Our thoughts alone can change not only our present reality but also the actual genetic makeup of our brains. Indeed, altering these patterns can yield astonishing results for changing outcomes we may have previously accepted as simple facts of life. For the final week of 2021, we’re talking epigenetics, manifesting, and vision boards. Here are some tools for you to look forward to the new year with focused intention, hope, and the keys to unlocking your greatest potential.
“Epigenetics teaches that we are not doomed by our genes … we can modify our genetic destiny by turning on the genes we want and turning off the ones we don’t want. A change in human consciousness can produce physical changes, both in structure and function, in the human body.” — Dr. Joe Dispenza, You Are the Placebo: Making Your Mind Matter
But, before we jump right into how the way we think, what we do and consume impacts how our genes work, let’s take a moment to check in: how is your heart today? After this message reaches you, we’ll be signing off for 2021. So, from the entire Anima Mundi family to you and yours, we are manifesting your best health. We appreciate you. We hope you are showering yourself and your loved ones with abundant compassion and healing energy. Let’s collectively manifest a better future, in which everyone protects and benefits from Mother Earth’s innumerable gifts.
By changing our consciousness, we can produce physical changes. This is the core principle of epigenetics, the study of the impact of our behaviors and the environment on how our genes work.
According to Dr. Joe Dispenza and many other experts in the ever-evolving field of epigenetics, our nervous system is the greatest pharmacist there is.
In the past, scientific research pointed to our genes as predominantly responsible for the majority of dis-eases experienced by human beings. However, in the early 1940s, embryologist Conrad Waddington first introduced the term and concepts now known as “epigenetics”, but research didn’t get into full swing until the 21st century. Today, less than five percent of diseases are traced to single-gene disorders, while approximately 95 percent of all illnesses are linked to toxic environmental factors, lifestyle choices, and chronic stress.
That means we can tip the scales in our favor to stay well! For example, diet alone can change your DNA and the DNA of your descendants, too.
Our diets send epigenetic “signals”, and eating habits can modify gene expressions not only among adults, but also their offspring. Scientists are now studying diet’s impact on everything from obesity and diabetes to cancer and Alzheimer’s, examining nutritional elements that either prevent or treat such dis-eases. Nutrition also plays a critical role in transgenerational health. In pregnancy, the choices mothers make about what they ingest can have long-term impacts across generations.
Turning our genes “on” or “off” is a commonly used metaphor for activating our gene activity and modifying our genetic destiny, but how do we actually do that?
Small changes can have huge benefits. Changing our thoughts, feelings and diets are just some of the ways we can send new signals to our cells, therefore allowing them to express new proteins. One of the most powerful tools for changing these habits and patterns for good (beyond factors we cannot control) is manifestation, or calling forth a particular goal or outcome using the law of attraction and the power of our own mental fortitude. Learn more in this quick epigenetics primer.
Manifesting isn’t just “new thought” spirituality. Its roots are global, and many studies exist to prove its efficacy, despite some debate and skepticism among researchers.
In one study conducted in Iran among cancer patients, for instance, a series of conclusions were summarized from several previous studies, including but not limited to: (1) positive emotions are effective in reducing and relieving depression; (2) adolescents with high levels of happiness experience fewer emotional and behavioral problems; (3) it is possible to teach people the required skills for being optimistic and immunize them psychologically against problems; (4) resiliency along with adjusting and fading the stressful factors in lives of children with learning difficulties may guarantee their psychological well-being and provide the basis for its promotion; (5) resiliency is a variable which may increase the quality of life in adolescents with a mobility disability; (6) optimism may improve an individual's resiliency while facing with stressful life events; and (7) positive thinking improves survival among patients with breast cancer.
Beyond science and data, there’s also a long tradition of folk practices that have relied on wielding energy/life force to attain personal goals, which forms the basis of manifestation, though it has been known by many other names throughout history. Here are 3 global manifesting traditions you may not be familiar with, which also serve as inspirations for our own tips and tricks below.
