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Aidan Hutchinson is arguably one of the most popular athletes in the country at this moment in time. After being the runner-up for the Heisman Trophy, the largest award in college football, the defensive end for the Detroit Lions was drafted at number two overall this year. However, while Hutchinson put in the requisite practice hours and lift sessions, his success took a slightly alternative route due to one essential fact: He manifested it.
In a recent interview with ESPN, Hutchinson explained his use of journaling and manifestation techniques. He started journaling when he was four years old, and by the time he was in the fifth grade, he not only believed but insisted that he would play football at Michigan—a goal that became a reality.
So, yes, manifestation is officially mainstream.
The origins of the mainstream manifestation boom
On TikTok, the hashtag #manifestation has 17 billion views, while the same hashtag on Instagram has more than 7.3 million posts. Some videos and posts depict specific manifestation techniques, while others explain why your approach to manifestation might not be working.
Manifestation isn’t a new concept, but the mainstream acceptance of it is. “I think there’s a lot of substantial teachers, mentors, coaches, [and] doctors that are really seeing the power of this work beyond just the ‘woo’,” says Maria Concha, a mindset and manifestation coach. According to Concha, it comes down to word of mouth. When you start to integrate these practices into your life and see the positive impact they have, you’re going to want to talk about them. She attributes the rise of manifestation practices largely to this.
What exactly is manifesting?
“Manifesting is really the process of changing your thoughts, words, feelings, and beliefs to attract something that you want into your life,” says Juliette Kristine Conner, a manifestation coach and intuitive healer. Through manifestation practices, you shift your thoughts and energy to align with your desires, she says. Instead of seeing ourselves as inherently separate from the universe, manifestation connects us with the energy and vibrations of it.
Manifestation started to become part of popular culture in 2006 through Rhonda Byrne’s book The Secret. In the book and subsequent movie, Byrne details “the secret” to success and happiness throughout all areas of life as the law of attraction, which is essentially the power of positive thinking based on the premise that like attracts like.
Concha is careful to explain that the law of attraction isn’t the same thing as manifestation. Whereas manifestation encompasses your thoughts, emotions, and actions, the law of attraction is much narrower, focusing exclusively on your individual thoughts, she says. “It’s really about the universe responding to the thoughts that you were thinking about, all day long,” she says.
You may be manifesting without even noticing. Concha also makes the distinction between manifesting and conscious manifesting, which requires you to pay attention to intentional manifestations. Even if you’re not intentionally manifesting, thousands of thoughts run through your brain on a daily basis. Those thoughts—whether intentional or unintentional—still hold power, even if you’re not aware of that. So, yes, this does mean you may want to be a bit more careful with your thoughts.
What are some manifestation techniques?
Concha says the affect of any particular manifestation practice may vary from person to person. While there are a variety of different manifestation techniques advertised on social media, Concha says it’s important that you find the technique that works best for you. Like most things in life, it’s not a one-size-fits-all approach.
Hutchinson practiced conscious manifestation, which is intentionally focusing on specific desired outcomes on a daily basis. He stuck a sticky note and goal sheets around his room, constantly reminding himself of his goals. Just a few short years later, he achieved most of them, crediting his manifestation efforts on one of the largest stages in sports—the 2022 NFL Draft.
However, Hutchinson’s form of manifestation, which centered around journaling and goal sheets, isn’t the only method of manifesting. You can manifest through thoughts, chants, visualization, and affirmations.
With visualization, Concha focuses on a specific feeling associated with a desired outcome instead of the outcome itself. For example, if you want to manifest teaching a sold-out yoga class, instead of seeing a packed studio (or Zoom screen), you might want to visualize yourself feeling the excitement of your students, the sense of unity within your class, and the peacefulness of Savasana at the end of that class. This is based on the belief that your vibration needs to match the resonance of what you are asking to receive.
Beyond closing your eyes, you can also practice visualization by creating a vision board, Conner says. When creating your board of reminders, focus on the same concept of crafting the feelings you want to evoke, rather than the specific outcome you want to have.
The power of affirmations
One of the most common forms of affirmations are “I am” statements, which have a positive effect on your brain as well as your outlook. “Saying ‘I am’ in positive ways is like medicine for the mind,” Keisha Battles, a yoga teacher, previously told Yoga Journal. Science supports this concept, too. Multiple studies say positive self-affirming statements can benefit your health, education and interpersonal relationships. By attaching yourself to these mantras, you’re practicing the approach, feelings and experience you want to have. Additionally, the repetition of these statements is critical to their power.
