A Working Mum’s Firewalking Experience
Need to do something for yourself?
Fears holding you back from living your dreams?
Want to learn how to live in the now?
‘If you always do what you’ve always done, you’ll always get what you always gotten’
A good friend of me rang to say, “Did you know it is International Firewalking Day on the 6th April? I want to utilise my skills and learning by leading people through another firewalk, are you interested? It’s in Bali and it’s going to be a ‘Millionaire’s Experience’” (my friend knows to push the right buttons when inviting me to anything, she knows I love exclusivity). As most working Mums would admit, if they were honest, the opportunity to have a whole weekend away in Bali without her demanding children and family life would be amazing; to have no responsibility except for herself, no decisions to make except what to order on the menu, the peace, the quiet… And I thought to myself, I only have to walk across hot coals to get a ‘legitimate’ weekend pass? My goodness it’s got to be worth it, right?? “Yes!”, I shouted.
In the few weeks leading up to the weekend away, I put firewalking out of my mind as my normal busy work/family life continued. As Eckhart Tolle says, “Life is not a package tour, it’s an adventure” and if you always know what is going to happen, where is the fun? As a fun junkie I totally agree, it’s like reading the last chapter of a book first or watching the end of a movie before the beginning; where is the juice and excitement in that?
‘Knowing your deepest intention can be your guiding force to the creation of a better life’ Oprah Winfrey
It wasn’t until a couple of weeks later, whilst I was sat on the plane, that I finally started to think about what my intention was for doing a firewalk. We know it’s not the firewalk that is the point, it’s the metaphor it represents: facing your fear and doing it anyway. It wasn’t my first time as I had walked over fire multiple times whilst training with Anthony Robbins. It was, however, it had been 14 years since then and in that time, I have lived in two different countries and had two children, so my life is definitely in a different chapter. I was really curious about how I would react this time. I allowed myself to enjoy the quietness of the air plane. Well, compared to my 7 and 8-year-old, it is quiet! And went within to listen to my gut about my intention and as I centred myself, I realised I wasn’t really doing it for me, I was doing it to be a role model to my children. To inspire them to face any fears and not let it stop them doing anything they want to put their mind to. To demonstrate that at any age you can keep on learning, stretching and growing yourself. And those of you who are parents know children do as we do not as we say.
‘The garden of the world has no limits, except in your mind’ Rumi
My friend Helen Skinner (Inner Fire) had been trained by Tolly Burkan (the person who has bought firewalking to the masses since 1977) so I knew I was in an expert’s hands. Tolly talks about the 3 P’s of firewalking: Physics, Physiology, Psychology. Physics describes how heat is transferred. Physiology describes how the body responds to heat. Psychology describes how people overcome the innate resistance to walking on glowing coals… because without taking that first step, there can be no firewalking. Historically, when I have firewalked at Anthony Robbins events, he stirs up the firewalkers with high energy exercises and invites you to start chanting loudly ‘cool moss’, ‘cool moss’ whilst traveling across the burning coals. This helps with both physiology and psychology as you are making mental images of walking on wet grass and the body reacts to that picture. Dr Andrew Weil, the renowned Harvard trained physician, has investigated firewalking for years. He comments “There is no way I can be convinced that the mental state is not the key variable in firewalking.”
On the night of the exclusive event, we were joined by eight very experienced Indonesian firewalkers, who had taken an average of 150 walks each. They were intrigued about what would be a Western approach to an age-old cultural norm in Indonesia. As I was starting to really question what the hell was I doing, my internal dialogue was going into overdrive, ‘I don’t need to do it I’ve nothing to prove’, ‘I might just watch the others and use it as a research opportunity ’, ‘Is this just my ego telling me to do this?’. This fear heightened particularly when they lit the coals and the flames were expanding high into the night sky. The seasoned firewalkers were so calm, relaxed and at peace with what they were going to do. Maybe that is what happens when you had so much practice, it becomes just like a walk in the park. Helen took us through a thorough preparation exercise and made us ensure that we would be ready internally to make the external action when it was our turn. She told us about ‘putting on our CAP’ of Courage, Acceptance, Peace. And only when we were in that state of Peace were we to walk across the 51 degree burning coals. A very different approach from what I had been used to but equally empowering. I decided I wanted to watch the veterans first and it was inspirational. They walked up to the firewalk in their continued, almost serene state and just strolled across the coals. You could see the smoke rising and it was so quiet you could only hear the coals burning and a small clap of applause as each person completed the walk. When it came to my turn, I decided to change my previously learnt (more natural approach) and move forward in a more purposeful and inner energy directed state. I stood at the start of the firewalk and went deep within myself and discovered that I wanted to walk in peace and love. I put on my ‘CAP’ and strode across the coals easily and effortlessly. At the end, me being me, I had to do a little power jump of celebration to go along with my round of applause. It was such a liberating feeling; I was on a real high of achievement and yet felt so centred and whole at my core.
‘Comfort is the enemy of progress’ PT Barnum
In the process of being an ‘eternal student’ and on reflection, I think the real driver behind my firewalk was to push myself even further past my comfort zone. Along with this I have two very proud children of their Firewalking Mum. As my business and life take on even more meaning, and I practice more and more living in the now I can see how firewalking is extremely relevant. You can only be in the now or you will burn yourself. I await with both excitement and certainty that the best is yet to come. For now, I look for ways to continue pushing my boundaries and teaching my children to be fierce in life.
If you have a spark of an idea or want help releasing any fears or you need support setting and achieving intentions for your life, connect with mary@butterflymango and I promise I’ll ignite your fire, coal free!
You can watch my firewalk on my Youtube channel here.