of ours, reported the results of six of our experiments in a scientific paper and presented it at a recent Society for Scientific Exploration conference.

Distance doesn’t seem to have any bearing on the outcome. I’ve used audiences in Sydney, Australia to send intention to seeds sitting at the University of Arizona’s labs in Tucson.

What seems to count most is experience. The most impressive results have come from those who are practiced in sending focused thought, such as experienced meditators or healers. Anyone can practice intention, but it is a learned skill, which is why in my book The Intention Experiment, I provide simple instruction about intention called Powering Up, a program distilled from the practices of masters of intention.

One major discovery from our experiments is what I call "the power of eight." When we ask groups of complete strangers to send healing intention for each other in small groups of eight or more, we’ve witnessed, literally overnight, that people’s lifelong illnesses are improved.

Perhaps the most impressive instance was a woman who suffered from an opacity in one of her eyes; the following day she told our group that 80 percent of her sight had been restored.

"Within a matter of years,” says Katherine Solomon in The Lost Symbol, “modern man will be forced to accept what is now unthinkable: our minds can generate energy capable of transforming physical matter ...”

As we’re learning in the Intention Experiment, it may prove true that one good thought is all it takes to heal the world.

Lynne McTaggart

Lynne McTaggart is one of the preeminent spokespersons on consciousness, the new physics and the science of spirituality.

She is an award-winning journalist and author of five books, including the worldwide best-sellers The Intention Experiment and The Field, both considered seminal books in this area.

To participate in the Intention Experiment, or to learn how to do intention in one of her teleseminars, visit:

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