|It’s official. I’m a fire walker. |
A friend invited me to join her at a fire walk this weekend. I said yes because one of my new personal commitments is to lean into freedom, courage, and play without defaulting to my brain’s habit of analyzing each decision from multiple theoretical perspectives before making a decision. My brain still defaults to its old habits. Analysis is my guilty pleasure.
I registered, marked my calendar, and went on with life. Saturday morning arrived and I woke up realizing that I would walk across fire, coals, ashes, or something extremely hot and dangerous in less than 12 hours. The unknowns cluttered my brain. Guess what I did next. I decided to research fire walks. What else would an academic do in that situation? At least I kept my promise to myself and avoided the photos of burnt feet.
When I pulled into the driveway, I did not anticipate the event’s impact on me. The evening included two hours of teaching about healing fear and overcoming obstacles. The highly experienced facilitators took us through several exercises that brought us face to face with physical fear. Reply to this email if you want to hear more about the experience and how I broke a wooden arrow with my throat. True story.
The facilitators taught us how to walk across the burning coals and reminded us that no one was expected to walk. They encouraged us to trust our own wisdom and decide in full consent.
The group of about 25 people walked outside together. It was a windy night with a storm heading our way. I could see lightning in the distance. We gathered in a circle around the fire. The fire tenders finished the preparations and the fire walk was open for anyone.
I wanted to walk.
Finally, I edged my way toward the front of the fire. I stood about ten feet away and imagined my dream on the other side. At that moment, I chose. I decided that I wanted my desired outcome more than I wanted to let fear stop me. I took a deep breath, looked beyond the fire at my heart’s desire, and walked across the coals.
I walked across the coals twice that night.
I remember that I cried, but not out of pain. My tears released fear stored in my body for decades. The fire dried the tears and created space for courage and possibility to emerge.
Do you know what else happened? My brain started to wonder if I really walked across those coals. I questioned the temperature. I asked if there was some kind of trick. I began to deflate my pride and confidence. That’s ok. That’s what my brain has been conditioned to do because it does not recognize the fire walker version of me. I’ll love my fearful brain into safety. It’s going to take some time for my brain to realize that the fire walker is here to stay. That’s ok too.