Manifestation. What is it?
I’ve heard about it. Of course I have. I’ve read Eckhart Tolle, Joseph Murphy, Joe Dispenza. The word is everywhere, even outside of books. It is inescapable, growing like ivy on all corners of the Internet. It’s in TedTalks, it’s in tweets and Instagram posts. Cyber spiritual gurus post about it all around the clock. I’m not a stranger to it. Au contraire, mes amis—I’ve used the term myself. But I don’t think I’ve ever fully gotten it, it’s never clicked inside my mind, so today the question we’ll be exploring together is: How do we manifest?
With the same frenetic energy as Angelina Jolie in her 90s cult classic Hackers—I did not love the film, but she was exciting to look at—I hop down to the coffee shop under my apartment building and set up shop. I hook my laptop up at the seat in front of the window so I can watch the snow fall during the moments in which my attention span fails me. I order hazelnut coffee. I shed myself of my faux leopard coat, like a snake. I double click on Chrome and run a little Google search. What is manifestation? Two definitions pop up, the adjective and verb.
A) Whatever is “manifest” is whatever is “clear or obvious to the eye or the mind.” B) “To manifest” is to “display or show a quality or feeling by one’s acts of appearance; to demonstrate.”
Immediately, what I want to emphasize about these definitions, and what I also find so interesting, is the fact that they clearly support “manifestation” as something that is both a) visualized by the mind and b) demonstrated/executed by action.
You need both visualization and action. This goes hand in hand with all those posts I’ve seen online about how necessary it is to act in a way that is in sync with who you want to be, even before you become that person. In a sense, manifesting requires that we give up the old stories we keeping telling ourselves about ourselves—why? Because we are what we put our energy into. If we invest our mental and emotional and physical energy into the shame we feel over failing (as of now) to make what we want to happen happen, what room will we have left in our body and brain to dedicate to other things, better things, things like possibility and success and change? Not much.
What I want to speak with you about is something that I’ve been thinking about a lot: the indisputable and mysterious power of our minds. Specifically, I want to explore the idea that our thought patterns affect our behaviour patterns which then cement themselves into habits (habitual living) and thus becomes a cyclical loop that often, when allowed to go on for long enough, is mistaken for fate or damnation. Ouch.
We sometimes fail to see the way in which our negative beliefs about ourself and what we’re capable of can construct limits on what we’re able to actualize, make real, within our own realities.
The truth is, you have to acknowledge that there is simply nothing in your past more powerful than your awareness in the present. Nothing. You exist here and now, and here and now you have the ability to choose what your tomorrow will look like. I know it feels hard to believe that, especially when you’re stuck in the muck of your own failures, I know that those little failures sit on top of each other like pebbles. They feel impossible to move when you try to move them. I know that even on a good day, when you get your planner ready, when you’re writing down your plans for tomorrow, for the month, or the next five years, something feels vaguely uncomfortable about it. Fictional. You may even start feeling some negative emotions; negative even before any failure happens. You’re anticipating failure. Planning feels like something you’re doing just to absolve yourself of panic for the next ten minutes; it doesn’t feel like something you have a true choice of sticking to, does it? I know that it doesn’t—I’ve been there.
Even as you’re writing your wishes down, they’re all falling apart inside your head. Your dreams are wet tissue. You can barely hold them in your mind’s eye. Your conviction is weak. You don’t really believe what you’re saying when you talk about your resolutions whether it’s to quit smoking, to go to the gym, or to stop talking to your ex. Maybe at night your soul lifts for a moment and things feel possible; then the morning dawns on you. Everything is so familiar and you want to roll over. There is something subconscious at the back of your head that is telling you: But this is who you are, this is what you’ve done. You’v failed the last six times, what makes me think you can do it now? And so on, and so forth.
But listen! This is why practicing awareness of your unconscious thoughts is so crucial when it comes to manifestation. Manifesting requires a fertile mind, a mind that is aware of life’s malleable quality. Would you try to plant flowers in a dry and barren plot of soil? No, you wouldn’t. Why? Because nothing grows out of depleted, dry, rigid places. Compare your mind to soil: Could we grow flowers out of your mind, as it stands right now? Does your mindset tend towards a belief in possibilities or is it over-critical, fearful, negative, restrictive? What would your mind grow, right now, if you planted a seed in it?
Our thoughts influence our emotions just like our emotions influence our thoughts. Our emotions create a vibrational flow within us that directs much of our actions, like a stream. If you’re not practicing conscious thought and course-correction, where is that unconscious emotional stream of yours going to lead you?
It was Buddha who said, “What we are today comes from our thoughts of yesterday, and present thoughts build our life of tomorrow: our life is the creation of our own mind.”
He was not lying to you.
The truth is this: You’ve got to stop giving your power away.
The biggest thief of your power in the present is your over-dedication to your actions within the past. If you were to reach out to the past, could you touch it? No. Why not? Because it’s gone, it’s happened already. All you can touch now is what’s in front of you in this moment. When you dedicate yourself to creating the future that you want, what that actually means is dedicating yourself to mindfulness in the present moment. The present moment is all there is.
Now that that’s out of the way, I want to walk you through a quick overview on the aspects of manifestation that I think are important to keep in mind as you integrate this practice in your life.
