Why You’re Not Getting What You Want: The Complexities of Manifestation.

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Manifestation is big business.

Everyone wants to know how to create the life they want—a life that usually involves abundance, wealth and success. Just check out Amazon—there are  hundreds and hundreds and hundreds of books claiming to have the best manifestation techniques out there. I know. I’ve read a handful of them over the years, and even own a few, like Creative Visualisation, Creating on Purpose and Magnetize Money with Energetic Literacy. That last has to be one of my favorites, merely for the title.

Like you, I want to manifest the life I want. Sometimes, it feels like life has other plans though, because even though I’ve been very clear about my desires and working really hard over the last few years, I still don’t feel like I’ve gotten what I want.

And that’s despite understanding manifestation inside out, putting it into action and taking concrete steps left, right and center. What’s up with that?

Nearly three years ago, when I left my partner, my intention was to parlay my writing, website and yoga teaching into a livable income for myself and my son. I knew I could do this work part-time, and while my son slept (it’s 8:30 p.m. right now and I’m on to the first draft of my second article for the evening). Plus, I knew this was where my talents and skills lie. I knew it was where I served the world best. Finally, I wanted to be around for my child’s early years. I wanted to have time to actually mother him, rather than send him off to be mothered elsewhere.

In the short-term, I reluctantly went on to a single mother’s benefit so I could support myself and my one year old child. I felt guilty doing this—hell, I’d been on a high-paying salary as a speechwriter for Ministers of Parliament before my ex-partner and I decided to have a child. But now, as a single mother, I couldn’t raise a young child and do that kind of work anymore.

That short-term decision has dragged on for nearly three years—despite my best intentions, manifestations and actions to make it different.

Sometimes I feel like I’ve failed miserably—three years later, I’m still being supported by the government. However, I am earning a part-time wage and am halfway toward being independent. Obviously though—despite all this manifestation and action, something’s not working for me.

If you believe the tenants of manifestation, you’d look at me—a woman who prior to this has never had any trouble manifesting what I wanted in life—and think, you’re blocked somewhere.

So the question is, where?

Why am I not getting what I want, despite manifesting my freaking arse off?

Let’s take a step back here. And I invite you to take a step back too as you contemplate why you’re not getting what you want.

I’m going to take you on a journey, inspired and informed by Anodea Judith and Lion Goodman’s book Creating on Purpose—The Spiritual Technology of Manifesting Through the Chakras, plus my own working process of my last two successful manifestations—a book and a relationship.

Step One: Empty Yourself

I know—sounds counter-intuitive right? But so often, what we think we want to manifest isn’t coming from a place of clarity. It’s coming from a place of comfort. That is, we want to create things that make us comfortable—more money for example. But manifestation isn’t about comfort, it’s about creation. And creation is something that happens through grace and guidance. Connecting to that grace and guidance requires space and emptiness. This is where our yoga and meditation practice comes in handy. For me, walking is also a way of creating emptiness—of emptying everything our of my mind so I can hear the voices of grace and guidance.

Step Two: Visualize Your Goal

Once you’ve emptied out and opened to receive clarity over what you want to experience, you may be surprised to discover it’s not what you thought you wanted. That’s ok, go with it. Right then, you may have discovered one of the reasons you haven’t been able to manifest what you want—you didn’t actually want it!

Now, using your imagination, begin to visualize the thing you do want to experience. When I knew I wanted to write a book, I thought it was a Best of Yoga Lunchbox book. But after I went through a letting go process and allowed myself to drop into emptiness, I had a vision of a book that could help people commit to a home yoga practice. That felt far more necessary and useful. Plus, I discovered I could see it in my mind’s eye. I didn’t even have to try and visualize it—it was like it already existed.

If you find it difficult to see that which you want to experience, it’s worth going back to emptiness just to check in and make sure it’s really what you want. Another reason you might find it hard to imagine your new reality is that there are blocks or beliefs inside you which need to be confronted first.

And this is where the process of manifestation really comes into its own. Holding on to a clear concept, then visualizing it, helps to uncover any areas inside of you that need work before this new reality can happen. Often, we see the limiting beliefs or old ways of being but we don’t want to change. We shy away from doing the hard work. We get stuck right then and there at the level of concept and vision.

