What Is Manifestation & How Does It *Work*?

Calling out to the universe

“Manifesting” your dreams is a common mantra you’ll see online. It even has its own meme — a Bratz doll saying “Shut up, I’m manifesting!” Beyond the humour, the practice has actually been growing in popularity since 2017. Around that time, discussions about self-care and wellness were becoming more open and common. Google searches for other wellness trends like tarot reading, spiritual cleansing, and positive affirmations also started becoming popular. Manifestation became more popular at the start of the pandemic, since people were searching for solutions or comfort at a time filled with anxieties and uncertainties.

However, there are a lot of ways people believe they can manifest things into reality. So what is manifestation and how does it really *work*? We spoke with two believers to get their side on this popular practice.

What is manifestation, really?


“The act of manifesting something is just simply declaring — with wholehearted conviction — to the universe that this is what you desire. And in turn, the universe will acknowledge that and give it to you,” shared Dianne, a social media manager based in the Philippines.


“To me, to ‘manifest’ something means to experience my desires come into physical form,” explained Jamie from The White Walls, where she empowers and guides women in business through mindset changes and manifestation. Manifesting, in its essence, means taking a desire — “a thought, something we'd like to have in our lives” but cannot be experienced by our senses yet — and transforming it into something more physical.


That’s not to say that manifesting something means relying purely on positive thoughts. “It's unrealistic to expect yourself to only think positive thoughts and run away from the negative thoughts or challenges in life, which are equally important,” Jamie said. This misconception causes people to “have an unrealistic expectation of what’s to come” leading to further frustration when they’re stuck on this fantasy.


Others, of course, doubt the truth behind this movement. This Reddit user said they no longer believe in the law of attraction (more on that later) because after manifesting an improvement in their relationships and career, they’ve since been unable to manifest anything else. This frustration can be shared by a lot of people exploring the practice.

Manifestation encounters

Two planners on a chair

Does it really work? (Photo from: Polina Kovaleva via Pexels)


Jamie first encountered manifesting through a podcast. “It kind of ‘fell into my lap’ whilst I was walking on a treadmill one day. I remember back then I was intentionally trying to find a podcast that resonates with my soul but had no idea what topic it was on, so I couldn't exactly search it online. I simply set the intention (it was literally a thought), I guess I can say I manifested it!”


Dianne, on the other hand, was more influenced by the law of attraction movement. “They say that when you have goals, dreams, etc., it's not enough to just ‘wish’ or ‘hope’ for them. You have to say them or claim them as if you know with 1000 per cent certainty that they’re already going to happen for you. And when you say them enough and believe them enough, you may just attract them into fruition.” The Law of Attraction (LOA) community is quite active, especially on Reddit where its designated thread has over 170 thousand members. There are also numerous podcasts available explaining the history and ways of the movement.

You might already be manifesting and just don’t know it

A hand holding a pen writing 2021 goals

Goal setting can be a form of manifesting. (Photo from: Marko Klaric via Pexels)

Words of affirmation 

While its core meaning seems quite simple, the act of manifesting differs from person to person. It can be as simple as affirming statements — with a “Yes!” or an “Amen” to a motivational post that comes up on your feed — to intentional physical actions. Some methods include writing your intentions on a piece of paper and burning it, through purposeful meditation, or scripting (repeatedly writing your intentions down over a certain period of time).


In line with this, some believers think manifesting only works when you tap deeper into your spirituality. After all, manifesting can also come off as a form of prayer. “When you pray, they always say that you have to be extra specific with what you want. I think manifestation works the same way,” Dianne mused. For Jamie, likening praying to manifesting really resonated with her. “I find myself talking to the Universe a lot, I'd say that's my prayer,” she agreed. In fact, several studies have also been done to see how prayer impacts results, over situations like infertility and healing. As you can expect, the results were a mix because the conditions raise a lot of philosophical questions.

Angel numbers

If you want to get into the Divine, there are also angel numbers — digits or numerical patterns like 1111 or 444 — that you’ll encounter over and over again in different places. They’re signs coming from a higher being or power that arise at a pivotal time in your life.

How to get serious about manifesting

However, manifesting also goes beyond all of that. It requires real work, self-awareness, and willpower on your part to enact your intentions. “I see manifestation more than just spiritual work,” Jamie said. It's 80 per cent mindset work, 10 per cent spirituality, and 10 per cent science, to be specific. “A big part of it is mindset work because our thoughts trigger our emotions, which then drives our actions and creates our reality.”


For example, an aspiring entrepreneur whose thoughts centre on feelings of unworthiness or hopelessness may drive them to inaction. In turn, this prevents the business from taking off in the first place. Jamie said that turning this on its head, embodying positive thoughts like "I'm going to kill it and I'm not available for anything less!" will create feelings of certainty and excitement. These feelings will inspire that person to purposefully act towards establishing and growing their business.


If you want to get started, there’s a thing called guided manifestation. It’s done through pre-recorded audio tapes in apps like Insight Timer or with the help of coaches. There are pros and cons to each method. Guided manifestation eases you into the process if you’re just starting out. However, this may pressure you to manifest things “the right way”. On the other hand, personal manifestation lets you go at your own pace. Jamie does this and says this gives her “enough time to dive deep and feel into my desires before moving on” and lets her “have fun with my manifestation process”. Then again, it can also be frustrating when you feel stuck or disheartened.

Does manifesting work?



Jamie and Dianne are both believers in the power of manifestation. It doesn’t come from out of the blue, though. Both said they’ve seen how it works on big and small dreams. “From simple wishes such as food cravings to grander and more complex wishes like healing, peace, etc. There are days I would crave a specific type of food and just say it out loud, and the next day someone will come to our house with that exact food. It was creepy at first but I guess that just shows you the power of manifestation!” Dianne said.


Jamie has moved further into helping people manifest their goals and desires. This, too, comes with its own challenges. “One of my most recent success stories was manifesting a client when I was working the least in my business,” she shared. She felt burnt out and dreaded work every day, trying to meet her monthly goals. Following her intuition, she decided to take a break and let her “energy do what [her] actions cannot”. Just before midnight hit on the evening of 28 February, as she was sleeping, she received an email from the one client she’s been looking for. “Moral of the story? Never give up prematurely, keep holding onto the energy of certainty and it will manifest one day,” she said.


A candle saying "manifest and chill"

It *works* if you believe it wholeheartedly. (Photo from: Paige Cody via Unsplash)


Still, there are a lot of ways manifesting may not work for you. “I think it's important to note that patience is key,” Dianne shared. “You may not get what you manifested for right away, but that doesn't mean it will never come to you. You just have to keep believing it and keep putting it out to the universe with utmost conviction.”


Being too attached to your desires may also prevent them from manifesting into reality. “When we get too attached to what we want to manifest, we get in our own way. We try to control how things should unfold and how they should manifest,” Jamie explained. It’s better to let go of this control and allow the Universe, the Divine, or what have you, do its thing.


At the end of the day, choosing to believe in the powers of manifestation is up to you. After all, we all have our own ways of willing our dreams into reality.


(Cover photo from: Paige Cody via Unsplash)


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