Words by: Georgia Erin Cameron Art by: Lisa Vuillings
Manifestation, Mind over Matter, The Law of Attraction… These are all buzzwords currently floating around. But what do they mean? Is it true that if you can think it you can do it?
Well… it depends on who you ask. Let’s dive into what the Law of Attraction and manifestation are all about.
The concept of the Law of Attraction is attributed to New Thought philosophy, a spiritual movement originating from the 19th century. It appears in many other spiritual and philosophical movements, as well as text. Originally, the concept appeared in Phineas Quimby’s writing. Quimby’s teachings are often attributed as the beginning of the New Thought Movement. In 1877, the term ‘Law of Attraction’ appeared in the work of Russian occultist Helena Blovetsky. Most recently, the concept has been popularised by the 2006 film and subsequent novel titled The Secret, and it is these works that have popularised the practice.
Simply put in the words of American psychologist David R Hawkins, “what one holds in their mind tends to manifest.” What Hawkins is saying is that what we focus on in our minds and put energy into will come into our lives just as we envision. For example, fearful thoughts harbour fears into reality. This is what the root of the Law of Attraction is. The belief is based on the concept of everything being made of energy, including our thoughts, and that energy attracts similar energy. It is believed that the Law of Attraction is always at work, even affected by our subconscious thoughts.
It is a concept that has been heavily scrutinised as a pseudoscience as there is no scientific basis for the process. Other criticisms come from what some people in the New Age thought community would consider as a superficial understanding and application of manifestation. Often people may get frustrated when they come across this concept as they interpret it as a positive thinking technique. These people who engage superficially believe the technique is as simple as wishing for a promotion or whatever it is they desire, only to become disappointed in the technique when they do not get what they wish for.
This technique requires more than just wishful thinking (however it helps to know what you want). The best way to describe manifestation is “practice meets perception creates reality.” While I am pulling this quote from a horror podcast who were at the time discussing chaos magic, it is still fantastically applicable to the Law of Attraction. Many new thought and occult practitioners advocate for what is called ‘the work,’ which encapsulates practicing the variety of techniques they ascribe to. For the Law of Attraction, the first half involves self observation of your thoughts and behaviour patterns. What do you believe about yourself? Do you believe that you are capable of achieving what it is you desire to manifest?
A lack of ability to analyse one’s own beliefs and thought patterns is often what causes people to struggle with this technique. One must practice the ability to visualise and feel what one’s life might be like once the goal is achieved. This first part covers the perception part of the equation: your beliefs about yourself, what the goal is and feels like and your every- day thoughts impact the Law of Attraction.
Secondly, in order to sediment the goal of this practice, one must partake in rituals that help sediment the goal. This may be taking steps in order to achieve the goal, for example if your goal is a promotion you cannot simply think about it, you’d take steps to get the promotion. It is often said by practitioners of manifestation that in order to achieve the desired outcome one must detach themselves emotionally from their desires — one must not rely on the outcome for happiness.
While the Law of Attraction may be a concept based on pseudoscience, there may be some value to it. Surely focusing on one’s ability to do, create, or gain something, must have some positive impact on an individual whether they achieve their goal or not.
Personally, I’ve had an interest in occult philosophy since the previously noted horror podcast, Last Podcast on The Left, spoke on chaos magic in which the idea of perception-meets-ritual-meets-reality came up. The idea of manifestation arose again when I met my yoga teacher, and most recently as I’ve been making my way through David R Hawkins’ book Letting Go and Damien Echols’ book High Magick.
While philosophical, New Age, or occult teaching and practices should never replace therapy and professional care, I personally have found value in them. The last year has been tough on so many people, myself included. I’ve found myself swallowed up by my own sadness, fear, and worry. In light of this, I’ve begun focusing more on things I want in my life, such as creativity. This manifestation of creativity isn’t just about saying to myself I want to be creative, it’s a process of finding opportunities to be creative. Hawkins talks about the idea of “like cataracts like” meaning what we do attracts more of it. Finding daily reasons to be creative has led to me being more creative in all that I do. Instead of just writing for at least 15 minutes a day, I’m now finding any excuse to be creative; I’ve taken out oil paints that haven’t seen the light of day in five years, I’m taking my camera everywhere I go, and I’m finding ways to be creative with uni as well. Hopefully I can manifest myself a job soon… One can only hope.