Synchronicity plays an essential role in a writer's life simply because it guides us forward when we're feeling uncertain. Little secret: that's everything. Really the number one factor in becoming a successful author is the ability to move through criticism and insecurity. As we venture out into the unknown territory of writing a book, doubt will inevitably rise up to meet us at the door.
Uncertainty is a necessity of creativity. If you knew what you were doing already, it wouldn’t be that creative. That’s why as you brave this path of becoming an author, you’ll find you’re not alone. As we nurture our raw creativity, the Universe responds by nurturing us right back. So many miracles await as we open up.
That’s why I call this my scientific method of synchronicity because it’s based on three principals: neutrality, open minded curiosity and validation. Stay with me here. This is going to be fun.
A healthy skeptic might say, Emily, that all sounds pretty, but why would synchronicities come together to help me write my book? I write young adult spiritual fantasy [insert your very specific genre here].
My response is that all creativity is an experiment in life looking to express itself in more beautiful and complex ways.
Why would a plant produce a flower?
Why would a bug produce a butterfly?
Why would a mammal produce a neocortex?
Nature fosters beauty and complexity through consistent pattern of improbable accidents. Synchronicity is the organic nature of creativity. So lets tap into that for ourselves.
1. Practice Neutrality through Meditation
Most conventional writing programs teach that inspiration is elusive, mysterious and rare. I don’t believe that anymore.
We live in a culture that doesn’t fully appreciate the balance between productivity and stillness. After all, it was only within the last century that we really discovered the physiological necessity of sleep. I would conjecture that just as our body needs sleep, our mind needs meditation to reach its full potential.
It’s kind of like if you didn’t realize your phone operated on a battery that needed to be regularly connected to a power source. You would say, “I don’t know, sometimes it works sometimes it doesn’t.” But then once you got into the habit of shutting it down and plugging it into the wall, your ability to use it would become more predictable.
Meditation connects the mind to its power source.
But when I bring up meditation in spiritual groups, I usually get two responses. There are enthusiasts who can’t live without it, and there are people who say they’ve tried it and haven’t seen the benefit.
I would say just as doing anything is a practice (from walking, to talking to writing a book), stillness is a practice as well. You start simple and expand.
About five years ago I’d completely fallen off my meditation practice, and I started up again by sitting and counting ten breaths. It probably took just over sixty seconds a day. However, reflecting back, I can see that everything creative I’m doing now, started with those ten breaths.
Because as a mom, a schoolteacher, a wife and an expat, my life was really full. There was no room for creativity. There was no space to hear the call of anything new or uncertain.
Meditation is the most powerful way to consciously turn away from the external demands of the world as it is, and tune in to that unique internal guidance about the way you’re supposed to change it.
But how does that engender synchronicity?
Anything creative necessarily takes place outside your current belief system, i.e. the current barrage of thoughts constantly running through your brain over which you have no control. In order to encounter anything surprising or synchronisitic, you must step outside your existing stream of consciousness, even if only for a minute.
Meditating places you in the first principle of the scientific method of synchronicity: neutrality. When you step outside your thought patterns, the world isn’t necessarily the way you think it is, or want it to be, or wish it wasn’t. By sitting in meditation you reserve judgment. You are no longer identified with your ego. Holding the space makes change possible.
2. Live the Questions
Next step, let’s dive into questions. How about this one:
If meditation creates space for neutrality, how do we then live that out into the world? How does somebody go about their day reserving judgment and not knowing?
The best vehicle for uncertainty is a question.
Whether we’re conscious of it or not, our hearts are always asking impossible, unreasonable questions without any place to put them. Why not a book? There’s no better place than the blank page to be curious and explore.
What if you let that go and really welcomed your heart's questions without worrying about how to make it happen.
Imagine Einstein. He sits down at a table with a myriad of ideas and beliefs that penetrate only so deep into the material of the Universe. Past a certain point these theories no longer answer the questions posed by humans. His heart might be asking:
What are we made of? Where did we come from? Is this all an illusion or a light show made up of space and time?
To answer these questions he will be able to keep some of the theories on this table, but others will have to go of so they can be replaced by new ideas and beliefs that will naturally flow in. That’s the process of living the questions. It’s also the process of writing a book. You begin your journey with certain ideas and beliefs but as you scult your manuscript you must let some of them go, so they can be replaced. After all, Einstein didn’t invent relativity, but received it based on a series of discoveries that lead to greater truth. That’s how synchronicity works. The sculpture awaits us in the stone.
Let me give you a personal example on a much smaller scale. After I had my son, it was unlikely that I'd be able to have a second child, and honestly, I wasn't willing to try.
And yet I wanted Martin to have a sibling. This might sound unreasonable. I wanted my son to have a brother or sister, but I wasn't going to have another child. At a superficial level that doesn't make sense. And right around his second birthday, I got my wish. That's when my nanny Nidia and her granddaughter Briana became part of our family. Briana and Martin three months apart in age, they're together constantly, they enter one another's imagination, fight, play, all of it.
