What does it mean to manifest something? How do you do it?
When so-called spiritual ideas become popularized, there can be a lot of distortion of the original intent, or at least it seems like some important details are often lost in translation. And so it is with manifestation. There are some widespread misconceptions about “manifesting”, what it means, and how you do it. Many people mistakenly think that manifesting means wishing on a star and then sitting back, waiting for your hopes and dreams to miraculously come true. You simply have to want it bad enough, or believe in it hard enough. It is almost as if issuing a memo to the universe with the size and specifications of your deepest desires guarantees they will be magically delivered.
Well... not exactly. Thinking that you can manifest anything you want - if only you meditate on it hard enough and long enough - is ego pure and simple, and that actually works against you. This is how it works in my experience.
1. Define and Declare your Desires
First, most people agree that it is important to get super duper clear on exactly what it is that you want to invite into your life. You need to be as specific as possible in describing your desire. And you need to be able to imagine your wish coming true, in as clear and as vivid terms as you can. That means accessing your future vision from a variety of different perspectives, and through a variety of different mechanisms – whether it is through visualization, simulation, or imagination. What are the sounds, smells, tastes, images, or sensations associated with your desire? Your aim here is to anchor your desired future state in your psyche using as many different modes as possible.
Another critical part of gaining clarity on your desire, which is too often missed, is about getting in touch with why it is that you want what you want. How will achieving or receiving the object of your desire help you grow; help you create; or help you serve? In other words... what's the higher purpose of your desire? You can skip this part of course. But the desire simply won’t be as powerful a force if your answer to why you want it is: I don’t know, or, oh just because. Get clear on what purpose your desire serves. Then once you have that all figured out, to make it real, you have to go and tell someone about your desire. Even better, tell everyone... shout it from the rooftops!
2. Let it Go. Reallllly Let it Go.
Now here’s the real secret to manifesting that they don’t tell you in the books. Manifesting isn’t a doing. It’s an allowing. This may seem counterintuitive, but once you have crystal clarity on what your desire looks like, feels like, walks like, et cetera, then congratulations you are ready to let it go. Let go of any attachment to seeing your hopes and dreams come true. I mean, really let it go. This is the hardest part, because pretending to let it go doesn’t work. That’s like telling a friend that you’re not looking for a relationship as you sit and idly scroll through online dating profiles. (I have a lot of experience with pretending to let it go, so I know how it goes.) There is a saying that goes “Let go, and let God”. Whether you believe in a “God” or not, the main idea here is that you surrender your own will to an intelligence that is greater than you. You give up personal control over your destiny, your circumstances. You relax into a sense of trust that the outcome that is best for you will present itself.
The irony is that being too attached to your desires - or worse yet, feeling entitled to having them fulfilled - can actually block forward momentum. Attachment to your ideal can make you blind to unexpected opportunities. And a sense of entitlement can make you feel complacent and disengaged. Here’s a quick test that I find useful for checking whether you have actually let go of the object of your desire, or are just pretending to let it go... Can you tap into a genuine sense of gratitude for what you already have?
3. Take Aligned, Effortless Action
Contrary to popular belief, manifesting is not a spectator sport. It is not passive. It is not shy. It requires your active engagement and participation in the world around you, here and now. This is how the law of attraction actually works. Believing in yourself, and believing in the truth of your desires, will manifest absolutely nothing if you are merely believing it believing it believing it with all your might while you sit quietly in your room staring at a blank wall. The whole point of using visualization techniques to retrain your brain - so you can start to believe that what you desire has already been done - is to inspire aligned action. Without action, there can be no manifestation.
The part that can be tough to reconcile is that the sort of action that I am talking about here is gentle, easy, and effortless. The action is not hard, pushy, or labored. It is about showing up to where you are invited, embracing synchronicity, making unexpected connections, accepting help that is offered, and opening yourself up to new perspectives or new experiences. In fact, some people describe this part of manifestation as simply moving out into the world, accompanied by your clear intentions, open heart, and open arms, and looking for evidence that what you wish for is already done.
This brings me back to the word of the day: manifesting. If you look up the definition, you will see that to manifest literally means to "make apparent", "make visible", or "make obvious". And just in case it's not obvious, let me stress this point: it does not mean to "make something happen". When you manifest your reality, you are not doing something as much as you are discovering it; you are not receiving a gift as much as you are revealing it. This is why many people can experience manifesting as effortless. And in that way, it does seem magical.