How To Firewalk In One Easy Lesson

How To Firewalk In One Easy Lesson

Fire

Firewalking is the practice of walking over hot embers–usually as some sort of rite of passage or test of faith. Firewalking has become a staple of many self-development seminars. It’s been used in religious ceremonies for ages and according to some, firewalking predates recorded history.

Many folks put firewalking forth as proof of the power of the mind. And it is… Just not in the way most people think!

Firewalking As A Metaphor

Firewalking is a powerful metaphor. Because firewalking seems like it would be impossible to do without getting burned, it’s a metaphor for all those things in our lives that seem impossible. When we blow past the mental limits we put on ourselves, when we overcome the limiting beliefs that are holding us back, we can accomplish so much more.

So, when we do the seemingly impossible, we recognize that other things we think are impossible may also be possible. Cool. Sign me up!

Physics vs. Metaphysics

The problem is with the belief (in this case) that it’s the power of your mind that’s allowing you to walk on the hot coals. It’s not. It’s physics.

In case you think I’m wrong, let me ask you about something that happened to me the other day. I was reaching into the oven to get something out and the heel of my hand touched the metal oven rack for a moment. It hurt for a second or two but it wasn’t serious enough to burn me. It got me to thinking though…

The ‘Secret” To Healing

I remember reading, several years ago, an article in a hypnosis organization’s magazine. The hypnotherapist who wrote it claimed that when hypnotizing people she discovered each individual had a computer punch card reader in their abdominal area. There were a bunch of punch cards to go with it.

All you had to do to heal the client was rip up the punch card that had the problem. In other words, if the client smoked, they had a punch card labled “smoking.” You instructed the client to rip up that punch card and then take a blank punch card and give it to the angel Michael (if I remember the details correctly). Michael would write you new programming to take the place of the old.

Now, is this an effective metaphor for healing? I’d bet it is–especially for certain clients. Is it a literal description of people’s abdomens? I don’t think so. But this woman believed it was. She stated that she found this mechanism in EVERY client she worked with and that she wasn’t leading them. On the other hand, I’ve found this mechanism in exactly zero clients.

I dumped that professional organization and their magazine shortly thereafter.

Metaphor As Metaphor

There is a danger in taking the metaphor literally. It leads to what I call ‘junky belief systems.’ These junky belief systems often lead to poorly constructed theories which lead to even more poorly constructed actions. Eventually it ends up in dogma.

So, whenever you reach into an oven–do you think it’s the power of your mind that keeps you from getting hurt? I’m not talking about touching the metal–just reaching into the oven. Is it the power of your mind? You might wonder what I’m talking about.

If You Can’t Take The Heat…

If your oven is heated to 425 degrees, how hot is the air in the oven? Why doesn’t it burn you? The answer is that the air is just as hot as the metal rack in your oven. It doesn’t burn you because air is not a very good conductor of heat. Neither are the burning coals you walk on during a firewalk. That’s why they don’t burn you. If someone claims otherwise they may not understand what’s going on–or perhaps they’re deliberately deceiving you.

Again, doing a firewalk can be a powerful metaphor. It can help your mind integrate the idea that things that seem inpossible can be possible. That’s the way many of our problems are–they seem like they have no solution–until we shift our perspective.

Remember though, you’re not changing the laws of physics with the power of your mind.

Enjoy,
Keith

PS: I’m not suggesting you go out and try to build a fire pit and walk on it yourself. It takes a lot of expertise to build a fire walk so that the hot material has low heat conductivity. Don’t try it!

About The Author:

Keith Livingston is the main instructor for Hypnosis 101. Keith has been studying hypnosis since he was a boy and doing hypnosis & NLP training since 1997.

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  1. Is the punch card not the representation of the (limiting) belief. She is just making a graphic and more or less swishing the belief out with say being a non-smoker. Some where you are running a picture or a movie of being a smoker and the directions are on the punch card and if you remove the directions on how to do it then why wouldn’t it not work. If it works for her then she must be doing somethign else that she does not realize.

    Bandler has in one of his books a paragraph or two about using a swish on smoking, replacing it with a pictures of not smoking. Not a lot of difference?

