One month from today, our community will come together in San Diego, California, for a Week Long Advanced Retreat. These events take an enormous amount of planning, preparation, and coordination – to ensure everyone in attendance gets the most out of the experience.
Since the environment is a perfect laboratory for scientific studies, our events also give us the opportunity to advance and evolve our research. And in San Diego, we’re asking a special group of people to participate in a project that involves a tremendous commitment. Twelve people will be joining us for the beginning of an important study I mentioned in my last blog. Those 12 people are six sets of twins.
So, how is the experiment going to work?
Put simply, we want to study twins and observe – through real-time, quantitative, electroencephalogram (EEG) and heart-rate variability (HRV) measurements – how one twin’s mind and emotions may be affecting the other’s. In addition, blood samples will be drawn to measure more than 2,000 different metabolites – which are released from cells.
Our study participants come from a wide range of experiences and backgrounds. Of the six sets of twins, one pair is fraternal, meaning they developed from two eggs that were fertilized at the same relative time. The other five sets are identical. They developed from one fertilized egg that divides into two individuals – which means they have the exact same genome sequence.
Some of the pairs are advanced meditators; with both twins members of our community. Some have one twin who has been in the work for some time, but the other is a novice – or has never meditated before. And still others will arrive at the event completely new – with no prior meditation experience.
To make it still more interesting, we’ve found some twins who are like “peas in a pod.” They grew up having a deep bond by sharing similar experiences and traits – and remain very close now. Others have a more traditional sibling relationship – and perhaps more distance when it comes to their experiences or attachment to each other.
What will we observe?
As you can probably see, the possibilities for areas of study are endless. Throughout the week, we’ll be measuring EEG, HRV, and blood values on both twins as they participate in event lectures and meditations – and as the intensity of their experience deepens and changes. We’re still fine-tuning experiment details, but here are some things we might try to observe:
Measuring both twins when one is in the meditation room – and the other is in a remote location, elsewhere in the hotel, not participating in anything directly related to the retreat. If one twin has a profound experience and undergoes intense change, will we see that mirrored in the brain and heart patterns – as well as the blood values and gene expression – of the other? What happens when two people are connected genetically – but only one is going through a meaningful event in the moment? Will their brains and hearts be entangled – and become entrained to the same rhythms and patterns?
Looking for differences and similarities in sets of twins where both are advanced meditators; neither are advanced meditators; and only one is an advanced meditator. Our previous research shows that novice meditators can effect and achieve profound internal changes during an event – despite their lack of experience. Will this result be amplified when study subjects are as close as twins?
Studying how the participants affect each other in a less-controlled, more informal sense during the week. Twins will be rooming together in the hotel, and their monitoring devices will be wireless and portable. What can we learn from their brain and heart measurements while they’re in casual conversation between sessions? Sharing meals with the community? Or sleeping?
Taking measurements at points throughout the week to see if there are marked changes as one, or both, go deeper into the experience. What can their EEG and HRV rates tell us at the beginning of the retreat on Monday? How about Thursday? And then, finally, on Sunday? What changes are taking place in their hearts, brains, and bodies over time?
Measuring gene expression changes – from the start of the week to the end of the event. According to epigenetics, if the environment signals gene expression, and the end-product of an experience is an emotion, then when two identical twins have different experiences that evoke emotions unique to each of them, will they have diverse gene expressions by the end of the week?
Analyzing blood samples to determine changes on a cellular level. Are the cells of the body in a state of growth and repair? Or in tissue breakdown?
How will we know these observations are meaningful? As with all of our studies, each participant will be his or her own control in the experiment. We’ll take baseline measurements of everyone before the event begins for reference and comparison later on.
What do we hope to learn?
In examining how twins are connected in different capacities, we’re asking a seemingly simple question; one underlying many of our studies: can one person imprint similar changes on another?
But, when you pull the camera back and look at the bigger picture, it’s not simple at all. We’re talking, in a profound sense, about quantum entanglement – the concept that, once two particles are linked, they always will be bonded together beyond space and time. And so: anything done to one will be done to the other – even if they’re spatially separated.
Most recently, our experiments with programmed bacteria have provided a biological model to study this theory. Because they were all cloned from the same bacteria, they are, in essence, linked.
The twin study allows us to take a giant leap in evolving this biological model. Now, we can study other humans who share the same genes. They are, in this way, the ultimate linked particles.
But let’s bring it back from something that might sound pretty clinical – and talk about community and connection.
Why does it matter?
We’ve seen, in our remote and in-person Coherence Healing™ sessions, countless examples of these principles in action; meditators – our Coherence Healers – who can, essentially, imprint on others – our Coherence Healees.
We’ve seen cases of seemingly spontaneous healing – where massive changes that should be possible only at the molecular, biochemical, or genetic level are brought about through the formula of clear intention and elevated emotion.
We have strong evidence that Coherence Healing sessions can impact people who are essentially strangers; what happens when we study groups who are more connected – not just twins, but – eventually – deeply bonded spouses, or mothers and children?
These findings may be able to help us fine-tune our formula and our approach – so our healing practices can have even greater impact.
That’s what it comes down to when we’re connecting these studies to our work. How can one meditator affect the world?
Participants at our week long events often have intense experiences – and they have little to do with external influences. Everyone in attendance, essentially, has the same outside environment … but something profound happens to those who go deep into the work. Our research tells us: it's what they're doing and generating within, through their meditative experiences, that’s making the difference. The inner environment of the body is still the outer environment of the cell.
So the question becomes: how does that inner transformation ultimately create an energy that imprints on others? How does it create an energy that impacts the world?
Our twin study next month will help us understand more.
I want to say one more thing about our tremendous community. The people who participate in these studies give so much. They’re giving their time; their intention; their willingness – they’re literally giving their blood – so we can evolve our understanding of the work we all care so much about. We couldn’t do this work without our community – without them; without you. And together, we can apply what we learn to change the world.