Though manifestation and the law of attraction are age-old concepts with origins as far back as Hindu scriptures and Buddhism, it has enjoyed a modern-day refresh since the 2006 documentary “The Secret.” Now, manifestation fills social media feeds and coaching philosophies alike.
The hashtag #Manifestation has over 23 billion views on TikTok. Scroll for a bit and you’ll find not every manifestation coach has the same definition. We spoke to three practicing manifesters about what it means to them.
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What is manifesting?
As a verb, manifesting is “to make evident or certain by showing or displaying.” In other words, manifesting is the act or practice of bringing something into your life through belief.
Candice Nikeia’s lessons in manifestation arrive at a place of gratitude. For her, manifesting is more than just wishing for physical items — a new car, a house, clothes — it’s acknowledging what you already have.
“It's really about learning how to love yourself, thinking of yourself as something that you desire to be, believing in yourself, striving for more than you can ever imagine,” Nikeia says. “Trusting that what's out there for you is out there for you; what's meant for you is meant for you.”
Kathleen Cameron is a wealth manifester. For her, manifestation is all about mindset — the art of “becoming a new version of yourself that you have yet to become in order to create the life that you have yet to experience.”
Ryan Lu has a bit more of a spiritual approach. Her manifestation philosophy is about working with the universe to “meet in the middle.”
“Manifestation is everyone's individual relationship with their higher power, whether that be God, the universe, whatever their religion is, whatever they personally believe,” Lu says.
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How to manifest
Manifestation is, at its core, believing you are the person who can achieve the goals you set. Here's a five-step recipe to help get started, according to the coaches:
Be grateful for what you already have
Shift your mindset
Put it all out there: Envision what you desire
Take inspired action
♦ Be grateful for what you already have
This is the base of Nikeia’s practice. You can start by thinking something positive as you wake up and before you go to bed.
She uses the example of manifesting a new job: instead of harvesting the feeling of not having that job, focus on what’s currently in your life.
“Be grateful for the moments you have today because when you do get that job, there's something that's going to make you want to complain,” Nikeia says.
♦ Shift your mindset
"It's not necessarily some magical thing you do, abracadabra, it's not like that," Nikeia says. "It's really a mindset and the words you speak — whether you're conscious of it or not, your words are manifesting into your reality."
When it comes to a mindset change, Cameron walks into situations thinking, “What can I do right now that would be something that a confident version of myself would do?”
In daily practice, that’s self care for Cameron — being in tune with becoming her best self.
“Whatever it is for you, that self care for you puts you in a good energy,” Cameron says. “When you look after and care for yourself, you're so much more powerful.”
♦ Put it all out there: Envision what you desire
Once you’re in the mindset to work toward what you want, the rest of the manifesting begins. The most common quick method is with a pen and paper — putting what you desire into words.
Others practice by using repetition, candle magic or waiting for certain phases of the moon.
Lu’s message to beginners? Don’t complicate it. Do what works for you.
“I am a lazy manifester, I simply do not have the time to be doing all these elaborate rituals,” Lu says. “But hey, if they work for someone, please, by all means, do it. That's how I started, I wrote things down.”
One of her favorite methods is making a to-do list on her phone; an easy way to reference those manifestations throughout the year.
Nikeia recommends beginning with affirmations. This could be as simple as speaking aloud your wishes as if they’ve already come true. You could even say it as if you’re talking to a friend or a family member if talking to yourself feels unnatural.
♦ Take inspired action
Lu shared one of her recent manifestations — hit a million followers on TikTok. While she’s been manifesting it since 2020, she just recently hit that milestone.
Her account is an example of manifestation in real time, she says — it’s not magic, you have to take action alongside your desires. There’s no way to reach a million followers if you never post a video.
“I can control making videos, I can control the quality of the videos, I can control the content,” Lu says. “I cannot control if people are going to like that, I can't control if people are going to follow. So I'm doing what I can do, and I'm trusting the universe with the rest.”
♦ Be patient
But what about when things happen that are out of control? Nikeia calls those “energetic tests.” Part of manifestation is about bringing a positive mindset to negative situations.
“Is this the moment where I say I'm done, I give up? I'm not going to do these manifestations anymore?” she says. “Or is this a test that, okay, I know, this happened to me, but this is happening for me, and not to me, this is happening for my growth.”
There’s also patience — manifesting something once doesn’t mean you’ll wake up with it the next day.
“Life can turn in dramatic ways, but when we find the power in the now and find the realms of just allowing life to unfold at the right time, that is what manifestation is,” Nikeia says.
Tools and tips to help you manifest
Whether you’re looking for signs in repeated numbers (known as angel numbers), collecting crystals or getting tarot readings on the regular, there are many tools that accompany the world of manifesting.
Lu says while these aren’t necessary, they can help us be “in a state of empowerment.”
“Sometimes we already have the answers, we know what's up,” Lu says. “But it's nice to be reassured, to hear something and be like, this is someone I trust, this method I trust, I'm hearing that things are going to work out, and I can sleep tonight.”
But get far enough down the manifesting rabbit hole on TikTok and you may wind up scrolling through dozens of prediction videos or “signs” from the universe.
“If you believe that you're supposed to hear this message, then you're watching every single video getting 1,000 messages, you’re going to be so confused,” Cameron says. “So this is why you have to trust you, you have to trust what you see, what you believe, your intuition, what you feel.”
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Is manifestation real?
There’s no scientific evidence that manifestation automatically makes dreams come true, but some research suggests positive mindsets have equally positive outcomes.
One study found imagining a hypothetical event will land you with a better action plan for how to make the event actually happen. The concept of growth mindset says that individuals who believe their talents can grow tend to achieve more than those who don’t.
Certainly, the thought-to-action aspects of manifestation hold some ground. Some scientists have referenced manifestation’s close alignment with cognitive behavioral therapy, which is modifying unhelpful ways of thinking and behavior to cope with and prevent further psychological problems.
And yet, the “magic” of manifesting that has come into popular culture is not necessarily what many manifestation coaches actually believe.
“It's not about bringing like that one thing or that one amount of money into your life. It's about being a different version of yourself,” Cameron says. “It doesn't come from thin air — it comes from your actions that you take based on the energy that you're in.”
Manifestation, all three coaches said, is something we’re doing all the time. We wish on birthday candles, when we see the time is 11:11 or when we set a particular goal.
“You're always running based on the beliefs you hold,” Cameron says. “Every day you're creating the next day of your life over and over and over again, so people are manifesting but they don't know what or how they're doing it.”
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Is manifesting dangerous?
There can be too much of a good thing.
Some research suggests the practice could be harmful for those with anxiety or obsessive-compulsive disorders or who may be actively working toward unlearning harmful “thought equals reality” triggers — what manifestation holds at its core.
“You have to know yourself well enough and your mental health to understand where you are going to take your practice of manifesting,” Lu says. “If it is something that you end up being obsessive over and ends up really impeding your life, please take a step back and find a way that really works for you.”
This article originally appeared on USA TODAY: What is manifestation? A beginner's guide to understanding manifesting