Towards a Science of Synchronicity

The eminent psychologist C. G. Jung first described ‘synchronicity‘, as a meaningful coincidence without any apparent causal connection.  Jungian scholar Roderick Main notes that Jung had a lifelong interest in the paranormal, including divination techniques (e.g., I Ching), mediumistic phenomena and anomalous experiences during psychoanalysis, which lead to his development of a theory of synchronicity, linking archetypal contents to physical events.

As an example of a synchronicity, one morning I consulted the I Ching in preparation for my day, and received hexagram 51:  Shocking, prepare for an unpredictable or shocking event.  Less than 2 minutes later, I heard a loud boom outside my window and the electricity went off.  A squirrel had triggered a power outage at a nearby transformer.  It was a shocking event and unexpected!  Pulling the card and then the event – a meaningful coincidence, with no direct connection between these actions (i.e., acausal).

Another common area for synchronicity is the fortuitous connections and events that propel our destiny forward.  Sophie Demas, in her book, The Divine Language of Coincidence, gives many examples from her life of coincidences, or synchronicities, that enriched and moved her life forward.  Miracles, she calls them.  My life was full of these ‘miracles’ while doing my research with energy healers.  One night, I happened to sit next to Dr. Kathy Stienstra, a holistic physician with her own clinic, at a board dinner.  When I described my training as a healer, and my healing research, she quickly offered her clinic as a place for me to do my Healing Touch practicum and research.  Working at her clinic was “key” for my work.   As a chance, but meaningful event, I sat in the last chair available, next to healer/teacher Vicky Slater, during her Healing Touch class where she demonstrated sound emanating from her fingertips.  She turned to me and held her fingers to my ear, and I heard the sound!  Which helped me in my healer experiences research paper many years later.  I found that working and connecting with healers opens one up to a world of life synchronicities!

Dr. Gary Schwartz describes super-synchronicities, a series of synchronicities, which occur when he ‘asks the universe for information’.  He has found that ‘asking’ seems to foster synchronicities.  Before reading Schwartz’s book, Super Synchronicity, I took such things for granted and did not consider them to be a synchronicity.  I would “daisy-chain” my way through articles and books, asking the Universe for what I needed in order to write a blog or research paper.  I would receive amazing connections, the perfect phrase, the needed article.  I assumed other authors used their psychic abilities this same way.   I became familiar with this concept many years ago with the book author, Colin Wilson, who wrote about the paranormal, where he described pulling books from his shelves and opening to the page with the information that he needed, as a common occurrence in his research.  Schwartz describes the need for self-science in the science of synchronicity, with individuals keeping a running record of their observations, because there is a science buried here, if we would only take the time to notice it.

How do we study synchronicity?  Dr. Bernard Beitman, in his book Meaningful Coincidences, notes that we first need to recognize synchronicity as a normal part of human consciousness, and then encourage people to share their meaningful coincidences, serendipities and synchronicities, so that more people are aware of this phenomenon.  He and Dr. Juliet Trail created The Coincidence Project as an educational site and to promote coincidence story-telling and research into synchronicity.  Recognition and documentation of the phenomenon is critical!  But as an anatomist, my first inclination is to ask, what can we measure, near to the body and in the environment?

I have had two synchronicity experiences that touch on the paranormal, and these experiences give us some idea of how synchronicity may be studied.


My last postdoctoral fellow position (January 1992) took me to a lab in Pittsburgh.  I faced some major difficulties in the first six months of this job.  By summer, 1992, I was depressed and painfully so.  One evening, I remembered that a healer named Mother Meera helped people at a distance.  I had read about her in a book titled Hidden Journey.   So, I wrote her a letter and asked for her help.

A little over a week later, I was sitting in the lab waiting for an experiment to finish when I “knew” that she (Mother Meera) wanted me to be happy.  Just then, I felt a “lightness of being”, a sensation of something surrounding me, something very light and very subtle.  “It” was centered around my mid-section and extended outwards to about 9 inches from my body.  It felt like an inner tube of light energy.  The sensation didn’t last long, maybe a few minutes at most, but over the next few days, my emotions felt buoyed up, like from an emotional life preserver.  I could not think a depressing thought.

