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By Jess Sharp, Money team

My journey into the world of manifestation (the belief that you can attract success in your life through positive affirmations and visualisation) has taken me places I never thought I’d go.

Like woods in Edenbridge, where I stood meditating under a tree in the pouring rain. I don’t yet know where my journey will end (I’ve been hoping for an engagement ring but my boyfriend hasn’t yet seen my visualisations), but it started with a conversation with Jamie Greenlaw-Meek, one of many people who say manifestation has transformed their lives.

“About a year ago, there was something happening and I thought we just need two grand to cover the expense,” Jamie, a former dancer from London, told me. “The following day £2,000 landed in my account.”

It sounded like a coincidence to me, too.

But Jamie was adamant. His husband calls him “the master manifester” because of his “ability to bring in money”.

“It’s happened on so many occasions, like four, five times,” he said. “I’ve become very clear on what I want and the amount of money I need and literally it can be within 24 hours that I get a phone call for a job and it’s almost identical to what I asked for money-wise.”

When I asked the now-psychic where the £2,000 actually came from, he said it was payment for a modelling job he had been offered.

“With manifesting you don’t get caught up in the how, and often it comes in ways that you don’t expect,” he added, explaining it could come as the result of a claim after being in a car crash.

“It’s not always coming in the way that you think but money is out there for us to take in the world. It’s just having the confidence to receive it and we are worthy of it.”

“Even if it is a placebo effect, does it matter?” he said.

The 43-year-old also believes he manifested his husband Fiongal after being diagnosed with cancer. While going through treatment and dating “a lot” of people, he decided to take matters into his own hands, or rather his own head, and started visualising his perfect partner.

“I decided to spend a good couple of weeks getting really, really, super clear in my mind what this person looked like. Then I started creating lists asking about personality traits, and all the things that I wanted that person to be,” the former dancer said.

“The day I got the all clear from cancer I randomly met my husband and when I look at the list of the things I asked for, he pretty much ticks every single box. I really, really believe that is because I got super clear on what I wanted and I put that out to the universe to bring to me.”

Jim Carrey and manifestation

If you think this is a new practice, it isn’t. Jim Carrey was doing it back in the 90s. He famously wrote himself a $10m cheque for “acting services rendered” and dated it years in advance. Then in 1995, he was told he was going to make the exact amount for filming Dumb and Dumber.

The idea shot up in popularity again in 2006 after Rhonda Byrne published her self-help book The Secret.

Since then, it has hit every inch of the internet and has resurfaced on TikTok with videos posted under #manifesting accumulating a huge 13 billion views.

I tried to learn manifesting – I felt like an idiot

After hearing Jamie’s story and seeing the idea was popular with so many people, I thought it best to try to learn manifestation myself. I mean, who wouldn’t want money landing in their account and a work promotion from the universe?

As I stood in the woods, in the pouring rain, being told to imagine roots growing from the soles of my feet, I felt like an idiot.

I was soaking wet (of course I had forgotten a coat with a hood) and while my mind kept wandering through thoughts about being cold, if I’d hit traffic on the way home and how dirty my white trainers were getting, a gentle, soothing voice kept bringing me back to what I was supposed to be thinking about.

“How we are all connected, how the trees and plants produce oxygen that we breathe, and we breathe out carbon dioxide which they need to survive.”

While some people focus their manifestation practices on being grateful to the universe, Tansy Jane Dowman believes we need to get “out of our heads, into our bodies”, connect with nature and find our true selves before we can practice it successfully.

My meditation in the woods was just one part of a six-hour workshop run by Tansy, which aimed to send me off with a clearer vision of what I truly desired.

Tansy charges anywhere from £25 to £580 for her courses, which range from one-on-one sessions and an online six-week programme, to forest bathing workshops and weekend-long nature retreats.

But some courses have popped up online which cost more than £1,000.

Tansy started practising manifestation in 2018 after going through a difficult period in her life. She eventually quit her job in events management and started teaching others how to do it successfully.

“The way I manifest is not to focus on material wealth or gain. I would ask my clients what an abundant life means to them in terms of feelings, experiences, connections, people and places,” she explained.

“The more authentic you are, the more of a beacon you become for those things to find you.”

After spending time walking in the rain and meditating under a tree, Tansy and I sat in her dining room and explored some of the happiest moments in my life and the feelings I experienced. It became clear I like feeling accomplished, needed and excited.

We also spoke about challenging times, but the conversation focused on the positives, like how I had overcome them and what I had learned.

“It’s so important to bring in your values with manifestation because sometimes we can get really confused with what we want, with social media especially,” she told me.

Throughout her house, Tansy has a number of “abundance boards” proudly on display – some she has made with her children, others are from her annual January tradition of setting out her desires for the year.

“I’ve had some really wonderful goosebump things happen to me. I did a board at the beginning of 2020… I put a picture of a microphone on it. I just thought I really like that image and I didn’t immediately place any meaning onto it,” she said.

“Then as the world was shutting down for lockdown, I did a press event and I met a lady who worked for Wellbeing Radio and she wondered if I would be interested in trying out as a presenter.”

She explained that some people will be very specific with their desires, like selecting a photo of the exact car they want, or the perfect house, but that isn’t how manifestation works. There needs to be an element of trust in the universe giving them what they attract.

As we created my abundance board, which Tansy describes as being like a “personal algorithm”, she told me to select images and words from heaps of magazines that called to me intuitively.

As you can see from the picture below, mine calls for being “financially fabulous”, travelling, getting engaged (coughs loudly in earshot of boyfriend) and living stress-free.

And while I’d love a big cash injection, Tansy explained to me that money is “only a stepping stone to a feeling” and, ultimately, I’m aiming to create an emotion with it.

Manifesters more likely to go bankrupt

While all the manifestation believers I spoke to said there was no downside to the practice, a researcher has been looking into whether it really does pay off.

Based in Australia, Dr Lucas Dixon (who specialises in consumer psychology) created a scale from one to seven to rank a person’s strength of belief and found those who practice it are more likely to have been victims of fraud and declared bankruptcy.

He said there was a “danger” that manifesting could become harmful if taken to an extreme level.

He found those who believe in manifesting tend to think more positively and have a confident attitude when it comes to success, and while that can be helpful in business, it can also cause them to take unnecessary risks.

“They weren’t more objectively successful in terms of having higher income or higher education attainment,” he said.

“We also found that they are more likely to believe in get-rich-quick schemes, more likely to take higher risks… to have risky financial investments and more likely to have investments in cryptocurrency rather than traditional stock.”

Using the scale he created, Dr Dixon found those who have “very strong beliefs”, ranking at a seven, were 40% more likely to have gone bankrupt.

“The danger comes in a couple of different forms,” he said, explaining that a “worst case scenario” could see people getting into financial difficulty by being encouraged to “just look at the positives”.

“Someone might say it’s not harmful because it is really just thinking positively but I think even that can be harmful because of what you might call an opportunity cost,” he said.

“You’re spending time, energy and money doing something that doesn’t have a lot of evidence behind it. We found it does make you feel good but you don’t need to pay thousands to do it.”

Okay, so back to me…

I did my manifestation course about two months ago, and I have done as I was instructed – my abundance board is up in sight inside the flat, and I often have a cup of coffee in front of it.

But, so far I’m still using a credit card, the most travelling I’ve done has been to work and back and there is still no rock on my finger. I have been given an annual pay rise, though, and would say I am less stressed.

Perhaps believing that I’m just doing my best and there’s a chance that I’ll be rewarded for that one day, eventually, in the future, maybe, is making me feel better… who knows?

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