In recent weeks a number of people have contacted my office with concerns about the refugee and migrant crisis in Europe. Millions have fled their homes in places like Syria, Iraq and Afghanistan. These people are leaving behind countries torn apart by war and economic hardship in hopes of finding a better life elsewhere.

The question many ask is: what can I do? More than seven billion people live on Earth. This is an intimidating number, one that makes any attempt by an individual to solve a problem seem fruitless. After all, what happens if you do something to help? There’s no guarantee others will follow your lead and you may not know for sure if your efforts made a difference.

Let’s take a second to reframe this issue in the context of our own lives. Think about some problem in your life, maybe you’re falling behind on bills or maybe you’re having relationship issues. Whatever the concern, it can seem insurmountable. However, we know this isn’t true because we’ve seen people make incredible life changes by investing a little time and energy into themselves.

We know what it takes to create change in our lives. The process involves combining a clear intention with an elevated emotion. Through mental rehearsal we can populate a future outcome with such detail that our brain and body biologically look like it has already happened. If done properly, in this state we are more caring, grateful and selfless, which opens the door to possibility.

Coming back to the situation in Europe, what if we were able to harness that skill needed to produce individual change and apply it globally? Is this even possible? When it comes to the research the answer seems to be yes.

In 1993 a group of 2,000 practitioners of transcendental meditation took part in a unique two month study. Researchers wanted to see if this group could raise the level of coherent energy by focusing on peace and reduce the stress level in Washington DC and thus lower the rate of violent crime.

The study ran from early June to late July that year. Researchers controlled for a number of variables including temperature, changes in policing practices, and overall violent crime trends. The data yielded some astonishing results. Overall, the violent crime rate in Washington DC fell by 48% during the time of the experiment and the biggest drop came when the most people were meditating.

Another study looked at the impact of the 9/11 terrorist attacks. Princeton University’s Global Consciousness Project (GCP) maintains a network of 40 random event generators (REGs) in cities around the world. Think of an REG as a computerized coin flipper that spits out 0’s and 1’s instead of heads and tails. In theory an REG should, as the name implies, produce an unpredictable series of events regardless of what is happening in outside world. And like a coin toss, if you flip a coin 10 times, at the end of the experiment, there will likely be an equal number heads vs. tails (5-5). The same if true for the REG. It will produce an equal number of 1’s and 0’s almost every time.

A team at the GCP examined the data in the period after the attacks and found a high level of deviations during that same period. Essentially, the REGs started to churn out number strings in a much more orderly way. Patterns started to develop where normally there isn’t as more and more people heard the news and had an emotional response. This response is believed to be what triggered the change in the REGs.

These findings support the notion of a global collective consciousness. The HeartMath Institute has been investigating this idea for a number of years and they suggest we’re all connected by a global information field that sends and receives information.

Not only are we always plugged into this field but we can also impact how it works. How is this possible? Think about it for a moment. We know that all frequency carries information. We see this every day in the form of our radios, televisions, and cell phones. These devices all receive invisible electromagnetic signals across different frequencies that are sent by a signal of some kind (think an antenna) and that frequency signal is translated into sounds or pictures.

What most people don’t know is that our bodies are capable of doing the same thing. There is a measurable field of energy that comes directly from the heart (there is in fact a magnetic field around our hearts) when we create loving elevated emotions.   Therefore, by becoming heart-centered, and cultivating the higher energy emotional states of care, love, and compassion we are able to generate a greater level of coherent energy that benefits both ourselves and the world.

There’s a really simple way to visualize this idea. What happens when you throw a rock into a lake? The first thing that happens is a splash followed by a rippling that spreads across the smooth surface. The results change depending upon different variables like the size of the rock you throw, how high you and how hard you throw it. Research shows that when you become heart-centered your heart area actually creates a broader, more enhanced magnetic field that can be up to nine meters in diameter. Put another way, your elevated emotion is now able to send out more information, and the longer you can sustain that emotional state, the more this coherent energy is broadcasted into a measurable field. Therefore, by maintaining a heart-centered emotion for an extended period of time, it is like dropping rock after rock in a rhythmic fashion. The result is that the waves are now continuously being projected outward instead of just once. And the more deeply and profoundly the emotion is felt, the more it’s like throwing a boulder and not a pebble into the lake.

We’ve partnered with the HeartMath Institute to conduct research experiments with our students. In each advanced workshop, we instruct our students to become heart-centered at the beginning of each meditation by resting their attention in the heart area. They are then asked to cultivate an elevated emotion like gratitude, compassion, kindness, and care while they slowed down their breathing. They were then asked to broadcast that energy beyond their body, therefore creating an enhanced magnetic field. At the same time they sent the thought or intention for the greatest good to 40-50 participants sitting in the front of the room wearing heart rate variability (HRV) monitors. In most cases, the students wearing the HRV monitors, showed a significant change in heart coherence at the exact same time in the exact meditation. Our students were affecting other students in a non-local field beyond space and time.

To return to our example above about frequency and information, think of the elevated emotion which creates a measureable magnetic wave carrying specific information in the form of a particular thoughtful intention. So if other students’ hearts were moving into a coherent signature, it likely meant, that they were feeling some elevated emotion at the exact same time…and their bodies were responding to a field effect without any physical interaction. It begs the question: if it could happen in a room of 550 students, could it happen on a greater scale?

Let’s bring these two ideas of personal change and global consciousness together. Instead of combining a clear intention with an elevated emotion and using it to create a new future for ourselves, what would happen we did this to help affect change in the world? We’ve seen that the possibility exists and now we’re going to try it for ourselves.

For the first time at one of our events, we’re going to ask our community of students to participate (either in person or by streaming it live) in a global meditation at the Advanced Follow Up in Seattle on Sunday November 1. This will be an amazing and transformative experience that I look forward to sharing with everyone. In the meantime, to return to crisis in Europe, there is something you can do. You can meditate by yourself or with others to bring the situation to an end or to help these people get to their new destinations safely. Whatever your goal, just follow the process, have patience and embrace the possibility of a better tomorrow.

Image courtesy of Scott Creswell is licensed under CC 2.0