Within a week’s time, I experienced several synchronistic events that helped me avoid any further depression.  Out of the blue, I received a letter from a colleague who I had never met, inviting me to give a lecture at Stanford University immediately following the annual Neuroscience meeting.  This invitation got me up and moving again, working towards a goal (i.e., gathering new data and preparing for the talk).  Then one morning I found a note from the janitor asking if he could read one of my books.  I had recently bought some books at a used book sale, shoved them on a shelf above my desk and left them unread, which was very unlike me as I usually devour books shortly after buying them.  His request got me curious about the book, and I started reading again.  Also, during this time, I found two sore spots, one on each arm in identical locations on the inside of the elbows.  The spots felt sore like a bruise but without any discoloration.  I rubbed these spots until they felt better.  Several weeks later, while reading a book on acupuncture, I discovered that these “spots” were a well-known acupuncture point called “Joy of Life”, and my rubbing them had probably been beneficial.

Commentary:  The synchronicity of events following my healing amazed me even more than the unusual “energy transfer” that I received in the lab.  Was Mother Meera a “coincidence maker”?  Or, as an alternative explanation, does energy healing/spiritual healing/psychotherapy lead to more meaningful coincidences in general, by increasing energy flow and and positive feelings in the healee?


Curious about the ‘miracles’ at Marian apparition sites such as Lourdes, Fatima and Medjugorje, I spent 6 days in Medjugorje in 2013 with a travel group.  An estimated 30 million pilgrims have visited Medjugorje since the first Marian apparition in 1981.  The vast amount of prayer ‘energy’ put forth by the pilgrims seems to have transformed the site.  Like others before me, I experienced some unusual phenomena, including synchronicities.

For example, on the last night that I was there, I was getting ready for bed with my roommate, a teacher from Arkansas.  We had the door open to the balcony outside our hotel room, as it was a still, pleasant evening in June, with a perfect Mediterranean climate and clear skies.  Examining the blisters on my feet, I remarked to my roommate that I would love to catch a cab or taxi to the base of Cross Mountain, for one last hike before returning home.  I was scheduled to meet a fellow group member, a retired FBI agent from Louisiana, at 4:30am in the lobby for the hike. She said that there would be little chance of catching a taxi at that hour in the morning.

In the middle of the night, the room became icy cold, which seemed unusual for a summer night.  Suddenly, a young woman in the next room started screaming – and screaming.  We got out of bed and went out to the balcony to listen to what was happening next door.  We heard her say that she had seen a demon.  Next, I heard animals being disturbed – first, a rooster giving his call, then a dog barking, and then another dog barking.  The disturbances followed a straight line from the hotel.  Somewhere in my memory, I had read that demons travel a straight track. And, in the parapsychological literature, rooms that suddenly become ‘icy’ are associated with apparitions.  As we got back in bed, I inwardly wished I had a dog for protection.

The next morning, I met John in the lobby at 4:30am, and we headed out for the several mile walk.  As we walked out the door, we met a small black dog, which proceeded to follow us.  It was the first dog I had seen all week.  Turning the corner onto the main street, all was quiet, except for one car with headlights coming towards us.  It was a taxi!  John quickly waved it aside, and I said, “It was my taxi”.  I turned to look for the dog, and it had vanished.

I had wished for the taxi, as I had wished for a dog for protection.  My ‘prayers’ had been answered.  During the week in Medjugorje, there were other moments where I felt like my thoughts were being heard and responded to.

How to study synchronicity?  In the first example, I wonder if energy healing (and psychotherapy) increases something in the healee, so that they are able to attract positive experiences.  We can measure body voltage potential, environmental magnetic fields and random event generator output, before and after a session, and then add a post-session survey for healees to see if they have had any meaningful coincidences following the session.  My hypothesis is that healing sessions increase body voltage potential and positive affect, leading to an increase in meaningful coincidences.  Framed another way, do ‘high-energy’ people attract more synchronicities?  In the second example, the energy of the environment may contribute to, or enhance, synchronicities.  In his book, Meaningful Coincidences, Bernard Beitman proposes a mechanism for synchronicity that involves the existence of a psychosphere, a mental atmosphere, full of thoughts, emotions and ideas, in which all beings are immersed.  With my magnetic field and random event recordings, I have recorded environments with enhanced activity, suggesting that psychospheres may be detectable.  I speculate that certain psychospheres may foster individual synchronicities.

So there are two areas to study in synchronicity – individual energy and environmental energy.  This everyday phenomenon has been largely overlooked and may offers clues to the structure of our reality.