Our survey to discover if lives changed among those who participated in our historic 9/11 Peace Intention Experiment offers even more powerful evidence of the extraordinary and unique healing power of group intention: when you send healing as a group you end up healing yourself.
Although this is just a sampling of the data still coming in, I thought it was interesting enough to share.
To quickly recap for those who didn’t participate, for the tenth anniversary of September 11 we ran an eight-day Peace Intention Experiment, involving thousands of people from 85 countries, from Iceland to Malaysia, sending intention to lower violence to two provinces in Afghanistan.
We’d partnered with Dr. Salah Al-Rashed to create a healing of East and West, he and I carried out a joint apology for the events of 9/11 and ended up with participants from virtually every Western and Arab country in the world.
We’ve had extraordinary results, showing a huge decrease in violence from every area examined.
If you somehow missed these historic results, see: http://www.lynnemctaggart.com/blog/166-the-results-of-the-911-peace-intention-experiment
An experiment that changed lives
For months after the experiment, I’ve been running a survey among the participants to find out what happened to them, during and in the months after our experiment. This time we ran the survey in both English and Arabic.
The responses now pouring back clearly show that our experiment shifted some people’s lives — permanently.
Interestingly, there were a number of differences between East and West in terms of experience in using the power of intention. I am using the term ‘Westerners’ loosely here, because it encompasses anyone who was able to fill out the survey in English, which includes people from countries around the world. I talk about ‘Easterners’ in this context as those who filled out the survey in Arabic.
Of these ‘Westerners’ the majority, or 53 per cent, were regular meditators—most for more than 10 years—while among our Arab participants more than half meditate, but not regularly, most had just been doing so for a year.
The experiment showed me that it may not be necessary to be experienced at intention to have an effective group experience. Although two-thirds of our Western participants had read The Intention Experiment, less than a third of our English-speaking group knew and regularly practiced Powering Up, the program I developed for practicing intention, and 40 per cent hadn’t practiced it until the experiment.
Not surprisingly, since The Intention Experiment has just been published in Arabic, just 13 per cent of Arabs practiced Powering Up before the experiment.
This accords with my experience with groups in my workshops. I have call this phenomenon the “Power of Eight” where we divide the audience of attendees into small groups of eight, and ask groups of complete strangers to send loving thoughts to each other.
Powerful bonding occurs in a single day, creating successful healing and extraordinary community. Strangers begin resonating together as one – even sharing physical and mental effects.
In the 2008 experiment, participation had tailed off a little as the week progressed, but this time around, most people (two-thirds of Westerners, three-quarters of Arabs) stayed with us for the entire eight days of the experiment.
Stop that car
People participated in all sorts of ingenious ways, from wherever they were during the eight days — some from one of the gatherings held for 9/11, others from remote mountaintops. One group of friends who were holding a special ceremony for the tenth anniversary of the Twin Towers did a Native American peace pipe ceremony.
Another participant who was driving during the time of the experiment, pulled each time over to participate. ‘I could always feel an energy shift about 10 minutes past the hour when the experiment began.’
Yet another person who was at work during the actual experiment used the power of quantum time: ‘I participated an hour or two before and sent the healing, light and energies forward to 1pm EST.’
During the experiment, the most common experience was feeling inner peace, felt by 70 per cent of the English respondents, followed by a sense of compassionate love; more than half felt an overwhelming sense of unity with other participants and nearly as many felt a profound connection with the people of Afghanistan. These results were largely mirrored in the responses of the Arab participants.
As one intender wrote: ‘I felt love flow all around the world.’
‘It felt as if there were people whispering in my mind,’ wrote another.
‘I felt an overwhelming sense of participation with a Higher Group Mind, rather than specifically with other participants.’
‘After some of the sessions I had a sense of vibration passing my body.’
People had an incredible range of visions. As one wrote, ‘I had a vision of a yellow field of energy surrounding the earth, and pulsing with the music. A point of energy would extend down to the area of Intention, and then retract back to this beautiful humming global yellow energy field.’
‘I was IN my body,’ wrote another, ‘but OVER THERE in the target area. I felt overwhelming sense of unity with the target area and people. I kept flipping between the target area images, and the "warlike" energies emanating from my next-door neighbor. I felt that the Peace Intention Experiment would heal BOTH situations. I felt that healing with my neighbour would heal the world.’
People wrote about being moved to floods of tears:
‘Tears of compassion streamed the entire time, which has never occurred before during a meditation. I've have felt moved to a tear or two before, but not like this.’
‘I was overwhelmed with tears each time I participated. I seemed to tap into a global pain body that created pain in my chest and caused me to cry out for the children. I experienced this during our group intentions during Lynne's class on The Healing Power of Intention as well.’
For others, the experience was cathartic: ‘On Monday a lot of anger came up around issues in my life, as though I was clearing something.’