Origins: Yoruba religion, West Africa, African diaspora
What it is: This divination board or tray used by the Ifá, Yoruba, African, and Afro-American religious groups is a type of offering “to flatter” the Babalawo (diviners). Those seeking answers and resolutions rely on the opon Ifá to elucidate solutions to both personal and collective problems, and to come into harmony with spirits once again. This tool for manifestation is imbibed with meaning through the users’ belief in its power to reveal truth.Origins: Taoism, Buddhism, Confucianism, Traditional Chinese Medicine (TCM)
What it is: Qigong, also known as Chi-Kung, is the “study and practice of cultivating vital life-force through various techniques”, such as breath, posture, meditation, and guided imagery (University of Minnesota). One of the Qigong practices is Neidan, a meditative practice that also incorporates visualization that helps to guide energy, aiming to improve digestion, boost immunity, relieve headaches, aches, pains, and other stressors. This tool for manifestation intends to develop one’s abilities for self-healing and disease prevention, leveraging the mind for overall longevity, health, and harmony with both nature and the self.Origins: Egypt, Babylonia, India, China (and others worldwide)
What it is: Both ancient and sacred, harnessing the power of lunar cycles has been practiced for millennia across cultures. There’s scientific evidence that the moon affects not only our moods, but also has an impact on labor and pregnancy, not to mention monthly menstrual cycles, and much more. Used by many spiritual practitioners in diverse and overlapping ways, these rituals are as varied as those who engage in leveraging the phases of the moon to achieve personal desires, growth, and reverence to this potent energetic force.
There are many people (including the uber rich, famous, and traditionally successful among us) who identify as “powerful manifestors”. They are also very vocal proponents of the practice.
Oprah Winfrey recommends that manifestors “meet the vibration” and do not attempt to be above or below the frequency. “In order to draw the thing to you you want to come,” says Oprah, “you can’t want it so much you fear that you won’t get it.”
Equally ubiquitous are their critics and non-believers, who have labeled manifesting every name from useless to dangerous. Regardless of where you fall on the spectrum, the practice of manifestation can be useful for building new habits and signals in the brain (Epigenetics 101) that tell your brain and your body you’re on the path to making important life changes.
Here are 4 manifestation tips and tricks to try in the new year. But, why wait? Nothing is stopping you from getting started manifesting your dreams right now!In order to engage in the practice of manifesting, first get very clear about what you want. For instance, wanting “love” isn’t quite enough to attract love into your life. Coming up with a clear, concise statement about the type of love you want to call in, the source of that love, and how you will receive it is more important for attracting the specific type of love you want (romantic, parental, self-love, sibling, etc.). You may want to start by exploring a book like All About Love by bell hooks, which discusses the fundamental question What is love? and other cultural paradigms surrounding love. Visualization techniques from Qigong, meditation, and other mindfulness practices can help you zero in on your specific goal. Don’t feel rushed to “manifest” before you visualize.Take a moment to repeat the clear statement you now have about what you truly want, but in the present tense, as if it is already here. For example: I am loved unconditionally by a committed romantic partner who shares my values and supports my growth with loving kindness. Visualize this reality as your present reality, and write down your intention (again, in the present tense). You can come back to this intention in your meditation practices, as a daily spoken or silent mantra that you say to yourself, or you can write it over and over again until you, too, believe it to be true. Researchers at the University of Colorado at Boulder found “you can use your imagination constructively to shape what your brain learns from experience” (more about their findings here).In countless studies, gratitude has been proven to be a powerful neurotransmitter of dopamine and serotonin, which bring us joy and pleasure. “By consciously practicing gratitude everyday,” says psychiatric counselor Madhuleena Roy Chowdhury, “we can help neural pathways strengthen themselves and ultimately create a permanent grateful and positive nature within ourselves.” So, in your process of manifesting what you desire, also make time to give thanks for what you already have, and for the opportunity to focus your attention on a specific goal or outcome. This also means you have to be honest with yourself about whether or not you are being flexible and adjusting your energy. Here’s a simple, three-step check-in you can do with yourself to reaffirm steps 1-3 of your manifesting process: 1) What is my intention (repeat out loud, silently, or write it down)? 2) Are my fears or past beliefs getting in the way of truly believing it is already here? If so, take some time to address the underlying blockages to your visualizing with conviction. 3) Am I being grateful, patient, and flexible, knowing the outcome may not come in the timing I want or exactly in the way I imagine? If not, take some time to reestablish your gratitude practice and focus your energy on gratitude as the heart of manifesting.Ancient Chinese philosopher Lao Tzu believed that “to the mind that is still, the whole universe surrenders.” Thinking back to Oprah’s advice to “meet the vibration” and to let go of any attachment to outcomes once we’ve put forward clear intentions, it would seem simple that after the hard work of looking within, we just release. Releasing expectations, fears, anxiety, worry, and attachment is one of the most powerful energetic forces we can give to the current of our destiny. As the Persian polymath and mystic Imam Al-Ghazali wrote, “What is destined will reach you, even if it is beneath two mountains. What is not destined will not reach you, even if it is between your two lips.” With this collection of wisdom, ancient and modern, the most important thing to remember as you manifest what you want most in life is that the path may be non-linear. Surrender to the adventure!
