Due to having to isolate for the third time in six f*****g weeks as I try to dodge my covid positive housemate like the plague (I know, i'm funny), I’ve had to pull out all the stops to stay positive (or rather negative). So as I watch the Brighton Pride celebrators walk around in rainbow festival gear, whilst glued to the window (in an attempt to inhale fresh air) downing copious amounts of red wine. I thought it might be a good time to write about the power of manifestation (sort of).
If we accept that the mind is powerful enough to tell us negative things that are not true (like when we look in the mirror and hear that annoying voice saying ‘fat bitch’), that lead us to feel … well, crap. Then is it so much of a leap to realise that we can think positively and feel great?
We talked in a previous blog about neuroplasticity:
“Neuroplasticity is the ability of the brain to adapt to its environment and change with experience. The brain does this through a multitude of mechanisms and can range from changes in synapses to the addition of new adult-generated neurons.” (1).
In simple terms, the organic nature of the brain and the way it reacts to stimuli, be that external experience or internal chemical change e.g. drugs. Allows us to see that, although nature (the unique physiology we are born with) plays a role in how our brain 'looks' and therefore, responds to the environment. We can also vastly shape this response.
We can create good feeling brain chemistry; we can think ourselves happy (*disclaimer this is with prevention of poor mental health in mind, not cure). This being the mind-boggling essence of the mind, your thoughts can either sap happy hormones such as serotonin and dopamine or create them. No wonder for so long we searched for a soul, for something greater than just brain material to explain the mind.
Historically the world of health care has unhelpfully separated the mind and body, yet, without letting my Brighton hippy out too much, we perhaps shouldn't have lost touch with the more ‘logical’ process of eastern medicine. Eastern medicine treats the body and mind holistically:
“the belief that the parts of something are intimately interconnected and explicable only by reference to the whole”
My purpose for delving into the hippy self I’ve come to love since being a Brightonian is to touch on the controversial subject of manifestation. Don't worry I, won't get all 'The Secret’ on you (The Secret is a book that focuses on the ‘The Law of Attraction’ that states all things, wanted and unwanted, can be manifested by your thoughts and emotions. This sounds ok; however, this methodology discourages us from feeling sadness and anger, which is very important for healing trauma).
Manifestation is generally classified as pseudoscientific it claims by focusing on the desired outcome, we can make it so. Books, like the secret, focus on manifestation with an aim to enable anything from love to monetary gain, arguing for complete positivity in life. Well, let's face it life, isn't always that positive. HOWEVER, we do know the power of the mind has allowed incredible human feats to be achieved. To go back to that argument of the holistic self, we see people achieve physical accomplishments through harnessing the mind. Here are a few random examples:
- Freedivers enabling the mammalian dive reflex and diving to 90 metres un-aided.
- Monks who can thermo-regulate their body through harnessing the mind.
- The Thimithi festival where participants walk over hot coal, edges of swords and receive body piercings that vary from needles through the tongue and forehead to skewers 1–2 cm in diameter through the cheeks without exhibiting any physiological pain symptoms (sounds like my kind of festival).
Though these focus on ‘physical strength’ the greater factor here is that we can grab our bodily chemistry by its balls (specifically hormonal messages – remembering every messenger in the body is a hormone, from insulin to serotonin, yes that’s right men have hormones too) and manipulate it allowing us to 'manifest' more of the good stuff, whatever that might be.
With this in mind, I would like to introduce you to some psychological concepts that relate to manifestation:
- Intentions: creating an intention is with an aim to enable commitment to carry out an action or actions in the future.
- Visualisation: the creation of imagery in the mind or through a physical medium (such as a pinboard of ideas) to make a future reality more focused and easier to aim towards.
- Positive affirmations: repeating positive thoughts to make a truth, e.g. act and, the rest will follow.
- Gratitude’s: the practice of being grateful to increase wellbeing (see a recent blog that touches on the notion).
Now maybe it's all a game of semantics, or perhaps now you've read theses concepts they touch something deep inside of you (joking) (or am I). Either way, the universe doesn’t know what you want, only what you do, so I guess trying to manifest positivity can’t do any harm.
A few important things to note any intention, visualisation, affirmation or gratitude should be less a goal and more an aim, so it is non-oppressive. Be kind to yourself. Our subconscious naturally finds it easier to stick with what it knows best, especially when we're hurting, so practice 'manifesting' and being open when you feel good. Acknowledge any strong negative feelings inside as you state your new positivity. Negative feelings are normal and are often experienced when we try and change our negative automatic thinking. They indicate we’re on the right path to firing up new neural highways (2,3).
A last thought - those who are open to novel experiences are more likely to grow new knowledge than people who remain in the same environment. Openness allows for an intellect that can only be grown through curiosity and appreciation of experience outside of our realm. As mentioned in a previous blog, how can we claim to be living the right life if we've not considered any other routes?
Happy Manifesting x
Weisberg, Y. J., DeYoung, C. G. and Hirsh, J. B. (2011). Gender differences in personality across the ten aspects of the Big Five. Frontiers in Psychology. Retrieved from http://journal.frontiersin.org/article/10.3389/fpsyg.2011.00178/full.
Schretlen, D. J., Hulst, E. J., Pearlson, G. D. and Gordon, B. (2010). Journal of clinical and experimental neuropsychology. 32(10). 1068-1073.