Tag Archives: serendipity

CCBB Episode 205, Harley Rotbart: Using Coincidences to Live without Regret

A renown Pediatrician offers coincidence awareness as a key to No Regrets Living. Some astounding medical coincidences illustrate this idea.

In this episode, Harley Rothbart discusses phenomenal medical coincidences and relates them to the question of fate. He also addresses the problems with the Law of Very Large Numbers: the favorite explanation for coincidences by statisticians. This “law,” which cannot be proven, asserts that the strange events will inevitably occur in our busy world with its infinite opportunities for overlapping events.

Connecting with Coincidence with Bernard Beitman, MD (CCBB) is now offered as both an audio podcast–anywhere that podcasts are available–and in video format on the Connecting with Coincidence YouTube channel. Please SUBSCRIBE to our channel to be notified when future episodes are posted! Also available, there are 138 archived episodes of the CCBB podcast available, HERE.

Our guest Dr. Harley Rotbart has been a nationally renowned infectious diseases specialist, pediatrician, parenting expert, speaker, and educator for nearly four decades. He is Professor and Vice Chair Emeritus of Pediatrics at the University of Colorado School of Medicine and Children’s Hospital Colorado. He is the author of more than 175 medical and scientific publications, and five previous books for general audiences: Miracles We Have Seen; 940 Saturdays; No Regrets Parenting; Germ Proof Your Kids; and, The On Deck Circle of Life, which was endorsed by baseball Hall of Famer Cal Ripken, Jr. Dr. Rotbart was named to Best Doctors in America for 18 consecutive years, as well as receiving numerous other national and local awards for research, teaching, and clinical work. He serves on the Advisory Boards of Parents Magazine and Parents.com and makes numerous media appearances every year, including two media tours with American Idol finalists to promote influenza prevention and two appearances on the Dr. Oz Show to discuss medical miracles. Dr. Rotbart writes his own blog at www.harleyrotbart.com. “Coach Harley” coached youth baseball and basketball for 16 years, including 8 years at the high school level. Dr. Rotbart and his wife, Sara, live in Denver, Colorado, and are the parents of three big kids and the grandparents of three little kids. Learn more at https://www.harleyrotbart.com.

Our host Dr. Bernard Beitman is the first psychiatrist since Carl Jung to attempt to systematize the study of coincidences. He is Founding Director of The Coincidence Project. His book, and his Psychology Today blog, are both titled Connecting with Coincidence. He has developed the first valid and reliable scale to measure coincidence sensitivity, and has written and edited coincidence articles for Psychiatric Annals. He is a visiting professor at the University of Virginia and former chair of the Department of Psychiatry at the University of Missouri-Columbia. He attended Yale Medical School and completed a psychiatric residency at Stanford. Dr. Beitman has received two national awards for his psychotherapy training program and is internationally known for his research into the relationship between chest pain and panic disorder. Learn more at https://coincider.com.

CCBB Episode204, Janet Payne: Thin Veil to Synchronicity on Prince Edward Island, Canada

The veil between ordinary and extraordinary realities thins at certain times like Halloween and in certain places like Prince Edward Island, Canada. Here’s a synchronicity report from a woman with deep generational roots on the Island.

Watch on YouTube or LISTEN on AnchorFM

In this episode, Janet Payne describes how coincidences guide and impact her life. We also consider what might be the source of coincidences. Janet began to notice coincidences early in her life and seemed predisposed to becoming aware of them, for reasons that still puzzle her. Her dreams sometimes tell her of a difficulty arising for one of her 7 children or 4 grandchildren.

Connecting with Coincidence with Bernard Beitman, MD (CCBB) is now offered as both an audio podcast–anywhere that podcasts are available–and in video format on the Connecting with Coincidence YouTube channel. Please SUBSCRIBE to our channel to be notified when future episodes are posted! Also available, there are 138 archived episodes of the CCBB podcast available, HERE.

Our guest Janet Payne has worked as a site manager and counselor at Prince Edward Island, Canada Career Development Services for over 15 years and has also enjoyed working as a session instructor at University of PEI during most of this time. She is currently completing her PhD in Education and is focusing her dissertation on the importance of intuition and synchronicity within career counseling. She and her husband, Neil, have 7 children and 4 grandchildren and reside between Kinkora, Prince Edward Island, and Jamesville, Cape Breton.

CCBB Episode 203, Julie Mariel Jespersen: Ayahuasca Synchronicities of a Danish Anthropologist

Synchronicities lead Danish anthropologist and past-life therapist Julie Mariel Jespersen to Ayahuasca, which then leads her to further synchronicities and shamanistic experiences with interpersonal human energy fields.   

