The Hows and Whys of Firewalking

090628 firewalking I recently went to a Tony Robbins seminar in Toronto. One of the highlights of the event was the Firewalk, which is a barefoot walk across red-hot embers.

Learning the technique is not really that hard (it is basically walking at
a normal pace, while not hesitating or tripping).  The hard part is doing that knowing that there are burning embers under your feet.

It is breath-taking on several levels.  The firewalk is cool in-and-of-itself;
isn't it?  So, it doesn't have to mean anything beyond doing
it.  Yet, there are some great opportunities to make it more impactful by leveraging what you make the experience mean.

For example you can use the
experience as a powerful memory, triggering feelings of being able to do
anything you commit to … or breaking through what used to be your limits.  Or the firewalk can be taken as a metaphor for life … and being able to put yourself into a resourceful state, and choosing to take the right action regardless of what's happening externally or in your mind.

What Goes Through Your Mind?

I was scared the first time I walked on fire. Even though I knew it would do it, when I got to the front of the line, looked down, saw the burning embers, and smelled the smoke … my mind wanted to scream "NO"!!  I had a whole lifetime of conditioning that touching hot things was dangerous, and certainly walking barefoot across hot coals made little sense to my logical mind, and even less sense to that primal instinct part of the mind that's there to protect me.

That's why many of the techniques used in the seminars revolve around getting into a peak state, and filling your head with phrases that you repeat again, and again, and again. If you're saying "yes", "yes", "yes" … There's no room for your brain to say "no".

Is It State of Mind … Or Science?

I'm not going to pretend I understand the science of why it's possible to walk barefoot for 30 or 40 feet across burning coals, without injuring yourself. But you don't have to be a scientist to guess that hesitating in the middle might have painful consequences.  This video is well done and explains a lot.

Here is a link to the video, and a post from the Skeptic's Dictionary about how fire-walking works.

It is Better the Second Time Around.

I've done the firewalk many times now, and still enjoy it. It's really interesting to watch the faces of people doing it for the first time. Some express abject terror, others pump themselves up into a manic state, while still others follow the crowd with a glazed look on their face.

0906028 HMG Safe and HappyThis time, I tried something different than what I've done before. Instead of working myself into a peak state and charging across the coals triumphantly, I wanted to do it from a place of calm resolve. To me this is a different type of peak state.

In some ways it's about being more present to the situation and my own capabilities. Since I had done this before, being afraid would be somewhat irrational (however emotions do not have to be logical). I didn't want to numb myself to the experience by focusing internally, or by jacking-myself-up into a warrior state; instead I wanted to enjoy the sights, sounds, and smells of what was happening — and how cool it was to do this from a purposeful intent.

A Little Bit of Mastery Goes a Long Way.

As a trader, the winning, losing, and the uncertainty and certainly trigger fear, greed, and doubt. Learning to master these states, and keeping a clear head, leads to a much longer career.

It's funny, because I wasn't sure that going through this exercise again would have the same impact. It did, just for different reasons than I have before. I highly recommend it. Feel free to contact me if you have questions or comments.  I'd love to hear about your experiences.

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