You’ve heard of the so-called Law of Attraction. You’ve heard or read about other people “manifesting”. But you’re skeptical.
Does manifesting really work?
As I’ll share with you in this article, the simple answer is “Yes, it really does work”. But to get a better answer, we have to ask a different question: How does manifesting work? And perhaps more importantly, do you have a role to play in manifesting? Can you affect what manifests in your life?
When we understand how manifesting works, we don’t need to be skeptical. Neither do we need to be fearful or superstitious. Instead, we can understand that this is a natural process that is always working – whether we’re aware of it or not.
If we’re unaware of how it is working, we see ourselves as victims in life. We wrongly believe that life is happening to us. And then we are fearful of our circumstances in life. All we can do in that case is hope and scheme for a good future.
But when we truly see how this process is already working in our lives, we cease to see ourselves as victims. When we understand this process, we can begin to choose powerfully in our lives.
In this article I will guide you to discover how manifesting works. I will point you to look for yourself to see how this is true for you. And you will discover how you can begin to consciously make use of this insight.
Manifesting Is Already Happening
The simple and obvious truth is that manifesting is already happening. Every moment in which you are aware, you are witness to manifestation.
Anything we can perceive or conceive is a manifestation. The screen you are looking at, this article – these are manifestations.
An obvious example of this – and one we easily overlook – is that all sounds come out of silence and return to silence. This may seem like an unimportant observation, but it is actually quite useful. We can directly observe that prior to the manifestation of a sound, there is silence. And after the sound there is silence. The sound arises from silence and returns to silence.
When we observe sound arising from silence and returning to silence, we have proof that manifesting is real. It is actually happening.
Although it may seem more difficult to observe, the same is true of all experience. All things we see or feel are also arising from silence or nothing, coming into being, and then dissolving into the silence or nothing from which they came.
Therefore, rather than asking whether manifesting is real, a more useful question is how does manifesting work? What we really want to know is whether we are safe and okay in life. We want to know if we have a participatory role in the manifestation process. Because we may secretly fear that life is just happening to us.
Many of us believe that life is happening to us because things happen that we don’t like. And when these things happen, we may feel that we are victims. We wish we could control our life so that only the things we think we want happen.
Therefore, many of us develop a naive idea about the process of manifesting. We think that for manifesting to be real, it would have to work something like this: I want something -> what I want appears or happens.
If I want something and it doesn’t appear or happen, I might then think that I have no role in manifesting. I may think that I am just a victim.
But this is not true. All this proves is that we don’t have a good enough understanding of the process of manifesting.
Consider an analogy of a radio. Imagine that you don’t understand how a radio works. The radio is on and tuned to a particular station. You don’t like the station. Let’s say it is a classic rock station, and you would rather listen to an experimental jazz station. Because you would like to listen to experimental jazz but the radio is playing classic rock instead, you may think, “Well, I guess I don’t have any role in this whole radio thing. I want experimental jazz, but the radio is playing classic rock.”
If you accept this is true without exploring further, you may then just be “victim” to whatever the radio plays. But that doesn’t mean it is actually true.
However, if instead you carefully observe, you may discover that you can tune the radio to different frequencies. And when you do, you can hear different stations. Maybe you find an experimental jazz station. So now you know that you do have a role to play. You can tune the radio.
On the other hand, you might not immediately find an experimental jazz station. Maybe there are none in range. So you could then give up and again think you only have a very limited role to play.
But if you observe more carefully, you might discover that the radio can pick up broadcasts from anywhere if you have the right means. You might find that with the right technology in place, you are able to tune into an experimental jazz station.
So it is with manifesting. The process is real. And you are playing a role whether you choose to become aware of it or not. If you choose not to become aware of it, you may mistake yourself to be a victim. But through careful observation, you can discover how this process works. And as you become aware of it, you can begin to choose.
The Important Key to Success in Manifesting (What You Want)
As you’ve already hopefully started to see, manifesting is happening. You are manifesting all the time. The question is not one of whether you will manifest, but rather what you will manifest.
If you are unhappy with what you manifest, you will want to become more successful in manifesting what you want instead of what you don’t want.
There are plenty of experts who will tell you their system or formula for manifesting what you want. Many of them are based on the so-called Law of Attraction. (I will suggest to you that the Law of Attraction is a misunderstanding of the actual nature of manifesting. We don’t so much attract as we do express.)
And while formulas are sometimes useful, a much more powerful approach is to have a clear understanding and repeated experience of the actual process. Whereas formulas tend to lead to superstition, having a true understanding (and experience) leads to mastery.
Where formulas alone can actually lead to anxiety, frustration, and depression, a true understanding of the actual process can give confidence and peace of mind.
My Introduction to Manifesting
I grew up with a mother and grandmother who were believers of the teachings of Charles and Myrtle Fillmore, the founders of Unity. Although I can’t say that I really understood their beliefs at the time, I suppose that I was primed by that early exposure to such ideas about manifesting.
I remember books by Deepak Chopra and Wayne Dyer on the bookshelves as a child.
When I was 19 and I had moved out on my own to Los Angeles, I briefly joined a Unity church there. But soon I gravitated toward the Church of Religious Science – an organization founded by Ernest Holmes that drew inspiration from similar sources, including Emma Curtis Hopkins.
