March Firewalk Rocked

The March 12 firewalk at Foundation of Light was another extraordinary event. Eyes shone as participants realized more and more of their personal power. Larry Bear Watts brought a glass walk that we did as a special treat. Nobody hurt. The “pings” of the glass breaking underfoot as one slowly steps across are really striking—a different flavor of firewalk. Daniela Hess Scholl took extraordinary photos, which are up on Flikr. As always, a few testimonials:

“This was an extraordinary evening. It was filled with exercises that were fun, surprising, and some took me to my limits. The balance between content and exercises was perfect. I would highly recommend this to anyone!” –Kai S., 31, graduate student

“As I arrived, I felt anxiety building — almost as if something inside was aware its death was coming. As each event unfurled, the anxiety lessened and a boldness grew. By the end of the night, it was completely calm with a quiet strength. I will never forget this night when a piece of me died and another was birthed.” –David Post, 51, teacher

“Tony is a thoughtful and encouraging instructor. Thank you for a wonderful evening and for helping me believe I can do anything.”  –Lucy Rain, 36, teacher

Next firewalk will be April 8. Join us to celebrate spring with renewed power. Discover you are unstoppable! As a special treat, Michelle Berry and I will run an optional next-morning debrief about how to carry the firewalk experience into your life. In other words, “What would you do if you knew you were unstoppable?”

Firewalk Heroes

The women this is about asked me to print their actual names.  To say they gained courage from their firewalk workshop experience is a major understatement.

About three weeks before my October firewalk, I received this email:

Hello, My name is Pamela.
A while ago, my daughter Cheyenne read an article about your classes.  She seemed very interested and we visited your web site and saw that you have an upcoming session.  I was wondering about your scholarship.  My daughter and I are both living in a shelter for women.  Cheyenne has experienced a lot of trauma in her life and I am in awe of her constant and steady determination and compassion for others.  She is a beautiful 16-year-old artist in a very difficult situation.  I think this might be a good healing experience for her.  If you could e-mail me back to  let me know that would be wonderful.
Thank you for your time, Pamela

I was intrigued.  I decided that I could accept a 16-year-old walker with a parent present, didn’t care that they did not have money, and loved the idea of being able to support their healing by offering a firewalk.  I emailed back that they should come and pay only what they felt comfortable paying.  According to Pamela,  Cheyenne could not stop talking about it.  They asked if they could bring the grandparents along just to watch and I said only if they come to the whole workshop.  The grandparents did not come.

So the day of the workshop arrives, and Pamela and Cheyenne arrive a half hour early.  An assistant who signs them in comes to me to tell me Pamela says I okayed them paying $10 for her daughter’s admission.  I send back word that $10 is fine, but both she and her daughter are in the workshop — and she can choose whether or not to firewalk or do any of the other exercises.   The two of them sit quietly in their seats as the workshop beginning approaches.  They join in the workshop.  Pamela keeps her coat on and does not say much.  A short way into the workshop, there is a big hug exchange around the room.  Pamela and Cheyenne are really tentative with their hugs.  Cheyenne takes on the remaining exercises with a growing sense of enthusiasm.  Pamela holds back more.  She is often last to take her turn.  She declines to do the trust fall.  Nobody pressures her, or even mentions it.

Both of them walked through the fire.  Cheyenne walked fairly quickly when given the opportunity.  In fact she walked several times, often with both hands above her head, with fingers raised in peace signs.  Pamela waited until most of the group had walked.  And then she walked.  Simply, without drama.  Across the coals. With no burns.

Afterword, when people were saying what they experienced, Pamela said she was not yet ready to share.  Cheyenne just crowed and thanked everyone around her.  But what was really striking was what they wrote.  After I run a firewalk, after I clean up, I get to go home and read what participants wrote as comments, feedback and testimonials.  It is the cherry on top of my evening.  I love leading firewalks.

Pamela wrote as a testimonial, “Indescribable, almost euphoric…life changing.”  Not bad, I thought.  Then I saw she had written a letter to me in a sealed envelope.

I wanted to say this to the group, but this experience was sooo personal for me.  When I first contacted you I thought this would be a good experience for my daughter.  I never thought about how much I needed this until it was over.

I left a very abusive relationship after 21 years.  Some physical and much verbal abuse.  One of the things he would say to me was that I would burn, he hoped I would burn, he threatened to burn our house down.  I realized tonight that I can walk through fire and not get burned.  I have a feeling that things are going to get better very soon.  That I will be on the other side of this struggle, with a home, much love, and hope for the future.
I can see myself there
Thank you

Wow.  The abuser’s threat rendered hollow—no burning.  Instead, hope.

And then there is 16-year-old Cheyenne.  Her testimonial read,

A life-changing experience.  I suggest it for anyone who suffers abuse or any other kind of suffering.  People have forgotten what it is like to trust and love.  This event will make you feel powerful, at peace, and more outgoing to strangers.

Thank you so much for this chance to remember how it should always be!

Believe it or not, this gets better.  Pam sent a sweet thank you email.  After a few days I decided to email back to ask permission to share her letter, with names changed, to point a way for people in similar need of the firewalk experience.  She granted it (ultimately requesting names not be changed) and added the following:

…I am looking at my experience from a whole different point of view.  Instead of  living in fear, I choose to be brave and use what I have learned to help other people.  Doing so may also help with our own healing process.

I want to share with you something Cheyenne wrote a few days after the firewalk, (she has given  her permission) She writes…

When I fell,
I was caught by strangers.
When I was afraid,
I “broke” through my silence.
When I was the main target,
I devoured the arrow with my throat.
When I forgot love,
I got a room full of hugs.
When I could hear you screaming inside my head,
I walked through the hot coals with peace signs in the air.

