I’ve been thinking a lot about the concept of manifesting, and trying to work out how I really feel about it. I try not to bullshit myself, and sometimes that takes a fair bit of puzzling things out.
On one hand, my rational mind argues that spiritual manifestation makes no logical sense. We live in a material world of cause and effect, and things happen because we make them happen through our words and actions. When I’m in heavy striving mode, the only path to effectiveness that I can see is one of hard work and sustained effort.
On the other hand, I also believe in the power of the mind to bring experiences into physical reality. What we think, believe, and desire shapes the course of our lives. I know this because I consciously practice it and have found that it works. But how?
My views on this have evolved over time.
When I was young, I leaned heavily into magical thinking as a strategy for making my life happen. I believed then, as I do now, that the universe is governed by a benevolent creative intelligence that wants each of us to live our highest expression of self, which includes joy, abundance and fulfillment. So I made vision boards, stuck affirmations on my wall, and visualized the future I wanted to create for myself, putting my faith in divine forces.
Intentions and intuition were my go-to tools partly because at that age I wasn’t very good at setting goals, making plans, and carrying them out. And to be honest, I actually looked down on rational planning, seeing it as an instrument of the ego and therefore a lower mode of navigating life. Far better to just “put it out there” and let the infinite wisdom of the universe figure out the details.
Through this lens, I saw magic all around me; serendipitous connections and out-of-the-blue opportunities threw themselves at me. When a door opened, it was easy for me to dive through it without hesitation even if it meant taking big risks, because I was following my heart with blind faith.
Unsurprisingly, life kicked me in the ass. A lot. Rocky relationships, financial woes, addiction, and all manner of personal crises have featured in my journey. Did I “manifest” these experiences? Well, yes and no. They weren’t on any vision boards. But I surely made them happen through my choices, and my choices were based on my beliefs, including (and maybe especially) the unconscious ones. The universe may be rooting for me to live my best life, but I’m also quite free to mess up its beautiful plans.
I don’t believe the calamities in my personal history were accidents, or even mistakes. My soul needed them in order to grow. My wounds needed to make themselves known so that I could heal them. I have applied myself to that hard and necessary inner work, and I don’t expect that work will ever end as long as I’m human. That’s what it means to be an evolving being, and I’m here for it.
Happily, I grew out of my aversion to action-oriented goal setting and learned how to Get Shit Done. Decades later I’m still consciously manifesting my dreams, only now, thoughtful planning and faithful surrender both have a role to play. My rational mind and spiritual higher self are working together.
Intuition and analysis. Human effort and divine intervention.
The way I see it now, if we want to manifest our best lives we need to augment our planning and doing with these four things.
- We need to believe that the things we dream of are possible for us. We can only carry as much light as our wattage allows, and that capacity increases as we open ourselves to a grander vision.
HOW THIS WORKS: Bigger ideas come to mind. People are more receptive to our bids because we bring higher energy to our encounters.
- We need to do the inner work on a personality level to undo counterproductive mental and emotional conditioning, and break bad behavioral habits. There will be self-inflicted wounds as well as external challenges along the way, and that’s ok! Those “manifestations” of obstacles and loss are also gifts. They show us the stones that need to be cleared from the field before we can plant our crops.
HOW THIS WORKS: We step into alignment with our values and stop sabotaging our own efforts by being a jerk or acting like we are powerless.
- We need to let the universe throw us a rope, and we need to grab onto it when it comes. Yes, I set goals and take deliberate action, but I also keep an eye out for incoming miracles. The more I lean into the expectation of support, the more I find it.
HOW THIS WORKS: We notice resources and opportunities that may have been hiding in plain sight all along. Introductions happen and we bump into the right people at the perfect time.
- Finally, we need to surrender and trust. Humility and gratitude keep us in a receptive state and remind us that although the ego is the builder of our lives, it is not the architect. Life is an intricate and vast tableau, and if I can’t always make sense of its patterns, that only means my perspective is not yet expansive enough to see the full picture.
HOW THIS WORKS: We feel more joy and ease in the journey, anxiety melts away, and all our energy is freed up so we can focus on making our dreams come true.
I’m fortunate to have manifested some beautiful, exhilarating experiences in my time. I’m proud of what I’ve accomplished, and grateful for every resource and benefit that’s available to me. I’m also excited that this journey is a climb with no summit; new vistas are always coming into view.
Setting my sights on a big new vision that I want to manifest is always a little scary at first. Whenever I feel powerless, overwhelmed or alone, it helps to remind myself that there is a practical aspect to spirituality, and a spiritual aspect to practicality. By harnessing both of these powers, we expand the realm of possibility.