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Manifestation 101: What Is It and How Do You Do It?


It sounds so easy, right? Simply manifest your greatest desires to make your life into what you imagine. Attract what you want and need by tapping into the power of the universe. But is there more to it? Although it may seem effortless, manifestation is not so clear-cut. In fact, it can be downright murky, and some people set out onto the path of manifestation with a lot of confusion around what manifestation is really all about and how to do it. 

What is Manifestation?

Manifestation is using thoughts, words, tools, and techniques to bring about changes in your life that you seek. It invokes your deepest desires and calls in the power of the universe to bring them to you. It can be as simple as creating a vision board or journaling your life goals, but it can also be an in-depth practice you develop over time. Manifestation is more than just positive thinking, but it does include the idea that your thoughts become your reality. 

Philosophers, spiritual practitioners, and successful people throughout history have known this primal truth, and some have been able to use it to bring about incredible circumstances or gifts from the universe. The idea of manifestation was popularized by a film and book by Rhonda Byrne called “The Secret,” which came out in 2006. The knowledge that was shared in this film and book has its foundation in the law of attraction, which was mind-blowing for many people and led to a widespread frenzy. Although this author brought it to the attention of the masses, the idea of attracting and manifesting your desires is woven throughout many religions and philosophical theories and was a core precept in the New Thought movement of the 1800s.

Manifestation and the law of attraction are intertwined but are different. The law of attraction is one way the universe responds, but there are other laws at work, such as the law of action, the law of cause and effect, the law of giving and receiving, and the law of vibration that will play a role in manifestation practices. 

a drawing of hearts on an outside wall

Does Manifestation Work?

Thousands of influencers on TikTok and Instagram will tell you that they have manifested their greatest desires and loads of money, but it’s not as easy as it may seem. Manifestation is all about co-creation, and sometimes it works better than others, depending on how aligned your desires are with other forces in your life. Some people have been able to manifest large sums of money seemingly out of thin air, while others may really struggle just to put a few extra dollars in their pocket. 

Yes, manifestation works, but there are times when it doesn’t. There are many universal forces at play, and some people have extra roadblocks to overcome before making their dreams come true. There are marginalized groups of people that will have greater challenges standing in their way than others. There are also mindset and belief system issues to overcome that can really stand in the way of people’s manifesting abilities. If someone declares a desire but doesn’t really believe it is possible for them (such as finding true love), they may have more inner work to do before they can attain it. Or, if someone wishes for love but never leaves the house or doesn’t look for opportunities to meet people, it also may take more time for the right circumstances to line up. 

It’s not about perfection, but it is important to learn to recognize the steps along the way where you need to make changes before you are able to successfully manifest what you hope for in life.

a manifestation  journal

Positive thinking and shifting your mindset in other ways will definitely have positive outcomes in your life, and there is scientific validation for the effectiveness of visualization, which is a very powerful manifestation technique. Manifestation practices aren’t always predictable, but they can increase the likelihood of success and attaining your goals. These ideas may help you to push through limited ways of thinking and open you up to new and exciting possibilities.

Common Misconceptions About Manifestation

Many people are drawn to the idea of manifesting without realizing that there is work involved and a lot of personal changes that might need to happen for them to attain their goals. The appeal of simply asking for something and having it appear might sound a little too good to be true, and guess what, it probably is! Don’t rely on wishful thinking without taking action! Although visualization is a powerful tool, don’t get caught up simply fantasizing or daydreaming about your needs and desires. Also, trying to manifest unattainable circumstances into your life will probably not get you what you seek. Start with very clear, attainable goals and desires. It doesn’t all have to be super practical or planned out but work up to the big things a little at a time. 

Things don’t always happen exactly how you think or hope they will, so leave room for flexibility and learn to appreciate the gifts of the universe in whatever form they come in. If you have vague intentions, your results may be vague as well. Remember that not everything you try to manifest will come to fruition. This may be because it wasn’t for the greater good, maybe you weren’t clear enough, or maybe you did nothing wrong at all! This is not a sure-fire way to get everything you ever wanted. Perhaps the universe has something even better planned out for you, or maybe you simply need to be patient, and it will all fall into place later down the road.

