On September 11, 2021, the recent 20th anniversary of 9/11, I decided not to watch videos once more of two tall buildings crumbling into dust. I wanted to commemorate that day with something positive, uplifting and healing, and invite people around the world to do the same.
I held a Healing Afghanistan Intention Experiment, broadcasted via Zoom and several of my Facebook pages on that day. Some 7,000 people from both Eastern and Western countries signed up or took part to join in the experiment from both East and West. I’d also assembled a panel of three New Yorkers and six Arabs from various countries in the Gulf States, including Dr. Salah Al-Rashed, the noted Kuwaiti author, broadcaster and peace activist, who ran the 9/11 Intention Experiment with me 10 years ago.
I wanted those from the two cultures involved to hear each other – and ultimately to forgive the terror attack itself, but also its bloody aftermath, in which hundreds of thousands of innocent Afghans were killed, injured, detained or deported.
Our target in the experiment was to help any evacuees get out of Afghanistan safely and to secure peace and tolerance for all those remaining behind.
Unlike almost all of my 39 other Intention Experiments, this time it would not have been possible to take any scientific measurement of the results. We would have needed to get figures from the Taliban, and that would have been obviously impossible.
But long-term change can be measured another way.
As usual, I surveyed the participants, who answered just a week or two after the experiment, and we recorded profound shifts in those who’d taken part – in some instances, the most profound shift they’d ever experienced.
Most of those who took part experienced profound altered states: nearly two-thirds felt they were part of a larger network, at least a quarter each felt tingling or an overwhelming sense of energy during the experiment, and many felt intense heat or tingling. Another 25 percent of my audience were openly sobbing:
‘The energy I felt was very strong, powerful, ongoing throughout all these minutes and directed. Like a very strong, thick, material beam.’
‘Felt like I was floating on the sea of consciousness, almost dream state.’
‘My body got really hot. I fell on my knees crying. asking Spirit to send through me all the love my heart was able to contribute to the event.’
‘I started crying uncontrollably - not sadness or joy, the only word I can use to describe would be compassion.’
‘I cried very hard for at least halfway through the intention and then felt extreme peace and unity with all the world and connection with the people of Afghanistan.’
In many the pain and the intensity of the intention gave way to compassion, peace and love toward all the Afghan people, most particularly the women.
Nearly half said they felt more compassionate than usual and another half, more peaceful.
‘I experienced a tremendous heart opening as I experienced the truth of boundary-lessness between myself and the Afghan people as well as everyone on the call.’
‘I saw thousands of lights all over the world unite into one huge field of light that covered all of Afghanistan. I also felt so much love, more than I’ve ever experienced before this intention.’
‘I felt that we were family. I also felt I held the Earth in my hands surrounded by pink light and held the hurt running from New York through to Afghanistan and let this resonate between my palms.’
Amazingly, in many those feelings of compassion even extended toward the Taliban. As one wrote:
‘I went on crying so hard so much so that I couldn't stop! After some minutes, for the very first time, I felt compassionate and unconditional love even towards the Taliban (!!!); I could see that divine entity in them, too. Honestly, I was shocked!’
For numerous people, the experiment healed their own experience of 9/11:
‘I felt a deep sense of catharsis. I was in NYC during 9/11 and wasn't expecting to feel so much emotion during the meditation after so much time.’
This sense of peace and healing carried on, extending into the participants’ own lives.
More than 27 percent experienced improved relations with their spouse or partner, 20 percent with their children, 28 percent with their friends, and 29 percent with strangers.
Half of the respondents said that they feel more love for everyone they come in contact with: partners, siblings, children, business associates:
‘My spouse with whom for the last few years all intimacy has been lost.’
‘Getting along beautifully with my mother-in-law (no mean feat!)’
‘I have had a problem with my publisher for over a year, but since the intention experiment the company has worked to resolve our issue. This was a surprise.’
‘My relationships have changed because I AM MORE PRESENT and REAL. Others feel my presence, love and authenticity, and consequently, we become closer.’
As with my other Intention Experiments, that opening up of the heart was the most fascinating part – the powerful feelings of compassion and tolerance that extended not only to all people in Afghanistan – but into my participants’ own lives.
Some 39 percent of the participants reported that they had developed tolerance toward people ‘not like them’ and for most that concerned differing views – whether political or relating to Covid.
‘I'm not as reactive to differences of opinion and “red line” issues don't feel as attacking and destructive as I experienced them before.’
‘Makes me more attentive in daily life encounters with people who think in another other way than I – i.e, about vaccines!’
Besides healing relationships, people experienced their own healings. More than a quarter wrote that they were ‘more in love with their lives and the world.’
One-third of our participants reported physical improvements in the two weeks after the experiment:
‘I began the Intention Experiment in a disturbed emotional state - heartbroken over how Biden ordered leaving Afghanistan and emotional remembering the horrors of 9/11/01. I felt very calm and peaceful after the Experiment. I have also amazingly experienced a “no physical pain” state for several days now!! I have a diagnosis of chronic pain syndrome, post-traumatic fibromyalgia and normally 6-9/10 level of pain 24/7 since 1995 from serious spinal injuries from 3 major auto accidents. Incredible energy shift!!!!!!’
‘I have BPH and get up 3-4 times a night to urinate. Following the Intention Experiment, I had one or two nights of 3-4 times then has dropped to twice and even once a night; something that hasn't happened in years!’
‘For 16 years I slept with a light on because I was terrified of the dark. Not anymore. A week ago that fear went away and now I don't need the light on when sleeping. 2. Addiction to coffee... gone. 3.Addiction to sugar... gone. 4.More food healthy choices started to come out.’
‘I fractured my hip earlier this year. This week has shown the greatest progression in healing in 6 months.’
‘I have a precancerous blood disease. Two days after the experiment my red blood cell count went UP without a blood transfusion. This has never happened before.’
More than 44 percent said they were inspired to work for peace or in areas of high violence:
‘I intend to volunteer at a migrant shelter at the US southern border. I feel more compassion towards those people who do not have the same humanitarian values and am trying to understand their fears/beliefs/prejudices.’
I remain hopeful, as always, about our capacity to help heal the situation in Afghanistan (there were a few potential positive murmurs a few hours after our experiment, particularly about girls and women eventually returning to segregated school and jobs).
But the one indisputable lingering effect appears to be not the target but its mirror reaction among the participants – a transformational state of peace and compassion in the hearts of the participants, causing a domino effect with everyone with whom they come into contact.
Every so often, a reader reminds me why I do this. ‘You know, you are doing more than “research,’’’ wrote one participant after the Arab-Israeli experiment. ‘You are breaking open people’s hearts.’
And that is the real point of the Intention Experiments – healing the healers themselves in order to heal the world.
Perhaps these experiments carry one simple truism: to solve a seemingly intractable political situation, to solve our political and social divides, the fastest and most effective way forward may not be through the military, politics, diplomacy or even economic initiatives.
All you may need are people coming together as a group and praying as one.
The very act of participation in group intention ignites a light inside of you that can heal your own heart, causing a contagion of healing that just might heal the world.
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