Let me share with you my first fire waIking experience. That I did in 1987 I hope It encourages you to push your boundaries to new limits.
As I sat in the seminar room looking out into the night, my mind a blur, my eyes focused on the ten metre wall of heat and flames which roared from the fire pit, I wonder how I will face that deep primal fear of burning which all living creatures share.
Like the Tao, There I was looking into life’s mirror, face to face with the self of myself, and like the phoenix ready to dive deep into the ashes of fate only to rise again in a purified and transformed state of being. The fire, a glowing pile of embers and crackling wood is raked into a bed about 5 meters in length. I also note that the fire-bed is around half a meter deep, the walls on either side have been purposely raked higher to contain the heat. (One of the secrets of fire walking is that the fire bed, that part you walk on, is kept at around 1600 to 1800 degrees in heat.)
I soon learn that there are no special creams to protect my feet, no secret ways to scamper across the burning coals and not burn. The fire Master says: “Fire is an energy, and fire walking is REAL. You do it, or you don’t, there is no changing your mind half way across.”
The walk is, of course, optional. The knowledge contained in the five hour seminar which precedes the fire walk, we are told can be applied in daily life, the proof that this knowledge works is tested on the burning coals.
The seminar over, the time has come, and “trial by fire” enters my mind as I look into the flickering red and white hot coals. I feel mortal, sober and vulnerable. The other participants, teenagers and adults of both sexes, including two very courageous 7 and 12 year olds, support each walker as he/she confronts the fire pit by chanting.
The fire master of course goes first to cheers claps ans awe from us all. He makes it seem so easy. I approach the fire. I feel a lump of lead in my stomach and fear courses through my body. We are told that we can walk when we are ready. I feel ready. But as I stand there, the heat is too intense, so I back away, shaken.
Then I approach again and my father’s words from childhood echo in my mind: “if your friends jumped into a fire, would you?” And a wrestling match begins with my inner self and my sense of survival, with my fear of pain and my dark side.This confrontation with my shadow self is terrible. My feet feel like lead and my body like jelly. I know I have to ground myself fast, so I jump up and down placing each foot firmly on the ground like a Sumo wrestler.
Resolved, committed, with purpose and a strong sense of self, I focus beyond the fire pit and finally… walk.
It is hard to explain what happens in those minutes on the coals. The weight of my body crunches into them. The feeling of tons of past guilt and fear lifts from me, and a feeling of intoxicating excitement and happiness floods through me as I make it to the other side. I don’t burn nor blister and deep inside me I sense I have won that inner battle, conquered my shadow self and I feel renewed. The phoenix has risen.
This euphoria stays with me for months and slowly changed into an inner knowing. My work triples, life takes on more worth, my relationships improve, I expand my boundaries, which opens up new doorways I never knew existed.
Since that first fire walk, I have walked on fire many times and each one empowers me more. It’s an exercise in trust and memory now, because it reminds me that I am truly limitless. I have passed my rite of passage.
Many cultures have a rite of passage a shamanistic way of integration into maturity. Sadly we have none, Did the ancients know something that we have long forgotten? I think so, and thanks to practices such as fire walking we can tap that deep inner need in our psyche that urge to achieve, integrate and belong.
There are many ways to conquer your shadow self. Fire walking, meditation, hypnotherapy just to name a few. May you find what is right for you on your path….. Peace.