Why Did I Walk On Fire?

Clue: it was not enjoyable nor necessary…

Humans have the capacity to overcome insane amounts of pain and limitations like no other animals on Earth. Through the sense of deep purpose and will-power alone the impossible becomes possible.

Imagine a path of the burning coal in front of you, 2,000 F (1,093 C) in temperature, that you will spend ten or more seconds on, taking one step at a time. You cannot run or hop through it as things may get worst if you panic. You must walk slowly and firmly with unshakable certainty and focus while your brain screams with danger through all the cells of your body and the nervous system.

I wouldn’t recommend firewalking for a mere sense of entertainment. I wouldn’t recommend it for those who do not have an ongoing practice of mindfulness. And I wouldn’t recommend it if you are afraid of blisters or burns, as you are most likely to get them.

On the enjoyment level for me firewalking ranks way below skydiving, paragliding, surfing and many other extreme activities. It requires a long time of mental preparation, unpleasant afterward, and could be painful for several days after. So why did I do it?

I believe that we are more than the biochemical impulse of the brain. Despite the technology age we live in, our brain still operates like a 500-year-old tool when it comes to basic responses such as hunger, thirst, fear, anger, tiredness, lack of time or other resources. Have you noticed how much harder it is to sit through a meeting or traffic when you are hungry? How much more annoying become the little things when you are tired? All of these feelings are either biological reactions or mind perceptions that challenge our quality of life.

However, we have the capacity to feel happy and fulfilled despite any circumstances, physical or emotional. According to many studies and biographies of extraordinary people, we can be in full control of the mind and body, even in extreme conditions. Nelson Mandela, Mahatma Gandhi, Viktor Frankl, just to name a few, proved the point.

“Forces beyond your control can take away everything you possess except one thing, your freedom to choose how you will respond to the situation,” — Viktor Frankl.

Walking on fire is a representation that we are more than our brain and the body. Walking on fire is about raising above the fear and taking control over the animal impulses. I did it with 14,000 other people who wanted to draw a line between an animal side and the human power. Together we proved that we are limitless if we have clear focus and aspirations. Each and every one of us can train oneself to show the brain who is in charge, even in front of real danger. Training the mind allows a sense of total self-control and certainty, even if the ships are burning.

Ask yourself, if the challenge you are currently going through, which seems so unbearable and important, will have the same impact on you in ten years. How about 20 years? Often you will be surprised how expanding the time frame changes the perspective. Our brain tends to make things brighter and bigger when they are right in front of us. The hot coal path was not so scary when I signed up for it. Looking at it in front of me as I was about to walk was a different experience. Through firewalking, I confirmed that we must train the mind daily to see different perspectives, embrace challenges as lessons and strive for clarity and simplicity among the chaos. Walking on fire is an allegory that we are in charge, not our brain.

Oksana Esberard

Certified Meditation Instructor. Mindfulness At Work Consultant. Requested Speaker.

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