It’s no secret that 2020 was QUITE the year. It’s safe to say it affected nearly each and every one of us uniquely, and we all did the best we could to just make it through. Now it’s time to take our challenges, lessons and optimism while setting new goals and planning to achieve our heart’s desires. But how? If 2020 and the first half of 2021 left you feeling a bit pessimistic (or exhausted) — we can help. We spoke with Dr. Tara Swart, neuroscientist, senior lecturer at MIT and author of The Source, for expert insight into how we can each channel the power of manifestation to make this year our best year yet.
What Is Manifestation?
Essentially, manifestation is the act of bringing into reality the outcomes that you desire. To some, the concept may seem “far out” or even unbelievable, but Dr. Swart disagrees. She explains, “I have always been fascinated by how science and spirituality intertwine. Concepts like the laws of attraction, visualization and manifestation have levels of both. I found a deeper understanding when I was doing research for my book, The Source. In my book, I explain in more detail how cognitive science can explain manifestation and thus, you can train your brain to rewire.”
Swart explains that with modern brain scanning techniques, we can actually see spiritual phenomena explained by science that we couldn’t see before. She says that “things like abundant thinking, manifestation, and mind over matter — these are things that were seen as intangible but through time and science, have proven to be tangible.”
Dr. Swart goes back to her example of manifestation, because she says, “ it has both spiritual and scientific overtones. There’s the spiritual side of manifestation where you’re desiring something, visualizing it to make it happen combined with elements of science, training your brain to act and think in a certain way to create the desired outcome. Thus, the two go hand in hand.
Why an Action Board?
Dr. Swart believes that creating an action board is the most proper way to manifest your desires into existence. An action board is a bit different from a more commonly known vision board (check some examples here). Swart says vision boards are more representative of fantasy, and thus less likely to manifest itself into real life. “Creating an action board is about identifying your innermost dreams and representing them pictorially. You create an action board to prime your brain to grasp any opportunities that will bring you closer to the things you have identified you want in your life. You’ll use the action board to take action to make those dreams reality.”
She says that for those who are brand new to manifesting, “most people will write a list or make a vision board, thinking about what they want, but don’t actually act upon it in the real world. That’s why I prefer the term and recommend creating an action board because we are looking to create something that will inspire and manifest in your future through actions, rather than merely fantasies.”
Make Your Own Action Board
If you’re ready to make your own, it’s really quite simple. And all you’ll need are a few magazines, scissors, some glue/tape and a blank canvas. Dr. Swart suggests you only use images and possibly numbers to create your board but to find a balance of both literal and metaphorical examples.
Dr. Swart explains, “Emblematic images are very powerful as they message your subconscious, allowing you to use abstraction and value tagging to spot and grasp opportunities that you might have missed otherwise. These types of images also make your action board more private, and less discernible, which may make you feel more comfortable with placing it anywhere in your home.”
When you’re finished, take time to soak in your final product. Then, Dr. Swart suggests taking time away from it, before looking at it once more. Once you come back, take away any images that may not feel right, or you are no longer drawn to. Then, you can go through your magazines and materials once more to see if anything jumps out a second time around. Add those to your board.
Once your revisions are complete, Dr. Swart says to leave it in a safe place for at least 24 hours. Then, a day later, “Review your board again and make any necessary final changes. After this, you’ll start sticking the images on the board!” You may even opt to show it to a friend or family member, asking them, as Swart suggests, “to challenge you about a few of the things on it, asking questions such as, ‘Do you really want this?,’ ‘Have you asked for as much as you deserve?’ or ‘Is there anything else you want that you might have missed’.’
As a final step, paste or secure all the images on the board and find the perfect home for it. For it to be effective, Dr. Swart says the board needs to be placed somewhere specific within your space, so that you will naturally look at it at least once a day. (AKA — not your bedside drawer or shoved in your closet.)
For the First Timer
New to manifestation? No worries. It’s much easier than you may think — as long as you trust in the process, and don’t give up too easily. Dr. Swart says the most common mistake that first-time manifesters make is losing motivation, “especially when it comes to long-term goals like getting engaged, moving up in your career, purchasing a home, having a baby, etc.” It’s important to remember that some things take longer than others, so it’s important to practice patience while you also practice manifestation.
Also — you can’t be lazy, as another mistake first-timers make is inaction. Yes, you need to work.
Dr. Swart explains, “Manifestation involves coming up with the intention and acting on it so for example, if your goal is to find a partner but you aren’t going on dates or putting yourself out there, then you’re not truly manifesting.”
Why Now Is the Perfect Time
“The New Year or a new season has always been symbolic in terms of setting goals. It is representative of leaving behind some old ways of thinking from the year before and basically using neuroplasticity to over-write those with new ways of being that lead to the things that you desire. It’s also easier to track progress and success when starting at the very beginning of the year,” she says.
Though, you certainly can begin to practice manifestation at any time. It doesn’t have to be super significant, but it can be. Your birthday, the start of a new school year or season can work just as well.
As for me? I had the wonderful opportunity of making an action board during a virtual event with Dr. Swart, and I’d be lying if I said I wasn’t extremely excited and hopeful to see how it will unfold for me.
Without completely giving it all away, my action board showcases images including a balanced scale (as I’m working hard to maintain balance in my life while also trying to achieve a physically and mentally healthier version of myself), a phone (I want to spend less time on my phone while also using it to actually call those closest to me instead of text!), an airplane (as I hope to make up for lots of missed travel and fun from last year!), a cut out of a grandfather clock (a reminder that time an fly, or drag on — but that I will make more of an effort to slow down to really appreciate all that is in front of me), as well as a number that represents what I would like to have in my savings account at the end of 2021. (Hey — tangible goals, right?)
Now, what will you manifest and take action on this year?
We only recommend products we have independently researched, tested, and loved. If you purchase a product found through our links, Sunday Edit may earn an affiliate commission.