You, like me, probably have an idea of the things in life you’d be comfortable doing, and similarly, the things you wouldn’t. Some people enjoy jumping off bridges with only a piece of elastic securing them to life. Some will dive to the depths of the ocean with only the air they have in their lungs. Yet many of us know where our comfort zone ends. If there were a map of life, it would clearly state “here there be dragons” beyond it…
I’m here to tell you there are no dragons… but if you’re lucky you may find a phoenix!
I recently undertook training with the UK’s leading Master Firewalk Trainer, Steve Consalvez, a man trained by Tolly Burkan, the father of the global firewalking movement that began in the 70’s.
I thought I knew where my comfort zone was, and understood that the training would take me beyond it, but I was naive enough to think I knew what lay beyond… I was wrong!
My adventure began with meeting my 13 fellow trainees, with whom almost every waking moment would be spent for the next 4 long, and sometimes surreal, days. Every moment of our time together was calculated to help us grow stronger as individuals, and as a ‘tribe’. Together we brought out the best in one another, and helped each other when our thinking created moments of doubt and uncertainty. Each day we moved further and further outside our respective comfort zones, undertaking tasks, both individually, in small groups, or as a tribe, every now and then glancing back at the receding horizon of our beliefs, before turning once more and setting our sights clearly on whatever lay ahead, even that which we could not yet see!
I won’t lie to you, there were moments when internally I shrieked, “you want me to do WHAT?”, before putting aside, sometimes with great effort, all the certainties I was using to create a state of fear within my self, and discovering that there were no dragons other than those I was creating in my own mind.
Each day concluded with the building and lighting of the fire, this was what I was here for after all. Each time we did this as a tribe, I realised that most 10 year old boys know how to build a fire (even if they shouldn’t), this was about so much more. This was about learning about the doubts and fears that many harbour that make life more difficult than it has to be. This is about learning to let life be easy.
Each night I found it easier to let my mind clear, and to pay attention 100% to what it was I doing, and not get distracted by all the ‘what ifs’. Like so many of the exercises, the tending of the fire became like a mediation, incredibly calming and soothing. By the last night as the final preparations were made to the fire by Steve and his incredible team, Mark, Lottie, James, Jon & Eric, we stood silent, observing the preparations, deep in contemplation of what we were about to undertake together, as a tribe.
A sense of tranquility settled over us as we accepted that all the doubts, fears and uncertainties had all been stripped away over that last four days, leaving the space to create something new, something powerful, that would propel us forward in to a life filled with wonder and joy.
The final fire was announced open, and as one we moved forward to begin…
As a tribe that night, we completed over 1500 firewalks, covering more than 3 miles on red hot coals in total… in less than an hour!
As we finished, Steve was there to congratulate us, as one by one, we emerged from the glowing coals and ashes, renewed, reborn, just like the phoenix. Each one of us wearing our new plumage, ready for anything…
All of these incredible experiences took place far outside of my comfort zone, but I would not change one moment! I shared incredible moments with some of the most courageous, committed people I know. People determined to do what it takes, at all costs, so that they can become stronger, and better equipped to serve others… like you… like me…
I understand how easy it is to stay within the safe confines of the familiar, but take my word on this, there are no dragons. Go see for yourself, you just might come back as a phoenix!
Written by Barry Collins
Reproduced with kind permission of The Phoenix Firewalk