Last week I explored the placebo effect and its implications on the power of intention. To me it seems clear that the mind can provoke physical change inside of ourselves. This week I would like to entertain the possibility that the mind is capable of affecting the world outside of ourselves as well, making “intention” that much more important. If you believe that the nature of consciousness is expansive, rather than limited to the physical matter of the brain, then I have stated the obvious. This idea is not new. Quantum physicists have been making fascinating discoveries as to the nature of matter for over a hundred years, challenging the long-held mechanistic view. However, the dogmatic materialism of the 19th century still seems to persist in mainstream science. Most people still agree that the mind is inside the physical structure of the brain, right? Enter two controversial scientists, Rupert Sheldrake and Masaru Emoto. Both of them have dedicated at least part of their careers to showing that our thoughts can have repercussions outside of ourselves. In other words, intention matters!
Rupert Sheldrake is best known for his theories on morphic resonance, the idea that natural systems have collective memory and the beings in the systems are connected through a morphic field. The part of this theory which interests me is the explanation of this phenomenon through the idea of quantum entanglement, or quantum non-locality. A simplified explanation of this is that if consciousness is not a physical thing that resides in the brain, the minds of beings that are closely connected can become entangled. Therefore, a change in one mind can be sensed by the other. In order to test this, Sheldrake did extensive research studies on humans and their pet dogs. After collecting their self-reported histories, he then performed hundreds of experiments, testing to see if the pets could sense when their human companion intended to come home. The results were statistically significant, with almost 60% of dogs filmed waiting by the door as soon as the human had the intention to come home, up until the time of their arrival. I have found this to be true in my personal experience. When I was younger, I briefly had a roommate. She said she always knew I was coming home 15 minutes prior to my arrival time, because my two cats, Mario and Oliver, would be waiting in front of the door staring at it. I did not have a set schedule at work, so my arrival time varied from day to day and yet the kitties always seemed to know when mama was on her way home. Human mothers often anecdotally report that they know when their baby is in distress, even if they are not in the same room. (I am 43 years old, and my mother still claims to feel something when I am depressed). The general idea is that mental intention can be communicated via morphogenetic fields. This is just one small piece of a larger paradigm that has been emerging over the past few decades, one in which we are less biochemical beings than we are fundamentally informational and energetic beings. Today’s cutting-edge physicists are discovering that we exist in an ocean of potentiality and latent energy. Given this exciting new paradigm, it is not hard to accept that our intention can affect others.
A slightly different but equally mind-opening twist on this concept can be found in Masaru Emoto’s delightful book, The Hidden Messages In Water. The book is over ten years old, but I just happened upon it this summer and it made me so happy I wanted to share it. Emoto, using the basic principles of homeopathy, understood that water has the ability to copy information. Knowing this, he exposed different containers of water to varying pieces of information and then photographed the resulting crystals after freezing the water. The results were incredible. Water exposed to music, talked to kindly and shown positive affirmations like “Thank you” or “Let’s do it!” formed gorgeous well-defined crystals in brilliant snowflake patterns. The most beautiful crystals photographed during his years of experimentation resulted from the words “Love and Gratitude.” Water that had been exposed to negative words such as “You fool!” or “You make me sick. I am going to kill you!” produced deformed, asymmetrical or incomplete crystals. In other words, positive affirmations resulted in beauty and structure, while negative ones resulted in destruction. The words and intention behind the words changed the physical structure of the water.
Emoto notes that when you drink water with feelings of gratitude, the water is physically different than the water you drink with negative emotions on your mind. (He seems like he’s on to something, so my clients get water exposed to the words “I love you” on the bottom of the bottle.) He is working on the assumption that existence is vibration. In this model, everything is in a state of vibration and generates its own unique frequency. Water picks up this vibration and it leaves an imprint. Another way of saying this is that everything is information, which brings us back again to the fundamentals of quantum physics. If this is so, and humans are 70% water, is it possible that our intention could also affect one another in that way?
Both men acknowledge that anyone who openly speaks about consciousness having an effect on the physical world risks being ostracized by the layperson claiming a commitment to “science”, as well as the old school scientific community itself. Rupert Sheldrake’s TED talk was removed by the TED establishment and labelled pseudoscience, regardless of the fact that he had studies to support every claim he made. Emoto’s work has been similarly regarded by scientific naysayers. Massage therapists know that our intention while giving a massage profoundly affects the client’s experience, but many of us only mention this in closed circles lest we get discredited for being flaky dingbats. However, researchers such as Sheldrake and Emoto have shed light on the potential power of intention in an approachable way, and their ideas are increasingly being supported by the latest discoveries in quantum physics. Perhaps we can’t be certain exactly how consciousness works, but it’s one more reason to set our intention toward others as “love and gratitude”. Just in case.
Rupert Sheldrake Banned TED Talk
Masaru Emoto’s Crystals on Video
“Tuning the Human Biofield: Healing with Vibrational Sound Therapy,” Eileen Day McKusick, 2014
“The Hidden Messages in Water”, Masaru Emoto, 2004
Favorite quote from Emoto’s book, dedicated to Kosmic Animal:
A doctor who treats the human body must first be a philosopher (shaman). If doctors were to treat not only the sick parts of the body but also human consciousness, then we would see a great reduction in the need for doctors and hospitals. Hopefully medicine can move toward the whole being.
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