Body+Soul finds out why more and more Australians are taking a chance and harnessing its principles to create the life of their dreams.
As she sat in the audience at a live recording of The Voice Australia three years ago, Taylor Haynes turned to her mother and declared, “This is what I want to do. I want to be Sonia Kruger. I’m going to work on this show.”
A year later, Haynes’ phone rang, she answered it and immediately thought she had been pranked: the person on the other end of the line was asking if she would be interested in a job.
The position? Working as Kruger’s assistant for the upcoming season of The Voice. Haynes had manifested the opportunity without even meaning to.
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“It was absolutely insane,” Haynes tells Body+Soul. “I didn’t even realise the universe was listening at that point.”
These days, the art of manifesting has become part of Haynes’ daily routine.
Now a meet-and-greet producer for the Today show, she spends her drive to work each morning visualising her dream life – a mental practice she swears by: “It’s about knowing that you’ll get what you want if you put all your heart into it.”
The power of positive thinking. Good karma. The law of attraction.
“Manifesting” is hardly a new concept; over the past few decades, it has simply been referred to by other words.
But when Rhonda Byrne’s self-help book The Secret became a runaway bestseller in 2006, it sparked a revolution, attracting the attention of people such as Oprah Winfrey and Deepak Chopra, who helped manifestation enter the modern lexicon.
Suddenly, millions of people had a new way to think about going after – and getting – what they’d always wanted from life.
“A lot of us were taught to believe in hustle culture – that hard work and sacrifice is what accomplishes dreams,” explains soul-alignment coach Marissa Moon. “And then The Secret went completely against that idea.”
But how, exactly, does manifesting work? According to Moon, “The law of attraction states that energy attracts the same energy, which is why when you tune into the belief of something being possible, you’re tuning into the energy of that specific outcome, and therefore are an attractor to that distinct energy.”
Put simply: negative thoughts attract negative outcomes, and positive thoughts attract positive ones.
This is the point when you might roll your eyes, and question if there’s scientific evidence to back any of this up. Indeed, psychologist Nancy Sokarno from Lysn tells Body+Soul: “Most experts argue that this is based on pseudoscience, because there are no clear studies or research that back manifestation as a proven theory.”
But, she admits, “There’s some legitimacy if we look at research that shows that our expectations tend to be confirmed.”
Most of us know this better as a self-fulfilling prophecy. Ever told yourself you’re going to fail a test and, sure enough, you do?
“If you wake up and decide you’re going to have a bad day, you may spend [it] doing things that unconsciously affirm your belief and behave in ways that contribute to a miserable day, while also ignoring any positive incidents,” Sokarno says.
At 22, Haynes is far from the type of sage-burning, self-help-spouting hippie that’s traditionally been associated with ideas such as manifesting. Instead, she’s part of a new generation of young, ambitious converts to the concept.
Be it through inspirational quotes on Instagram or digital vision boards via platforms such as Pinterest, there’s been a shift in how people – in particular millennials – think about making their dreams a reality.
Manifestation has undergone an extreme makeover, a hip rebranding thanks largely to influencers such as Lizzo and Ariana Grande.
“I believe it’s part of the mainstream because of social media,” Haynes admits. “It’s highly talked about on TikTok and Instagram – it’s a normal thing now. It’s not just for the hippies; anyone can do it.”
Manifestation coach Juliet Martine tells Body+Soul that its rising popularity owes to “an increasingly chaotic” world, where we want to “take more agency” of our life.
Meanwhile, Jordanna Levin, the author of manifestation guide Make It Happen, goes further and attributes the shift of focus to the pandemic.
“With everything we’ve been through, addressing your mindset, how you process feelings, consciously taking action towards your goals and believing in yourself is just part of getting through each day,” Levin tells Body+Soul.
“Here’s the thing about manifestation: we’re actually already doing it every second of the day without realising. People are waking up to the fact that they can do it consciously – if they want to create opportunity in their life, then it’s their responsibility to do so.”
Keen to start dabbling, or still sceptical?
Sokarno says that while manifesting can be a useful tool for practising gratitude, setting goals and staying optimistic about the future, it’s important to be pragmatic.
“There are things in our lives that are out of our control, so we also need to be realistic,” she explains. “It’s great to hope things will work out, but there are bills to pay – which don’t disappear just because we believe they will.”
So, you’re ready to manifest. Here’s how to start
Sure, putting a goal into the ether and hoping it will come true is one thing, but taking steps to achieve it is something else altogether. The experts break down some ways to start manifesting right away.
Annie Tarasova, author of Manifest and founder of art store DreamyMoons:
“Visualisation directs thoughts and focus towards things we desire. Sit down comfortably in a quiet, safe space and meditate for 15-20 minutes, thinking of what you want to manifest.
Visualise every detail. Journal about what you pictured, how it felt and what emotions it evoked. Once you focus on what you want, you’ll notice little coincidences – I call them synchronicities – happening around you. That’s the universe at work. Lastly, act on what you desire, because at the end of the day, it’s all up to you.”
Lysn psychologist Nancy Sokarno:
“Practise an ‘attitude of gratitude’ to feel more joyous, content and fulfilled. Positive affirmations are a great way to practically utilise manifesting, however consistency and repetition are key – training your brain into believing what you’re saying and stopping that negative inner voice.
When your brain is filled with words and analytical thoughts, visual cues can cut through the chatter. Start small with coloured sticky notes and work up to creating mind maps and mood boards.”
Radio frequency: How The Secret helped author Amber Petty to land her big break
“I’d been dabbling in magic, practicing this thing called manifesting – a technique I discovered after a friend urged me to watch a documentary. ‘Everyone’s talking about it,’ she whispered, as though her phone might be tapped.
‘It’s called The Secret. You need to watch it!’ I did. And then I put it into practice. My boss had been dangling the idea of a permanent gig, so I wrote on each page of my diary, ‘I’m going to work on radio’, and my desired salary. Every day, I’d be forced to read it.
But when the Big Radio Boss called to say, ‘I have an opening for you. It’s a breakfast radio position in Adelaide, and I’ll need you to start in a month,’ it took a second to take in the gravity of what was happening. This was it. He’d offered me the exact figure I’d written (and said aloud) for 14 days straight.”
This is an edited extract from This Is Not a Love Song, available at amberpetty.com.au.
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