Nothing can get to me.
I am unstoppable—I am a firewalker.

I write this with tears of joy.  I am soo proud of this beautiful, brave young woman. Thank you soo much for this experience.

I am proud of both of you, Pam and Cheyenne!  Congratulations, firewalkers!

Another Amazing Firewalk

I ran another firewalk last night.  It was incredible.  Around 20 people again — a couple drove up from NYC, five people came from Waterloo, an hour and a half from here.  A mother and daughter who called from a shelter.  All walks of life, all looking for a shot of courage to face upcoming challenges, or a general boost in their lives.  Everyone got what they came for.   I hired a film student to record the event, so I can post a short video on my firewalk page.  He got some great footage.  I have sooo much fun running these events.  My heart sings.

The testimonials were so good that I do not even know how to pick them — so here are the first several from the top of the pile:

“This was a wonderful experience, in all of its forms.  Each step led me to a greater strength within.  All parts of my body and mind were activated, engaged and embraced.  I learned to trust myself and others — both of which have been very difficult for me in the past.  Anyone who wants to feel part of something greater and feel love for yourself should take a chance and firewalk.” –Lisa Bennett, 30, teacher

“Tony makes facing your fears feel safe.  After an evening working with him, walking on fire is easy.” –Julia Bently, 30, project manager

“I had so much fun tonight, and I would absolutely repeat this experience.  It has always been difficult, if not impossible, for me to trust others — much less people I do not even know!  However, tonight, because I let myself trust a group of amazing strangers, I feel like I can overcome any obstacle in my life, and for that I am eternally grateful.” –Miriam Lehrer, 19, student

“Very profound — a truly transforming experience.  I think it will take me some time to process it all — but in every way I know it to be great.  Thank you.”
–James W., 55, network administrator

“Indescribable, almost euphoric.  Thank you and everyone who participated in this experience.  It was life-changing.” –Pamela Crossno, 39, photographer

“It honestly was a life-changing experience.  I suggest it for anyone who suffers abuse or any othr kind of suffering.  People forget what it is like to trust and love — and this event will make you feel powerful, at peace, and more outgoing to stangers.  Thank you so much for this chance to remember how it should always be!” –Cheyenne Crossno, 16, student

“This was a really grounding, centering spirit exercise for me.  At times, I get stuck in mundane life and forget that there is so much more in life to experience.  I was able to step out of everyday life for a few hours and be between the worlds — remembering my own power and my own ability to step up and be brave!” –Eve Katz, 43, special education teacher

“This experience opened my heart to trust and have faith in others and in myself — as well as strengthening my bond with Great Spirit.  I am at peace…  I was moved to tears after the firewalk by emotions I don’t understand.  All I know is it was the next step on my path.  I leave now stronger than I was when I came in.  Faith, trust and love”. –Lin Hill, 50, social worker

T”his was a profoundly insightful experience I would recommend for everyone.  I came here needing and looking for courage within myself and I found it!  I plan on attending again.  There has never been a three-hour experience where I have walked away with so many friends.” –Kristin White, 27, nursing student

“To step into the fears of my life was very empowering.  Too often I dismiss myself and offer everything to others.  To have others genuinely there for me made me feel very supported and even “loveable.”  It brought it home to me too, i.e. that I am “loveable” to me.” –Joseph O., 53, musician

“…if I can walk through fire once I can walk through the obstacles that will soon face me in life.  Thank you for giving me the courage to see the things I hide deep down under the surface.” –Melissa Gilbert, 25, residential sociotherapist

“Thinking you have no fear or anything you can’t handle, then Tony throws you things to do and the fears pop up and you face them.  He brings out the best in you that you have…. Total out-of-body experience.  At the end, a sense of peace!  I recommend it to anyone no matter what is going on in your life!” –Andrew Bennett, 24, youth care professional

It really humbles me that people take all this great stuff from my firewalk empowerment workshop.  I am just the guy who went and studied how to run these exercises safely.  The participants do all the hard work, and the exercises simply are what they are.  I look forward to sharing it with more people.

August Firewalk

I led another firewalk last night, August 20. Despite life being painful right now—some personal loss I prefer not to go into on the blog—I rose to the occasion and a larger crowd than last month was really served by the experience. Unlike other walks, many people in this group wanted to walk silently. And once they got started, they did not want to stop! I used music for the first time, gave out “firewalker” pins, and talked a bit more about the link between firewalk and integrity. The dominant words in the testimonials were “exhilaration” and “serenity.”

Here is a sampling:

“There was initial anxiety and trepidation…By the time I faced the fire, I found myself in the center of calm and a feeling of serenity. It is that feeling that I will hold onto for the rest of my life.” Thanks, Tony!”  ~Preston C., educator, 53

“A very liberating experience like breaking through a barrier. A feeling of calmness pervades my body and mind. I highly recommend it.” ~Paul Strebel, financial advisor, instructor, consultant, 52

“The fear was more effort than performing the firewalk and other enlivening tasks of this incredible evening.” ~Daniel Keough, public health advocate

“Freeing…lightening…essence of what all of us need in life: a dram of courage, a dose of ‘yes I can.'”  ~Eric Machan Howd, educator, 42

“…it is empowering. I really felt like I was in the moment and in myself.” ~Lindsay Myron, student, 21

“Tonight’s experience was absolutely liberating!…Any words to describe [it] would somehow take from the experience.” ~Jason Wilson, daddy, 36

“It is about commitment. You can do anything if you step into it.” ~Naari S., student, 21

“Very exhilarating!” ~Douglass Bennett, landscaper, 39

What a joy it is to be able to give that experience to people! I look forward to running multi-day events, with a firewalk at the beginning. What a wonderful space gets cleared. I look forward to filling that space with integrity.