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25th Mar 2024

What is manifestation and does it actually work?

Anna Martin


“I’m manifesting that it comes true for you”

We’ve all heard the term manifestation and have even used it in passing, but did you know there is actually a full practice that goes with it.

There are so many avenues of information about manifestation that you can fall down and sometimes it can be hard to know where to start.

That’s why we’re here, to do all the heavy lifting so you can just decide if it is something you want to practice, or just another trend to scroll past when it rocks up on your TikTok For You Page.

What is manifestation?

Credit: Getty

Though it may sound like a newfangled idea that someone under 25 with notions came up with, manifestation really is not a new practice.

It’s the idea that you can bring something you want into existence through a particular set of thought practices.

It has roots in the 19th-century New Thought spiritual movement, which included the belief that our thoughts can influence the material world and, essentially, that positive thinking is the answer to most of our earthly problems.

This concept of manifesting your reality through thought (or the ‘law of attraction,’ as some people may call it) can also be traced back to ancient spiritual teachings, including Hindu ideas, about the unity of your mind, body, and the universe.

Manifestation as a self-help exercise refers to focusing your thoughts on a desired outcome—through practices like mindfulness, visualisation, and meditation—in order to try to bring it into reality. Essentially, the idea is that you think your personal goals into existence.

“Manifestation is about creating a vision for the future, putting energy and intention into making that vision a reality, and then aligning your thoughts, emotions, and actions accordingly so that your vision can come into fruition,” Denise Fournier, PhD, LMHC, a psychotherapist in Miami said in an interview with SELF.

“That process is the same one we go through whenever we work on ourselves, try to change our circumstances, or commit to reaching a personal goal. It involves intention, mindset, and directed action.”

Does it actually work?

While manifestation can help in terms of setting and achieving your goals, what about the bigger things in life?

In general, research has shown that positive thinking, one of the core concepts of manifestation, can be beneficial to your overall mental wellbeing according to the Mayo Clinic.

On top of that, a positive, goal-oriented mindset may help you get closer to your objectives.

For example, a 2017 study published in Basic and Applied Social Psychology found that when tennis players used a visualisation exercise to imagine their goals of improving their performance and winning a match against their opponent, they were more successful than when they didn’t visualise those goals.

Though it doesn’t automatically mean you will achieve all your goals and your dreams will come true, it may help you see what you need to do to get where you want.

How to manifest

Credit: Getty

Before trying to manifest, remember that manifesting won’t necessarily help in every situation you find yourself in life.

Once you’re okay with that you can start practicing this habit in your everyday life.

Know it isn’t the same as making a wish: “Instead of thinking about manifesting as a form of magic, think of it as a practice of becoming aware of where your attention is going, noticing the nature and quality of your thoughts, and recognising the power you have over your own internal experience and actions,” Dr. Fournier says.

Try speaking your goal out loud: Speaking your goal out loud, even if it’s just a whisper to yourself is one way to keep you focused on it and to ensure that it’s congruent with your self-reflection.

Write out your intention or have reminders: The goals or milestones you’re hoping to reach should be top-of-mind, just like your to-do list and events on your calendar. Maybe this means you put your goals down on paper, either on a Post-it where you can see it daily, or in a journal if you want more privacy.

Make sure to check in regularly on your vision to remind you of what you’re working towards.

Consider making it a meditation ritual: Manifesting can be a spiritual practice on its own, if you choose to use it that way, but you can also incorporate it into a regular mindfulness practice.

You could write your goal on the jar of a candle and burn it every morning or even visualise a candle, and light it every morning as part of a meditation routine.