The mind and body connection is important. We know this because without the mind our bodies don’t work.
But did you know there is higher form of mind and body connectiveness that touts defeating our fears by meeting the challenge of a seemingly impossible feat.
It is called “firewalking,” the act of barefooting it across a bed of red hot coals and feeling no pain because your mind is telling your spiritual self that your tootsies are not toasting.
A waggish observer once called it “extreme spirituality.” Skeptics say it’s a parlor trick that’s more physics than faith.
We admit we’ve always been curious about the mystical firewalking. Then one day fate delivered an invitation to my mailbox. It came from a spiritual growth center in Oberlin inviting us to their 14th annual Lake Erie Firewalk. In fact, it is happening this weekend.
Yep, firewalking – established in the U.S. in California – is a thing in Northeast Ohio. The brochure doesn’t go into detail but judging from the photos of bare feet on glowing coals, the term is not metaphorical.
People actually do this for their growth as transcendent beings. To be honest, we did consider it briefly but questions nagged and they were not addressed in the FAQ section of the center’s website.
For instance, it is termed fire “walking” but we wondered if running like hell across the coals would be permitted, or is this faking it thereby losing the true meaning of and benefits from the experience?
And we also wanted to know if walking on hot coals could overcome one’s fear of walking on hot coals.
Too many questions so we sought insight from our friend Ted Batchelor, a Chagrin Falls based stuntman whose extraordinary fire tricks have won him recognition by Guinness Book of World Records more than once.
Firewalking bare footed begs the question: What would Ted do?
I already knew that he highly recommends covering exposed flesh to all forms of fire and practices what he preaches.
Before each stunt Ted mixes up his own gooey fire retardant, spreads it over himself head to toe then dons several layers of fire-discouraging clothing.
“It’s [firewalking] mind over matter but I have not tried it,” Ted began. “I have walked through bonfires with shoes on,” and he has seen it done at the Burning Man Festivals where he has performed.
“You know, I’ve seen it done but never had the urge because I’ve burned my feet before and it really hurts.”
Ted is a pragmatist and we value his opinion. In the end we decided against a trip to Oberlin this weekend. We have some other good reasons.
First, our fear is of nuclear annihilation and the end of the world is not a good candidate for this exercise in positive thinking or a sound reason for barbecuing the bunions.
Second, this body we call our own has never paid much attention to the brain it is connected with and the result is extreme klutziness, which we can all agree is not a good fit for the activity of firewalking.
The annual Lake Erie Firewalk in Oberlin is coming up soon. Tickets for the guided experience are $59 a person and no more than 70 firewalkers can be accepted.
If you go, be aware there is no mention of tickets being refundable should you get nervous and hot foot it out of Oberlin before it’s your turn.
There are perks, however. A ticket includes free water but it is unclear if it is for drinking, extinguishing pant legs or if its to be used for a post hot coal run footbath.
On the other hand, and not to be insensitive to those who seek benefit from the practice, the fact this is a “memorial” firewalk, is not comforting.