Is it possible that we can help others and ourselves heal through intention? Here, the latest science on the power of determination and how Ayurveda harnesses intention to help you feel whole.
Intention vs. Prayer
“Intention” is a popular word these days. We use it to talk about New Year’s goals, the meaning behind our actions, and our expectations for relationships. It’s also defined as the process of healing wounds, as well as being the object of prayer. In this article, I write about the difference between prayer and intention and how the latter is linked to healing in Ayurveda.
An intention is a determination or plan to do a specific thing and a prayer is a wish or a communication with God.7 A prayer directs an intention at God and then indirectly to the person in need—the focus is on asking God, consciousness, or a higher power for a specific outcome.
While prayer can be an intention and intention can be a prayer, they are classically unique.
Both prayer and intention have been well studied for their capacity to support healing. In the context of healing, a prayer is typically a request for God to help or heal, while an intention is aimed directly at the one in need. We may pray to God that a cancer is healed, or we may set an intention to help someone recover from a disease. Or, we can set an intention for our own healing.
The Power of Intention
The power of intention has been studied for years, and the findings are surprising.
In a study published in the Journal of the Society for Psychical Research, 60 college students were asked to alter the growth of the bacterium Escherichia coli (E. coli) psychokinetically.
- Each student was asked to accelerate the growth of one set of bacteria and decelerate the growth of another set of bacteria through intention.
- A third set of bacteria was set aside as a control group.
The results indicated that the bacterial growth was psychokinetically accelerated in samples whose intention was growth, and decelerated in the samples intended for slowed growth.1 In this study, the students were not attached to the outcome in any emotional way.
In another study, published in the journal Alternative Therapies in Health and Medicine, 10 subjects tried to inhibit the growth of a fungus culture by concentrating on the cultures for 15 minutes from a distance of 1.5 yards. The cultures were then incubated for several more hours and out of 194 culture dishes, 151 showed inhibited growth. This study was replicated successfully at distances from 1 to 15 miles away.4 Once again, there was no emotional attachment in these intentions.
The power of intention may scale to a cultural level as well. After 9/11, there were reports suggesting that random event generators used for such purposes as choosing lottery numbers were unable to deliver random numbers due to the possible effect of a group consciousness shift. In the prestigious journal Foundations of Physics, researchers reviewed over 800 studies between 1959 and 1987 aimed at mentally influencing the outcomes of random event generators. The consensus of more than 60 experimenters in these studies found the results “robust and repeatable,” suggesting that, in principle, human intention can affect the physical world.2
Some of these studies, performed at the Princeton Engineering Anomalies Research Lab (which shuttered in 2007), saw physical changes in the random event generators from up to 1,000 miles away.3 Once again, these studies didn’t include an emotional attachment to the outcome.
I am sure that many researchers would find these studies flawed in some way, rendering them unreliable. Better designed studies still need to be done to confirm these findings, but considering the vast amount of research on this topic, I think it’s important to share the results. Plus, the lack of emotional attachment to the outcome in all of these studies relates to the very foundation of how healing is perceived in Ayurveda.
Ayurvedic Healing and Intention
In Ayurveda, a doctor’s intention is always focused on the person who has the illness, and not on the illness itself. Even a prayer in Ayurveda would be directed at God as a request for a divine healing and would not be focused on the disease.
The distinction between prayer and intention-setting and Ayurvedic philosophy is important. When one prays for healing or intends to heal there is, by definition, an attachment to an outcome—the healing. But in Ayurveda, one of the golden rules is to not be attached to the fruits of your actions.
In fact, this philosophy is now backed by science. Studies have found that giving with an intention to get something in return has a negative effect on the human genome, while giving without an attachment to an outcome has a positive effect.8
Ayurvedic healing aligns with quantum field theory and always puts the intention and attention on what is common to all of us—consciousness. The cause of disease in Ayurveda is called pragyaparadh, which means the mistake of the intellect. This “mistake” refers to the mind and body losing their connection to the whole, or consciousness, and instead functioning as parts seeking independent survival outside of the whole. For Ayurvedic (quantum) healing to take place, awareness is first directed to oneness, or the consciousness that connects doctor and patient. Then an intention is set to restore the memory of pure consciousness in every cell. In doing so, the body becomes responsible for healing itself. Therefore, in Ayurveda, we do not call the doctor a healer, because the healing takes place when the cells that had lost their way recognize consciousness.
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According to the Ayurvedic approach to healing, it’s best when praying for someone in need to put the focus on the power and pervasiveness of God or consciousness, rather than the disease itself. And when using intention, you want to restore wholeness rather than heal the part that is out of balance with the whole.
We’re thinking love without attachment may have the same effect. What do you think?
This story is part of a 6-article series on conscious healing and the restorative power or awareness, intention, and energy medicine.
Read all of the stories:
Self-Healing and the Power of Awareness in Ayurveda
Quantum Biophotons: The Science of Healing Prayer
Vedic Healing and the Power of Intention
Ayurvedic Techniques to Unleash the Power of Quantum Healing
What is Quantum Consciousness?
Quantum Physics Meets Vedic Science