Connecting with Coincidence with Bernard Beitman, MD (CCBB) is now offered as both an audio podcast–anywhere that podcasts are available–and in video format on the Connecting with Coincidence YouTube channel. Please SUBSCRIBE to our channel to be notified when future episodes are posted! Also, 138 archived episodes of the CCBB podcast are available, HERE

In this episode, Julie Mariel Jespersen describes the coincidence-increasing effects of the mind-expanding South American potion, Ayahuasca (also known as Daime). Her synchronicity-inspired training experiences have now forged her into a modern day shaman who is able to clearly report  journeys into the 4th dimension, or what she calls “betwixt and between.” 

Our guest Julie Mariel Jespersen earned a master’s degree in anthropology at Aarhus University (Denmark). Her thesis, “The Reality of Illusion and the Illusion of Reality: An anthropological study of Ayahuasca ceremonies in a Dutch spiritual group,” was completed in 2016. She is a certified hypnotherapist, SoulKey-Therapist (2014) and -Instructor (2019). She has been trained in modern shamanism and healing by Danish modern shamans (2016-2020). She has worked independently as a therapist performing hypnotherapy, SoulKey therapy and healing and giving talks and courses on Ayahuasca, spirituality and personal development from an anthropological as well as a modern shamanic perspective. She runs the project ‘Portal Journeys’ with her colleague and sister, Rie Jespersen, bringing groups to spiritual places like the Bosnian Pyramids (about which Rie has written the book “De Bosniske Pyramider”). Julie is currently writing a book in Danish about Ayahuasca/Daime based on her fieldwork. She is featured in the spirituality section of Danish documentary “from the inside,” with journalist Anders Agger, set to  screen on Danish National Television, fall 2021. Learn more at https://juliemariel.com/.  

CCBB Episode202, Gordon Keirle Smith: Below the Ice-Antarctica Synchronicities

Reality and fiction overlap. Science fiction can become reality. Gordon Smith, author of Revelation Antarctica, will make you wonder. Today there are alternate facts depending upon who you ask — and alternate ways that human beings think about reality. Our guest on episode 202 is challenging beliefs dearly held by a majority of the world’s population, about the fundamental nature of reality. Science fiction may not be “just” fiction, but can be a way to think about new possibilities and new insights into the world around us.

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Connecting with Coincidence with Bernard Beitman, MD (CCBB) is now offered as both an audio podcast–anywhere that podcasts are available–and in video format on the Connecting with Coincidence YouTube channel. SUBSCRIBE to our channel to be notified when future episodes are posted! Also available, there are 138 archived episodes of the CCBB podcast are available HERE.

In this episode, Gordon Keirle Smith shares more about what makes his new book, Revelation Antarctica, so different from most others works of fiction, or even different from much science fiction. We explore the notion of the book being “as real as you need it to be.” Gordon describes this work as a Quantum vision fired by imagination. Further, the reader is encouraged to read the 99 short sections of the book in any order that they might wish: reflecting the idea that time or chronology is an illusion.

Our guest Gordon Keirle Smith has led many lives in this lifetime. In England he was a Rosicrucian, advertising copywriter, assistant theater electrician and lighting board programmer. In France he worked in tourism, became an English teacher, invented a new artistic technique and then decided to “paint in words”. Upon partial retirement in 2014, Gordon published Genesis Antarctica, and wrote an introduction to reincarnation to Another Egg, Another Life: one edition for parents (2014) and one for children published in 2018. His Revelation Antarctica (2019) questions our concepts of reality by using multiple characters functioning at the interface of science fiction and convention. Published only a few months before COVID-19, it describes a plague that became our collective reality.

Our host Dr. Bernard Beitman is the first psychiatrist since Carl Jung to attempt to systematize the study of coincidences. He is Founding Director of The Coincidence Project. His book, and Psychology Today blog, are both titled Connecting with Coincidence. He has developed the first valid and reliable scale to measure coincidence sensitivity, and has written and edited coincidence articles for Psychiatric Annals. He is a visiting professor at the University of Virginia and former chair of the Department of Psychiatry at the University of Missouri-Columbia. He attended Yale Medical School and completed a psychiatric residency at Stanford. Dr. Beitman has received two national awards for his psychotherapy training program and is internationally known for his research into the relationship between chest pain and panic disorder.

Do Coincidences Save Lives?

Some coincidences involve an uncanny timing of events that delay the time of death or disability. Following are some of those many stories.

