POSTED: Monday, October 12, 2009

Walking on hot coals was never at the top of my to-do list. In fact, under normal circumstances it wouldn't even make the cut. But the more I read about Vincent Kellsey's Breakthrough Firewalk event, the more intrigued I became.

So I found myself sitting on a lanai at Olomana Gardens with about 20 other people a couple of weeks ago awaiting some sort of transformation. The whole idea of the practice was to challenge limiting beliefs.

I was sold on a class description found on Kellsey's Web site: “;Whether you're looking for adventure, the ability to overcome obstacles and fears and achieve your goals, greater clarity and focus, renewed passion for your life or business, or just a personal challenge — then firewalking is for you!”;

What is firewalking, you may ask? It's the act of walking barefoot over 1,200-degree coals without getting burned. That temperature is four times hotter than your stovetop. We were all inspired to do the impossible, or what we thought was impossible (limiting beliefs definitely kick in when seeing burning coals that will be under your feet for a 10-foot trek).

According to Kellsey, walking across the fire is representative of the challenges one faces in taking on any new project, relationship or adventure ... things that cause us fear and worry.

“;In the process of taking these things on, not everything will go smoothly. We will run up against small challenges and hard times,”; he said, comparing such circumstances to the small burns that he call “;fire kisses”; that participants might experience when crossing the fire. “;But knowing that, do we let our fear stop us, or do we let those little fire kisses take us out of the game and say, 'I knew it would be too hard. I should not have done it'?”;

Many people walk across the hot coals, not getting as much as a singe on the bottom of their feet. I ended up with one small blister on the bottom of my foot.

Firewalkers and skeptics alike are still trying to figure out how it is physically possible to walk on the hot coals. One theory, according to Kellsey, is a matter of basic physics. Coals are less heat-conductive than other materials, so the risk of being burned is reduced, he explained.

“;It is also the mental state of the person walking; if they are hesitant and fearful, they will more likely get burned, as they will not walk strongly, quickly and confidently across the coals.”;

Ultimately, it comes down to the person's willingness to suspend disbelief, move past fear and take that first step out onto the coal path with faith and confidence. That is the heart of the firewalk exercise and the real lesson, “;that whatever our minds can conceive as a negative outcome is likely far less scary and much easier to do than our minds tell us,”; he said. “;Many people let the fear of what might happen stop them from ever taking the actions that could really bring them the life they truly desire.”;

Interested in transforming my own fears into power, I listened intently to Kellsey, president of Quantum Success Group, and the Firewalk Experience facilitator discuss ways to transform my life into one filled with passion, power and purpose. In the classroom, we were offered an opportunity to break an arrow using the notch of the throat. More than half the classroom hurriedly made their way to the front, put on safety goggles, the sharp point of the arrow poking into that squishy part of the throat, pushing forward and breaking the arrow in half. I opted out of this one. I figured, I'd like to be alive for the fire-walking experience. The whole idea behind the exercise was to acquire resources that could be accessed when facing other challenges.

We learned that fear is what stands in the way of achieving what you want in life, holds you back from success. Written exercises including goal setting and life assessment were a prelude to the actual firewalk.

Midway through the seminar, we all ventured down a path to get the fire started. We were encouraged to bring things we wanted left in the past that were represented through old photographs, journal entries or handwritten notes of expression ... items that would help fuel the fire. We were all handed a piece of paper before the trek to write down things we wanted to leave behind. Each participant, including me, stuck their slips of paper between the wood pieces being doused with lighter fluid and ignited.

Walking on the fire was optional, according to Kellsey. But, as my brother reminded me, going through the whole seminar and not walking on the coals was like graduating without a diploma. Easy for him to say — he wasn't walking on fire, right? Other friends or family members surely questioned my sanity.

So it was time. We walked down a candlelit path toward the burning cinders. Kellsey made his way across, and everyone in the group followed in his footsteps. Finally, it was my turn. I took a deep breath and made my way across. Amazingly, I decided to make a second trek. I had dragged a friend along for moral support, and she strongly expressed that she was not there to walk the hot coals. But she too, made it across not one, but two times. Others tried for five.

We reconvened in the seminar area and were handed a brightly orange-colored card where we were instructed to write “;I walked on fire, I can do anything I choose.”;

Now I'm among the ranks of firewalkers of the past, which includes shamans of various cultures who used the practice as a tool for healing and ritual purification.

Next time I find myself in a period of doubt, I will take out the neon card and hope it provides a bright spark of inspiration.