For many Americans, the biggest challenge in their minds is not overcoming the pandemic but finding a way to heal our nation’s deeply divided soul. On January 17, I had a unique opportunity to demonstrate a simple way that we might be able to achieve this.
For many years, I’ve been exploring the idea that Peace Intention Experiments seem to bring together polarized communities and loosen entrenched positions, no matter what the target.
I’d first witnessed this 10 years ago, after inviting both Arabs and Americans (and other Westerners) to participate in a special Intention Experiment for the tenth anniversary of 9/11.
Our target, the two southernmost provinces in Afghanistan, recorded the largest decrease of anywhere in the country in violence and deaths compared to the September of the year before, according to NATO statistics.
But to me, the real story was that we appeared to be ending a bigger war in another way, which I discovered when observing how many of our Western participants began to instant message and befriend people from the Arab countries who could write in English – and vice versa.
‘The experience of intentioning with people from Egypt, Saudi Arabia and many other Middle Eastern countries made me cry,’ wrote John from Tucson, Arizona. ‘It was very therapeutic for me – a citizen of the USA.’
‘This day is the day that we all felt the loss and no one felt the gain,’ wrote Bahareh from the Middle East. ‘Your God is my God. My God is your God.’
The resentment and suspicion about Arabs had begun to transform into love and acceptance. The pain of 9/11 and lingering rancor was healing.
The same occurred during a Peace Intention Experiment I’d run to lower violence in Jerusalem in late 2017. Our participants included residents of eight Arab cities spread across the entire gulf states and an auditorium filled with Israeli Jews – participants who historically have been bitter enemies.
After the event, people from the different locations spoke to each other, and both Arabs and Jews were crying and laughing as they recognized the common humanity in each other.
‘I love you, I love you so much,’ said Fatima from Jeddah in Saudi Arabia to the Jews in Jerusalem, blowing them kisses. ‘Your God is my God.’
‘It’s so overwhelming, the possibility of being connected with you, our sisters in Amman and Damascus and in Iran and all over,’ said Lily, an Israeli Jew. ‘It’s a time of healing. Thank you, dearest sisters, we are one.’
So now it was time to try this out on Americans.
Partnering with Earth Walk, we scheduled a Healing America Intention Experiment for January 17, three days before the inauguration. We’d planned the date in December, but after the rioting and insurgence on the Capitol on January 6, our plan seemed divinely guided.
On the webinar, we invited representatives from a bunch of polarized communities: Democrats, Republicans and Independents; African-Americans, a representative from the police and a former fire fighter; a former Jihadi propagandist and a fundamentalist Christian.
Afterward, representatives from all these factions spoke about their own feelings during the experiment, of feeling far less on-edge and divided.
But that wasn’t the most remarkable element of the event.
As always, I surveyed the thousands of people who took part to find out if anything had changed in their lives.
Many experienced the extraordinary changes during the experiment itself, illustrated by these reports:
‘I think the Healing America Intention Experiment amped my frequency up a lot! I slept only 2-3 hours that night, but I wasn't tired the next day like I usually am when "normal" insomnia hits. I think I should include a grounding practice after your sessions! Awesome!’
‘My heart felt full to overflowing and I felt the desire to cry from joy.’
‘I would say I experienced a stronger connection to God/Source than when meditating alone.’
An incredible 47 percent felt a surge of compassionate love and 70 percent said their relationships have improved.
But the biggest change was that 42 percent ‘felt more love for everyone they come in contact with’ and 40 percent said they are more tolerant of people who are not like them.
‘I was surprised to find myself agreeing with and listening closely without fear to people who vote differently than me and have a different political party or religious affiliation than I do. I did feel peacefully connected to those I would normally "write off" as having nothing to say to become people I could be interested in hearing.’
‘It felt as if the love completely overpowered the fear and the distrust.’
An extraordinary 42 percent experienced mental or physical improvements, with hundreds saying they feel calmer, more optimistic, happier, more patient with others, including those with different beliefs.
In just this short time healings have occurred in people with daily morning headaches, circulation issues, seasonal affective disorder, acid reflux, and more.
‘I have suffered with back pain for years. Was having pain prior to the experiment. It was gone as soon as it concluded, and I have been pain-free for the entire week. When pain comes it immediately dissipates as if a magic wand has touched the spot.’
‘I was getting COVID weary from having to withdraw from the community. Now I feel that my spirit is alive again.’
‘My friend Pierre was on the phone with me during the process as I translated it for him in French,’ one French Canadian wrote. ‘His experience was spectacular: he cried while doing the technique and afterwards, he had a stronger than ever desire to “live a different life.”’
I see this almost mystical rejuvenation in my participants in every single Intention Experiment I do, but I also see the same when people form into small Power of Eight® groups and send healing to each other.
Something about coming together in a kind of secular prayer we can all participate in, without the divisions artificially created by separate creeds or political parties, enables us to finally experience the oneness that is our common humanity.
And it is that experience that enables the heart to readily leap across the fence.
As Aimee, who participated in the 9/11 experiment put it: ‘I had the sense that although we had a specific “target,” we were healing everyone, everywhere at once.’