For several years I was a practitioner in training within the Church of Religious Science. I learned the organization’s formula for affirmative prayer. And as a practitioner in training I was strongly encouraged to make use of it daily. (And I did!)
Around that same time, I received an initiation in Transcendental Meditation, and I practiced daily. I also attended weekly meetings with my TM teacher in which he would give a talk and we would do a group meditation.
Between these two things – daily affirmative prayer (plus practitioner training) and daily TM practice (and weekly meetings) – I received my formal introduction to manifesting.
I will also add that it was during this same time that a friend loaned me a cassette tape recording of some Taoist meditations recorded by Ken Cohen. (Ken Cohen is a truly wonderful teacher and human being. I feel tremendous gratitude to him.) These meditations also gave me my most profound experience of the nature of reality up to that point.
Prior to this, I had assumed that life was just happening to me. But through these experiences, I began to explore whether that was true.
My TM practice revealed to me that what I had imagined was the entirely of reality is but a small fraction. What I see, taste, smell, hear, and feel supposedly “out there” is not as great of a part of reality as I had previously thought.
Through TM practice I regularly encountered stillness within, and I could see how everything that I experienced came out of this stillness.
Through daily practice of affirmative prayer, I started to see how fearful and reactive my conditioned mind was. I could see how this fearful, reactive conditioning filtered my perception. And I could see how this shaped my reality.
By sheer quantity of affirmative prayer, some changes took place in my life. However, my understanding and clarity of the actual nature of the manifesting process was still fairly poor. As such, I developed a lot of superstition.
This is common among spiritual people. As I have already suggested, formulas may sometimes work, but they tend to produce superstition. And therefore, many practitioners who use formulas become increasingly superstitious or fearful.
I certainly did. And this brought out pre-existing tendencies of anxiety, obsessiveness, and fear.
The Years of Hell
For many years my anxiety and obsessive tendencies grew and grew. As an adolescent I had developed anorexia and compulsive exercise habits. In college those habits had grown and expanded.
But it wasn’t until my mid-twenties that things developed into full time hell. I have described this hell elsewhere, including my article on stopping compulsive behavior. Therefore, I won’t go into great detail here. But I will say that it was so severe that all day and night I was consumed by counting, checking, repeating, avoiding, hand washing, and on and on.
It wasn’t until I was 34 years old and nearly dead – living in a cabin in the woods of New Hampshire with my wife and newborn first child – that I finally moved beyond mere formulas.
Formulas may or may not work. But formulas alone can’t give us what we really want. To manifest what we really want, we have to move beyond formulas. We have to observe carefully and discover for ourselves.
That is what finally happened in my life. Only through having exhausted all other options, I finally began to carefully observe my experience. And through careful observation I began to be witness to the actual creative process. That is, I started to see how manifesting is actually happening.
Witnessing Subtler Levels of Experience
In order to be witness to the actual creative process, we need to be sensitive to the subtler layers of experience. That is because creation occurs at the subtlest level of experience.
Everything less subtle is not strictly creative. It is merely an outward movement of what has been created. We can rearrange what has been created, of course. And that can be a useful skill to have – to learn how to rearrange what has been created. But if we want to truly learn how manifesting works, we will not be satisfied with mere rearrangement. We want to observe the subtleties of creation.
Think of the image of a pebble thrown into a pond. We all have experienced this, so we know that ripples form and spread outward. Each ripple grows in size as it moves outward.
Each outward-moving ripple is an effect of the ripple that precedes it. But the actual creative moment is at the point at which the pebble struck the pond and the first ripple formed.
Many people who are interested in manifesting are focused on the outermost ripples. They are busying themselves with rearranging effects rather than observing the actual creative process.
But it is at the subtlest level of the creative process that we have the most leverage. To return to our pebble-in-pond metaphor, we have the most leverage when we control where we throw the pebble into the pond. Rather than trying to shift existing ripples into different locations, we have greater control by choosing where to throw the pebble in the first place.
…Or whether to throw the pebble at all! In fact, my experience is that the most important part of the creative process is consciously choosing whether to manifest. Otherwise, we tend to simply get caught up in the momentum of manifesting. We manifest and then react to that manifesting.
A much more powerful approach is to rest in the unlimited potential prior to manifesting. The great secret is that in this space prior to manifesting we find fulfillment, peace, and joy.
See, most people wrongly think they will get fulfillment, peace, and joy from what they manifest. They are mistakenly believing that their happiness is conditional. And that is disempowering and a recipe for suffering.
This is a very, very important point. Most of us want to know how to manifest for the wrong reasons. And if we don’t see this, we will only generate more suffering for ourselves.
Instead, what is possible is to first discover the true source of fulfillment and happiness that is prior to manifesting. When we know this, we are free to manifest…or not. Then, what manifests can only be an expression of that joy that we already know. We cannot generate suffering when we know our inherent freedom and happiness.
Therefore, before you try to manifest anything consciously, I strongly recommend that you first acquaint yourself with the space of potential that is prior to manifestation.
I intend to add more articles to this series. In those articles I will share more insights for how to know the peace and freedom in that infinite potential. I will also share ways you can become more conscious of the creative process and make use of that in your life. The best way to ensure you receive those articles is to subscribe to my free email list (see form below).