There is magic in the power of our thoughts. Or maybe it should be…
‘there’s power in the magic of our thoughts’.
Intention is defined as an act of mentally determining upon some action or result (Dictionary.com, 2019). Therapeutic intention has been practised across all cultures since ancient times. While it’s usually framed within religious context where a god, deity or spirit, is considered responsible for outcomes, research indicates that religious practices such as attending church, religious studies, prayer groups, spiritual community, and behaviour oriented to a “higher being” or “god” has consistent beneficial links with health. Other spiritual practises include ritual, meditation, crystal healing, imagery, dream-work and touch. These benefits include reduced mortality, better physical health, improved quality of life, less mental illness and less drug abuse (Jonas & Crawford, 2003, p. 57).
Science has also proven that our thoughts about something can dramatically alter its physical structure. In 2002, a survey listed the studies that had been conducted on therapeutic intention. In total, there were 2,200 reports. Among these were 80 randomised controlled trials, 122 laboratory studies, 128 summaries, 95 observational studies, and 227 case reports (Jonas & Crawford, 2003, p. 56). In these studies, therapeutic intention had been demonstrated under both casual and strict methodical research conditions. While most were focused on improving the function of an organism, some studies measured negative outcomes (Schwartz, 2017, p. 159). Since 2002 there have been others, some of which will be referenced here.
In contrast to the positive impact of intention, the negative impacts have been recognised in virtually every culture. Many of us have heard of casting the ‘evil eye’, the ‘mati’ from Greece, ‘malocchio’ from Italy, negative curses, and voodoo dolls. While science can’t prove the evil eye has any power, numerous scholars believe there’s something in it. In an article in Psychology Today (Baratta, 2014), the ‘anti-malocchio’ ritual of an older relative reversing the curse by saying a generations-old ritualistic prayer, speaks to the power of the therapeutic intention behind the attention, nurturing and confidence of cleansing the ‘cursee’ of their curse. From a psychological perspective, there is weight behind the healing ritual of prayer when there is little or no relief from traditional medicine in trying to cure the headache or stomach ache cast by an evil eye. Furthermore, the proactive attempt to avoid the evil eye by wearing a protection amulet (such as a blue eye charm), are only said to work if it is given to you, rather than purchased for yourself. The therapeutic intention behind the relationship between giver and receiver to ward off the evil eye ‘just in case’ helps explain the curative effect with the power being in the relationship and connection rather than the supernatural.
So, is it just magical thinking or coincidence?
Is it possible for an individual to influence the function of another living organism from a distance?
I believe the answer is, yes.
The power of intention gained widespread visibility with the work of Dr Masaru Emoto. In his experiments, he recorded the effects of energy on water. He photographed the crystal structures of water before and after being frozen. He examined the contrast between water structures labelled with positive and negative words such as ‘love’ and ‘devil’; exposed it to classical and heavy metal music; or used sacred water from Lourdes, France, or chemically treated water (such as city water), or polluted water. Water that was exposed to 24 hours of positive intention such as the word ‘love’, or sacred water, or classical music, transformed to beautiful, symmetrical crystal structures. By contrast, negative intentions such as the word ‘devil’, or heavy metal music, or polluted water instead produced messy, non-structured crystals (Emoto, 2004, pp. 19-20).
In 2005, the effects of intention on water crystal structures was expanded in a double-blind test which added long distance to the experiment. In this experiment, 2,000 people in Tokyo, Japan directed a prayer of gratitude to bottles of water in a laboratory, 5,000 miles away, in California, USA. The study found that crystals that developed from the treated water rated significantly higher for aesthetic appeal than those from the control (untreated) group (Radin et al, 2006, pp. 408-409).
In another experiment, mustard plant seeds were watered with intention-treated vs. untreated water and compared. In this experiment Buddhist monks focussed intention on the water with the goal of improving the seed growth. When the same experiment was repeated four times, in all four experiments, the intention-treated water caused the seeds to ‘manifest optimal growth’ over and above the untreated seeds (Shiah et al., 2017, pp. 371-372). Many of us have heard of people who play music to their veggie patches to enhance growth, in the context of intention, music is a perfectly viable option for helping ensure a great veggie crop!
The power of words are evident in the following experiment. The photo (below) illustrates what happens when a plant is bullied for 30 days. At the beginning of this experiment both plants were similar. During the experiment both plants received the same water, light and fertiliser; the difference was that the plant on the left was subjected to constant verbal abuse, while the other was loved and complimented (Ikea, 2018).
