Everything You Need to Know About Telekinesis

Can people move things with their minds?

Businessman holding crystal ball, face reflecting on ball
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Psychokinesis (PK) - sometimes referred to as telekinesis or mind over matter - is the ability to move things or otherwise affect the property of things with the power of the mind. Of psychic abilities, true psychokinesis is one of the rarest. Few have been able to demonstrate this ability, and even those demonstrations are highly contested by the skeptics. Do people have psychokinetic powers? Do you?

Is there a way you can test and develop your PK abilities?

Psychokinetic Case Studies

Here are brief outlines of some people who have demonstrated remarkable PK abilities:

Nina Kulagina. One of the most celebrated and scrutinized psychics to claim psychokinetic powers was Nina Kulagina, a Russian woman who discovered her abilities while attempting to develop other psychic powers. Reportedly, she has demonstrated her powers by mentally moving a wide range of nonmagnetic objects, including matches, bread, large crystal bowls, clock pendulums, a cigar tube and a salt shaker among other things. Some of these demonstrations have been captured on film. The skeptics contend, of course, that her abilities would not stand up to scientific testing, and that she may be nothing more that a clever magician.

Stanislawa Tomczyk. Born in Poland, Tomczyk came to the attention of investigators when it was reported that startling poltergeist-like activity occurred spontaneously around her.

She could control some telekinetic feats, but only under hypnosis. In this hypnotic state, Tomczyk took on a personality that called itself "Little Stasia" who could levitate small objects when Tomczyk placed her hands on either side of them.

In the early 1900s, one investigator, Julien Ochorowicz, watched these levitations at very close range and observed something like fine threads emanating from her palms and fingers, although they were examined carefully before the experiment.

And it didn't seem to be a trick. "When the medium separates her hands," Ochorowicz observed, "the thread gets thinner and disappears; it gives the same sensation as a spider's web. If it is cut with scissors, its continuity is immediately restored." In 1910, Tomczyk was tested by a group of scientists at the Physical Laboratory in Warsaw where she produced remarkable physical phenomena under strict test conditions.

Uri Geller. Geller is one of the most well-known "psychics" who has publicly demonstrated feats of psychokinesis: spoon and key bending have become almost synonymous with Geller's name. Although many skeptics and magicians consider his metal-bending performances nothing more than adroit sleight-of-hand, Geller has allegedly shown that he can manifest the effects over great distances and in multiple locations. On a British radio show in 1973, after demonstrating key bending to the astonishment of the host, Geller invited the listening audience to participate. Just minutes later, phone calls began pouring into the radio station from listeners all over the UK reporting that knives, forks, spoons, keys and nails began to bend and twist spontaneously. Watches and clocks that had not run in years began to work.

It was an event whose success surprised even Geller and thrust him into the spotlight.

Some magicians may be able to duplicate some of these effects, but there may be legitimacy to this telekinetic phenomenon. In April, 2001, University of Arizona psychology professor Gary Schwartz conducted a "spoon-bending party" at which about 60 students were able to bend spoons and forks, with varying degrees of success, seemingly with the power of their minds. (Do you want to try it yourself? Here's How to Host a Spoon-Bending Party.)

Poltergeist Activity

Some researchers contend that the most common form of psychokinesis is one that is not consciously intended. Poltergeist activity, they suggest, might be caused by the subconscious of people under stress, emotional turmoil or even hormonal peaks. Without conscious effort, these people cause china to fly off shelves, objects to break or loud rappings to emanate from their houses' walls, among other effects.

In the same way, PK might also be responsible for phenomena experienced at séances. Table tilting, knockings and levitation might not be caused by contact with spirits, but by the minds of the participants. And, yes, many, many séances have been hoaxed over the years, but if you think the paranormal phenomena documented at some séances is not real, read the article How To Create a Ghost.

How Does It Work?

How psychokinesis works is unknown for certain, but many parapsychologists think that it is a demonstration of the physical influence of a person's brain on the physical world.

Robert L. Shacklett at Speculations about PK says that laboratory tests demonstrate that "the release of relatively large amounts of physical energy can be triggered by thought power." And this power can move or influence things, essentially, because cosmologically we are all connected to everything else. "'Thought' takes place at a different level than the physical (call it 'mind') but interacts with the physical through a weak coupling between physical energy and a more subtle energy form," he says. "The physical level operates in accordance with natural law except at the times when thought interacts with it."

How remains the puzzle. But there are theories:

  • Some researchers suspect there might be a quantum connection. Unpredictable, often bizarre effects have been documented in the world of subatomic particles, ruled by the perplexing laws of quantum mechanics. Are our minds capable of directing subatomic particles and energies in a way that results in PK phenomena?
  • One theory is that psychokinesis is the manipulation of a sort of human "magnetic field" around the body, which can be concentrated in a specific area. For this to work, they say, you must be able to relax completely and focus your attention without distraction.
  • Another speculation is that mediums or participants in a séance are able to coalesce sound or heat waves within a room to form coherent energy which can then be directed at an object, such as a table, causing it to move.

Although the "how" of PK remains unknown, research and experimentation on this fascinating phenomenon continues in respected research labs around the world. (Go here for a brief history of psychokinetic research.)

Developing and Testing Your Psychokinetic Powers

Can anyone have powers of telekinesis?

"Everyone has the potential to be able to be telekinetic," says Deja Allison at Telekinesis on Crystalinks. "Telekinesis is created by higher levels of consciousness. It cannot be created by 'wishing it' to happen on the physical level. The energy to move or bend an object is created by a person's thoughts created by their subconscious mind."

Several websites suggest ways that you might be able to develop or strengthen powers of psychokinesis. Using Psychological Telekinesis says meditation and a kind of chanting, which they provide, can help train your mind for the task, even though they offer no proof of any kind that it really works.

Mario Varvoglis, Ph.D., author of PSI Explorer, suggests that the best way to begin testing psychokinetic powers is not by trying to move a table or even a matchbook.

Varvoglis says it's much better to see if you can influence movement on a microscopic level - micro-PK. Micro-PK has been tested for years with such devices as random number generators, in which the subject tries to influence the random outcome of the machine in a way that is much greater than chance. Some of the most interesting tests of this kind were conducted at the Princeton Engineering Anomalies Laboratory (PEAR) laboratory at Princeton University - and their results show that some people really can influence the computerized random number generators with the power of their minds.

Spirit Online offers this seven-step method of improving your PK:

  1. Meditate daily for half an hour, 15 minutes if your schedule is too busy.
  2. Attempt PK at least once a day, twice if possible. Give yourself a good 30-60 minutes to try it.
  3. Focus on one method for at least a week; if it shows no results, switch methods.
  4. Be at ease; instead of taking it too seriously, think of it as an experiment, a game. If you try too hard you'll just end up frustrating yourself and you'll get nowhere.
  5. Don't give up.
  6. Don't tell yourself you can't do it, because you can.
  7. BELIEVE!