The Meaning of “Manifestation”

This Randonauting thing has really had me thinking lately. I’ve been reading the Reddit posts some and the stories have been interesting and a few have made me raise an eyebrow. But in the end, I think rather than illustrating something about the mind’s control of the world around it, it’s showing something else.

People seem to love the idea that we can make good things happen just by wishing for them. The author of The Secret just wished for things and poof! Money just fell in to her bank account like magic. And it can work for all of us, right?

Not if you ask me. I’m a pretty big skeptic when it comes to that sort of thing.

On the other hand, I think that there are lots of explanations for these sorts of phenomena. Humans love making connections whether or not they actually work. And sometimes even when they work they don’t really work. Look at this for example:

Via Spurious Correlations

So what’s making all of these eerie Randonaut stories happen? I think it really does have to do with the focus on a word before leaving on your adventure. Focus on the word and you’ll be looking that much harder for it. With that idea in mind I went out today with the word “Exciting” as a focal point. I ended up being directed about seven kilometres to the south. The destination wasn’t all that exciting, truth be told: a large but pretty Catholic Church on Queen Street.

With “Exciting” in my mind I wandered the vicinity of the church and there in the back were a group of neighbourhood kids. They’d drawn a race track with chalk that snaked throughout the parking lot. One kid was running, another on a scooter, and a third was on a bike and they were doing laps. An older girl, perhaps their big sister, was reading on the steps of the church. The kids were having a great time – certainly exciting from their point of view.

What else could be exciting? The 50+ km/hr descent down Woodbine? That was pretty exciting. Do you know what else was exciting for me? This was:

While it’s not everyone’s cup of tea, a protected bike lane with concrete barriers keeping cars from straying in or parking in the bike lane is pretty damned exciting to me. Seeing how many people were cycling this far in the east end? Exciting.

So what’s happening here? Did my mind reach out across space and time and make all this happen? Did it affect the random number generator to make it take me somewhere that I could find something exciting? It’s simpler than that. I went out with the intent to find something exciting. I was watching for it every step of the way. There were no fireworks, car chases or lottery wins along the way but there was an appreciation of the little exciting things that are around us every day. What we see is what, on some level we are expecting to see.

On the flip side, I’ve seen the opposite happen on a bike ride. Years ago I remember Sage and I having a very grumpy time. I had to go to an appointment and left before it was fully resolved. I was still irritated and feeling very negative when, riding down a busy street I saw someone inching out of a side street. “That guy is going to pull in front of me like he can’t see me.” I thought. And indeed, he did exactly that. And I was angry with him. I went out with a negative mindset, I chose to interpret an interaction as negative (he might well have not seen me at all) and it wasn’t even a crisis. I saw it coming, slowed down enough that there was not even a tiny chance of collision. All of the conflict happened in my mind. And I trace that back to the attitude I brought with me when I left the house.

So what does this mean in day to day life? Should we start our day saying “Money money money” in to the mirror to make it manifest? Of course not. But perhaps starting the day with a positive intent. “Today’s going to be a good day.” or perhaps just a challenge to yourself – choose a positive word like joy, gratitude, fun, generosity, or kindness. And then try to watch for it. I am skeptical that you’ll make it happen (unless you’re the one creating the fun and generosity, of course) but you’ll be more likely to notice it when it happens.

What do you think? Am I off base, not believing in our thoughts manifesting reality? Have you found that watching for goodness in the world means you see more of it?

13 thoughts on “The Meaning of “Manifestation”

    1. I definitely see that as well. Just talking about my own city, or even more specifically, our city’s transit system, I sometimes feel like the perspectives are so different that it is impossible that we live in the same city.

      But then generally speaking I probably see more plus points and maybe ignore minus points too much sometimes.

  1. Your post brought to the fore something I had long forgotten. An aunt who commuted to work would regale us with accounts of people she met, things she saw, funny things that happened on her bus route. My cousin, bent on experiencing all first hand, insisted on accompanying her mother one day. That evening she shared her epiphany – the people and things are the same as anywhere else; it’s the way Ma looks at everything that is different!
    Interesting post as usual.Thanks for sharing!

    1. Thank you! I love that story. It really is true. I even notice that when I commute by bus my trip gets much more interesting if I simply avoid putting earbuds in and listening to music. Just being aware of what is around me changes things immensely.

      Your story also reminds me of a story a friend of mine told me years ago. One day a man drove in to a small town and came upon Arthur, the proprietor of the local general store. The man came to Arthur and said “I’ve left my hometown and am looking for a new place to settle. How are the people in this town to live with?”

      Arthur asked “How are the folks where you come from”

      The man said “Oh, they were awful. They’d talk behind your back. They were lazy and good for nothing. You couldn’t leave your home for a minute or they’d steal all you owned.”

      Arthur thought for a minute and then said “I think you’ll find the people the same here.”

      The man drove on knowing that this was not the place for him.

      Days later, another man came in. He, also, was leaving his hometown to settle somewhere and asked Arthur the same question.

      “What are people like where you come from?” Arthur asked.

      “Oh they were wonderful. There was such a sense of community. Everyone cared about each other and was so friendly. If anyone had any trouble there was always someone there to help. We really loved each other.”

      Arthur thought for a minute, smiled and said “I think you’ll find people the same in this town.”

  2. I do believe there is some unknown factor at work with manifestation and wishes. Whether the whole world conspires to make it happen or it is the subconscious mind at play, I don’t know. But it does work, most of the time.

    1. Where I get stuck is that with so much suffering in the world how can that possibly be the case? Are my wishes for a good life more powerful than someone else’? Surely a hungry man is wishing for food to manifest much harder than I am wishing to take an interesting trip. And yet, it’s likely that I’ll be on a plane long before hunger is solved in the world.

      1. Well, somethings are unexplainable, Todd. Enjoy the manifestations. It has worked for me many times. Luck or coincidence? I don’t know.

      2. There are definitely a ton of unexplained things. Who knows, decades or centuries from now things that were considered “supernatural phenomena” may well be explained by science.

  3. No I have never believed that. I do know that when I was pregnant everywhere I went I saw pregnant women. Now I see women my age smiling at babies(I did before isolation.) I find most people pretty agreeable, so I am a little like the second man in your story. I do think being agreeable encourages others to be the same.

    1. I have had similar experiences to that. What we’re tuned in to we see.

      And I also think being agreeable encourages others to be that way. That’s been my experience anyway.

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