 Clinic Painter (eponymous vase)/Wikimedia Commons

User:Bibi Saint-Pol, own work, 2007-07-21Source: Clinic Painter (eponymous vase)/Wikimedia Commons

Pediatrician Harley Rotbart collected many such stories in his physician-contributed anthology called Miracles We Have Seen: America’s Leading Physicians Share Stories They Can’t Forget. One striking example from this collection involved Father Carl. This beloved priest finished rounds on his hospitalized parishioners in a suburban Boston hospital. He then got into an otherwise empty elevator, pressed the button for the lobby, and collapsed from a massive heart attack.

But somehow the elevator didn’t go to the lobby—instead, the doors opened on the second floor, the floor housing the cardiac intensive care unit (CICU), where the cardiologist in charge of the unit was waiting at the elevator to go upstairs to make his rounds. The cardiologist immediately took charge of the unconscious priest and set about the necessary treatment. Had the elevator not deposited him on just the right floor with just the right person, Father Carl would have died.

During an evaluation of her cancer, physicians scanned the brain of politician Jennifer Kitchen of Craigsville, Virginia, for metastasizes. They found an aneurysm that would soon burst and disable or kill her. 

Janet Payne of Kinkcora, Prince Edward Island, Canada, was approaching a stoplight with her three children in the back seat. Although the light had turned green, she stopped a few yards from the intersection to adjust the seat belt of one of the children. She turned back to drive and saw a truck speed through the intersection that would have hit her had she proceeded through.

One of our study patients at the University of Missouri-Columbia research (see this Psychology Today post) reported that she was in her car at an intersection when the light turned green. At that moment, the phone rang. It was her brother who rarely calls and whom she thinks of as her guardian angel. She looked up to see a truck barreling through the red light. It would have hit hurt had she not paused to answer the phone.

Psychologist Chris Mackey of Geelong, Australia, has several reports of people being saved from suicide by coincidences.

A man was in a hidden quarry about to lose consciousness from carbon monoxide poisoning when the cellphone next to him rang. He answered it and gave enough of a reluctant hint of where he was to be found in the nick of time. He then felt he was meant to live and made a full and lasting recovery from depression.

Another man had a gun in his mouth, about to pull the trigger, when he looked out the window to see a blackbird looking at him. The bird took flight and smashed into the window and died. The man thought that the bird had died so he could live. He went to rehab for his drug addiction, recovered, and began living normally.article continues after advertisement

Chris also wrote about a personal example in his book The Positive Psychology of Synchronicity about a coincidence associated with his own psychiatric hospitalization for depression. “I very rarely experienced any synchronicity at that time. When I was at my absolutely lowest ebb, I was on the threshold of developing a suicide plan. I sat in a bleak hospital corridor, thinking that if nothing changed in the next five minutes, I would shift my focus to how I could end my life. Within a couple of minutes, a nurse approached me to fetch me to answer a phone call from a good friend who lived interstate and only rarely called. The timing seemed so uncanny—synchronistic assistance from the outside—that it completely stopped any further thought of taking action to end my life. I still believe it’s quite possible I would not be here if not for that phone call.”

Each of these is a single instance that statistically minded people can attribute to the unproven Law of Very Large Numbers: In large populations, any weird thing could happen. (To read a critical evaluation of this “law,” please see Sharon Rawlette’s Psychology Today post on the subject.)

However, consider the experiences of Executive Coach Katrin Windsor of Boulder Colorado.

“I once missed a train that crashed. I once had a big tree fall on me, but strangely it fell in such a way that I stood in the opening of its big branches and it didn’t touch me!? I once hiked with my husband and two sons in Yellowstone. John and Bryan walked 20 feet ahead of Dan and me. Suddenly a big tree fell right between us and didn’t touch anybody!? I once missed a Guided Volcano Jeep tour in Sicily. We missed it by 1 minute and watched the Jeep we were supposed to be on leave without us. So we sat down at the Tour Office restaurant and ordered a plate of pasta. In the middle of chowing down our pasta, ambulances and sirens and helicopters arrived, and suddenly the Jeeps we missed returned with three dead tourists because the volcano became active and started spewing big rocks!?”

Some people will invoke the Law of Very Large Numbers. Others might attribute this remarkable string to God or the Universe. As a psychotherapist, I look for personal responsibility in my patients as well as in coincidences. Janet Payne attributes her stopping before the intersection at a green light to a strong intuitive feeling to not proceed and to fix the seat belt of her child.article continues after advertisementhttps://febf9c840d5958770643f520d3d151eb.safeframe.googlesyndication.com/safeframe/1-0-37/html/container.html?v=1-0-38

To the question of explanation, Katrin Windsor replied, “I frankly have no clue as to why I have been so lucky, except that it obviously is not my time yet to go. My last lucky accident was when I had a bike crash in Denver in December and miraculously fell between two parked cars into an empty parking spot, so I didn’t bounce off a parked car and back into the busy street, where cars would have had a hard time avoiding me. My take from that most recent accident is that I’m clearly here to channel spirit. It does feel like Fujoli is my way which is connecting people to their aliveness.”

