The Lost Symbol and the New Celebrity

I’ve just returned home from the September 30 Los Angeles opening of the Living Matrix film, and what a fabulous, glitzy, Los Angeles event (or ‘ta-daaaa’, as my LA hairdresser put it) it was!

The Dan Brown Effect has certainly hit LA. Held in the lush Egyptian theatre, across from the famous Grauman’s Chinese Theater, where the stars leave their footprints immortalized in concrete, the premiere began by parading all the stars of the Living Matrix movie, including me, along a red carpet, as the press’s flash cameras popped and the video cameras rolled.

I’ll feature a short video of the razzle-dazzle on these pages as soon as we get them back from the filmmakers.

If you haven’t seen the Living Matrix (www.thelivingmatrixmovie.com), it is a wonderful documentary about the science and art of energy healing.

Intention goes mainstream
Those of us in the movie may have been treated as celebrities, but the biggest celebrity of all that night was the celebration of a new paradigm, the unfolding of a new idea: the power of thought to change not only health care, but the world.

Such is the reach of Dan Brown’s popular fiction that these radical ideas – heretofore marginalized as New Age – are now being featured all over the popular press. While I was there, I was interviewed for a special NBC Dateline show (to be aired October 15), which will examine the facts behind Dan Brown’s book, including ‘noetic’ science and the Intention Experiment — and explore just how much his imagined scientist, Katherine Solomon was based on fact. News about my book even made it into Entertainment Weekly, one of the biggest entertainment magazines in America.

The power of intention has finally landed smack dab in the center of the mainstream.

During the evening a sell-out audience of 600 screened the movie, and then I joined IONS president Dr. Marilyn Schlitz, Dr. Eric Pearl, the Reconnective healer, Dr. Deborah Rozman, a chief executive of HeartMath, Peter Fraser, a professor of acupuncture, and the film’s two producers, Harry Massey and Greg Becker, in a panel chaired by well-known author and PR guru Arielle Ford of Spiritual Cinema Circle.

We discussed all the evidence about the power of thought as the essential ingredient of healing. For me, most interesting part of intention is the unknown: the exploration of exactly how much power thoughts have to heal. At the end of the panel discussion, I decided to illustrate this with a short demonstration.

A group experiment at the Egyptian
My plan was to ask the audience to participate in the kind of informal group Intention Experiment I run during my workshops and every Sunday for our Intention of the Week.

I asked for a volunteer with a health challenge. ‘Paul’, one of the audience members who’d been diagnosed with had prostate cancer, immediately raised his hand.

We all held hands to connect as a single unit while a group in the front row circled around Paul, our intention ‘target’, placing their hands on his shoulders. By the time we sent him intention to be free of cancer, we had turned into a kind of superorganism – one giant perfect thought.

It was extraordinarily powerful to witness. Paul appeared a very private and quiet man, but during the short focused intention, tears rolled down his cheeks. Many members of the audience also began to weep. When it was over, a number of people approached me to say they’d felt something extraordinary in the room that still lingered on in them. I asked Paul to write me to let me know if he experiences any change.

I emphasized that these kinds of group meetings are an ongoing experiment for me. I don’t pretend to be a healer, or to guarantee any effect, but I’m witness to so many instances of extraordinary physical transformation with group intention that I continue to marvel at its power and reach.

What is the X-factor of the group, I keep asking myself?

Just before boarding my Virgin flight back to the UK yesterday, I bought a copy of Scientific American near the gate. When I sat down to read, I was thunderstruck by the lead story, which seemed to be a message from the universe containing the answer.

The article was called ‘The Social Cure’, which concerned the work of a number of social scientists at the UK’s Exeter University. Although it had always been assumed that membership in a large number of groups was detrimental to health, particularly because it overcomplicates our lives, the evidence shows just the reverse.

The more groups one belonged to, the healthier one was – particularly if one had strong relationships within them. The scientists concluded: “Group life and a sense of social identity have a profound influence on our general health and well-being.”

This was even the case in prisons or with members of ethnic minorities who were the victims of racism. So long as they could connect with other beleaguered members of their minority, they remained robustly immune to the effects of prejudice.

“As a rough rule of thumb,” wrote Harvard political scientist Robert D. Putnam in his book Bowling Alone (Simon & Schuster, 2002), “if you belong to no groups but decide to join one, you cut your risk of dying over the next year in half.”

A group intention, even at a red-carpet Hollywood event, reminds us of the essential nature of the social contract – that our sense of belonging and being loved within a group is one of our most potent healers. At the moment, broke and with its identity in crisis, California is suffering from something close to a complete abandonment of the social code. That evening, with Paul, I like to think that we all had a reminder of just how we could get it back.