But if you really want something different in your life, things will have to change, and that includes you.

Step Three: Once you’ve got a clear concept and vision of your new reality, start communicating that vision to other people.

Moving out of the internal world and into the external world helps crystalize your vision, it also puts your arse on the line. Telling people I was going to write a book was a big deal, because it meant I had to turn up and do it—no matter what obstacles were thrown in my path.

And there are always obstacles—both internal and external. Committing to the manifestation process means you’re committing to finding solutions to those obstacles.

Often we start to face the internal obstacles when we visualize our dream. Once we start to talk to other people about it, we can face external obstacles—people who don’t believe us, or who see the logical and real-world difficulties in bringing the dream to fruition. It’s really important to hold a steady line through this—people’s input is valuable but it can also kill a dream fast if we let it.

Listen to what people have to offer, but don’t take it all on board.

Also listen to how you tell people about your dream—if you pay attention to the words you use, the tone of voice, how loudly you speak and the energy behind your words you can discern some of the unconscious beliefs you may be holding about your dream. You may realize that you don’t even believe in it yourself—straight away, that points to the work you need to do around it.

The beauty of sharing your dream with others is that their enthusiasm can spark and feed your own. I’ve just started a new writing project and I’ve asked for Beta-Readers. They were a key part of my process with my first book, and invaluable for the energy and enthusiasm they brought to the project. They were excited to read, review and offer feedback on the book. Already, reading the emails from people who want to be Beta-Readers is firing me up for my new project. They’re offering perspectives I hadn’t thought of.

Plus, because I’m asking for a commitment from them, I can’t shirk my work because I have to uphold my commitment to them. This process helps keep me focused and on track. At this level of manifestation you’re setting goals, and you’re working with other people on these goals. I will have a table of contents ready by the end of the week. I will write one chapter every two days.

Sharing your dream with others is vital—you quickly discover if you have real confidence in what you want to achieve, you receive feedback from others and enthusiasm and energy from others.

Step Four: Now’s when the rubber really starts to hit the road. This is when the hard work starts to happen. You need to do whatever needs to get done.

It’s all process now. For me, it meant sitting down every day and writing minimum of 2000 words a day, sometimes up to 5000. And if you’re doing it, you might as well love it! Because in the end, everything is process. Sure, you’ve got a fixed idea of the dream in your head, but that dream is often the end result. If you don’t love the process involved, then why are you even bothering? If you want to be a published author, that means loving writing.

So this is a good time to look at your dream and make sure that you love it—really love it. If you don’t, maybe that’s why you’re having trouble manifesting it. Maybe you just don’t love it enough. Is it even worth your time then? If you’re going to work your butt off at something, you might as well love it, right?

It’s also worth checking in here to see how your dream serves the greater good. How is it of service? For my book, that was really clear. It was going to give people the information and support they needed to build a consistent daily home yoga practice. People needed that. And more people doing yoga more often has got to be good for the world. The more that your dream is of service to the world, the easier it can be to manifest because more people want to help you make it happen. They’ll love what you’re doing and offer help. So it’s not just you that needs to love your dream—it’s other people too.

Step Five: Once you’ve got the love aligned, now it’s time to produce results. This is about the choices you’re making that support your dream.

It’s about getting up at 4am so you can practice violin before work. It’s about eating the right diet so you can compete in the New York Marathon. It’s about working every single night when my son sleeps so I can do the editing, layout and design on my book. You make the hard choices, and every time you do, you become more powerful.

Those obstacles that might have been coming up along the way, both internal and external? It’s your personal power that keeps you facing into them and finding solutions, rather than giving up. You keep going, keep trying, find another way around, find a different way to make it happen. You keep making it happen.

Sometimes it can feel like we have no power to make our dreams happen at all—and that becomes another obstacle. What can I do? We ask. Whatever you can—that’s what you do. There’s always some small action you can take toward your dream. No matter how small that action or choice, take it. Take it every time you can because each choice you make that supports your dream makes you more powerful.

It’s easy here to give it up, because choices require action and manifestation isn’t so much about action right? But of course, it’s all about action. The only way my book was going to get written was if I sat at the keyboard and typed the words. The only way all the revisions were ever going to get done was if I sat there, night after night, and painstakingly went through every damn line in the book five times. That’s the action. That’s the power.

