Blog: Ask Isa: Manifesting Vs. Magical Thinking
Question: I believe in manifesting, but sometimes I worry that my thinking is “magical.” What’s the difference between manifesting what you want in life and magical thinking?
Isa: Manifestation is the process of moving into the unknown. To manifest properly, you have to be clear about what you want to manifest and why. Having a clear intention focuses your awareness, creating more possibilities for manifesting what you want.
Let’s say you want to manifest a canary yellow Camaro. When manifesting, it’s important to focus on the qualities of what you want in addition to its specific attributes. Consider what the yellow Camaro symbolizes to you, and how you want the Camaro to make you feel. You might want to feel powerful, successful, playful, or joyful. Focusing on how you want to feel when you have the Camaro engages you in the manifesting process in a more meaningful way.
When your mind becomes fixated on specific details, you limit what is possible. For example, you may manifest a yellow Camaro, but it may not be the exact shade you wanted. If you are overly attached to the color of the car, then even if you find a Camaro that is almost identical to the one you were imagining, you may not act on the opportunity to buy it. When manifesting anything, you cannot be attached to a particular outcome. Instead, be open to things coming to you in ways you do not expect.
If you have too many expectations of how you want events to unfold, you can get into the territory of magical thinking. Magical thinking is when you turn ordinary experiences into signs that your manifestation process is working. For example, if you see yellow everywhere you go and believe it is a sign that your Camaro is on the way, that is magical thinking. There’s no relationship between seeing the color yellow and manifesting the Camaro.
From a Buddhist perspective, our attachments, aversions and misconceptions keep us from being present with what is actually happening in each moment. Prejudice is the beginning of magical thinking. If you’re working to dismantle your prejudices, you’ll be less susceptible to magical thinking, and less likely to assign agency and causality where there is none.
By becoming more disciplined in your thinking, and less attached to outcome, you will develop more clarity in your ability to perceive reality. Samatha meditation is a great way to begin to cultivate this discipline, because it helps you focus on being in the present moment without reacting. It is an important tool for developing a more equanimous state of mind, and will enable you to cultivate a space of internal clarity. When you create this inner space, it will help you bring the images of what you want to manifest into your meditation. When you make this a regular practice, it will be easier to manifest what you want without falling into the trap of magical thinking.
Editors’ Note: To download our Samatha meditation, click here.