I’ve always had a nagging sense that we humans hold far more power than we realize — yet we keep it out of reach, always just around the bend. For me, when things feel “off,” I can feel an inner genie ready to “blink” her way into better circumstances. But when my instinct moves to execute — *Poof* —she disappears. Last year, however, I discovered something that taps into the superpower aspect of us that seems long gone. And in the midst of so much unsteadiness in our country and our world, I’m excited to share an accessible practice that can change your life for the better. It’s calming, centering… and at times mind-boggling.
The Power of Eight concept is quantum physics meets your grandmother’s prayer circle, atheists welcome.
It’s explained in a book of the same name, written by Lynne McTaggart, a journalist inspired by the idea of how thoughts can change physical matter. The Power of Eight builds on earlier books and is supported by an array of university-level experiments and studies that quantitatively explore the power of the human mind on the physical world.
My skeptic radar often flares at such things, even as mind-over-matter experiments pique my curiosity. My doctor-father and teacher-mother raised me to hold traditional science and knowledge in high regard. At the same time, the Catholic world of my upbringing made me perfectly comfortable with stories of angels and miracles. The tension between these oppositional values means I’m skilled at walking a tightrope that stretches over an abyss many don’t dare tread.
However, as more of us stay open enough to brave new (or even ancient) territory, I believe we are discovering an unrealized human power. And since becoming part of a Power of Eight circle last year, I don’t need to be convinced this new realm holds treasures worth exploring.
What is a Power of Eight circle?
With the aim to heal someone or something, a group of eight or so people meet regularly to meditate on a specific intention for about eight minutes. The intention itself doesn’t have to focus on physical health, but could focus on any need (e.g. a relationship, a work situation, a bad habit, a specific societal issue). The goal is to set a precise, even measurable, intention on a healing need to achieve an improved and lasting outcome.
As a byproduct of the process, both the givers and receivers of the intention can expect to benefit.
Our group, which began with five of us, has been meeting online since the start of the pandemic lockdown. It has grown to 12 women, geographically dispersed along the Pacific Northwest. Not everyone can participate each week, but on average eight of us join our Zoom calls.
We try to be efficient with time and do two intentions each week, written beforehand: one for an individual need, and one for a broader community need. After each eight-minute intention, we report our experiences as prescribed in the book. This includes sharing visuals of what we see in our mind’s eye and/or what we sense during these mini-meditations. The sessions last about an hour, with a few minutes at the top to check in, and a few minutes at the end to discuss what our next week’s focus will be.
Our intentions follow the course of the protocol’s design. That is, we frame them in the positive, and not against something (e.g. “walk easily, free of pain” vs “get rid of pain”). The theory is that whatever energy you put out in an intention will boomerang back to you. So we use positive verbiage to create an ideal scenario: knowing what needs to happen and intending that it will happen (even without knowing how improvement will come about). To that end, we often include the phrase “for the highest good of x” in our intentions. It’s like we knead the dough, but leave the dough to rise on its own.
Results from our Power of Eight circle
Over time, our group has developed a bit of “supersensory glue”. While many of us have never met in person and don’t know a lot of details about each other, we increasingly “meet” in our meditative eight-minute space. The visuals we each get almost always intersect, as though we are tentacles of an octopus, tapping into different aspects of one shared umbrella mind. A number of times we’ve described specifics about a recipient or situation that we weren’t told beforehand. Perhaps these are coincidences. But because they’ve become less surprising, it tells me we are exercising a muscle that gets stronger with each use.
The real rewards, however, are the notable and lasting results that occur. Often the recipient of the intention experiences some sort of physical sensation during the meditation. One member’s plantar fasciitis disappeared completely. Another had the pain in her knee go away. Still another had a scare in the hospital, with inflammation around her heart. And while she was not on the Power of Eight call when the group did an intention for her, we texted her when we started so she would be ready for “accepting” it. The next day, her doctors said her inflammation marker had dropped dramatically — much faster than expected.
Not all our intentions involve physical health. One member, who was starting a consulting business to help companies deal with grieving employees, asked for an intention around purpose, abundance, and finding the right clients.
Within the next three weeks, she signed several new clients — some quite significant — which is a boon for any entrepreneur in the early stages of a business.
When it comes to our broader community intentions, it’s more difficult to gauge success. During the West Coast wildfires this past summer, we did intentions for rain. During the protests, we did intentions for calm and understanding. Leading up to this last election, we never named candidates, but we did intentions around truth in the media, integrity within campaigns, and even a high-functioning US Postal system so Americans could vote without risking their health. While we can’t assess the direct impact of our intentions, we felt more empowered and less helpless simply by convening our Power of Eight group and focusing our energies for good. That alone has worth.
Our intention circle has woven a valuable thread into our lives, with our Thursday night meetings being a bright spot during the week. These past several months of the pandemic would have been much heavier for me without my group of co-intenders. And I share all this not to diminish traditional ways of healing or navigating problems, but to suggest and encourage an additional approach. Growing numbers of people think Power of Eight is worth exploring too, as evidenced by the burgeoning Facebook groups alone.
Science, placebo, or dumb luck?
Is Power of Eight just a placebo effect where we “trick” ourselves into a hoped-for response? That might be part of what’s happening. But since placebo effects can be as powerful as drugs, so be it. Or maybe our group meditations create an unspoken agreement that somehow becomes our “reality.” That’s both a whoa and a cue to examine any collective agreements we adhere to in our lives and as a society.
Are we dealing with tangible, repeatable phenomena? As far as my Power of Eight group is concerned, we don’t know and really we don’t care — because we are each experiencing an appreciable benefit. Whether we are blinding ourselves into a belief or actually tapping into a little-understood ability to shape our reality, it’s worth our time.
The paradox of you have to “see it to believe it” vs. “believe it to see it” teases us to unlock its wisdom, which is in essence what we do each week.
I’m no expert on the hard-core science aspect of whatever is going on in our Power of Eight sessions. But my gut tells me we are like toddlers discovering a new skill. It’s clumsy and exciting at the same time. And since we live in an era where society is shifting dramatically by the day (and by necessity), I know it’s a reasonable, even healthy response to try different, hopefully better, means of navigating an unknown landscape.
If you’re curious to learn more, read The Power of Eight. Take what resonates. Then consider seeking out a group (they’re popping up all over the world) or create one of your own. It may feel awkward at first. It did for me, though I reminded myself that growth happens at the edge of one’s comfort zone. And with all of us pushed beyond our comfort zone this past year, I say let’s run with it and take 2021 by the reins in new and fascinating ways!
A version of this article was originally published at BecomingBetterPeople.us, where I share stories to actively build a better Us.