Keep your desires pure of fear and need
Fear and need both inspire negative emotions within us. They make us tense up, they rush us, they make us cut corners, become greedy. You’ve heard about the Law of Attraction, I’m sure. If not, it’s basically the idea that the universe or the fabric of reality possesses a magnetic power capable of drawing similar energies together. It’s the reason why you need to be careful not to embellish your wishes with fear and need. When you’re tense, you will be delivered tension. It’s noble, in some contexts,, to want anything in life. Especially if you’re someone who went through a phase of not allowing yourself to want anything. It signals that we’re alive within ourselves and that we care enough to imagine a future. But sometimes we have to make peace with the fact that as good as our plans may be for ourselves, the universe could very well have a better one. Not only that, but we might get what we want in a way that is different from how we imagined it. Be open to possibility. Be open to receiving.
Does this desire make me feel inspired?
Will this desire help me serve others?
Does this desire deliver me a feeling of joy?
Am I doing this to make up for an inner sense of inadequacy?
Am I doing this out of a secret need for revenge?
These are just a few questions to think about. Essentially, self-understanding, forgiveness, and compassion are all necessary when embarking on the journey of manifesting. When you want something, that desire embedded within wanting harbours an energy that can either help you or hinder you.
If you’re going to dream, baby, dream big
Don’t let the popular narrative fool you. Dreaming is hard work.
Keeping a dream alive is hard work. Tending to your dream a little bit every day, like it’s a plant you were given the task of keeping alive. Think about it this way: everything you’re dreaming about is yours already. If that sounds too good to be true, then try thinking about it in this way: Everything you need to get where you want to go is already floating around out there in the universe, just outside of your life’s current borders. The resources you need, the people who will help you on your path, the connections that will uplift you and embellish your goal with even more authenticity—they all exist. They are somewhere and you can make them available to you through the two main pillars of manifestation: Faith and action.
Be clear about what you want: When manifesting, there is no such thing as too much clarity. Journal about it and don’t shy away from details. Your brain reacts to images. Marisa Pier, a world-renowned therapist who specializes in Rapid Transformational Therapy, joined Tom Bilyeu on his podcast to discuss this specific topic. Your brain loves dynamic language. Instead of thinking, “My presentation is going to go alright” or even “I’m going to do a shit job at presenting” try saying to yourself in the mirror: “My presentation is going to be incredible. I’m going to speak to my audience with ease. I love how I have the ability to make my content interesting. It feels like speaking with friends.” Your brain actually reacts to strong language much more than it reacts to neutral language. Try it out.
Envision the feeling that you’re working towards: How will it feel when you accomplish X, Y, or Z? I’m currently working on making it a habit to go to the gym four times a week (this is the ‘action’ component of what I’m manifesting, which is the experience of living in a body that I’m proud of, a body that is flexible and great with endurance). Each night, I close my eyes and focus on how it will feel when I can finally do the splits or run for thirty minutes straight (I can currently do eight minutes before tapping out). Visualizing that feeling gives me this uplifting buzz and the goal ends up feeling closer to me. I understand that it’s all just on the other side of action.
Practice gratitude for what you already have: Even if it’s not what you want. This one is very straightforward. Gratitude is necessary for growth. Why? Because, think about what we’ve been talking about. What we focus on, we multiply. There is something mystical about giving thanks. When we say thank you for the good things in our lives, we invite more of those good things. I don’t know how it works, it feels almost metaphysical. Every morning, before you do anything else, say thank you.
Don’t toss your dreams like coins down a sewer. Dreams are there to signify something, just like frustration is. Dreams communicate to us something important about ourselves and they’re worth taking seriously.
Consistency is key
Whether you’re learning a language, attempting freelance writing, or trying to build your upper body strength, all of your goals will have one thing in common: the need for consistency. Consistency and repetition is what enables us to build new habits and carve out new neural pathways in our brains. Think about it. Habit is a mental short-cut. Your brain wants to protect you from having to expel constant bursts of energy, that’s why it’s always easier to act in the way that you have previously acted, rather than act in a new way each day. Don’t be extreme about it, either. Getting 1% better each day is much better than getting 1% worse. Take both options and multiply. Where would you rather be after 100 days?
Just because it’s harder, though, doesn’t make it impossible.
Using positive affirmations is actually really helpful when manifesting new habits. The key is to remove all negative terminology from your affirmation. You don’t say I am never late, for example. You say I love being early to things, it’s so fun to plan ahead. I love being dependable, I love respecting my time and schedule.
Does that make sense?
The idea is that your subconscious mind hears everything that you say and instead of focusing on the word never it’s going to focus on the word late and inspire more of those circumstances.
If you want to explore that idea more, I recommend the book by Joseph Murphy The Power of Your Subconscious Mind where he writes about this concept in wonderful detail.
No, you have not missed the deadline
I think, more than anything, what stops people from actualizing their dreams is the false belief that they’ve missed a deadline. This internalized idea that the time to wish for a better existence disappears at a certain age, or after a specific number of losses, is something that we have to analyze and dismiss. That is, if we’re truly going to make the change to manifest the feelings and accomplishments that we want for ourselves.
Choose what will be lucky enough to receive your focus.
Whatever you focus on, that is what multiplies.
Close your eyes and think about magic. What do you see?
Dark velvet curtains, electric sparklers erupting on a stage? A silk top hat, an endless string of ribbon? Maybe a white rabbit jumping out of invisibility to a roaring applause?
We have all of these notions of magic, these cultural symbols.
Something I want us to consider is the magic of our own minds. Our subconscious, the way it trusts us endlessly and why it is so important to watch the way we speak about ourselves and why can’t accomplish or be or have X, Y or Z. Give up the stories.
Magic might just be you, giving yourself room to be who you want to be, to attract what you would love to experience, to create with the powers of your mind and resilience and forgiveness and empathy, a life you’re proud of living.