Lynne McTaggart discovered an unexpected miracle in researching the power of intention groups: They boomerang blessings back to us.
I’ve always struggled with prayer—the asking kind. It reminds me of Janis Joplin’s satiric song about asking the Lord for a Mercedes-Benz, and it never felt right to me.
Discovering author Lynne McTaggart’s Power of Eight intention groups and experiencing them firsthand is shifting my perspective of what can happen when we dare to come together with others and hold a prayerful intention. Miracles become a common occurrence.
Sande Cournoyer is a perfect example. The 63-year-old, who was scheduled for knee-replacement surgery, had never heard of McTaggart’s work when she signed up as an usher for a Power of Eight group initiation near Denver, Colorado. When the participants split into groups, a friend invited her to receive the group’s healing intentions.
Cournoyer and the group held hands in a circle and focused on the specific intention that her knee be whole, healed, pain-free, and complete. “When we went into silence and the prayer began, it felt like something touched me, almost like electricity—not a jolt, but a tingling sensation,” Cournoyer remembers. “My whole body got warm. I felt a sensation in my knee like two oven mitts applying pressure in front and behind, then on both sides. It felt kind of like we were in a trance. When Lynne brought us out of that, a lot of people had tears in their eyes. When we shared, everybody said the same thing. We had all felt an enormous tingling sensation.”
She immediately walked without pain and did two deep knee bends, which had been impossible just minutes before. She cancelled the medical procedure and five months later is still fine. This is merely one of many documented cases of immediate and sudden changes originating from the Power of Eight groups worldwide.
The Rebound Effect
Cournoyer wasn’t the only one who benefited that night. One person with a chronic shoulder problem raised her arms above her head for the first time in ages. Another’s migraine headache cleared. Yet another arrived with a cane and walked away not needing it. But these three people were sending intentions, not receiving them. McTaggart calls this the “rebound effect.”
McTaggart runs two types of group intentions: one with small groups of eight, as with the Denver group, and the other as large-scale experiments, in which she invites her internet audience or a group of workshop participants to send one designated thought to affect a target in a laboratory, set up by a scientific team.
These large-scale studies have shown that even though the intention target (the receivers) had documented improvements in health or life situations, “the more interesting experience has been on the actual senders,” McTaggart says. They showed significant improvements in health, relationships, job situations, and in every area of their lives. They also report an increased sense of purpose, well-being, and connectedness to others.
With her Power of Eight groups, she studied a master class of 250 volunteers in 2015, measuring their brainwaves to determine what goes on within people while they’re sending intentions as well as what would happen to them throughout an entire year. Of those who met regularly in intention groups, nearly 100 percent reported major life transformations. “One man healed a suicidal depression,” McTaggart says. “A woman healed 15-year-old chronic fatigue. Another woman regained a good part of her hearing. It goes on and on like that. Others said they got their dream jobs or received financial windfalls when they needed them.”
For some, however, nothing worked. One master class participant named Andy was going through a divorce, had sold her gift shop, and couldn’t find a new job. “I finally said, ‘Andy, just get off yourself. Start intending for someone else,’” McTaggart remembers. Andy felt deeply touched by the story of a young man named Luke who was in the hospital, and she began sending regular intentions for his healing. Luke’s situation improved—and a few days after Andy started focusing on Luke, she got a call out of nowhere and got her dream job. “That happened over and over again,” McTaggart says.
“When people took their attention away from themselves, amazing things started to happen. Once you get away from yourself, the universe starts working for you.
“I’ve never seen a situation where we haven’t had amazing responses both among senders and receivers,” McTaggart says. “Meeting weekly is key. The group dynamic seems to hugely amplify the effect.”
The Science of Intention
McTaggart, author of The Power of Eight (Atria Books, 2017), The Bond (Free Press, 2011), and The Intention Experiment (Free Press, 2007), didn’t set out to prove intention groups work. But that’s what happened.
“I was the ultimate doubting Thomas,” she says. However, through carefully designed scientific experiments and research with leading scientists, McTaggart could no longer ignore or deny the powerful evidence. Still, it took her 10 years to write The Power of Eight because she didn’t believe it herself—at first passing it off as simply a placebo effect.
Of the 30 experiments she’s conducted to date, 26 have shown significant positive effects. “No prescription drug has that kind of consistent track record,” she notes. She found the rebound effects even more fascinating.
“I studied group effects, brain science, the science of altruism, the science of intention,” McTaggart remembers, finally deciding altruism had a lot to do with what was happening. Studies from the University of California at Berkeley, she points out, have shown that altruistic acts make you more compassionate toward people who are not like you. “When you do something altruistic, you activate the vagus nerve, the longest cranial nerve in the body,” McTaggart explains. “It winds around the top of the spine and through all of the major organs, and it activates compassion, love, and caring because it triggers the release of the bonding hormone oxytocin. This also causes the immune system to go through an amazing reboot. Lots of fabulous stuff happens in our bodies once we take our attention away from ourselves.”
She adds that a French scientist calls group healing soirée miracles. “I think that’s it,” she adds. “When we come together with a common prayer, miracles just happen.”
Something about praying or collectively intending together amplifies the power of intentional prayer, seeming to tap in to a mystical and divine state that’s beyond our small, individual selves. In the groups I participated in via Skype, my friend Nick was one of the people selected as a receiver. “Our intention,” we affirmed, “is that Nick in Locarno be free of all cancer and pain and is able to sleep and rest well. We further intend that he is well and healthy in every way.” The group facilitator, Lea, suggested we imagine our receivers happy and well, doing things they love.
We went through a two-minute “powering up” that included some gentle breathing exercises and getting in touch with the body before focusing on the intention itself, which lasted for about eight minutes. During that time, I felt a powerful energy surge through my body. When we did a group check-in at the end, others said they’d felt heat or power flowing through them, but there wasn’t a sense of ownership of the experience or any expectation or demand. Instead, the experience seemed to be happening as part of a universal life force or God and we were like instruments allowing it to come through.
Nick had been in a constant-care facility with very low energy due to inoperable cancer. But during the week after the intention, he was able to write a story and attend a concert—the first time he had left the care facility in more than four months. We’ll never know for sure if this miracle happened as a result of our intention, but it doesn’t really matter—to me or to Nick.
As for me, my sense of possibility has been transformed by these experiences. Before joining the intention group, my spiritual life had been feeling stagnant and insular.
Connecting with the group to send healing intention has brought me a sense of expansion and connectedness that feeds my spirit. A sense of purpose and deep peace with a great night’s sleep follows every time.
If you’re curious and it feels right and good, try an intention group yourself. Maybe you, too, will discover the extraordinary miracles that happen when even just a handful of people come together with prayerful intention.
Creating Your Own Power of Eight Group
- Join together with a small group. Eight is a “Goldilocks” number. It’s optimum: not too few, not too many. But seven or nine participants works too.
- Schedule a time to meet. Meet in person or virtually using Skype or another online meeting service.
- Get permission. Ask the person you want to do the intention for, unless the person is a child or in a coma.
The Basic Procedure:
- Be specific in formulating the intention. Begin with “Our intention is for …” and then add the name of the receiver and the specifics of what you intend for them, such as, “to be free of any pain in her right knee.” McTaggart suggests adding “and to be healthy and well in every way” at the end to cover anything else.
- Take a few breaths together.
- Hold the intention for about 10 minutes. Imagine the person healthy and well in every way as you send the intention out to them through your heart.
- Let go, trust the process, and slowly come back.
For more details on how to run Power of Eight groups, read Lynne McTaggart’s book The Power of Eight (Atria, 2017) and visit lynnemctaggart.com/unity.