Some people also get caught up in fear of attracting adverse outcomes with their thoughts. If you struggle with intrusive thoughts or get easily overwhelmed by fear and/or anxiety, don’t fret! Consciously changing your thought patterns can be powerful, but don’t get stuck thinking that just because you think or fear the worst, you will bring it into existence. Don’t be overcome by guilt, shame, or feelings of “I brought this on myself” or “I attracted this into my life.” This is where some of these ideas about the law of attraction can actually be more toxic than helpful.

How to Practice Manifesting

Common Manifestation Methods

Manifestation Journal

Write it down! Keeping a manifestation journal is a way to collect your thoughts, feelings, and desires and to remind yourself of what you want to bring into your life. You can think of it as your magic spell book or your desire diary, or whatever appeals to you. This will be most powerful if you create a practice or ritual centered around manifestation. 

woman writing on her journal

Writing first thing in the morning or right before you go to bed helps you tap into a calmer state of mind, which is a vital part of the whole manifesting process. Take a moment to set your overall intention and adopt a meditative state of mind (if possible) before beginning. Try to feel it. Be clear and specific but don't get caught up in every mundane detail; leave some magic and mystery to the process. If you are new to this practice, using manifestation journaling prompts will be helpful to get the juices flowing. 

The 369 Method

This is a very popular method often used to bring love into your life or a set of circumstances involving another person, but it can be used for anything. Basically, you are tapping into the cosmic power of the mystical numbers 3, 6, and 9 to bring about your desired outcome. These numbers have had special meaning in many cultures throughout history and are believed to have esoteric significance.

There are a few different ways to use this method, and you can always put your own spin on it.

Method 1: Take some time to create and refine a significant sentence that has special meaning to you and states what it is you bring into your life. You will write this statement throughout the day: 3 times in the morning, 6 times in the afternoon, and 9 times in the evening. It helps if you are able to write your statements at the same time each day and take a few minutes to meditate and put your entire focus into this statement when you are doing this practice.

Method 2: Use this method when you manifest something very specific such as bringing a person into your life, a quality you wish you had, or material things such as money, a house, or a car. In this method, your statement will change slightly for each number, starting simple and progressing to a more expanded affirmation. For example,

3x- money, money, money

6x- I have enough extra money to get xyz

9x- I am bringing so much money into my life that I can easily purchase xyz on a regular basis

sacred numbers: 3, 6, 9

How long should you use this method? Some recommend 21 days, some say 33 days or other multiples of 3, but really it will depend on what you are working on manifesting. It could be something that takes 369 days! If you feel like you aren’t getting anywhere or your enthusiasm is wearing off, you can add different manifestation methods along with this one or try adjusting your manifesting statement to something more clear, better aligned, or likely attainable. 

Positive Affirmations

Think it to be it! Replacing negative thoughts with positive ones takes some practice, but it can change your entire outlook on life. Saying positive statements to yourself can uplift your spirit, train your mind toward healthier thought patterns, and attract what you desire. For manifestation, you will need to go beyond just positive thinking, as an affirmation is a very specific statement that you choose for yourself to call in the desired outcome. You can repeat this statement to yourself throughout the day while meditating or use it in your manifestation journal. 

You can have one or many affirmations, but it’s good to keep them to a few specific ideas that surround what you want to change. That way, your energy is concentrated on one or two things rather than being diluted around vague hopes that you aren’t putting a lot of effort or power into. Make sure you are using “I am” statements rather than “I will” or “I want” kind of wording. The point is to affirm that which you are bringing into actualization and to change the feeling around that statement into one of full belief.

