by Erik J. Martin
Think mind over matter isn’t possible? Dr. Larry Montz says think again. In his many years working in the field of paranormal research, America’s only full-time parapsychologist has encountered hordes of ghosts, communicated with an entity that took possession of a young child, and experienced more than his share of weird and wild supernatural phenomenon.
But one of the strangest occurrences he ever witnessed involved one of his own team members, Derek Acorah, a British investigator. Acorah, who was giving a presentation to a large audience, had just severed business ties with a deceitful man named John. The man defiantly showed up back stage and began trying to sabotage Acorah’s presentation.
The normally even-tempered Acorah politely but firmly asked the ex-business partner to leave, but when John wouldn’t, Acorah became enraged. Suddenly, John was mysteriously hurled back into a wall, from a previous, stationary and secure standing position. Acorah had not touched the man. But Dr. Montz was convinced that his otherwise mild-mannered partner had harnessed within himself the power of psychokinesis.
An inexact science explained
Maybe your parents were right when they told you ‘Put your mind to it and you can accomplish anything.’ At least that’s what most researchers and investigators in the field of psychokinesis believe. Also referred to as “telekinesis,” psychokinesis, or “PK” for short, is the use of your thought and will to make some sort of change in the physical world. It’s the enigmatic force at work in movies like “Carrie,” “Powder,” “Phenomenon” and “Firestarter.” According to the book “Paranormal Experience,” by Rosemary Ellen Guiley, PK is the influence of mind over matter through invisible means, such as the movement of objects, bending of metal and the outcome of events. It is also considered to be a form of “psi”--the symbol experts use to identify psychic phenomena that encompasses both extrasensory perception (ESP) and PK.
The term "psychokinesis" comes from the Greek words psukhe ("psyche") meaning "breath," "life" or "soul," and kinein, meaning "to move." Experts have demonstrated that PK happens both spontaneously and deliberately, indicating that it is both an unconscious and conscious process.
We don't know precisely what it is or how it operates. It isn’t something that be explained in terms of physics, nor it is affected by any of the forces or laws of physics. But we do know for certain that PK exists, and has been recorded since ancient times.
Since the 1930s, PK has grown into a high priority research interest, and it has become the fastest-growing field of parapsychology, particularly in the United States and the Soviet Union. Although experiments have scientifically demonstrated that it is possible to influence the roll of dice and the arrangement of numbers in machines (overall study results fall barely above a 50/50 chance), statistical findings from controlled lab studies have resulted in contradictory findings.
What’s more, some experiments have been attacked for their methodological flaws, and many human subjects have been accused of fraud and trickery. Due to perceived lack of credibility, the psychological and scientific community have grown skeptical of PK investigations and experiments.
Still, recent history is littered with popular examples of actual people who purportedly harnessed PK powers, including Ted Serios, a man who could look at something and apparently create an approximate photographic image of it on film. D.D. Home, a 19th century medium, was renowned for his ability to handle hot coals without being burned, and to levitate. And in the 1960s, an Israeli psychic named Uri Geller awed television audiences with his alleged powers to bend or break metal with a few taps of his fingers and mental concentration. Geller's powers were rumored to be so intense that while performing on TV, some viewers witnessed their own household objects undergoing similar changes. But attempts to test Geller in a laboratory were not successful. Naysayers insisted that Geller was a phony who used sleight-of-hand tricks.
“There have been people in the history of parapsychology who have claimed to have extraordinary psychic powers but are in fact using magic tricks to duplicate the effect,” says Dr. John A. Palmer, Director of the Rhine Research Center in Durham, North Carolina, which conducts parapsychology studies. He adds that what may seem like an utterly believable PK experience may actually how be a mind trick or a form of self or outer hypnosis. “This is why we rely primarily on laboratory research to provide scientific evidence for PK. In the lab you can control for magician's tricks by doing experiments.”
The power of PK in you
Some people are born with extraordinary PK ability, just as some people are born with extraordinary artistic talent, says Dr. Montz. He believes that all people display varying degrees of Psi abilities--mostly ESP. “The people who are more advanced or focused can sometimes demonstrate PK abilities. In my estimation, the demonstration of different Psi abilities I've witnessed and studied are attributable to the mental discipline of the individual, combined with the energy life-force or spirit of that individual.” Experts contend that PK can be cultivated deliberately through training concentration and intent. There are many ways, and techniques vary.