Again, some will invoke the Law of Very Large Numbers while others will invoke some form of divine intervention. In the study of coincidences, resolving questions like these are central to its purpose. See this Psychology Today post from Sharon Rawlette about personal explanations for meaningful coincidences. 

Hard-hitting and Entertaining Interview with Dr Beitman-He Sings

How is the word coincidence defined?

What does : “There are no coincidences” mean?

Are coincidences God’s way of remaining anonymous?

Does a series of synchronicities mean that our love is meant to be?

How do need, life stress and high emotion influence the appearance of coincidences?

What is the major limitation of the advice from the Law of Attraction?

Listen to the answers to these and other questions in this excellent interview of Dr Beitman on The Human Experience Podcast.

Serendipity: A Store, a Movie and a Coincidence: A cool word takes on new meanings

Portsmouth, New Hampshire clothing store
Portsmouth, New Hampshire clothing store

The word “serendipity” has many pop-culture references, but many people don’t know its original meaning or realize its usefulness.

When customers walk into Serendipity, a women’s clothing store in Portsmouth, New Hampshire, they usually think of the movie Serendipity (2001) starring John Cusak (Jonathan) and Kate Beckinsale (Sara).

The movie is serendipity rich. The two main characters meet at the Manhattan ice cream place called Serendipity 3. Sara writes her phone number on a piece of paper, but a gust of wind from a passing truck pulls it out of her hand.

She refuses to write it down again and instead asks John to write his name and phone number on a $5 bill, which she spends. She then writes her name and address on the inside cover of a book and sells it to a used book store.

If they are meant to be together, she says, each will find the items and contact the others.

The Origins of the Word

Walpole circa 1741.
Walpole circa 1741.

Horace Walpole, a member of the British House of Commons in the 18th century, recognized in himself a talent for finding what he needed just when he needed it.

For example, a gift in the form of a portrait of a Grand Duchess whom Walpole had long admired arrived from his distant cousin in Florence, Italy. Walpole needed a coat of arms with specific elements in it to decorate the new picture frame and accidentally found what he was looking for in an old book.

On January 28, 1754, Walpole, thrilled with this coincidence, wrote to his cousin, Horace Mann, giving a name to his ability to find things unexpectedly—serendipity.

He got the name from a fairy tale called “The Travels and Adventures of Three Princes of Sarendip.” Sarendip (or Serendib) is an ancient name for the island nation Sri Lanka off India’s southern coast. The king of the fable recognizes that education requires more than learning from books, so he sends his sons out of the country to broaden their experience of the world.

Throughout the story, the clever princes carefully observe their surroundings, and then use their observations in ways that save them from danger and death.

For Walpole, serendipity meant finding something by informed observation (sagacity, as he called it) and by accident.

Current Usage

Serendipity currently has two related meanings: 1) Looking for something and finding something even better. 2) Looking for something and finding just what you needed.

The history of the search for new drugs provides many examples.

Viagra was accidentally found while researchers in England in the 1990s were testing a new anti-hypertensive and anti-angina drug. Their male subjects reported increased and prolonged erections. It became one of the best selling drugs of all time.

Scotsman Alexander Fleming was actively searching for a new antibiotic in 1928. He returned from vacation and found penicillin juice killing bacteria in petri-dishes that should have been washed while he was gone.

In each of these cases, researchers had to be open to new possibilities coming at them in unexpected ways. Serendipity, like luck, requires perseverance, preparation, and opportunity.

The “Law of Attraction” may also apply. This is the belief that “like attracts like,” that positive or negative thoughts may bring positive or negative experiences to one’s life. In the case of serendipity, the thought of a needed something somehow helps to bring that something to a person’s life.

But it is not enough to imagine what you want or need. You have to move. A Spanish Gypsy proverb says it well, “The dog that trots about finds the bone.”

This capacity seems to sometimes rely on the human capacity to find our way to places where there are people, ideas, or things that provide us with what we have been seeking. I call this human our Geospatial Positioning System (GPS).

When I asked a customer in Serendipity what she thought the word meant, she said, “Bliss.” Perhaps she most strongly associated the word with the joy that accompanies unexpected discoveries made through serendipity.

The people who walk into the store Serendipity may have a specific item in mind and find it, or they may have a general need and find it clearly expressed in something they just happen to discover there.

Either way, serendipity can be beneficial and fun, and it invites us to wonder how it happens.