I never could have seen this coming. As so many things, it fell into place through extraordinary incidences of synchronicity. But in order to give the full context of the spiritual principles at play, I’ll share the full story in the next step.
3. Receive Synchronicities with Gratitude
All growth and human evolution is a mix of positive circumstances coalescing in a way that defies odds. Usually we take that for granted. You could never consciously synchronize the torrent of metabolic interactions taking place in your body in order to keep you alive.
However when we start to realize the number of chance happenings it takes to bring us here, from the millennia of ancestors meeting, to the proper exchange of potassium ions that send a current of electricity through your brain every fraction of a second, we can start to appreciate the improbability of every single human being. It’s how reality perpetuates itself until we encounter it in this exact moment.
Counting your breath in meditation is the act of consciously realigning with that miracle from zero. Breathing is the fastest metabolic exchange to take place in the body. Any movement in time you undergo, happens with the breath. You literally can’t be more present than by synchronizing with your breath. So let’s start with the most common and repeated synchronicities (the breath) and build from there.
Receiving synchronicities, like trusting in your next breath, is an act of faith and gratitude. In order to explain, I’ll return to the story I mentioned before.
In August 2016 I was working full time a school teacher and my husband was employed nearly 24/7 at a television channel which seemed to have the same urgency and pressure as the intensive care unit of a hospital.
My son was nearly 2 and we needed help during the day to care for him. This might sound ordinary, but honestly, I screwed up with my sister-in-law, who’d understandably left without notice. Suddenly I found myself at the brink of losing my own job if I didn’t find someone to care for Martin, fast. Plus, my husband is worrier and kept spouting the statistics about incidences of child abduction in Colombia (where we live).
I am not a worrier, but I was absolutely terrified.
In this case the question in my heart came out as a constant prayer, “Please God help me find someone who needs me as badly as I need them.” The emotional charge around a question can cause us to get stuck: This is never going to work, critics will tear me down, there is no answer to my plea.
Indeed, my desperation could have put me in a default position of trusting no one. This is why the practice of neutrality was so important. I couldn’t think my way there, instead I meditated. It’s helped me reach beyond my fears again and again. That’s the miracle.
In this situation, I collected a dozen numbers of women looking for work. I passed them to my husband so he could schedule interviews. Then I realized he’d scheduled interviews every half hour. How could I possibly ask all the questions that were screaming inside of me in 30 minutes?
Still, I returned to neutrality and just lived that question. What else could I do?
The day came and the first person canceled. Anxiety raged. Nobody wants this job, I’m alone in this world, nobody can help me.
I was lost in this train of thought, when my buzzer rang. My second appointment had arrived twenty minutes early and we now had a full fifty minutes to talk. I looked again at her name and phone number. The first six digits were 319-319. I let out a sigh. 319 was my area code in Cedar Rapids, Iowa where I grew up.
The moment I met Nidia, my heart expanded. She was intelligent, sincere and she just immigrated from Venezuela mere weeks before. We needed one another. She wanted to establish herself here so she could bring the rest of her family over. At the time I had no idea that her family included a granddaughter, the same age as my son, that would become like a sister as they grew up together. Three years later, I still remember that initial sign, and go back to it with gratitude.
This also taught me to remember, when someone is the answer to your prayers, do your best to be the answer to their prayers as well.
Whether it’s writing a book, or a relationship, or anything that evolves over time, it’s not as if you receive a miracle does it and the work’s done. You must continually choose alignment, and connect with the source of creativity that allows life to flow.
I share this story not because I espouse letting your life get out of hand, and then mending it with magic. I share it to illustrate those three spiritual principles. There have been plenty of times when practicing neutrality and living the questions took me not days, but years.
There are many profound questions about death, grief and global injustice. In these cases we may not receive concrete answers, and all we can hope for are synchronicities to offer us some respite if we accept them with gratitude.
So why do it? That’s a pretty good question.
The truth is these three principles will change you as much as they change the world around you. But, of course, you are an integral part of this planet, so that’s an extremely important change.
Another way to say it is the world around you evolves as you evolve. Your book is the spiritual and physical record of that transformation. That’s why your book matters to more than just you.
In the spirit of living the question, I would like to bring us back to the original inquiry: Come on Emily, why is my paranormal gothic fiction [insert your very specific genre here] contributing to the evolution of the Universe?
My answer stands. Your book is contributing to the spiritual evolution of the Universe because it’s what is authentically arising from within you. It’s the answer to the questions of you hold inside your heart.
When ideas spill into your imagination, it´s no small miracle. These are gifts from above. The more you follow up, the more you’re going to receive. That’s how synchronicity works.
When we’re starting out, we get intimidated by the gifts we’re meant to bring into the world. But remember, inspiration isn’t asking you to finish by tomorrow, it’s just asking you to start. Take note of helpful synchronicities and guidance. Don’t underestimate the spiritual resources that will align to help you.