“PK happens spontaneously, too,” says Guiley, author of more than 20 books on such subjects as the paranormal, mysticism, ghosts, magic and vampires (www.visionaryliving.com). “We've all read stories about people do somehow perform superhuman feats when disaster strikes. That's PK at work.”
Okay, you ask: If PK is possible, why have we not seen more proof or examples of it among everyday people?
“I think this is because a combination of conditions is necessary for PK to occur and this combination rarely occurs naturally,” says Dr. Palmer. “If we could ever discover what this set of conditions is, we could increase the prevalence of PK.”
Popular culture on the occult usually portrays psychokinesis in very dramatic ways. Heroes and villains use the power of their minds to fling objects and people about with ease, cause disasters to happen (pr prevent them), and so on. Historical documentation of PK is dramatic, too, but in a different way. The acts of shamans, such as bringing rain, are deemed to be PK events. Many of the miracles of the saints, such as bilocation, levitation, controlling the forces of nature and manifesting food, have PK elements. Healing at a distance and magic also involves PK.
“If you let Hollywood define PK for you, with movies and TV shows of spectacular displays of mental power, then you will indeed see very little, if any, PK around you in life,” says Guiley. “However, PK is part of everyone's life. You become what you think and believe. The universe orders itself around you according to your thoughts. If you believe deep in side of you that you are creative, that you are talented, that you are a winner, you will consciously and unconsciously fulfill those thoughts. The same follows if you think negatively.”
Nevertheless, thought isn't everything, says Guiley. “To be truly effective, it has to be united with action. Your thoughts have the power to magnify your action. But harnessing the power of your thought takes effort. Thousands and thousands of thoughts, many of them conflicting, pass through our minds every day. The majority of our thoughts do not come to pass in reality because they are not organized into sufficient energy, powered by will and intent.”
As for the ability to use PK for mind control of others, Guiley says perish the thought. “Ultimately, you are not going to force anyone to do something that goes against their deepest will. The most responsible and productive use of your mental power is to improve your own life, help other people and make positive change in the world.”
If PK is real, then why don't more people win the lottery on purpose or make a killing in the stock market?
“Chance is 50-50, and results of controlled PK experiments fall barely above chance,” says Guiley. “Statistically, this is very significant, though it doesn't seem so from a ‘what's-in-it-for-me’ perspective. Also, there are subtle group factors involved. When you enter a lottery or play the stock market, you are going up against the hopes and intents of potentially millions of people. That's a lot of wills mixed together.”
Anxious to test your PK abilities? First, practice relaxing and focusing your thoughts through meditation. When you are ready, try simply rolling dice, using your focused mental powers to attempt to affect the outcome of the roll. To practice moving objects with your mind, Dr. Montz recommends placing a small piece of paper (2.5" long x 1/4" wide) folded in half, over a needle that's stuck in a cork. Concentrate on making the paper spin.
In the future, Guiley believes that we will continue to advance our understanding of how mental power works, and be able to adapt it in practical and reliable ways. For example, researchers are already busy working on computers that respond to thought. Sci-fi scenarios in which we use thought to operate a variety of machines will someday come to pass, she believes.
Will we be able to flip objects through space like Keanu Reeves in “The Matrix”? To do so would require some sort of interaction with the law of gravity. History shows that this may be possible, because we have historical testimonials of saints, yogis and spiritual masters levitating in altered states of consciousness. Whether we will learn how to make them happen on cue, and to manage the experiences themselves, is another matter, Guiley says.
Dr. Palmer believes that tomorrow’s potential applications for PK and psi in general are mind-boggling.
“The one application we think of now is curing disease, like dissolving a cancerous tumor. But this is only one of an infinite number of potential applications. However, especially for PK, we have a long way to go to realize this potential. This is why I think it is so important that we continue doing research to further establish the reality of things like PK and, if it is real, bring it under control so that it could be reliably applied.”