Pinterest pros may be familiar with mood boards used for planning and aesthetic purposes. Think: interior design inspiration, party themes, or updating your wardrobe. While mood boards serve a function in both personal and professional settings, they aren’t the same as vision boards, which are more centered on visualizing specific goals or the overall lifestyle we wish to achieve.
On the other hand, a vision board is a very personal tool for visualizing and anchoring what and how we manifest our life’s purpose, objectives, or a path towards something we truly want.
Below are 7 steps we’ve put together for making a vision board that actually works for you, without the trendy, Instagrammable touch points you might find elsewhere. Here, we’re zooming in on actionable work that involves asking some deeper questions to map a course that’s best for you.
Here, you might be thinking: didn’t I just do this in my visualization and manifesting? Haven’t I reflected enough already? I wanna get the markers and paint out! Or, maybe that’s just us. But, objectively, the reflection we’re doing here for our vision boards is a bit more simple: Do I want my vision board to be dedicated to one theme, or several? For instance, is this vision board “all about love” and if so, is it all about romantic love? Or, do I have three to five big goals I want to manifest at the same time, such as love, money, and my personal health? Before you get started, commit to a thematic vision for your vision board.Just as we are committed to thinking before we speak and act, so must we be for the where of our vision board, almost as important as our why! If you have a small space and the vision board is not going to be a practical addition to your living or work space, consider going digital. If, on the other hand, you have a wall you look at every day that happens to be blank and would motivate you to see your vision board daily, perhaps that’s the right home for your inspirational art. Whatever physical or digital location you choose, make it make sense for you. Measure the space, and buy or create the “board” according to where you will be likely to use it most often.Choose images, quotes, and even small, pasteable objects that resonate most with your theme and ideas from visualizing what the board will represent. Without focusing too much on aesthetics at first, assemble the pieces in a way that feels natural to you. You can always rearrange later. While you will likely want a beautiful object to look at daily, you also want it to be functional. Simple design concepts like visual hierarchy, or arranging things in order of importance, can help to create a harmonious flow. You can also incorporate elements of altar-building, such as cardinal directions and the elements, if you’re looking for some inspiration for how to organize your intentions.Consider flexibility when envisioning your overall design. Can you use tacks, removable mounting putty, or magnets so that you can move things around as the year progresses and your desires change? Remember, being flexible is a great way to not get overly attached to the outcomes of your manifesting process! Choose materials that can move around freely, so that your vision board can be like a living, breathing document and visual aid to your ever-evolving practice.Adding a “rememberlutions” column is a great replacement for “resolutions”. So, what’s the difference? Resolutions, commonly adopted in the new year, are more fixed destinations, like I will eat less sugary snacks or I will watch my speech for negative self-talk. They’re goals that you make in advance to try to work towards in the coming year. Rememberlutions, also sometimes called a “brag folder”, are acknowledgments in the moment of something great that has happened. Especially if it’s something that you put on your vision board that came to life, rememberlutions are an excellent way to celebrate small wins, plus they help enhance your gratitude practice. Using a white board or sticky notes is a great way to incorporate rememberlutions into your vision board.You’re almost ready to start your vision board! Now may be the time to choose an accountability partner, or to share your intentions with members of your community. Beyond an occasional phone or video chat to check-in, you could also organize a vision board gathering to harness the collective power of your individual and shared desires. If your intention is work-centric, consider sharing your goals with a higher-up. Research shows that this can make you more motivated than just sharing your vision with a peer or a friend. Whoever you choose to support your manifestation, remember the proverb: to go fast, go alone and to go far, go with others.Using your vision board as inspiration for writing prompts, consider doing a self check-in in rhythm with the cycles of the moon. Harnessing lunar power will align you with your ancestors and give you a pattern to follow that your brain and body will start to recognize. Neuroscience confirms that when you write down your goals, you are “encoding” your brain’s long-term memory, and giving yourself a better chance not only of storing the information, but actually achieving your goals over time. Not sure where to start? Check out our journaling tips on the blog here.
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