Karen Hellier is a freelance writer and eBay entrepreneur. She lives happily in the mountains of North Georgia with her husband and her dog.
Yes, you read that correctly...I have done the Firewalk with Tony Robbins. And walking on hot coals was one of the absolute best experiences of my life. In August of 2001, I was fortunate to be able to attend the Tony Robbins seminar, (or Anthony Robbins as he is also known), "Unleash The Power Within." It took place in Boston, Massachusetts. For those of you who do not know who Tony Robbins is, he is the big guy with all the teeth on late-night TV infomercials who promotes his seminars and tapes or did at least in the 1990s. He is pretty much considered the self-improvement guru of the 20th century and is working on continuing it into the 21st century.He also had a bit part in the movie,"Shallow Hal" when he is stuck with Hal in an elevator. I have always been a person who strives to be the best that I can be. That has led me to read books by many authors, attend lectures, and watch television programs that promote self-discovery and improvement. That is how I first discovered Tony Robbins. I went to a 1-day seminar in my home state of Connecticut and signed up for the mailing list. Every time there was a new seminar coming up, I would receive a mailing about it. I decided to invest the money in the Unleash The Power Within seminar because I had started my own business working from home as a teacher and Consumer Advocate for a grocery store. I knew nothing about The Firewalk until the night I arrived at the seminar.
Driving to Boston
I live 2 hours from Boston, on a day without traffic. The seminar was scheduled to start on a Friday night at 6:00 p.m. It was a hot day. I had made arrangements for a sitter to stay with my children until their Dad got home from work that night. With a hectic afternoon of preparing meals for the family for the weekend, packing and saying goodbye to my teary-eyed children who did not want Mommy to leave, I started off. I thought I had given myself plenty of time but had not known about the Boston construction that was going on. In the days before GPS systems, Mapquest did not mention anything about construction when planning the best route for drivers. My pickup truck did not have air conditioning and the day was a hot, bright, 85 degrees. As I sat in traffic for an extra few hours, took a few wrong turns in a new city that I wasn't used to, and finally made it to the hotel, I noticed it was 6:15 p.m. I was dismayed to realize that the seminar had already started and I was no late. I checked into my hotel trying not to cry out of frustration. The hotel room had a beautiful view of the back bay of Boston, and as I looked around, I felt especially pampered by the comfortable bed with six fluffy pillows, coffee maker in my room, and a bathrobe laid out on the bed just for me. Before this, my experience with hotel rooms was two double beds, and an extra cot to fit my family, shag carpeting, and an extra blanket in the closet. This hotel room that I walked into that hot August night was a totally new experience for me. Since I was tired, very hot, and very thirsty, I needed to get my bearings a bit before going to the seminar which was across the street in a large arena. I sat down on the bed and decided to take a shower and freshen up a bit. After all, I was already late, and this beautiful hotel room made me feel like I deserved at least a shower. I felt amazingly better after the shower, so I grabbed a soda on my way down into the hotel lobby and headed for the seminar, which was across the street at the Convention Center.
I entered a very large auditorium, filled with rows and rows of other people, all eager to hear what Tony Robbins had to say, and hoping to improve their lives after the weekend. I found a seat in the middle of one row and had to practically climb on top of people to get to it, that's how packed this place was. Tony was talking up on a stage in the front of the room. Fortunately, the stage had a center aisle that jutted out into the audience, and he walked down there periodically so we could feel his closeness to us, the audience. After an hour or so, he announced that the Firewalk could not be tonight because it had been raining, unbeknownst to us, the audience, over the past hour and they couldn't keep the coals hot enough. I had no idea what he was talking about as a chorus of disappointed "Awwwww's" could be heard all around me. Tony announced that instead, they would do what they had planned to do tomorrow night tonight, and that tomorrow night we would all have the opportunity to walk on hot coals. I do remember thinking that I personally would not be walking on hot coals, but that it would be fun to watch some other crazy people do so!