    Theta healers do something similiar to this and on many people it does work for them at least some of the time.

    1. Hi Soni,
      Thanks for commenting.
      In the post, I wrote, “Now, is this an effective metaphor for healing? I’d bet it is–especially for certain clients.” Yes, any healing metaphor will likely work sometimes. The point of this post is not whether the metaphor might work. The point is that there are dangers to believing the metaphors are reality.

      I’ve got to say that many people in the fields of hypnosis and NLP don’t recognize that direct suggestions, metaphors and other hypnotic techniques end up doing something very similar to NLP techniques on the submodality level. Nice recognition! A suggestion or metaphor can very well end up with the client internally doing a swish–even if you don’t directly instruct them to.

      Yes, the punch card becomes a representation of the limiting belief, if the client accepts that suggestion. If you were looking specifically to do a swish pattern for smoking by using metaphor, it might be more effective to tell a story that included shifts of the submodalities you wanted to swish.

  2. this article is titled “How To Firewalk In One Easy Lesson”.
    the last line of the article is “Don’t try it!”

    Kinda pointless article.

    Read my article, “How to play dominos in one easy lesson”
    there’s only one sentence. “Don’t play dominos”.

    1. No Elias,
      I don’t. I don’t say ‘don’t try it’ (firewalk). I say don’t build a firewalk unless you know what you’re doing. There’s a big difference.

      The analogy would be ‘Read my article, “How to play dominos in one easy lesson” and at the end I said, “Don’t try to build your own dominos”‘.

      I suppose now we may get some comments about how easy or difficult it is to make dominos, as if that’s the point.

      I’ve got to thank you though, Elias. After your comment, I went back and made the last part of the post more clear so that there would be less chance of misinterpretation.

  3. I recently saw a “Myth Busters” show where they demonstrated that firewalking is indeed a physics phenomena. It has much to do with the pressure put forth on the hot coals….whether or not one got burned. Quite frankly, I was a bit disappointed, as I liked the mind over body version, but nonetheless, having experienced it myself, I do know the metaphor is a very powerful one about discovery of doing the seemingly “impossible”—and getting past the fear of hot coals…even if one knows ahead of time it’s a physics “thing”, there is still that fear factor to overcome for most people, making it a great exercise in learning about how to use our innate resources to get past that.
    Thanks for the article, Keith.

    1. Exactly Jackie!
      When you understand that firewalking is quite possible to do without injury but that it seems like it would be difficult, it becomes a powerful metaphor for overcoming our own obstacles that seem difficult.

      When you think that by having a positive attitude alone, you can change the laws of physics so that you can become impervious to burns, you build a dangerous belief that can lead to dangerous actions.

  4. It’s interesting how people are ready to comment on your article, but have failed to read it accurately. A good example of our human filters in action. Gee, I hope no one reads this comment and misinterprets it:)

    1. Hi Sue,
      I remember reading the comments of a songwriter who was amazed at what people thought his songs meant. One fan insisted that he (the songwriter) must have been a Vietnam vet because the song so clearly captured the experience of having been in Vietnam. Well, the song didn’t have anything to do with Vietnam. The songwriter explained that to the fan but the fan insisted. Eventually, the songwriter gave up.

      His realization; A song wasn’t really ‘his’ after he released it to the public. People would bring to it whatever meaning they chose.

  5. Hello My Good Friend ~ re: firewalking. According to Bandler it’s a very useless endeavor unless one ties good steaks to the bottoms of those feet 😉 One NLP Trainer I know of has the students break a board with only the hand at the end of Master Prac. I would refuse that too.

    I wonder how many people today know about punch cards, computers and then drag in an Archangel? A rather convoluted metaphor IMO. Perhaps that hypnotist should buy your work on Metaphors so as to know how to construct proper metaphors. A few times through Gordon’s, writing at least 200 for practice and your product make for stellar metaphors.
    Stay well~MargieAnne

    1. Hi MargieAnne,
      Bandler also said he dangled a guru over a cliff by holding his ankle. Personally, I find both firewalking and breaking boards quite useful. Often, I don’t find how they’re presented is useful.
      Keith

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