It was the day I woke up to discover that internet and phone service were down in my area that I really started getting it. Yes, that was the day I began to get a glimmer that I was on the trail of synchronistic events.
Would you like to hear me read this to you?
Before I tell you the story, you might be wondering: What is a synchronistic event?
Basically, it’s a coincidence that’s more than just a coincidence. In other words, you see a pattern in the coincidence and it has particular meaning to you, beyond a day-to-day occurrence.
Carl Jung, who coined the term synchronicity, suggested that coincidences are often more than just chance events. He proposed that they provide an opening to deeper insights, helping us move away from limiting beliefs and move toward a more generous sense of meaning, possibility, and purpose.
But the other thing about synchronistic events is they’re sometimes hard to see.
That’s what happened to me recently when I stepped away from the online world for more than a month and also paused writing both my blog and my newsletter.
I suppose I was trying to carve out some inner peace in the midst of all the ongoing upheavals and tragedies that continue to be the order of the day.
Stepping away helped a little. I also had in mind that I’d do a reset of sorts, cleaning out my studio and spending time preparing for a future writing project.
But that didn’t happen, and I wasn’t sure why.
Then during the second week of my wannabe reset I was forced to do an actual reset.
As I said at the beginning, one morning I woke up to discover that internet and phone service were down in my area, and weren’t expected to return until the next morning. Initially I panicked because I had four clients scheduled that day. But thanks to a nearby WiFi hot spot everybody got rescheduled and all was good.
So I had an entire day free to get on with my clearing and prepping work. I’m sure you know what I’m going to say next: no work was in sight!
Instead, I found myself taking a walk on the beach, experimenting with a new recipe, and lingering on the deck with an audiobook, mesmerized by the narrator’s voice and the unfolding story.
At the end of the day, I gently put my hand on my heart and wondered if I’d misjudged what I actually needed during my reset. It seemed like my heart was telling me I needed some quiet play that felt restful, timeless, and unrestrained.
I certainly didn’t need to pile on more work. So I decided the other stuff could wait.
It turned out that the forced reset offered me a synchronistic event that I almost didn’t see.
I mean, it took a cable outage that affected thousands of people to wake me up to my need to take a real pause. And even then I didn’t grasp the meaning of it immediately.
That’s the thing about synchronicity though. These unpredictable moments of meaningful coincidence don’t always stick. In fact, Carl Jung said this about them:
…too often they pass unnoticed because the individual has not learned to watch for such coincidences and make them meaningful.
Not only that, but once we see them we have to hold onto them in some way. Otherwise, they can fade pretty quickly.
As my reset continued I experienced a multitude of synchronicities.
Without a doubt that helped me hold on to the deeper meaning of these synchronistic events.
It began in earnest a few mornings after the cable outage. My husband and I were drinking coffee and having one of those conversations that long-married couples have. It’s the kind of conversation where even though you know the other person so completely, at that moment you just can’t quite get what they’re saying.
Finally, I asked Dave: “What do you want?” He grasped at words but they weren’t coming easily.
And then, without thinking, I asked: “What does your heart want?”
His words came quickly now: “I want to be closer.” My words followed, just as quickly: “Then come sit by me.”
Was it that simple, I wondered? Just ask what your heart wants?
Does that keep the synchronistic events flowing?
Later, in the shower, my fingers rested loosely on my chest, warmed by soothing water and filtered sun streaming through the window. Right then I decided it was the perfect moment to get serious and directly ask my own heart what it wanted.
My heart answered pretty quickly: I want rest.
Actually, it had a lot to say: It’s more than sleeping and taking naps. It’s engaged rest that’s expansive, playful, and easy. It’s belonging to yourself. You know what I mean, Patty.
Yes, I knew what my heart meant.
In fact, it brought to mind these beautiful words from the book Anam Cara by John O’Donahue…
- There’s a wellspring of love within you at the root of your soul
- Invite the inner fountain to free itself
- Feel the refreshing waters as they start to flow
- Flowing up through the arid earth of the neglected side of your heart
- Nourishing waters begin to infuse anything in your heart that feels hardened
- A lovely osmosis infuses and unsilts your heart bringing belonging, ease, peace, delight
Suddenly I began to consider that there might be an actual practice unfolding that could keep the synchronicity alive: placing my hand on my heart, imagining the well at the root of my soul, and repeating aloud John O’Donahue’s words.
After that the synchronistic events started arriving one after another.
