Manifestation is the art of bringing something from a thought or vision that exists in our minds into physical reality.
This concept has been popularized in the 2000s through self-help books like The Secret by Rhonda Byrne (the Law of Attraction), in the 1970’s with the development of the New Age movement, and even further back with Think & Grow Rich by Napoleon Hill in the 1930’s.
These idea is ‘what you think you attract’, if you maintain a positive attitute you will attract positive things in your life, the same for the negative.
Alongside this has been an often conflicting discussion around shadow work. This is the practice of acknowleding our dark or unconscious side. Through facing negative structures, our negative thought patterns and tendencies, we can integrate the shadow, and it has less power to influence our lives.
In today’s post I want to discuss how these two concepts can be brought together, and why it’s so important to acknowledge the positive but also the negative.
What is manifestation?
As we know manifestation is the process of bringing something from a non-physical thought or vision into physical form.
However a lot of people frame manifestation as visualize something that you wish to happen or possess, and honing your focus in such a way that it will inevitably come to physical fruition.
You ask for what you want: You write what you want to receive down on paper in detail. Specificity is important because the Universe needs to know what we want clearly in order to send that our way. If there is ambiguity in what we ask for, we might end up receiving something that is similiar but not quite what we had in mind.
You believe in what you want: Once you specified what you want to receive you let go of the desire to receive said thing. Although this sounds contradictory, when we are clinging to a specific outcome we tend to push that outcome further away.
For example, when we want a relationship desperately, we might do everything to have one, but this desperate or clingy energy will ultimately push people away or attract the wrong type of person.
You receive what you want: With your mind not attached to any outcomes and energy focused in a certain way, what you have asked to receive has no choice but to show up in your reality.
What is shadow work?
Shadow work is quite simply the act of making the unconscious conscious. This would involve practices such as meditation, mindfulness, journaling. We go into these acitivites knowing that they will bring up stuff from our unconscious minds, that we will have to consciously confront and release.
However many other activities can act as shadow work exercizes even if that isn’t the explicit aim. For example, trying to maintain an exercize routine might not seem an exercize in shadow work, however in order to remain consistent we have to face all of our unconscious beliefs and limits. The same applies to any other skill or practice that requires our consistency.
Relationships can act as shadow work (eventhough we are not likely to enter relationships with the goal of doing so). We have to naviagte old wounds and patterns in the prescense of someone new. Theraphy can act as a form of shadow work.
Shadow work doesn’t just involve facing and integrating negative aspects of our being or habits. Shadow work also involves reclaiming positive aspect of our being which we have been falsely led to believe are negatives.
For example, being an outspoken person or being creative in nature. These things might cause us to receive a lot of push back or criticism from others but are positive or can be developed in a positive manner.
How the shadow blocks manifestation
I have followed the standard manifestation guidelines with a lot of success in the past, however what I realized was it wasn’t as black-and-white as it was portrayed. We can attract certain situations and items towards us with the right intentions, mindset and consistency. However our mindset is not the only thing stopping us from attracting the life of our dreams.
If we aren’t aware of how our unconscious mind is operating underneath the surface, or ignore negative emotions in the process of manifestation, we can end up receiving exactly what we want but only temporarily.
Those old wounds resurface, we begin to doubt our ability to maintain what we have, we run away from positive opportunities.
Manifestation is not just about thoughts (although this is how it is commonly taught and approached). Our thoughts are not entirely random; they arise from somewhere. They arise from the larger pool of our previous experiences, are influenced our current environment and through our body in a physical sense.
The key takeaway from a lot of law of attraction material is that our circumstances do not matter, our mindset does.
While it’s important that we allow ourselves to think beyond the confines of our circumstances, this doesn’t mean that our circumstances have no impact on what we can focus on, build energy around and ultimately maintain.
If our body is in survival mode or overworked, it takes more effort to focus on something new. if our mind is bogged down by stress or we deal with mental illness, our ability to hold a specific mindset for an extended period of time is hindered.
When we manifest we have to consider our entire being which covers the emotional, physical and spiritual levels, not just the mental one.
We might want to consider what our emotional, mental and physical limits are, so that we can have an idea of what we can bring forward in a grounded and embodied manner.
Manifestation is a process of aligning with our higher self, rather than attracting a specific outcome or item. Through aligning with our higher self, tuning into the things that are truly suited to us.
Manifestation & materialism
A lot of us arrive at manifestation/the law of attraction from a place of lack. We live in environments that restrict us, and might be severly lacking in our basic needs.
The concept of manifestation can offer us both hope as a way to surpass our circumstances, but also a way to ignore our current circumstances by focusing on mindset.
Manifestation isn’t about attracting whatever we want, whatever that might be. Not everything we desire right now will be beneficial for us in the long run. Not everything that feels good is good for us.
Often when we talk about manifestation we refer to aligning ourselves with a certain aspirational lifestyle, or attaining a certain amount of money. The goal is more often than not, physical.
Now there is nothing wrong with wanting to live a jet-setter lifestyle or even be a millionaire, but how many of us are actually aligned with that?
If you were able to cash a cheque for one million dollars right now, would that be something you could maintain with the mindset and environment you are in right now?
Understanding these nuances doesn’t mean we need to completely restrict ourselves in what we aim for. Instead, doing the shadow work in this way, allows us to look at our options honestly and approach our goals with the proper context and some healthy expectations. In the long-term we are able to attract and most importantly, maintain things.
Shadow work journal prompts for manifestation
Journaling is a great way to start exploring these topics deeper and practicing manifestion in a more balanced way.
- Why do I want a specific item/outcome?
- If I manifested this right now, would I be able to maintain it?
- Do I feel worthy of this item?
- What are my current limitations?
- What are my current strengths?
When you write out these prompts note your initial response. Come to the same prompt an hour or day later, and see how your response shifts. What resistance do you feel toward these prompts and where do they provide added clarity?
You can use a similiar approach when writing out intentions. For example, writing an intention to attract a job position that is a little out of your current reach. What are your initial and delayed responses? What resistance or clarity do you experience in relation to this prompt?
This will allow you to get a better idea of what is actually resonanting with you on a deeper level. Your intentions and goals can shift alongside this resonance, rather than trying to force an outcome that brings too much anxiety or fear.
Our initial responses to a prompts or intention often highlight our immediate thoughts surrounding it. These are important but not always the most reliable. When we come back to a prompt or intention hours or days later, we are more likely to hear our intuition or higher self come through. These insights tend to be more helpful.
Go deeper with my shadow work guide that comes with 30 printable journal prompts.