On December 10, 1996, Dr. Jill Bolte Taylor, age 37, awoke with intense pain behind her left eye. A blood vessel had exploded in her left brain hemisphere—and she was having a stroke. Within hours, she could not walk, talk, read, or write. "I experienced people as concentrated packages of energy. Doctors and nurses were massive conglomerations of powerful beams of energy that came and went….I paid very close attention to how energy dynamics affected me. I realized that some people brought me energy while others took it away." Bolte Taylor advises doctors and nurses to be responsible for the energy they bring to their patients and to be fully—and gently—present with them. Patients are here, and your attitude, your thoughts, have measurable impact on them.
Indeed, Bolte Taylor is sharing her experience with us—an example of one. However, as we explore current research, her reflections take on a validity denied by the small sample size. The discoveries of Einstein and what today we’ve come to call the quantum perspective have brought changes of shocking proportions in how we see the world, ourselves in the world, and reality as a whole. Today, science informs us that we live in a world of total interconnectedness and consciousness where matter and spirit distinctions become obsolete. All is either energy or space, differing only in the density or vibration level of the energy. Even thought is energy, we are told, and it influences its surroundings, effectively nullifying our cherished categories of total objectivity and mere subjectivity. We are part of this reality, intimately intertwined with it. And we can and do affect—and effect—it.
Experiments at facilities such as the California Institute of Technology, the Princeton Engineering Anomalies Research program, and the Institute of Noetic Sciences have categorically proven that human thought, if properly focused, can affect the physical mass. In 1998, the New York Times reported: "An implant that enables direct communication between the brain and a computer, à la ‘Star Trek’, is allowing a paralyzed, mute stroke victim to use his brainpower to move a cursor across a screen and convey simple messages like hello and goodbye." In 1999, Reuters News Service reported: "It sounds like something out of science fiction—a rat with a small electrode sticking out of its head decides it wants a drink and, without touching anything at all, gets a robotic arm to bring it some water…a team of neurobiologists say their rats can control a machine with brainpower alone, and they think their technology may someday help paralyzed people." That same year, Newsweek magazine reported seven paralyzed patients at the University of Tübingen in Germany were using a "thought translation device" that allowed them to amplify and dampen their brain waves so they could communicate with a computer and see the results on a monitor.
At first, researchers worked only with animals or the very ill, but the use of thought energy to influence the material world is now entering the mainstream. Last November, Time magazine reported that a manager at the Ontario Power Generation nuclear plant outside Toronto used his mind to operate a series of simulated valves used to control the water and the pressure that keep radioactive material contained. "The manager touched a keyboard. And when his brain was focused enough to tell the valves onscreen to open or close, they obeyed. The employee was channeling his thoughts through a new device."
Long ago, science demonstrated that one’s thoughts have a measurable impact on one’s body, releasing hormones and endorphins as well as redirecting blood flow and volume in various parts of the body. Now we know our thoughts have force and impact outside our own body. Our thoughts, feelings, manner, and disposition influence other people and the material world—not necessarily because people see and read our facial expressions or body language, but also because thoughts themselves are energy. Erudite and sophisticated science now reinforces common experience. For example, we now understand why negative people "suck" energy out of us and positive people energize us. We know why esprit de corps is so important, and we know how a bad apple spoils the barrel. Human energy as expressed in attitude is as important to success as knowledge and skill. These things are no longer just anecdotal; there is science behind them.
Leah Curtin, RN, ScD(h), FAAN
Executive Editor, Professional Outreach
American Nurse Today
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I will respond to each in order: In response to Maria — yes, it is possible for others to influence us by their thoughts (ever enter a room and think, ‘the tension is so thick it could be cut with a knife.”? In response to Rose: it is not yet possible to measure and evaluate attitude…but ‘by their fruits, you shall know them!’ In reponse to Ann — you are most welcome, and thank you! finally, in resonse to Joan: Yes, we can be toxic to others…which is why I wrote this!
If people’s attitudes can affect others, including their patients, then some of us clearly are toxic. Do you agree?
There is no doubt in my mind but that people exude energy. Thanks to Dr. Curtin for identifying clearly the sources of attitude!
…And just how does one measure and evaluate ‘attitude’?
While it may be possible to influence others with your unspoken thought, is it also possible for them, therefore, to read your mind?