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Archive - Saturday, 31 January 2009
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All fired up
IT IS pitch black, freezing cold and 6ft of fire is blazing before me. I take a deep breath, cast my eyes to the heavens and step on to the coals, praying my nail varnish won’t catch light and cook me alive.
Charlotte Percival braves the hot coals
There are claps, cheers and a flash of the camera and then I remember my feet – black, shaky but fine.
This is firewalking, life coach Lisa Clifford’s way of riding out the credit crunch by thinking mind over matter.
She runs workshops to help those who dare share their hopes and dreams for the year ahead ignite their confidence and prove their worth by walking over fire.
You might well ask why anyone, credit crunch or not, would feel the need to walk across red-hot coals.
Lisa, 39, who was trained in California by renowned firewalker Peggy Dylan, once did it 70 times in a week.
She also broke arrows with her neck and undertook a Rebar bend (bending a steel bar between your neck and that of a partner).
“The fire itself can work on several levels,” she says. “One ignites your passion, dreams and goals. Secondly, if you can walk on hot coals you can do anything. When you come to achieve your goals and dreams you know not to allow limits and thoughts and beliefs to create a wall between your dreams.”
Does it hurt? “If your energy is not aligned with your purpose then there is a chance then you could get burned like anything in life,” says Lisa. “But it is very rare.”
Our ancestors swore by it, too.
The Vikings walked on hot metal chains to prove their strength, while Buddhists performed the ritual as a spiritual endeavour. Hawaiian Kahunas walked on glowing lava beds and Fijians still dance on red-hot rocks.
Not only did Lisa persuade more than 20 business people to sign up for firewalking, but they each paid £150 for the privilege.
Our session begins at 2pm, with tea and biscuits at Hazlewood Castle. We sit in a circle to introduce ourselves and play a getting-to-know-you-game. Then it is a muddy walk across the grounds to light the fire.
We make torches from rolled-up newspaper, set them alight and poke them into the logs. Mine won’t catch. “Is this a sign?” I ask the girl next to me, whose torch is engulfed by flames.
I laugh but really I’m worried. As we throw handfuls of cedar on to the fire, wishing out loud for something dear to us in 2009, I stare at my torch until finally, it starts to burn.
All fired up
Phew. We head back inside to discuss our goals with the person sitting next to us.
Lisa asks us to stand up and, pretending the year is already over, share them.
I hate speaking in public and wait until the end when, after listening to 20 people boast of the business deals they have clinched, the places they have seen, the money they have made and the fun they have had, blunder my way through and sit down.
That process is important, says Lisa, because it focuses your mind and commitment to walking the fire, giving it proper meaning.
As a final confidence booster, Lisa gives us each a wooden arrow for us to write our self restricting beliefs on – things that stop us reaching our goals.
She shows us how to position the arrow in our neck, focus on our goals and snap it.
I volunteer to go first to redeem myself from the presentation fiasco but my credibility slips further when, seconds away from making my move, I check how she wants me to breathe.
“Like, in and out?” I ask.
“Yes, in and out, like breathing,” Lisa laughs, and as everyone joins in, I feel better.
“Puma, Puma, Puma,” the group chant as I raise my arms, breathe in and step forward.
It doesn’t snap, but it does splinter and I feel great. Only the fire to go. As darkness falls, we make our way back across the grounds to the fire, which is being raked and spread for our arrival.
Lisa tells us to walk confidently, evenly, focused on our goals and looking anywhere but the floor, but the nerves are starting to show.
As we surround the circle, singing motivational song “Shiva Shiva Shiva Shambo”, we cheer as some brave soul steps forward.
I expect him to leap off the coals howling, but he is fine. That inspires the rest of us to have a go and when it is my turn, I am more worried that my nail varnish will catch fire than I am about my feet.
On my second walk, because my focus is broken by thinking about whether the photographer has got the right picture, I blister my left foot slightly as I step off. Lisa says that happens because the fire is sending healing to your body where it is needed. She calls it fire kisses.
It does not stop me doing another two walks and the only time I really feel it after that is when I sink my black feet into hot water when I get home – something Lisa advises against.
People are so confident that Lisa rakes the embers to stretch to 10ft. My boots are back on by now, but some of the others are still game.
I can’t believe how much everyone is enjoying it, but Lisa is not surprised.
“There has never been a better time than now to walk across fire,” she said. “Our limiting beliefs hold us back from achieving our goals and dreams. Walking across red hot coals literally removes those limiting beliefs and powerfully demonstrates how you can not only survive the credit crunch but excel and have the life you want.”
•For more information on firewalking with Lisa, phone her on 07795 634671 or visit lisaclifford.co.uk