When Concha practices affirmations, it goes beyond saying them or writing them down. She also records herself saying them—and then plays the tape back repeatedly. She also uses this technique with her clients. “I encourage them to play [the affirmations] within the first 20 minutes of waking up, because that is when your mind is the most impressionable,” she says. Through this process, you’re able to reprogram your beliefs, affirming the new ones you want to have moving forward. Concha says this technique is often the most accessible one for those who are new to manifestation.
Writing down your intended manifestations as if they’ve already happened allows you to put them at the front of your mind, even if you’re afraid to speak them out loud, Concha says. For example, it could be an entry about what it feels like to complete your yoga teacher training—even though that hasn’t happened yet.
If you’re struggling to figure out manifestations—or a feeling a bit stuck in your journaling—Concha recommends reflecting on (and writing down the answers to) these five questions:
- What do you think you should be doing this year? Why?
- What would be so much fun to do this year?
- What would make you smile for a whole day if it happened?
- What would be totally wild if it happened? If you could manifest anything, what would it be?
- Who would you celebrate with if that did happen?
By answering and reflecting on these questions, Concha says you’re able to anchor your manifestations in who—and what—really matters.
Beyond Hutchinson, other celebrities manifested their dream roles through written manifestations in a slightly different format— Twitter.
— Simu Liu (刘思慕) (@SimuLiu) December 3, 2018
And yes, while sending out a one-off Tweet may not technically fall under the modern interpretation of manifestation, some of those Tweets clearly hold power. In 2018, Simu Liu, a little-known actor, made his acting aspirations clear to Marvel. He later landed the role of Shang-Chi in 2019.
What do I need to keep in mind when manifesting?
Manifestation is often framed as setting one key goal and focusing exclusively on that. But that’s not necessarily the purpose of the practice. There’s a delicate balance between being present and anchoring yourself in your manifestations, Conner says. This can be difficult when you’re focused on the future. However, Conner says a strong gratitude practice can help you remain present. “One of the things that I sometimes do with my clients is get them to create a glory board, where they will write down all of the small wins that are happening and the things that are occurring on a daily basis that they’re loving,” she says. This type of practice keeps you grounded in the practice of manifesting, rather than a specific outcome. Instead of holding onto a scarcity mindset, look for the abundance around you.
Why you should embrace the unexpected path
Even if your manifestation does occur, it may not come about in the way you expect. That’s part of the process. “I think that when people approach manifestation with a rigid and linear thinking, you miss out on other creative possibilities for it to happen, because you’re so fixated on only seeing it your way,” Concha says. So, yes, while writing down your manifestations (or even Tweeting them) can be a powerful tool, make sure you’re focusing on the process. The act of setting goals and engaging in these techniques may be just as significant as achieving them.
How goal-setting can help
You also may want to consider adding some goal-setting norms to your manifestation methods. In addition to manifesting one outcome goal, try setting smaller process goals, says Leeja Carter, PhD, an expert in sports psychology. Process goals allow you to live in the journey, she says. The same mentality can be applied to anyone—especially with manifestation. For example, you may want to manifest a job promotion. In your day-to-day work, you may focus on process goals, such as taking more instructional courses or networking with people around your company.
You also need to remain flexible. Not every manifestation may come into fruition (sorry!). Instead, set yourself up for success by focusing on a combination of smaller and larger manifestations. And when your circumstances change, adapt your manifestations accordingly. “[Asking yourself], what does it mean to be adaptable in aversive, challenging situations?,” Carter says. That may mean just taking care of yourself and your mental health, instead of working toward your manifestation to the exclusion of anything else in life. And that’s completely OK. Ultimately, she says these types of challenges can spur the most growth by pushing us to be kind to ourselves no matter what is—or isn’t—happening.
How self-care can be a manifestation technique
Beyond affirmations and visualization, there’s another critical manifestation practice: self-care. Yes, self-care. “How you treat yourself is how the universe will treat you,” Conner says. By taking care of yourself with love and kindness, you’re not only reminding yourself of your inherent worth, you’re also sending that out into the universe, she says. That could mean reminding yourself what about your life makes you proud or lingering a few extra minutes in Child’s Pose. The more you respect and care for yourself, the more you’ll expect others to do the same. Your thoughts affect your reality. Consider it a different sort of manifestation.