Before I finish the story, you should know that I’ve been taking a course in somatic awareness. Basically, that means I’ve been diving deep into therapy and coaching approaches that recognize how connected our minds, bodies, brains, and behavior are.
Not only do these approaches ground us and calm our nervous systems, but regularly practicing them over time helps us heal and move forward.
As you can probably imagine, we’re doing a lot of practicing in class. And one day the instructor introduced a practice to help us move toward a quality or behavior that was important to us. As an example, she said it could be something like patience. But it could be anything, really.
I knew exactly what quality I wanted to move toward because my heart had already told me: restful play.
What the teacher said next was kind of amazing.
She began telling us about how she’d been working through this process herself recently. There was a quality she was seeking, was in need of, but it was hard for her to name.
She finally settled on the quality of…rest.
But she said it wasn’t exactly resting as we know it, it was more than sleeping and taking naps.
Do her words sound familiar?
You can bet at this point I was paying really close attention. And it certainly seemed like it might be more than mere coincidence that we were both seeking a certain quality of rest that was a little hard to name.
She went on to explain that the next part of the practice involved using our imaginations to anchor the quality we’d chosen with a metaphor of some sort.
Of course, I already knew exactly what my metaphor was: the well at the root of my soul, from John O’Donahue’s book.
The teacher said she’d tried a lot of metaphors to anchor her quality of rest but the one that finally stuck was….a well.
Who knew that we would both be seeking rest and imagining it as a well within us?
It was quite a hit of synchronicity for me at that moment.
But there’s more to this somatic awareness practice. There are also words of support that go with it.
Mine are courtesy of John O’Donahue: I visit the wellspring of love at the root of my soul and invite the fountain to free itself, bringing belonging, ease, peace, delight, and rest.
My teacher’s words were similar but much simpler: I dip from the well of rest within me several times a day.
(By the way, if you’re doing this practice for yourself, which I highly recommend, you complete it by letting your body wisdom take you to a simple movement that anchors it further. My movement is hand to heart. I can’t tell you what the teacher’s movement was because by then I was too giddy with synchronicities to pay attention.)
After all this, I knew I was solidly on the trail of synchronistic events.
In fact, I was primed for the other synchronicities that kept popping up.
- Checking email and discovering four different people asking: How’s Your Heart?
- Receiving an unsolicited email from a well-known expert in neuroscience explaining that our hearts do indeed have brains of their own.
- Learning that the well that actually provides our water is doing much better than last year.
- Listening to another teacher in the somatic awareness program sharing memories of his friendship with John O’Donahue. I had no idea they knew each other.
- Taking a walk and discovering five heart-shaped rocks…(Okay, I’m making that up, but I wish!)
Another benefit of synchronistic events: they are definitely good for your mental health.
When clients share experiences of synchronicity with me, I listen with great reverence because I know we’re having an in-the-moment experience of wisdom tending.
Additionally, synchronistic events thrive on other synchronistic events. Once you start paying attention you can more easily tap into unexpected experiences of mystery and meaning.
So consciously cultivating synchronicity can lead to:
- Experiences of wonder and awe that release dopamine and increase motivation
- New approaches for interpreting events and viewing life challenges
- Feelings of being supported in ways you can’t fully explain but you believe in
- Seeing the past through a larger lens that increases self-compassion and self-love
- Accessing and experiencing deeper meaning and deeper wisdom
- Connecting to yourself as a person who is genuine and authentic
One more important point about synchronicity: writing and journaling enhance it.
I’m not sure I would have been able to deeply experience this recent trail of synchronistic events if I hadn’t been writing about them, encouraging them to come alive in my journal.
In fact, the writing anchored them in further, helping me both pay attention to the rest I was seeking as well as opening me up to other possibilities.
A few months earlier, in the women’s writing circle that I facilitate, we spent an evening writing about synchronicity, dreams, and intuition. That was an amazing night. We were surrounded by synchronicity stories, and I don’t think we ever imagined how hungry we were to hear them.
Lately, I’ve been considering that perhaps that night got the ball rolling towards my recent trail of synchronicities. I mean, why not?
Journaling prompts to encourage synchronistic events
The most important thing is to try to approach your journaling with a wide-open imagination. Let your imagination roam and give it free reign. In fact, just make up the answers to these questions. Don’t worry about getting them “right.”
- What does my heart want?
- What do I know that I don’t know I know yet?
- Where in nature will I most likely discover synchronicity?
- Who in my life will most likely be a conduit for synchronicity?
- What animal might be my spirit animal?
- What is the symbol of my deepest wisdom?