It started, by accident, with Don Berry. Don was a US Army veteran from Tullahoma, Tennessee, and he’d written into my Intention Experiment website forum in March 2007, offering to be our first human Intention Experiment.
In 1981, Don had been diagnosed with ankylosing spondylitis and his spine was fused, making it impossible for him to move from side to side. Even his ribs seemed frozen in place, making it difficult even to move his chest. Over the course of the years, he had had both hips replaced, and he was in constant pain.
He had numerous x-rays and other medical test reports, he said, and so he could produce a full record of his medical history by which to measure any change.
Don’s blog prompted members of my online community to set twice-weekly periods during which they would send healing intention to Don, and he, in turn, began to keep a diary of his condition.
“While it was going on, I did start to feel better,” he wrote me. “It was not an immediate healing, but my wellbeing was better and I was in less pain.”
When Don went for his semi-annual doctor appointment with his rheumatologist, for the very first time, after his doctor asked after him, he could say that he felt absolutely fantastic. “I was (am) still fused together, but I felt I was bending more and I was wayyyyyy down on the pain scale,” he told him. “The best I have ever remembered feeling.”
The doctor then pulled out his stethoscope to listen to Don’s heart, and had him take a deep breath. At the end of Don’s breath, as the doctor listened intently, he suddenly looked up at Don, his face incredulous, and said, “Your chest just moved!”
“The doctor actually sat there with his mouth open,” wrote Don, “I did not have a spontaneous healing, but the Intention Experiment set the wheels in motion for me to feel so much better, and it also caused me to recognize how the way I thought affected my health and even the world around me.”
Intentions of the week
Don Berry’s spinal improvements sparked an idea. Perhaps we could run regular group intentions for people like Don – which we would call our Intention of the Week. We could treat this as one more kind of informal experiment – a smaller version of the big global experiments that I was running.
I began inviting my email community to participate in a weekly intention from our website – usually to try to heal someone with a health challenge or ease someone’s financial difficulties in the wake of the 2008 financial crisis that autumn. We invited the web community to nominate an intention of the week and we posted the person’s name, condition, and photo on our website to send healing intention every Sunday at 1 pm Eastern US.
Before long I was receiving dozens of requests every week: people with cancer or traumatic injury; children with brain damage or birth defects; members with impending bankruptcies or job losses; estranged family and wounded pets. The website was turning into the cyber equivalent of a weekly prayer group.
Our intentions didn’t always work. We attracted many requests from patients who were weeks away from death. In most cases, we had no reports from doctors or other health professionals to independently verify the effects claimed by family members of our target intendee.
Sometimes the effects were enormous – a number of readers claimed to have had spontaneous remissions of their cancer – and other times fleeting, but there were enough testimonials of extraordinary improvement for me to think that something was going on.
Back from paralysis
Brian had been left paralyzed and was still unconscious from a recent major accident and his family sent in a request for him to be one of our targets. Right after Brian's healing intention, his mother Linda started noticing that he was becoming more aware of his surroundings and paying closer attention with an overall increase in awareness. He began answering questions more often than he had before and even began to initiate conversation.
Two days after the intention for him, Brian went to physical therapy and for the first time walked sixty feet with the therapist and his walker and then another forty feet without a brace on the right leg. He also began using his right arm more, and was able to start riding a recumbent bike in therapy. He’d regained movement months earlier than his doctors had predicted.
Margaret, a family friend, who’d nominated Brian as an Intention of the Week, wrote in with a progress report. Brian’s family was “amazed with the increase in his progress,” she said. To their mind, the group intention had triggered some form of “divine intervention.”
After a while, it became apparent that effects that we were witnessing from the Intentions of the Week could not have been placebo effects. There were babies, fetuses even, who were getting healed. There were people who were unconscious or weren’t told they were the object of intention.
Baby Isabella was born in Spokane, Washington, at twenty-four weeks’ gestation weighing just one pound four ounces with intestines detached, a strep infection in her stomach and weak lungs.
Two days after the doctors operated on her intestines in an attempt to connect them, she developed an infection, and they had to operate on her lungs for a second time. She was placed on a number of different antibiotics, and a specialist was brought in, who then determined her infection was antibiotic resistant. The doctors attached a colostomy bag. Her case looked almost hopeless.
Her mother reached out to us to nominate her baby for an Intention of the Week.
Seven days after we sent our intention, Isabella had another operation, and came through amazingly well.
Although the doctors had been concerned that the strep infection had returned and they might have to operate again, to their astonishment, her blood levels, the cause of the alarm, quickly reverted to normal. She began developing normally and after eight months was discharged, a totally healthy child. Her mother called it a ‘miracle.’
Even before birth
In May 2009 Jeuline, from Gothenburg, Sweden, was due to give birth, but the baby boy she was carrying was diagnosed with a rare and severe heart defect that was certain to affect the function of his heart and lungs.
The doctors were fearful that the baby would not be able to breathe on his own when born because his lungs were likely to be damaged. And even if he were able to breathe, he’d need to be strong enough to go through at least three different operations on the blood vessels of his heart.
Before her due date, Jeuline asked to be put into the Intention of the Week circle. After our group intention her son, named Lotus, was born in far better shape than doctors had predicted. They were amazed that he was able to breathe unassisted and his oxygen saturation rose after breastfeeding since the reverse usually happens in children with heart problems.
He continued to gain weight and remained healthy for his operation two and a half months later and afterwards continued to thrive.
“Doctors are surprised at how healthy he is and looks,” his mother wrote us at the time. “He has been healthier than other heart kids in a similar situation. A very content, calm and happy little guy.”
There was even a teenage runaway who got united with her parents. A mother wrote us about her 16-year-old daughter, who had run away from home, and our community sent an intention for the daughter and her mother to communicate more honestly.
After several weeks I received an effusive note from her mother reporting that her daughter had come home three weeks after the intentions started and they’d begun having honest, heartfelt talks. The daughter also changed her social media pages, which had been very dark and defiant, to powder pink.
Healthy blood cells
And, more recently, there was Joe, a 62-year-old from Vancouver, diagnosed with leukaemia and given six months to live. He’d had aggressive chemotherapy to kill the cancer cells, and now the doctors were waiting to see if the cancer was in remission and his body able to produce healthy blood cells, a prerequisite for carrying out a bone-marrow transplant, which is medicine’s last-ditch attempt at a cure.
On the Saturday before our Sunday intention, Joe’s blood count was taken at the hospital and the doctors were still concerned about the low levels of white blood cells. The day after our intention, Joe had a new set of blood tests taken, which revealed that his white blood cells had risen dramatically.
His doctors were so astounded by the dramatic rise in his blood count that they took him off all his meds. Although they recommended that he carry on with another course of chemo, this would be a far gentler form of the treatment.
What were we witnessing here – a healing success or pure coincidence? The fact that the process was working on a baby – and even a fetus –and also people who were unconscious or ignorant that any effort was being conducted on their behalf tended to rule out an expectation effect. Did this have anything to do with some sort of amplified power of group intention?
But what I also discovered was something completely untoward.
The group-intention experience itself was also causing big changes in our participants, removing a sense of individuality and placing members of the group in a state of ecstatic unity. This dynamic was so life-transforming that it enabled individual miracles to take place, as people reported that their lives – their health, their relationships, their work – was improved. What we sent out to the universe was coming back to us, magnified.
The outcome of group intentions was remarkable, but they aren’t the important part of the story. The point is the miraculous power you hold inside of you to heal your own life, which gets unleashed, ironically, the moment you stop thinking about yourself.