Walking on Fire

I was recently recounting the seminal experiences I’ve had that, literally, changed the course of my life. One took place in 1976 when I participated in the first fire-walking workshop ever given in the United States. This out-of-the-box happening was presented by a somewhat eccentric and very spiritual young man I had met while working on the S. S. Rotterdam’s 1973 eighty-nine day cruise around the world – Bruce Burkan. .
Three years after the cruise, Bruce called and informed me that he had created a “fire-walking experience” that was quite popular in Sweden. With this pilot project, he hoped to do the same in the United States. In spite of my reluctance, I said “yes” and on the scheduled day, I drove from my secure apartment in New Jersey to a retreat center in New York State. I had no idea what to expect. All I knew for sure was that the workshop would be four hours in duration and that, eventually, we would walk barefoot across a bed of hot coals.
As I arrived at the center, I was directed to a small cabin in the words where I joined a group of approximately 40 nervous attendees comprised of individuals from the military and business. It was an odd combination but not nearly odd as when Bruce entered the room dressed in a turban and caftan. He was playing quite a role.
Using the pending fire walk as a metaphor, we were led through a two-hour seminar on the power of the mind. Taking a break, we were asked to participate in the building of our nemesis – the fire. Back in the cabin, there was another hour of lecture and, suddenly, Bruce requested we remove our shoes and socks. The time had come. As we formed a circle the fire, held hands and chanted, Bruce Brukan told us that we could walk when “the spirit moved us.” He then abruptly hoisted caftan above his knees and – off he went – in bare feet – sparks flying – across the 12-foot bed of coals. I was dumbfounded and very seriously regretted having accepted the invitation.
We chanted. I waited for someone else to walk. No one took the leap. Every fiber of my instinctive, primitive brain told me to freeze, stay in place and be safe. Yet, another part of me knew I had to do this. So I did. And, the only way I was able to accomplish this seemingly impossible and foolish feat was to see, to visualize myself on the other side.
That is the lesson I took away and that is how each and every one of us can overcome our own fear. Vividly see, live, breathe and feel yourself already successful at whatever goal you choose – and the odds are very much in your favor that you too will accomplish the seemingly impossible.

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