For nearly 10 years, I’d been trying to discover why Power of Eight groups are so powerful, not only for the receivers but also for the senders. And in April 2015, I got my opportunity, when Dr. Guy Riekeman, then president of Life University, the world’s largest chiropractic university, volunteered the university’s services to study what was going on in my Power of Eight groups.
Guy put me in touch with Dr Stephanie Sullivan, a neuroscientist and director of the Dr. Sid E. Williams Center for Chiropractic Research, who has a great deal of experience carrying out scientific research.
We settled on a simple study of individuals participating in a Power of Eight group made up of volunteers from the student body. One of the group members would volunteer as an intention target, and the rest of the group would send intention to him or her, just as I’d done in my workshops.
Stephanie and her team would examine the brain patterns of one of the intenders via a qEEG, or quantitative electroencephalogram, the standard equipment for measuring different brain wave patterns, before, during, and after the group intention.
For scientific credibility, Stephanie planned to conduct the trial seven times with a different Power of Eight groups made up of different individuals, each of those targeted for brain wave measurements first-timers in this kind of intention.
A global quieting of the brain
“So far, the results are quite amazing,” Stephanie wrote me. After carrying out six of the seven studies (one proved unusable), the Life University research team discovered a scientifically significant decrease in activity in the right temporal lobes, the frontal lobes, and the right parietal lobes of our participants during the intention sessions, an almost global quieting of the brain occurring in several frequencies (or brain wave) bands.
The greatest changes occurred across the entire right parietal lobe of the brain and the frontal regions of the brain, relating to executive processes like planning and decision-making. Furthermore, they occurred immediately, during just ten minutes of sending healing intentions, and among people who’d never engaged in a Power of Eight intention circle before.
In our Power of Eight groups and Intention Experiments, moving away from the self and focusing on the “other” immediately reduced activity on many of the areas related to self, particularly those on the right side of the brain, which is associated with negative thinking, fear, worry, and depression.
We found diminished activity in the right prefrontal cortex, which could indicate a shift away from higher stress and anxious states and an improvement in emotion.
Our Power of Eight study also showed evidence of an increase in communication between the different parts of the brain.
Other standardized tests also showed significant improvement in overall mood, and also in calm, relaxation and pain relief. Of those who’d reported pains of various kinds—migraine, joint pain, bad back— their pain spontaneously disappeared.
Like a sufi master
Our results were nothing like what occurs in general meditation, which tends to cause an increase in alpha and theta brain wave power over the majority of the cortex; alpha waves decreased in our participants.
Instead, the brain waves of our participants resembled the very signatures of many of the groups like nuns, monks and Sufi masters studied by neuroscientist Dr. Andrew Newberg at the University of Pennsylvania.
The participants in our global experiments and Power of Eight groups were experiencing something akin to a moment of ecstasy, which then may have proved transformational in their lives.
But unlike Newberg’s nuns, monks, or Sufis, the process hadn’t required priming—an hour of intense chanting or reflection to achieve that state—or years of devoted practice.
With those subjects, and in most instances of contemplative prayer, says Newberg, “typically it took about fifty to sixty minutes for them to create these same kinds of neurological changes.”
No experience necessary
Something vastly different had happened to my participants. They’d entered into this state within a few minutes of beginning a Power of Eight group or an Intention Experiment, and their experience of enlightenment was not only immediate but both unexpected and uninvited.
And unlike your typical religious or indigenous experiences, there had been no mantras, no fasting, no self-denial or deprivation, no sweat lodge, no yoga or prostrations, no speaking in tongues, no icons, no ayahuasca.
In fact, there’d been no real effort at all; the experience had been mostly out of their control. They didn’t turn it on—their involvement in the group intention just made it happen.
The most experience they’d had was intermittent meditation, and their only instruction manual had been a thirteen-minute YouTube video I’d made describing how to proceed.
In every case our participants had been transported into that state in an instant.
There was no other conclusion I could draw. Sending altruistic thoughts of healing in a group was a fast track to the miraculous.