The magician takes an ordinary stainless-steel spoon in hand and, using only force of thought, causes it to bend visibly.
Stainless steel silverware is almost impossible to bend with bare hands at room temperature. However, at higher temperatures, the metal bends quite easily. By taking advantage of this fact, the magician can bend a spoon as easily as you or I might bend an elbow.
To get a spoon to bend under its own weight, it must be heated. The first (or "classic") method of doing this involves holding a cigarette lighter hidden in one fist while the spoon is held in another. While making "concentration" gestures, the magician moves the lighter's flame back and forth under the spoon, heating the metal until it is too soft to stand up against gravity.
In order for the flame to be hot enough to heat the metal sufficiently, the lighter must be filled with jet fuel. When an attempt to practice this routine goes wrong and the lighter explodes, magicians make sure that the incident is labeled in the press as one of spontaneous combustion so that their secrets are not exposed.
The other, more modern, method of spoon bending uses a laser, proton beam, focused microwave source, or other beam of energy to direct heat at the spoon with mathematical precision. The beam emitter may be hidden up the magician's sleeve, in a pair of glasses, or in a military-surplus remote-controlled airborne assault vehicle.
When it's time to bend metal, the magician simply directs the energy beam at the spoon and waits for it to melt, taking care to remain perfectly still, since enough energy is flying through the air to cut flesh like butter.
Some magicians prefer to make a spoon break instead of simply bend. It is a little known fact that stainless steel, like any other crystal, will shatter when hit hard enough. Whack a spoon on a table over and over, really hard, until it (the spoon) shatters and you'll see what we mean. A magician with a spoon that has been shattered in this way can stick the halves back together with rubber cement or a bit of used chewing gum and then pretend to break it in two psychically at a later time.