Any doubts you have about how good you are, or if you’re worth it, or if the dream is any good are going to show up here. They’ll whittle their way in and you’ll be tempted to throw in the towel, because who’s going to buy this book anyway? That’s where you have to ask yourself—do you want to make this happen, or not? And if you want to make it happen, you need to deal with the self-doubt, and whatever else is sabotaging your dream.

Come back to the basics of dream manifestation. Decide what you want. Focus all your attention in that direction. Make changes in your circumstances to support your intention. Yes, make changes! Again, the manifestation process is ultimately about us and how we change, and how our lives change, in order to support the realization of our dreams. Remember, this is your choice. It’s your dream. Choose it! Over and over and over again, every time you choose it, you do something that supports its realization.

Whatever excuse comes up—I don’t have enough time, I don’t know enough, I’m not good enough, I have too many family obligations—realize that they are excuses. Make a choice. How are you going to face into that reality? How can you make time? How can you learn more? How can you get better? How can you drop some obligations or get more family support? There’s always a way. It’s your dream. Choose it.

Step Six: One way to stay powerful is to harness your motivation. Stay passionate! That’s key.

If you can keep hooking into your passion for this dream, it’s much easier to do the work required. Use your goals to feel good about the process. Breaking things down into manageable chunks makes a huge difference. When I sat down every day, I wasn’t writing a book, I was writing 2000 words. That was it. Every day I did it, I felt a huge wave of success and pleasure. Often, I was so stoked and passionate about what I was writing that I stayed and wrote another 2000 or 3000 words. Then I was even more over the moon because I was ahead of schedule.

Find ways to succeed every single day on your dream. Everything counts, and everything takes you one step closer to making it happen. Just ask Chris Guillebeau. His dream was to travel to every single country in the world. What a huge goal! But he broke it down, one country at a time, 10 or 20 countries a year. And he did it.

Whatever it is you have to do, breaking it down and making it fun makes it happen. If it’s a bloody hard slog to make happen—well, why are you doing it? What’s the point? Remember, in the end, there is only process. There is only the now.

Step Seven: Finally, you hit the last stage of manifestation—matter.

This is the printed of the book. The running of marathon. You’ve made it all the way here—and here can sometimes be the hardest stage because it’s also the most dense. It’s so easy to open to a concept in emptiness, to take the concept and visualize it, to talk about it with other people, to love what it is you want. It’s harder to keep making the choices that support your dream, and to stay passionate and light-hearted about making it happen.

It’s harder still to make it real.

But if you’ve done everything with full commitment all the way through, this final stage isn’t so hard. You’ve done all the hard work. The dream almost births itself, you just have to show up. So, if you’re getting stuck at this stage, if you’re just not making it over the finish line, it’s worth going back through every other stage and to make sure that you were clear on that stage. That you were committed. That you did the work. And, if at any stage, you see that you weren’t clear, or committed, or didn’t do the work… then you know where you have to adjust and what you have to do to make it better.

When I did this process, focusing on why I still wasn’t earning a living from my dreams, despite all my hard work, I was astonished to discover that I’d made a basic error in conceptualization.

My original intention was:

I want to live a spacious life where I can look after my child, my house and my family while having time to practice yoga, teach and write. I want to be supported financially to live this way.*

Did you notice how I phrased my manifestation intention?

Check out the last line; notice how I phrase it: I want to be supported financially to live this way.

I’m using passive language and I’ve phrased it in such a way that it sounds like I’m being supported by a third person or entity.

Major insight. Could that be why I feel like I’ve been hitting my head against a wall for three years? Have I had some subconscious script running about wanting somebody else to support me? Could it really be that simple?

Let’s re-phrase my intention.

I want to live a spacious life where I take care of my child, my house and my family while having time to practice yoga, teach and write. I effortlessly earn a living wage from my teaching and writing, while still having plenty of time for mothering.

See that? That’s much clearer. Stronger. And puts me firmly in charge. Will it work? Who knows. They’re only words, right? Or are they? Does they actually reveal much deeper patterns at play within our psyche that determine the reality we experience…

That’s the thing about the manifestation process—it reveals our subconscious programming and the places where we need to heal and let go.