Visualization and a Vision Board

Visualization can take practice, but it is a powerful technique that is used by athletes, performers, artists, and many successful people to help accomplish their dreams. This helps you turn an idea into something you really believe in and can “see” yourself doing. Visualization can be really hard for some people. If you find yourself struggling, you may want to start with some guided visualizations, even if they aren’t manifestation-focused, to start waking up the parts of your brain involved in this technique. After you have had a little practice, it will get easier, and you can begin to visualize the scenarios and circumstances you want to bring into your life. 

woman making a vision board

A vision board is fun, creative, and a good place to start if you are still figuring out what you want to bring into your life. This is a visual representation of what you want your life to be like, the things/people you want to surround yourself with, places you want to travel to, or life experiences you seek. There are many ways to make your vision board, a popular one being to cut out pictures of magazines and paste them together in a collage with photos of yourself. You can also make a digital collage to give you endless possibilities. Vision boards are inspiring but can be less focused and specific, so it might be a good idea to add written affirmations to your collage or combine it with visualization techniques. 

Speak It Into Existence

Words are powerful (so are you when you put your mind to it!), and this practice is centered around the way you talk about a certain aspect of your life. It can include speaking affirmations out loud, but it’s more than that. For example, if you are working on manifesting money into your life, and you are doing affirmations and journal work, but you don’t watch your language at other times, you might be sending mixed signals. If you talk about “always being broke” or “never having enough money for the things you really want,” then that may be the circumstances you get stuck in. This can get tricky when tightly held beliefs need to be challenged and changed, but with practice, you can switch around how you speak about your circumstances. 

Just remember that what you say out loud is amplified to the universe, and the law of attraction will magnetize what you speak about and how you speak about it and keep bringing you what you believe to be true. 

8 Steps to Start Manifesting Now

1. Be Clear About What You Want

You’ve got to be crystal clear about what you manifest into your life. You don’t want to call in the wrong circumstances, and the universe may not respond if you send out vague signals. A lot of the tools and techniques used for manifestation practices are pathways to finding out what it is that you really want and weeding out all of the excess. For example, you may think you want a promotion, but as you are journaling around the topic or creating a vision board, you may realize that what you actually want is an entirely new job that you have been too intimidated to go for. The clarity around what you hope to manifest will make it more effective, and you can really focus all of your energy on that one thing. 

woman enjoying the moment

Part of being clear is knowing what you want, but you’ve also got to be clear about your language regarding your manifestation. For example, rather than try to simply manifest more success in your life, be really clear about what success means to you, and list what you would need to accomplish to feel or be successful. Is it more money? A better job? A healthy relationship? Or more joy and fulfillment? Sometimes simply finding clarity around what you really want from life makes the path to it so much easier. 

2. Figure Out How What You Want Makes You Feel

Rather than just start filling your head with your needs and desires, take a moment to drop into your heart center and body to see what is happening there before moving forward with your manifestation practice. How does it feel when you think about what it is you are trying to manifest? Maybe you need money, but you have some deep-seated poverty trauma to work through, and you need to learn what abundance feels like. If it is a lover or friend you are trying to bring into your life, how would that feel to be surrounded by that love and/or have the kind of friend that really gets you? A part of manifesting is shifting your thinking to believing, and by really feeling “it,” you can make profound changes in the way you respond to circumstances and also how you feel on a daily basis. 

3. Create a Plan for Getting What You Want and Stick To It

You’ve got to do the work! You can’t hope to manifest an amazing new career by sitting on the couch without making any effort toward bettering your employee appeal or applying for potential jobs. Maybe you are trying to manifest something in the future, such as buying a house or a car, but you spend any extra money you have on designer bags or something else you could easily live without. Yes, manifestation is a powerful tool, but it helps to have some steps laid out in between getting from here to there. 

A good practice is to write out a big goal or grand accomplishment and then write below the long-term and short-term steps you will need to take to get there. Starting with a few of the smaller, short-term steps, you can work on manifesting those first to ultimately get to your more ambitious goals that may take some time and work to accomplish.

