What is manifestation? The positive thinking technique Sarah Ferguson swears by

Sarah Ferguson says she believes in manifestation and positive thinking. (Getty Images)
Sarah Ferguson says she believes in manifestation and positive thinking. (Getty Images)

Manifestation and positive thinking are nothing new, but now Sarah Ferguson has revealed that these are techniques that she swears by.

The Duchess of York, 63, who recently revealed she was diagnosed with breast cancer, said on her podcast that she believes in manifestation and the "power of positive thought".

"I think there's no question about it," she said during Tea Talks with the Duchess and Sarah.

Read more: Susannah Reid says Sarah Ferguson’s breast cancer diagnosis is a ‘wake-up call’ not to ignore routine screenings - Yahoo Life UK, 4-min read

Manifestation is nothing new. It’s also known as positive thinking and even the "law of attraction", the latter which was widely marketed as "The Secret" in the mid-2000s.

While it may seem a bit "woo woo", a study from 2018 found that positive thinking is associated with living a healthier life in general, and that people who think positively tend to exercise more, follow a more nutritious diet and avoid unhealthy behaviours.

Caucasian woman writing in notebook indoors at cozy cafe
Manifesting starts with determining what it is that you want. (Getty Images)

A separate study from John Hopkins found that, for people who have a family history of heart disease, those who also had a positive outlook were one third less likely to have a heart attack within five to 25 years than those with a more negative outlook.

What is manifestation?

"Manifestation is the physical realisation of something that was once a thought and a desire," manifestation coach Noor Hibbert says.

So, for example, if you are hoping for a new job, this would include writing down the kind of role you are looking for, applying for these jobs, and believing it will happen.

The positive thinking aspect helps with this as it allows your mind to believe you have the job and is said to "open you up to the possibilities that lie ahead".

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"If you procrastinate and aren’t sure what you want, the universe will keep giving you things you’re not sure of," Nicci Roscoe, author of Manifest Your Everything, says. "Once you know what you are wishing for, stay focused on it. It’s important to focus on one thing at a time.

"It is also important to remember, what you manifest may not happen in the next day, month, year, or longer; it will happen if you believe and it is right for you."

How to practice manifestation

If you’ve decided you want to give manifestation a go, Roscoe suggests using these five ideas as starting points:

  • Make a manifestation board: "This is one of the most powerful and impactful things you can do. By sticking words and images on a large board that represent what you want to achieve, you can visualise and focus on it every day.”

  • Use positive affirmations: "To put it simply: empowering words that remind you regularly to change negative thoughts to positive ones. Examples include ‘I believe in myself, I trust myself, I value myself and my feelings, I feel confident from within, and I trust my intuition’."

  • Connect to positive memories: "Anchoring is a way of connecting a positive memory where you felt particularly happy, relaxed or positive with a physical action. Think of a time you felt happy and confident, visualise your surroundings and people you were with. Then, squeeze your thumb and forefinger together on one hand."

  • Meditate: "Meditation takes you to a place of peace, calm and clarity. It can also help us to re-energise."

  • Reframe negative thoughts: "Look at your negative beliefs in a different way, from a positive perspective, and change the words around to give a positive focus to what you are telling yourself."

one woman adult caucasian female millennial using headphones for online guided meditation practicing mindfulness yoga with eyes closed on the floor at home real people self care concept copy space
Meditation can be a good way to help you visualise what you want. (Getty Images)

The benefits of manifestation

Hibbert says that one of the biggest benefits of manifestation is that it allows you to focus on what kind of life and future you want to create.

"Our mind is really geared up to use the past, as ways of determining what our future is like, but what manifestation enables us to do is focus on the future and put energy towards what we want to create rather than what is already happening,” she adds.

Roscoe says that manifestation is an "incredibly empowering" practice and it can help you to feel better about yourself.

Read more: August 8 is the best day for manifesting, according to astrologists - In the Know, 2-min read

“It can help you to feel more confident, peaceful, and happy,” she continues. “When you feel these wonderful feelings, you will feel in control. When you let go of negative situations, your self-esteem, self-worth, and self-belief will return.

“It’s simply focusing on what you have achieved and can achieve. Encouragement also comes when you surround yourself with positive people who care.”

Does manifestation and positive thinking really work?

While there have been scientific studies to show that positive thinking can have both mental and physical health benefits, the same cannot be said about manifestation.

The practice is largely considered to be pseudoscience, but there’s no harm in trying to have a more positive outlook on life in general.

Watch: Sarah Ferguson sees her cancer as 'an enormous friend'