HomeScience/TechThe psychology behind manifestation Gianna Brogley October 24, 2020 Science/Tech A full moon at the apex of the night sky shines through junior Isha Hamid’s window, the reflection of her candle flames bouncing off of the glass pane. Her earbuds play a frequency that calms her nerves as she takes pen to paper in her journal, scribbling “I have $20” over and over in hopes of attracting her desire and turning it into reality. The Law of Attraction — the idea that things will come true if you believe they will — is behind a practice originally derived from a traditional Hindu ritual: manifestation. The concept of manifestation has spread across social media platforms, becoming a popular way for teenagers to take charge of their lives. Many students attempt to manifest their wishes into reality by reciting them aloud, writing them in a journal or thinking about them constantly with a positive mindset. “Think of yourself as a magnet,” Hamid said. “If you keep affirming yourself of a certain thing, it’s more likely that you will attract it into your life.” Junior Sabrina Simoni said she has learned a lot about the do’s and don’ts of manifesting and using the Law of Attraction since her mother taught her as a child. “You have to be strictly positive and talk in present tense as if it has happened already,” Simoni said. One of Simoni’s favorite ways to manifest is by using the 3-6-9 method, a technique that utilizes journaling. “In the morning, you write down a sentence three times of something you want; then at the middle of the day, you write it down six times, making it a little more specific,” Simoni said. “At nighttime, you finish by writing an even more specific sentence of the same desire down nine times.” Simoni said if someone puts all of their trust in the process, it is nearly foolproof. “I would say 90% of my manifestations have come true so far, and the other 10% are things that would happen much farther in my future,” Simoni said. Simoni and Hamid both said people can manifest just about anything, such as getting money, meeting celebrities or hanging out with friends. “The other day, I really wanted this dress, but it was $115, so I said to myself in my head, ‘I got $115. That’s great! I have the dress,’” Simoni said. “The same day, I went over to my dad’s house, and he asked me if I wanted a gift card for $120. I wasn’t expecting this because my parents usually never give me money.” Hamid said she also thinks her self-confidence has improved since she started using the Law of Attraction to her advantage. “I know that I’ve gotten more confident and comfortable with my appearance over the past few months, which I think is due to manifestation,” Hamid said. “I wanted to become my best self and I’ve definitely gotten closer to that point.” Dr. Joe Vitale, author of bestselling book, “The Attractor Factor,” and featured in the famous documentary, “The Secret,” has been studying manifestation and the Law of Attraction his entire career. While it may appear like wizardry to some, Vitale said that the concept can actually be explained by simple brain science. “Basic psychology says you will get more of whatever you focus on in life –– your brain will look for things to make that focus come true,” Vitale said. Vitale said the part of the brain responsible for this explanation is your subconscious; more specifically, a network of neurons in the brainstem called the reticular activating system. “The RAS is programmed for survival; it’s constantly looking around you for possible threats,” Vitale said. “What people don’t know is that you can program the RAS in your brain to attract something you want to have.” He said by repeatedly visualizing a desire in your mind, you can train your brain to seek out that wish and manifest it into reality. “To use the Law of Attraction, you first consciously decide what you want, and then you use the tools of imagery, emotion and repetition to tell the subconscious mind to go look for it,” Vitale said. According to Vitale, once the RAS is commanded to respond to someone’s desire, it will lead the brain to find what they are looking for and help them take the steps to get there. “When your subconscious finds anything that can help you attract (your desire), it will make you consciously aware of it, and that’s when you take action: make a phone call, buy a book, or do anything that your mind cues you to act on.” Vitale said. “The subconscious mind alerts you to what you need to do, and then you have to consciously do that action to fulfill your wish.” Vitale adds that many people who are new to the Law of Attraction have the misconception that their desire will manifest itself without any work on their end. “I think that’s one of the biggest mistakes with people and understanding it; they think it just happens like magic.” Vitale said. “You can’t just sit and wait for something to arrive at your door –– more often than not, you have to do something in terms of action to complete the process.” Psychology teacher Melinda Mattes said she had not heard of manifestation, but that it sounded similar to S-M-A-R-T goals, a method that encourages achievement by making specific, measurable, attainable, realistic and time limited goals. “When we talk about S-M-A-R-T goals, we’re talking about visualizing your process to achieving your goals rather than the end point,” Mattes said. “For example, visualizing yourself studying helps you actually do it instead of just visualizing a good grade on a test.” Mattes said she thinks there is nothing wrong with positive thinking and manifesting, but it could be dangerous to let it take control and depend on it. “It’s obviously not a horrible thing to think positive thoughts and be optimistic because it can broaden your perspective and help you take more risks,” Mattes said. “But, for instance, if you are sick, positive thinking will only get you so far. If you don’t take the treatment or medicine, you could die.” Nonetheless, Mattes said even if she has doubts about there being science to support the practice of manifestation, she doesn’t disregard its value. Still, she said she advises that people using the technique should proceed carefully. “The bottom line is, although I personally don’t know that there is psychological research to back this up, that doesn’t mean there isn’t any value to it,” Mattes said. “However, I would caution people to not put all of their eggs in one basket.” Despite the fact that researchers are still studying whether or not manifestation is scientifically proven, Hamid and Simoni said they would recommend others try it for themselves before doubting the process. “If you are a beginner, I would start by getting in a good mood and having a positive attitude, listening to a mediation video and then writing down your intention in a journal,” Hamid said. “Any form of relaxation is going to help you assess your subconscious mind to be able to tap into it easier,” Vitale said. “Stress, criticism, worrying and negativity are all going to push it away and stop the process.” Simoni said she hopes those who are newer to manifestation don’t get discouraged if it doesn’t work in their favor initially. “Take your time with it, and don’t be bummed if it doesn’t work out right away,” Simoni said. “It takes practice and won’t happen overnight. 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