Compassionate Intention paper published

In EXPLORE July/August 2008, Vol. 4, No. 4 235


Dean Radin, Jerome Stone, Ellen Levine, Shahram Eskandarnejad, Marilyn Schlitz, Leila Kozak, Dorothy Mandel and Gail Hayssen

Objective: This double-blind study investigated the effects of intention on the autonomic nervous system of a human “sender” and distant “receiver” of those intentions, and it explored the roles that motivation and training might have in modulating these effects.

Design: Skin conductance level was measured in each member of a couple, both of whom were asked to feel the presence of the other. While the receiving person relaxed in a distant shielded room for 30 minutes, the sending person directed intention toward the receiver during repeated 10-second epochs separated by random interepoch periods. Thirty-six couples participated in 38 test sessions. In 22 couples, one of the pair was a cancer patient. In 12 of those couples, the healthy person was trained to direct intention toward the patient and asked to practice that intention daily for three months prior to the experiment (trained group). In the other 10 couples, the pair was tested before the partner was trained (wait group). Fourteen healthy couples received no training (control group).

Outcome measures: Using nonparametric bootstrap procedures, normalized skin conductance means recorded during the intention epochs were compared with the same measures recorded during randomly selected interepoch periods, used as controls. The preplanned difference examined the intention versus control means at the end of the intention epoch.

Results: Overall, receivers’ skin conductance increased during the intention epochs (z = 3.9; p < 0.00009, two-tailed). Planned differences in skin conductance among the three groups were not significant, but a post hoc analysis showed that peak deviations were largest and most sustained in the trained group, followed by more moderate effects in the wait group, and still smaller effects in the control group.

Conclusions: Directing intention toward a distant person is correlated with activation of that person’s autonomic nervous system. Strong motivation to heal and to be healed, and training on how to cultivate and direct compassionate intention, may further enhance this effect.


Janice Ervin said…
I pray that you will kindly forgive my intrusion on your blog. In searching, I was unsure how to contact you, and this ended up seeming the easiest method. I'm a Hospice Volunteer, & Vigil Service Volunteer (on call 24/7 to hold the hand of an actively transitioning patient as well as assist the family immediately after). As such, I have great empathy for those experiencing grief.
So often, I later receive calls by family members to discuss their process, and I hear questions such as, 'Am I crazy?' or 'Is this normal?' Such, has prompted me to study the physical effects of the grief process, so I can begin to lecture on what happens within the body and brain. There must be a domino effect, or cyclical effect that takes place, from the active thought of the one in grief, to the release of the fight/flight hormones, to the body working towards homeostasis.
I’ve found some physiologic information pertaining to the body and stress, (mostly symptoms without explanation as to how or why the symptom happens i.e. dry mouth etc.) and granted, grief is a form of stress, however, I believe it is unique unto itself?

One symptom I’ve found again and again with regard to the grief process, is labeled as, ‘The Bereaved has hallucinations of the Deceased’.

In fact, as example, Eric Lindemann pointed out 40 years ago, that ‘there are two forms of disturbance due to bereavement:
*The Acute recurrent waves of distress (lasting only minutes)
*The Chronic (more slowly developing background disturbance, measured in weeks and months.) It impairs cognitive functions such as concentration, memory, judgment and decisiveness, includes illusions and even hallucinations of the lost person in 12 – 40% of the cases.’

How depressingly sad is it for science to inform a grieving individual, who believes they may have experienced a visitation, that it was only a ‘hallucination’ brought on by their physical state. (Of course, that’s a whole bag of worms in itself, and whether it is or not is not actually my focus - I simply couldn’t help mentioning it here.)

I believe though, that it would be of benefit for individuals experiencing the vast array grief of symptoms to understand – in simplified terms - what is taking place in their body and brain. It could provide solace during moments which otherwise seem out of control, and enable the bereaved to be better equipped to cope with its grip, even taking the first steps toward transcending that valley. I asked one sweet mom if she was drinking lots of water, and she replied vaguely, ‘no, not really…I think someone mentioned I should drink water, but I can’t remember why…unless it’s to replace the tears I’ve cried…’

Would you have any suggestions as to where I might find the basic details as to the process transpiring within the body during bereavement? Thank you for any assistance you might be able to provide, and please forgive me again for going off the topic of your blog.
rubarzan said…
Dear Dean,
My intervention doesn't have anything to do with your post. I am soory if it troubles you. In fact I would like to contact Shahram Eskandarnejad by e-mail. Let me know if oyu could help me. Thank you in advance.
Dean Radin said…
janice and rubarzan ... please contact me offline by emailing to dean at noetic dot org

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