This Manifestation Guide is aimed at people familiar with mindfulness, who are just becoming familiar with manifestation. Manifestation is a tool to express your vision and goals. At its core, a mindfulness manifestation approach is about defining your goals, imagining a detailed vision where you’ve already achieved them, taking action to work towards your goals, and keeping them front of mind.
Manifestation is an increasingly popular way to create a vision and bring it into reality.
It took me a while to come around to it.
Like other concepts that have made the leap from spiritual to secular—yoga, mindfulness, meditation—the term ‘manifestation’ comes with baggage.
A quick look through most manifestation materials has a lot of language that can alienate someone new to the concept: “co-creation with the universe” and “limiting beliefs,” for example.
But I’m here to encourage you to look past your objections and give manifestation a try.
When you strip away the spiritual language, manifestation is essentially about defining your goals, imagining a detailed vision where you’ve already achieved them, taking action to work towards your goals, and keeping them front of mind while expressing gratitude for what you’ve already accomplished.
Sounds pretty practical, right?
Let’s explore what manifestation is, some common questions and objections, and how you actually go about the job of manifesting.
How does manifestation work?
Manifestation is a method for creating visions and bringing them into reality.
Let’s get right into it. Here’s how a typical manifestation process works:
- Let yourself dream big. Daydream, allowing yourself to go further than you normally do. Don’t think about what feels “possible.” Instead, think about what you truly want. This might take the form of a single goal or a larger vision.
- Visualize. You’ve settled on your goal. Now it’s time to put your imagination into action. Can you picture yourself having already achieved your goal? (This is different from imagining achieving it in the future). Get as detailed as possible. What does the moment feel like? Where are you? Who are you with? What thoughts are running through your mind? What are you wearing?
- Communicate your vision. You’ve got your vision, and you know how it’ll look and feel to have already achieved it. Next, make your vision concrete with a vision board, by journaling using scripting manifestation, by sharing it with friends and family, or any one of dozens of other ways. The point is to make sure the vision doesn’t just stay in your head.
- Take action. What actions can you take to bring your vision to life? Make a list, and start working on it. What can you start doing? What can you stop doing? What relationships support this vision? What relationships hold you back?
- Remind yourself of your vision. Motivation often wanes after the initial excitement of setting a vision. That’s why reminders are key. Ask yourself how you can keep your vision front and center in your mind.
- Be grateful: Be grateful for what you already have. This helps you avoid falling into a place of striving endlessly toward your goal, putting off your happiness until that future moment where your goal is finally achieved.
Think of manifestation as goals on “creativity steroids”
Here’s a reframe I’m going to suggest:
Start thinking of manifestation as just like regular goals, but with a strong dose of creativity and imagination.
A typical goal is left-brained. It’s all about creating a step-by-step plan to achieve a specific yes-or-no outcome. There are timelines, there are plans. There isn’t much openness. It’s rigid.
Manifestation is right-brained. Yes, there’s a goal in mind, but it’s supported by creativity and imagination and openness. And crucially, it packs an emotional punch due to the focus on imagining your vision in detail.
Manifestation can also increase your chances of success by making your vision vivid enough to support continued action, commitment, and belief that you’ll reach your goal.
Goals are great. Plans are great.
Manifestation is a way to take them to the next level.
Manifestation isn’t magic
Manifestation isn’t magic.
I think this is what turns a lot of people off from the concept.
It’s not “if you believe it strongly enough, it’ll come true.”
The power of manifestation rests on your belief in the inevitability of reaching your vision, so much so that you’re able to give it your full focus and commitment over the long term.
Manifestation shares more in common with affirmations and positive psychology than magic and wishful thinking.
Affirmations are declarations that affirm something positive about yourself, even if you don’t fully inhabit that quality yet. It might be something like, “I am brave. I am confident. I am worthy.”
Positive psychology is the study of human wellbeing, and includes areas of study like positive thinking, which is used heavily in manifestation.
Is there any science behind manifestation?
Not directly. There hasn’t been research done directly on the subject of manifestation.
However, manifestation is rooted in ideas of affirmations and positive thinking. We can review studies on those topics to understand the benefits of manifestation better.
Affirmations have been shown to increase optimism by reducing the tendency to get stuck on negative experiences.
In another study, affirmations increased the likelihood of taking action—a group of people using affirmations were more likely to become physically active.
Meanwhile, positive thinking leads to confidence in your abilities, which leads to a number of benefits. A 1994 study found that people who felt confident in themselves are more likely to succeed, have less stress, and improve wellbeing.
Another confidence-related study in 2017 found that when we feel “in control”, we’re more likely to display the skills and abilities needed to handle any situation.
Getting started with manifestation
A lot of objections to manifestation get hung up on superficial aspects of the practice.
Some people don’t connect with the spiritual language that’s commonly used in manifestation, for example, or aren’t drawn to practices like vision boards which are used to visualize goals in detail.
But avoiding manifestation because you don’t like vision boards is like avoiding meditation because you don’t like chanting.
That’s fine! No one’s making you chant.
Manifestation is bigger than any one technique.
Focus on creating a vision, fully inhabiting that vision as if it had already come true, communicating that vision to yourself and others, and being open to taking action as opportunities arise that advance your vision.
My mindfulness practice kicked off in 2016 with a ten-day silent retreat. Since then, I’ve read dozens of books about mindfulness and completed hundreds of hours of meditation. Thinking about what makes humans happy, calm, and peaceful is endlessly fascinating to me.