Mind Over Matter: My Experience Walking Over Hot Coals

27/1/2016 |

firewalkingI’ve always been a lover of lists. The sense of accomplishment when a task is ticked off – however big or small – is hard to beat. So it came as no surprise to my family and friends when I decided to start a ‘Things to do before I’m 30’ list. Not because that’s the age you start getting old (to any over 30’s reading this) – but simply because it’s the next milestone in my life. This list ranges from activities as wild as skydiving to volunteering at a panda sanctuary. Also on the list was firewalking – the challenge this blog post is all about.

I’ve been meaning to take part in some fundraising activities for a while now, and this opportunity was presented to me by a friend of mine, who volunteers for The Body Shop Foundation. When she told me they were asking for volunteers to firewalk, I decided to sign up – albeit reluctantly – finding it hard to erase the image of burning flames from my mind.

I was in good hands, receiving a safety briefing from the Guinness World Record Holder, Scott, who walked 328 feet (we were only walking 15ft!) Still, as he warned of the potential dangers of firewalking, I felt myself beginning to regret my decision. “To avoid burning your feet, it’s important that you walk slowly across the coals. But don’t linger too long,” he said. The task of completing the firewalk was pressure enough, without having to think about every step I took.

As I inched closer to the smell of burning hot ash, familiar faces became lit up by the orange flames in front of them. Admittedly, I wasn’t the only person taking on the challenge. Ahead of me were 27 others waiting their turn, thankfully giving me time to relax.

When my name was called, I took a deep breath, looked ahead of me and made my way across the coals. In a matter of seconds, the challenge that filled me with dread was over and and had been ticked off of my list – hooray!

This experience taught me that our minds can override just about anything – and it was clear I had underestimated just how much mine was capable of. The main obstacle I faced was my own fear that I might hurt myself, but once I put that aside I felt myself able to relax and overcome my fears.

I walked away injury-free -other than one tiny blister on my foot – and having doubled my fundraising target, which will help to benefit three incredible charities: Satya Special School, the Orangutan Foundation and Surfers Against Sewage. A great accomplishment and a challenge I would highly recommend.

By Emma Gibbins

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