In the end, manifestation is not about making what we want to happen, happen.

It’s actually about getting clear on what we want to happen while aligning with what is happening.

It’s about saying ‘yes’ to those things that keep showing up, even when they don’t look the way you think they should. It’s about going to those uncomfortable places inside of ourselves and facing the things we’re afraid of. It’s about growing as a person and about developing character.

When you can remember all of this, what you’re manifesting on the outside almost becomes irrelevant. Manifestation becomes just a tool to help you develop, that’s all.

This is the real work of manifestation. Not just getting clear on what you want. Not just envisioning what it will feel like to have what you want. But actually taking the concrete steps into the unknown despite how damn uncomfortable it makes you feel.

So, if you’re not getting what you want, and you read all 3,000 words in this article, go back and do the work. Take Steps 1 through 7 and see if you can figure out where you’re blocked, what you’re not doing and start doing it.

That’s manifestation.

Making shit happen.

Like right livelihood on Facebook.

Relephant:Intention + Attention = Manifestation. ~ Sara Camiscioni

Ed: Sara Crolick


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Kara-Leah Grant

Kara-Leah Grant is an internationally renowned retreat leader, yoga teacher and writer. She pours her love into growing a world-wide tribe of courageous, committed, and empowered individuals through leading retreats in New Zealand, Mexico, and Bali. Kara-Leah is also the founder of New Zealand’s own awesome yoga website, The Yoga Lunchbox, and author of Forty Days of Yoga—Breaking down the barriers to a home yoga practice and The No-More-Excuses Guide to Yoga. A born & bred Kiwi who spent her twenties wandering the world and living large, Kara-Leah has spent time in Canada, the USA, France, England, Mexico, and a handful of other luscious locations. She now lives and travels internationally with her son, a ninja-in-training. You can find Kara-Leah on her website, or on Facebook.

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anonymous Mar 12, 2016 11:31am

Thank you so much for this awesome post. I needed this.

anonymous Jun 24, 2014 6:05am

Hello, enjoyed the article – had a quick question. As I focus on what I want – for example – a peaceful evening and night (I am on call periodically for emergencies) – As I focus on that, all I can feel is that my evening or night will be interrupted by phone calls etc. Although, that is my counter intention – it seems that it gets stronger in my awareness the more I try to shift focus off of it. Another example is for example playing a game of tennis – as I focus on playing well and winning – what seems more in my awarenss is the possibility of not playing well.

Love to hear your comments.

anonymous Jan 11, 2014 11:18am

You are projecting a huge amount of struggle. Manifestation is hard because you believe it has to be. I am just pointing this out, because my perspective might give you something to think about.

anonymous Dec 6, 2013 7:11am

, I am taking action towards financial freedom. Congrats to you on your journey. Keeping dreaming and keep working.

This article has great advice. Thx

anonymous Aug 21, 2013 7:13am

The rephrase intention is still not phrased rightly. You won't get what you consistently say you want… "I AM living in a spacious life where I take care of my child, my house and my family while having time to practice yoga, teach and write. I effortlessly earn a living wage from my teaching and writing, while still having plenty of time for mothering."

anonymous Aug 20, 2013 5:25pm

I love this article for many reasons. Mostly because people tend to think "i'm a good person, why don't I ever get what I want?? It seems so many others do….It's just not fair"… the tendency is to externalize the whole process. What others have going on in their lives is really not relevant to you attaining your goals. Owning what it is you want and where the blocks are, is. One book that I highly recommend to get clarity on finding what it is that you really want (as opposed to what you think you want) is Rod Stryker's "The Four Desires- Creating a Life of Purpose, Happiness, Prosperity and Freedom". It is a manifesto of wisdom in how to create the life that you truly desire. I highly recommend this as a starting point. The road is long and has many twists…I think that anybody with the wisdom to help you self-direct your journey should be valued highly. Life can produce magical results for absolutely anyone who is fortunate/wise/persistent enough to seek the way… (one out of three- maybe you'll get there, two out of three- good chance you'll get there, three out of three – no doubt you'll get everything you desire!!!

    anonymous Aug 21, 2013 2:34am

    Hey Rhonda,

    Great comment – I've had those exact thoughts. It's such an insidious belief too – if I'm a good person, good things will happen to me. Not so at all. However, if I work hard, pay attention, and respond to what's actually going on… I may learn to create in tandem with the world. It's exciting to start to see this come to fruitition!