4. Practice Gratitude

This is a biggie. It’s a mindset thing, but it also reflects how you relate to the gifts the universe has already brought you. By recognizing the great things in your life, even if they are small, ordinary things, you can change your thought patterns and let the universe know how much you appreciate what you have been blessed with. Even if all you can come up with is one thing, focus on it, and cultivate gratitude for it. Pretty soon, you will find other bright spots in your life to reflect on. If you are one of those people who easily gets caught up in negative thinking or “why does this always happen to me” sort of stuff, find a way to remind yourself what to be grateful for. Start a list in your journal or put post-it notes on your mirror that remind you of how blessed you are. Repeat them out loud or in your mind. Learn to really feel gratefulness and satisfaction deep in your body.

man doing gratitude meditation next to a creek

5. Address Your Limiting Beliefs

Limiting beliefs are like roadblocks for the manifestor. These stand in your way because it is hard to get over foundational beliefs that we have been taught by our communities, culture, religion, parents, siblings, friends, or life circumstances. This is sometimes at the very core of who we are, so it is especially difficult to let these beliefs go. Most people are not even aware of their own limiting beliefs, so identifying them is the first step. It often takes time to address what has been ingrained in your belief system, so give yourself time to work through it. Journal work, affirming and validating new ways of thinking, and even counseling can be powerful ways to start getting to the core of where these beliefs come from and to discover ways to overcome and change them.

6. Trust the Process

Give it time! You can’t just decide to manifest a brand new car in two days and then, when that doesn’t happen, give up. Manifestation is an art and a practice; it takes time to get it right. Calling in what you want out of life will be more joyful and often more successful if you can practice non-attachment to the outcome. Letting go of the end result can be difficult when we live in a world of instant gratification. Frustration and impatience may only reinforce limiting beliefs and are counterproductive when it comes to the laws that govern manifestation.

Being clear about what it is you are after is important, but be open to receiving in ways you may not have expected. This is all about co-creation, and you can’t control the ultimate outcome. You’ve got to surrender to the process and learn to trust that the universe will bring you the best circumstances possible. Don’t get frantic or frazzled if you don’t get what you want right away. This will dilute your energy and shift you from belief and trust to a state of desperation. Instead, let the universe support you and make sure you are making shifts along the way too. 

7. Raise Your Vibrations

What is your frequency? Have you ever been around someone for a while, and they just made you feel heavy and weighed down? Or maybe you have someone in your life that uplifts you whenever you see them. Everything in the universe has a frequency, and you want to resonate with the vibes you are trying to bring in and attract. Like attracts like, right? There are lifestyle changes you can make that will keep your vibration at a more optimal level, and there are sound-based healing practices, such as toning, that can have profound effects that can change the way you feel. 

man outddors, hugging his dog

Common experiences that bring you down to a lower vibration include dwelling on negative emotions, malicious gossip, watching violent or disturbing movies or shows, or being around certain people. Ways to raise your vibrations include getting out in nature, snuggling with pets or people you love, gratitude practices, hugs, laughter, drinking sun or moon-infused water, receiving or giving energy work such as reiki, salt scrubs or Epsom salt baths, and singing your heart out to amazing music. Certain foods can also make you feel heavy, and others, like fruits and veggies (especially ones grown with love), can raise you up. Meditation, yoga, and other mind-body practices help you resonate at a higher frequency and are great for other reasons as well.

8. Don’t Be Afraid to Receive and Acknowledge Signs from the Universe 

Look for synchronicity everywhere! Once you start opening yourself up to signs from the universe, you may get messages that you are on the right path or need to shift your direction. What does that look like? It could be simple coincidences that you start noticing, like hearing an old song over and over or seeing recurring words or phrases. Look for patterns, certain numbers that might appear, or you may even receive messages in your dreams. Feelings of deja vu might alert you to something you should be paying attention to, or your intuition might simply kick in, and you have a feeling of “knowing” that you can’t explain.

Waking up to Wellness

Manifestation is not really about getting; it’s about becoming. It’s fun and sometimes necessary to begin with manifesting physical things like money or a new apartment, but a better place to start is by manifesting yourself into being who you really want to be. Learning to truly feel like you are surrounded by love or discovering an abundance mindset may help you to realize that you already have what you need or pave the way for you to get there. Life is a journey, and manifestation is choosing the right path to ensure you get to where you are trying to go. Sometimes there are roadblocks and shortcuts, and your destination might even change, but it is all a part of the adventure that brings us closer to the life we choose and becoming who we are meant to be.