A greater peace
There were some slight differences in the longer-term effect of the experiment on the lives of our Easterners and Westerners. The largest percentage (nearly two-thirds) of Western participants felt more peaceful than usual, while the largest percentage of Arabs (56 per cent) felt more optimistic that world peace is achievable.
Large percentages of both East and West felt more compassionate than usual and more connected with others. For many the experience offered a glimpse of possibility of breaching ideological divides for the greater good.
For one participant, a big shift occurred in attitude to the Middle East: ‘Forever will Afghanistan be synonymous with Peace for me. It is a wonderful gift to me. ‘
Many thousands had tuned into Beautiful Exchange, a little internet TV station I’d teamed up with to do a daily livestream update on the event.
During the daily broadcasts, they enjoyed the ability to instant message with people from the East – and vice versa. As one Westerner wrote: ‘The experience of IMing with people from Egypt, Saudi Arabia, and many other Middle-Eastern countries—during the IM messages, we wished each other peace and expressed love—made me cry. It was wonderful! And, it was very therapeutic for me—a citizen of the USA.’
Most interesting of all was the long-term effect of the experiments
on our participants—and these changes were even more profound than those of our 2008 Sri Lankan experiment.
Three-quarters our participants noticed changes in their relationships with others during the experiment (58 per cent of Arabs did). People reported in getting along better with clients, ex-husbands, siblings, neighbors, even ‘not-so-nice bosses.’ They noticed more awareness in their relationships with others, and more clarity in their relationships with themselves. As one person put it, ‘Something subtle is implementing.’
Others made resolutions to resolve lingering conflicts with others, to heal rifts, even with those who’d caused pain. ‘I feel like I am really 'seeing' into people’s hearts more, feeling them. Feeling their goodness and tenderness,’ wrote one.
Relationships came to a head: one of our participants found his relationship with his brother was stickier, but only because he was attempting communication at a ‘more heartfelt level.’
Workplace issues shifted for many. One found it difficult to agree with the commercial attitudes of his co-workers or to go along what the boss said, but found it ‘easier to love them.’ Another go let go from a job that was very negative and was immediately hired for two other jobs ‘with very positive people.’
In love with strangers
In the West, the greatest change in relationships was not simply between partners and spouses, but friends and indeed ‘everyone with whom they came into contact with’ (56 per cent). Our Arab participants found the biggest changes in their love with their loved ones, followed closely by everyone come into contact with and those they normally dislike or argue with, but once again a large percentage—a sixth of Westerners and more than a quarter of Arabs—found they were getting along more with strangers.
For most people, the experience opened them up to universal love — permanently. ‘I feel more interested in conversing with strangers,’ wrote one. ‘People seem more attracted to talking with me.’
‘I see myself in everyone I meet, experiencing their feelings, finding compassion,’ wrote another.
Once again, the experience of working together with thousands of strangers gave many people the ability to bond with or be more accepting of people they don’t personally know – and this ability to be more connected and accepting appeared to carry on.
A third of our respondents found they were getting along better with people they normally dislike or argue with. Intention apparently helped them to feel more love in general, whether they knew the recipient or not.
As one wrote in: ‘On the first day, I was holding hand with a friend I just made peace with, after along time of not talking to one another. We held hands throughout the experiment, and when we were done, we hugged.’
Love for the entire world
The experiment had a long-term profound effect on most of our participants – as though they had been touched by something very profound.
Some find themselves acting more peaceably in the world in every regard:
‘My life has been consistently changing toward a more peaceful me lately.’
‘I am less angry in general.’
‘I look at people I pass by —look them in the eyes and smile—it's energizing.’
‘A particular ongoing conflict with my husband came finally to full confrontation, but then moved quickly into resolution and solutions.’
‘Sounds weird but I have been picking up litter - so must be more love for the planet!’
Many reported that they’d completely changed the way they related to other people.
‘I am more compassionate and less committed to specific outcomes. I am more flexible and easy-going in situations, less triggered.’
‘I noticed those areas within myself where I was judgmental of both others and myself. I'm more accepting and understanding... more apt to apologize.’
One of our respondents, feeling challenged by some people who didn’t agree with him, apologized for not sharing their point of view—at which point they became more accepting of him.
Others found themselves more accepting of themselves: ‘I am feeling my feelings more.’
A number of participants found that the intention for healing ‘spread’ – in one case, to a relative with a serious health problem, which miraculously began to heal from the first day of the experiment: ‘The change is amazing and I am sure that there was an improvement from that day on.’
Perhaps the most moving experience came from one participant, who’d lost her sister and whose children had been murdered by their father just a few weeks before 9/11. In her eyes, the Peace Experiment saved her:
As she wrote: ‘Change happened that for a second destroyed all my faith until the love of the community and signs from the universe restored it and made me more grateful than ever.
‘I poured a more intense Love than anyone else out into the universe that day as my heart shattered and soared simultaneously. The world remembered while we mourned. And many lives were changed forever.’