    Thanks too for the book recommendation…. always a good thing!

anonymous Aug 20, 2013 4:01pm

Thanks for this…it's a subject I've dealt with in my own life for years, and you've clarified a few things with your fresh perspective. Namaste. Kelli

anonymous Aug 19, 2013 11:21am

We were not created to live a life of self-indulgence. It is self-centered to chase the things in life that make us feel good. Why should be slaves to our desires and emotions? The more we seek self-satisfaction and self-centeredness, the more we distance ourselves from others and from God. In the end, we will stand before God, and He will say, "You missed the point." Self-centeredness is to be curved in on oneself. To be curved in to oneself results in isolation and separation. So what is our purpose in life? We were created to be re-connected with the God of beauty, love, compassion, righteousness and goodness. Adam and Eve rejected Him in favor of created things, and we make that same mistake every day. Unfortunately, we don't see that we are trapped in our self-indulgence. If we did, then we would recognize that the meaning of life is not found in self-centeredness, but instead, our life is fulfilled through giving our life away. When we desire be in a personal relationship with God, through Jesus, then nothing else in this decaying world compares with the love of our creator who loves us unconditionally. That is total satisfaction, and no more striving.

    anonymous Aug 21, 2013 2:32am

    Hey Tom,

    Did you read the article? Step One is coming into Emptiness – aligning with Source, or what one may call God. From that place, what we seek to create is in alignment with All that Is. There is nothing self-centered about that at all – it's about allowing ourselves to be a channel to bring forth the work we're called to do, whatever that is. And going on down through the steps, there's many occasions where we get to check in and make sure that we're coming from this place of Emptiness rather than Ego – like at Step Five when we talk to other people and start to get feedback – always a great way to check alignment. Step Four when we're coming into relationship with others and getting things done – how does everything flow, are we supported?

    I would hesitate to call this a decaying world too – it is a Garden of Eden, even if we've forgotten to see with those eyes.

    Ultimately, manifestation is a dance of Us with the Divine, as we clear out that which separates us and find that we are One and the Same.

    Of course, I didn't use this particular language or write it in this way in the article… attempting to keep things clear and accesible for everybody regardless of beliefs.

anonymous Aug 19, 2013 4:44am

Hi Kara,

I can definitely relate to your story, it’s as if you were writing my story. I truly believe each moment is infinite in possibilities its only our lack of awareness that prevents us from realizing this. I started doing Subagh Kriya every day and i cant put into words how much my visualizations manifested quicker. I think the key is that the possibilities where there the whole time but this meditation unblocked me so in was able to notice them. I would highly recommend it, if you have a chance let a certified Kundalini yoga teacher teach it to you the first time, then you can do it at home.

    anonymous Aug 21, 2013 2:35am

    Hey KY Yogi,

    Oh I'm a big fan of kundalini kriyas… have used a number of them over the years and found them to be very effective. I haven't heard of Subagh Kriya… shall have to ask some friends who teach. Thanks for the insight.

anonymous Aug 18, 2013 3:17pm

Getting out of my own way… Like emptiness…. Often things come in unexpected ways has been my experience too. I just manifested an Artist Space it's more than I was dreaming up, I allowed & let go of the out come.. Namaste

Kate Bartolotta Aug 18, 2013 12:57pm

Thanks for including #4. It frustrates me when people portray manifesting what we want in life as picturing it and then sitting on our asses waiting for it to come.

Great article!

anonymous Aug 18, 2013 12:22pm

Maybe, just maybe, you're not getting what you want because the economy is in the dumper and the very rich are invested in keeping it that way.

    anonymous Aug 18, 2013 4:29pm

    Maybe – although that's assuming that what one wants is financial. Besides which, working with reality as it is is a part of a strong manifestation process. If the economy is like this, then what do I do? Because there are plenty of people thriving even though one could say the economy sucks. The question is, what does it take to thrive?