The next morning, Tony had us up bright and early, and we were back at the auditorium. We listened, we participated in some experiences where you pair up with a person you don't know and open up your heart and soul to him or her. By afternoon, it was pump up time, meaning Tony started to get us pumped up. We were warned of the dangers of walking on coals as hot as 1500 - 2000 degrees Fahrenheit. But we were told as long as we were in the state where we believed we could do it without getting hurt, then we would not get burned. At first, this seemed unbelievable to me. But it was because I didn't believe enough in myself. He told us that inside us, we have the power to do anything we want and to be anyone we want. We just need to want to do it badly enough and believe that it can be done, and then take action. As the time got closer, Tony got the crowd chanting and really pumped up. We had gotten some lessons in how to do the walk safely...DO NOT RUN...lest we run the risk of tripping and falling and apparently no one looks good with the imprint of hot coals on their face! Chant the words,"Cool Moss" the whole time we are walking across the coals to make our feet think that's what we are walking on. And remember to keep yourself in the state of mind that you absolutely KNOW you can walk on hot coals without getting burned, until you are off of them, and the team has sprayed your feet free of any coals that may have stuck. Only then, can you be free to relax and let your guard down and celebrate.
Walking on Fire: The Firewalk
We were led out to the back parking lot area. There were drums in the background...great auditory effect. The purpose of the Firewalk is to get your mind to such a state that you believe you CAN DO anything you think you can. I was so pumped at this point that I KNEW I could do it ( and I was surprised by this fact). We had been paired up with someone in the afternoon and early evening, as a partner in getting pumped. My partner, a guy was led off to a different area as there were about one dozen fire pits for participants to walk on so the lines wouldn't be too long. We were to stand in line until it was our turn. Then a team of 2 people were to assess if you were truly ready by asking you if you were and then looking into your eyes and assessing your psychological readiness as well as your body language to see for themselves. People who aren't ready and don't really think they can do this often get hurt because they let their emotions of fear get to them and they let their protective guard down and their feet get burned. I was more than ready psychologically, but a bit distracted because they had had each person in front of me standing in plots of cool grass before going onto the coals and they had me right up to them on a mat. I was concerned that I wasn't starting from the right place so when they looked into my eyes, they must have seen that. They told me I couldn't do it because I wasn't ready. The disappointment ran through my body like a shock wave. I was SO ready to go. I wasn't going to let them deter me, and when they turned me away, I went to the back of the line and waited my turn again. This time, I didn't care where they started me from, I was going to do it. When I got up there this time, I was given the okay. I remember marching through the coals as they had instructed and marveling at the fact that I was going to succeed. At the other end of the line of coals, I had to stop, look straight ahead while they sprayed my feet with cool water. When that was done, they congratulated me, and I let go of my psychological state of determination, and whooped and hollered and shouted for joy. One of the team members assigned to celebrate with people at the other end told me I was the most excited person they had seen that night!
After Walking on Hot Coals
It was amazing to accomplish a feat like that. Especially when most people do not, and many don't even want to attempt it. On the way home, at midnight on that Sunday night, I got lost in the heart of Boston because the roads had a LOT of detour signs on them due to construction. I started to panic a bit because I found myself in an abandoned part of the city, under a bridge that looked like the set of a movie where drug users hang out and attack the woman driving alone in her car late at night. I am pretty sure everyone has seen a scene like that in at least one movie! But all of a sudden, words came into my head, words full of determination (it must have been my Firewalk voice) that said, "You can handle this, you walked on fire...you can handle anything." And that absolutely did the trick. Once I remembered that amazing experience, I got a grip on my anxiety, which helped me think more clearly, and I was out of Boston in a matter of minutes on my way home.
Walking on fire and the whole Tony Robbins seminar was one of the most amazing experiences of my life. When I start to get anxious about things to this day, I repeat those words in my mind that I heard that night in the city..." "You can handle this, you walked on fire...you can handle anything." And I can, and do!
For a first-hand experience of the Firewalk, please watch the video below. And I leave you with one of Tony Robbin's favorite saying, "Live With Passion."
Update: Even though 21 people recently got burned at a Tony Robbins seminar in California, I still stand by this article and loved every minute of the fire walk. Apparently, they did it wrong...see news reports for further information on how to do it correctly!
WARNING: Do not attempt to walk on hot coals without professional supervision. The author is not responsible for injuries anyone might incur by trying this on their own.
Tony Robbins Firewalk Experience
This content is accurate and true to the best of the author’s knowledge and is not meant to substitute for formal and individualized advice from a qualified professional.
© 2012 Karen Hellier