Overcoming fear, recognizing your body’s power, and having a spiritual experience are some of the lessons learned from firewalking.

I spent Saturday night doing something pretty cool: I walked on coals that were upwards of 1200 degrees.

Ok, I didn’t spend the whole night doing it; probably more like five seconds or so.

But the group I was a part of did a lot of amazing exercises to build up to it, like swinging around a fire stick, in order to prepare ourselves for the big finale.

Firewalking entails walking on an 8-10 feet bed of hot coals, which have been heating up underneath a fire for several hours.

One person takes a walk at a time (not a run like Pam did on The Office), ending the ritual by placing their feet in a bucket of cold water so as to soak them, and get rid of any pieces of coal that might have stuck between the toes.

Basically, it was an incredible experience. Here are the reasons why you should contemplate firewalking if you get the chance:

1. Challenge yourself to overcome fear.

Everyone feels fear, it’s a natural human emotion. But what if that fear keeps you from doing something you really want to do? Or makes you believe you don’t want to do something that could end up being an amazing experience?

Sometimes it is hard to tell the difference between a gut feeling and fear. One of the main points of firewalking is to face a really large fear and connect to what is going on inside of you right at that moment. Ulitmately, you must decide whether you are going to take a walk or hang back, both of which are valid and have their own lessons.

2. No one truly knows why most people don’t get burned.

Photo: Patty Morris

Theories include that the moisture on the foot creates a layer, or barrier, that prevents the foot from actually contacting the coals, that coals are poor conductors of heat, that the experience is all about mind over matter (the first two theories are discredited here).

There is also the little notion of “walking across burning coals is a sacred art, said to unite human will with spirit fire.” Beautiful.

3. Realize that your body is an amazing tool that can go beyond what you thought it could do.

If you had asked me earlier on Saturday if I was going to actually walk on the burning coals that evening, I would have said, “Eh, probably.” If you asked me 10 minutes before we lined up to take the walk if I was going to do it, I might have uttered, “Um, hell no.”

But as our instructor Sarah noted, you will know if and when you are supposed to go. And even though your heart will pound, and your palms will sweat, you will take that walk and be amazed at your own capacity to take on fire.

Then you’ll wonder what else your body is capable of doing.

4. It provides an opportunity to have a truly spiritual experience.

Many people are searching for answers during our current economic and environmental meltdown. The Spiritual Research Foundation defines a spiritual experience as one that is “perceived with the sixth sense, i.e. through the medium of the subtle sense organs.”

Firewalking is one way we can take part in something that will undoubtedly go beyond the mind’s comprehension and make us feel closer to whatever God or deity we believe in.

5. The “war wounds” that may show up on your feet are great for street cred.

I mean, c’mon now, it’s pretty damn cool to be able to tell people you walked on fire, no? And yes, I do have one large blister on my right foot to prove I was there.

On the recommendation of our guide, I used a reflexology chart to determine what organ of my body this blistered area corresponds to, as some believe this can be a message of health issues. (So firewalking can be informative, too).

Resources for firewalking around the world:

What is your take on the idea of firewalking as a spiritual endeavor, or have you had this experience yourself? Share your thoughts below.