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 Sceptic completes firewalk!

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undercover sceptic

Male Number of posts : 520
Age : 45
Location : N.E. England
Job/hobbies : reading popular science, research.
Humor : Dry
Registration date : 2008-06-18

PostSubject: Sceptic completes firewalk!   Sat Apr 18, 2009 10:27 pm

Saturday, 18 April 2009
Sceptic completes firewalk

Courage is not the absence of fear, it is the ability to operate in spite of fear!

A few weeks back I had the fortune to happen across an article in my local Gazette discussing a fire-walk charity event in aid of the local St Clare's Hospice.

Now I had heard quite a bit previously about fire walking ceremonies, they have been practiced by many cultures , all with their own slight variations on a theme, for many years now and these ceremonies still to this day happen all over the world.

Unfortunately with the greed of the West came the businessmen that created whole weekend events around these fire-walking ceremonies, charging many thousands of dollars in many cases for the privilege of participating in what they plug as a life altering event.

I was fortunate enough to not only not have to pay thousands of dollars for the same experience but also to use this experience to raise much needed cash for a very worthy cause, this was a golden opportunity handed on a plate and I would indeed be foolish to turn it down.

My natural belief in the laws of Physics and my scepticism towards the spin doctors 'It's all mind-over-matter' carried me through until about one week before the event.

Now admittedly I have no corroboration of this and it screams against my sceptical mindset and knowledge of basic statistics, but in the week running up to the event I contracted conjunctivitis, influenza, and severe pain in the left side of my neck and shoulder. I 'believe' this was due to 'Stress (biological' whether I want to believe that or not.

Regardless I got to the night 6.30pm and downed a quick pint of Stones for purely medicinal purposes, only for one of the staff to tell me I wasn't supposed to drink alcohol before the walk, messes up the psyche and the mind bending psychic powers that will stop my feet from burning will not be as effective, apparently. Very suspicious, I feel he was in fact more of a wind up trying to put fear in me, many of my friends and family certainly had that attitude.
After registration I was issued a lovely fire-walk challenge T-shirt, which was very nice but for the fact they were all one size, large, which was a little too snug for my liking. Then off to the ante-room for a two hour intensive 'fear busting course', which I felt went far better than I expected.

It was run by a 34 year old martial artist, motivational speaker and BLAZE instructor, Tony Ferrol. It was lively, upbeat and non condescending with no gimmicks. Everything up front and all questions answered with complete honesty. After running hundreds of events over many years his health and safety record remains impeccable.

After two hours of back slapping and empowering each other with lots of laughs thrown in for good measure it was off to the coals. It felt a long walk but we were united as a group now and I feel the psychology of the group is Paramount in events such as these. We may know the physics of the Fire-walk, but going across with a crowd at surrounding you and the full knowledge that all the participants are feeling the evolutionary fear of 'fight or flight' kick in equally hard, spurred us on. I imagine on your own, no one supporting you, that fear would be dominating all but the strongest of minds.

Lined up we could see the orangey/yellow flames licking at the embers, some flying off in the winds only to be dragged back to line by the fire guardians, the smell of smoke making me gag but the heat strangely comforting in it's warmth, the glow sending a hypnotic comfort as we settled our minds and concentrated on one thing and one thing only, 'Kicking mother nature's ass'!

The BLAZE crew went first, one walking steady, the other a brisk canter almost as if he feared getting burned himself, then we stepped up to the the plate, a BLAZE arm outstretched, stopping our advance, like a bouncer working the doors, questions had to be addressed before entry permitted. Two questions were barked out and nothing less than forceful replies would be accepted. Failure would mean rejection and humiliation in front of our new team mates and the baying crowd, peer pressure was in full flow that night and our adrenaline soared.

"Whats your name!" DENNIS! I replied.

"Are you ready!" "YES!"


I'm off, no time to think I'm on auto pilot, by training both fists fly in the air and stay there, feel the heat on my soles, a relief after the cold hard concrete, feet moving one in front of the other, everything muffled around me whereas before They were screaming, making me wonder why the silence? Moments later what seemed like an age, I'm stepping off to the applause of the fellow walkers, hearing comes flooding back, elation fills me chest, I did it. Me the guy that struggled leaving my own front door actually walked over hot coals, my eyes scanning for my wife for a big hug and kiss, the joy on her face says it all, pride, relief and a sharing of my happiness.

I join the applause as the rest of the walkers take the shortest sponsored walk in history, sharing in a group elation, we all had fears of one form or another, we all faced that fear down and we have the tools to apply that again if we wish, it is a very liberating experience.
Back for a debriefing of general checking every ones physically and mentally fine after the event, congratulations, certificate hand outs and then we were released to the buffet area, all hand cooked by the staff and volunteers of the hospice, their generosity of time and money deserves full credit.

Over to the lounge where the local singer serenaded us with the latest pop songs as we munched and chatted excitedly with our friends and family. Raffles, tombolas and the offer to come back in October to do the 'Broken Glass walk!'

A fantastic event, a fantastic night, one that will not be forgotten in quite a while.

Warm regards,


Skepticism is the agent of reason against organized irrationalism - and is therefore one of the keys to human social and civic decency.
Stephen J Gould

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