A human study in 2014 measured the effect of therapeutic intention on telomere length in stage I-III breast cancer patients. Telomeres are stretches of DNA that cap our chromosomes and help prevent chromosomal deterioration. They also deteriorate with age, and are shorter in people with cancer, diabetes, cardiovascular disease and high stress levels. In this experiment, three groups of women were studied for eight weeks; one group participated in meditation and hatha yoga, the second group underwent 12 weeks of group therapy, and the last group were the control group receiving only a six-hour course in stress management. Telomere length was maintained in the two treatment groups but shortened in the control group (Carlson et al., 2014, p. 476).
How do you focus your intention?
Like anything in life, consistent, regular and focussed practice gets results. Studies have shown that those who practice sustained intentioned focus, such as through meditation, are more successful at directing therapeutic intention than those who do not (Schwartz, 2017, p. 159).
On the other hand, anyone can cast the evil eye, even without realising. The motivation is normally envy, and the victim tends to be someone who has achieved excessive praise, beauty, success or wealth. According to Byzantine writer, Heliodorus of Ernesa,
“When anyone looks at what is excellent with an envious eye he fills the surrounding atmosphere with a pernicious quality, and transmits his own envenomed exhalations into whatever is nearest to him”.
I guess we need to work on our positive intentions and be careful with our negative ones. Part of living La Vida Low Tox is keeping our thoughts and speech 'low tox' as well. The main message is that we must monitor our thoughts; to ourselves, to others, and even plants. They are powerful. Use them for good and not for evil!
Baratta, M. (2014). Does the “Evil Eye” Exist? Retrieved from https://www.psychologytoday.com/au/blog/skinny-revisited/201411/does-the-evil-eye-exist-1
Carlson, L. E., Beattie, T. L., Giese‐Davis, J. , Faris, P. , Tamagawa, R. , Fick, L. J., Degelman, E. S. and Speca, M. (2015), Mindfulness‐based cancer recovery and supportive‐expressive therapy maintain telomere length relative to controls in distressed breast cancer survivors. Cancer, 121: 476-484. doi:10.1002/cncr.29063
Dictionary.com (2019). Retrieved from https://www.dictionary.com/browse/intention
Emoto, M. (2004). Healing with water. 10(1), 19-21. doi:10.1089/107555304322848913
Hargitai, Q. (2018). The strange power of the ‘evil eye’. Retrieved from http://www.bbc.com/culture/story/20180216-the-strange-power-of-the-evil-eye
Ikea (2018). Bully a Plant: Say No to Bullying. Retrieved from https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Yx6UgfQreYY
Jonas, W. B., & Crawford, C. C. (2003). Science and spiritual healing: A critical review of spiritual healing, "energy" medicine, and intentionality. Alternative Therapies in Health and Medicine, 9(2), 56-61. Retrieved from http://ezproxy.laureate.net.au/login?url=https://search-proquest-com.ezproxy.laureate.net.au/docview/204828355?accountid=176901
Leder, D. (2005). "spooky actions at a distance": Physics, psi, and distant healing. Journal of Alternative and Complementary Medicine (New York, N.Y.), 11(5), 923-30.
Office Masaru Emoto (2014). Power of Prayer. Retrieved from https://www.masaru-emoto.net/en/crystal-3/
Radin, D., Hayssen, G., Emoto, M., & Kizu, T., IHM Research Institute, Tokyo, Japan. (2006). Double-blind test of the effects of distant intention on water crystal formation. Explore: The Journal of Science and Healing, 2(5), 408-411. doi:10.1016/j.explore.2006.06.004
Schwartz, S. (2017). Therapeutic intention: Into the next generation. Explore: The Journal of Science and Healing, 13(3), 158-162. doi:10.1016/j.explore.2017.03.004
Shiah, Y., Hsieh, H., Chen, H., & Radin, D., Institute of Noetic Sciences, Petaluma, California. (2017). Effects of intentionally treated water on growth of arabidopsis thaliana seeds with cryptochrome mutations. Explore: The Journal of Science and Healing, 13(6), 371-378. doi:10.1016/j.explore.2017.05.001
Tsubono, K., Thomlinson, P., & Shealy, C. (2009). The effects of distant healing performed by a spiritual healer on chronic pain: A randomized controlled trial. Alternative Therapies in Health and Medicine, 15(3), 30-4.