Nature coincidences or nature-based synchronicity can be defined as a “notable experience of two or more physical or psychological events of comparable content coinciding in an unlikely and meaningful way, wherein at least one event prominently involves (non-human) natural phenomena” (Zylstra 2014). As part of his doctoral research, Matthew decided to explore the phenomena of nature coincidences in greater depth , as a form of meaningful nature experience.
On the July 20, 2023, as part of the The Coincidence Project’s Speaker Series, Dr. Matthew Zylstra & Juliet Trail shared insights into “Nature Coincidences, Compassion and Connection” as well as their personal stories, including the poignant emotions that arise of awe, insight, humour and connection to the more-than-human world. The webinar discussed implications around why such experiences have the power to catalyse intense connection and compassion in ways that can be quite different from solely human encounters.
In our Speaker Series session, Matthew explored the topic through the lens of Integral Ecology, based on Ken Wilber’s Integral Theory AQAL model. This methodology is a powerful way to illuminate our blind-spots when addressing any issue, and helps us to unite multiple perspectives on that issue—in this case, on nature coincidences.
The methodology combines ‘interior’ (subjective) and exterior (objective) experiences as well as individual and collective experiences. Matthew’s doctoral research on this topic was primarily phenomenological: taking a subjective, first-person interior perspective. In our session, we discuss that when sufficient numbers of first-person accounts are collected and analysed, we move from the subjective to the inter-subjective and, in some cases, can make robust claims about nature coincidences even being an objective phenomenon.
Ultimately, whether such experiences are ‘real’ in an objective sense may be irrelevant. What our session demonstrates, through the sharing of our own stories as well as a number of fascinating stories shared by the group attending the presentation, is that the interpretation of such events often has a powerful influence in motivating feelings and actions that are rooted in interconnection, empathy and compassion for a vibrant animate universe.