How the age-old tradition of manifesting is making a 21st-century comeback

We've all heard of "Where there's a will, there's a way" - but have you heard of manifesting, the art of making dreams come true, through the power of thought?

It's an age-old tradition that is also all the new-age rage.

Emma Burgess in Christchurch not only believes in manifesting, but has built a multi-million-dollar business coaching it.

"Because of how fast it can change your life."

She believes manifesting has served her pretty well.

"I manifested Pink, the singer, walking up to me and singing to me at her concert," Burgess said.

"I manifested my fiancé, I did that within five hours of deciding that I wanted him.

"I manifested a multi-million-dollar business within a couple of years."

That business is coaching people, mostly overseas, to improve their life through manifesting.

The concept of manifesting is roughly thinking aspirational and positive thoughts with the purpose of making them real.

"I think it's helpful, because it gives people an idea of where to start," said registered psychologist Sara Chatwin.

Manifesting is not new - it dates back to the start of the century - but it burst onto the scene in 2006 with the documentary The Secret and has recently had a pandemic-inspired Gen Z comeback.

How the age-old tradition of manifesting is making a 21st-century comeback
Photo credit: Getty Images

When lockdowns began in 2020, Google searches for "manifest" went up 600 percent.

On Instagram, the hashtags for "manifest" and related searches now have more than 15 million posts.

On TikTok, manifesting content is surging past nine billion views.

"Shut up, I'm manifesting" has also become a mega-hit meme.

"I think that a lot of psychologists would say that manifesting is a pseudo-science, so there's not a lot of research or proof," Chatwin said.

But Chatwin agreed that it can and does work and can also help professionals, including elite sportspeople.

A basketball study found visual imagery was almost as effective as physical practice for advanced players.

"By keeping their thoughts positive and by manifesting what they want out of their sport, what they want out of their event or performance can keep them on track," Chatwin said.

But there were a mixture of views on the streets of Christchurch.

"I don't believe in it, at all," one person told Newshub.

"I actually had a car that hadn't passed its WOF, so for a long time I'd been manifesting that something would happen to it so I could collect insurance and that nobody would get hurt, and that happened," another said.

"I'm really impatient. If I want something to happen straight away, I'm just going to go and do it. I can't wait for the universe to make it happen for me," a third said.

Here's the part at the end of the story where the reporter offers some wise words or facts of her own, but I'm quite keen to get on with finding a billionaire sugar daddy or a world without war. So… Shut up, I'm manifesting.