“Conscious & Courageous. A New Model of Leadership!” — Lynda’s Firewalking Seminars
Reprinted from EXTREME SPIRITUALITY: Radical Approaches to Awakening by Tolly Burkan, founding father of the global firewalking movement.
Over Three Million Westerners Have Firewalked!
Knowing the secret behind firewalking can improve your life! Even if you never do it yourself, knowing how it works can bring you better health and increased personal power. Why? Firewalking demonstrates how your thoughts impact everything else in your life. Thoughts change brain chemistry, and that results in an alteration of body chemistry. This is immediately apparent when you entertain a sexual fantasy. Firewalkers are instructed to pay close attention to their thoughts, since those very thoughts are the way in which we create our own realities. Positive thinkers literally live in a different chemical environment than negative thinkers. They impose less stress on their immune systems, and the result of that should be obvious.
Water Vapor Theory Dismissed
One theory was based on the “Leidenfrost Effect.” Several physicists suggested that the moisture on the sole of the foot created a vapor barrier that prevented the foot from actually contacting the coals. The analogy was proposed that firewalking is similar to licking your finger and touching a hot iron to test whether or not it is up to a sufficient temperature to press a garment. When the iron is hot enough, it literally vaporizes the moisture on a fingertip, and the finger itself is repelled from the iron by water turning to vapor. This is termed the Leidenfrost Effect, named after the man who first described it.
The Leidenfrost Effect can also be easily observed by putting a few drops of water on a hot griddle… when the metal griddle is hot enough, the water beads up and dances around because the heat is so intense that the bottom of the water drop is vaporized before the drop reaches the heated surface and the rising water vapor pushes up against the underside of the drop, causing it to bounce off the escaping steam before it ever reaches the metal…. A physicist by the name of Jearl Walker was so convinced in the validity of this theory that he believed it was impossible to get burned while firewalking. After severely injuring himself on a coal bed, he lost faith in this theory.
Conductivity Not An Issue
Another theory is the “Conductivity Theory.” The analogy used to illustrate this idea was that of reaching into an oven to remove a hot cake pan. The air inside the oven is the same temperature as the metal cake pan, yet one can reach an unprotected hand into the oven without injury. However, if you were to grab the pan itself, the result would usually be a burn. The reason for this is that the air is a poor conductor of heat, while the metal pan is a better conductor. Physicists theorized that the coals were poor conductors and that was why a firewalker’s foot was not burned in the coal bed, regardless of its temperature.
In 1994, physicist Bernard Leikind visited the Firewalking Institute and tried to dramatically illustrate this concept by strapping two sirloin steaks to his feet and then walking across a bed of coals while The Discovery Channel filmed the event. The steaks seemed to be unaffected by the coal bed. He then placed a metal grill in the coals and, when it was glowing red, he placed the same steaks on the grill and the metal instantly seared the meat. He felt this sufficiently demonstrated that mental state had nothing to do with the phenomenon of firewalking. He emphasized that it would not be possible for humans to walk on the glowing, red grill without injury. As soon as he said this, a number of people from our staff walked on the grill without harm. The grill was so red-hot, the weight of people walking on it bent the softened metal and left impressions of the firewalkers’ feet on the grill. We keep the grill with its molded footprints as a souvenir to help debunk the conductivity theory.
When a physicist experiments with fire, the objects of observation are usually not living, conscious subjects. Rules of conductivity can be applied in these instances. Human beings are dynamic, self-regulating organisms… Research into firewalking is outside the physicist’s realm of training. People who research the mind and body are more qualified to propose theories on firewalking than scientists who deal with static matter. A person’s state of mind is the crucial factor when exploring the science of firewalking. “A physicist can walk on the coal bed without harm”… His belief in his theory gives him the confidence to walk on the coals. The “confidence” itself is a mental state. Typical firewalks that are open to the public involve coal beds ranging between 1,200 and 1,500 degrees Fahrenheit. Dr. Ron Sato, faculty member of the Stanford University Medical School and director of a nearby burn unit, says human flesh momentarily exposed to 1,200 degree heat should sustain third-degree burns to the epidermis and dermis, charring the entire thickness of skin to a blackened carbon residue. Dr. Sato has treated people who have accidentally stepped on glowing coals and were so badly burned that they required skin grafts. Commenting about people who voluntarily firewalk without injury, Dr. Sato says, “There’s no logical explanation.”
Boiling Water In A Paper Cup
Two scientific experiments have helped me form my present theory. One is a simple demonstration used by school teachers. Perhaps you saw it in your own science class when you were a teenager? The teacher fills a paper cup with water and places it over a flame. The water boils and the cup does not burn. The reason for this is that the water can only reach a temperature of 212 degrees Fahrenheit before it turns to steam. Since the water is in constant contact with the paper cup, the paper cannot get any hotter than 212 degrees. However, in order for the cup itself to burn, it must reach a kindling point… which happens to be higher than 212 degrees. The water maintains the temperature of the paper at a constant 212.
The other experiment was conducted by the United States government during the early days of research into space flight. When a spacecraft reenters the atmosphere, friction heats the craft to extremely high temperatures. It had to be determined whether the person at the controls could still function if the interior of the craft became very hot. To simulate this situation, scientists created a heat chamber. Volunteers entered the chamber and the inside temperature was raised. It was discovered that though an egg was cooking within this atmosphere, the human subjects were unharmed. In fact, the measured air temperature within the nose of a subject was actually cooler than the air in the chamber itself.
Mind in Matter
These two experiments form the basis of my own theory regarding firewalking. The reason Dr. Leikind’s steaks were seared by the glowing metal while human feet were not is simply because the human foot was connected to a living, conscious being who is more than inert matter. The human body has a mechanism to cool itself. Respiration, perspiration and circulation all play a part in this process and all are connected to the brain, which is obviously influenced by the mind. Observe someone sucking on a lemon, or entertain a few sexual fantasies, and you yourself can instantly see how the mind can change the electro-chemical state of the brain and then the central nervous system relays that electro-chemical change to the body systems and cells of your being.You can have physical experiences when nothing physical is impacting you. This is not “mind over matter,” but rather: “mind in matter.”
When a firewalker is in the proper state of mind, the blood flowing through his or her body is akin to the water in the paper cup. The blood is 98.6 degrees Fahrenheit. As it moves through the soles of the feet, it continually cools the tissue and prevents it from reaching its “kindling point,” in the same way that the water maintained the temperature of the paper at 212. Of course there are limits, and it has never been our intention to push the limits. Rather, we have simply looked for an explanation of the basic phenomenon of firewalking as it has been practiced throughout thousands of years and have sought new applications, that can enhance the lives of those of us living in society today.
My explanation of why people can walk on glowing coals without injury also implies why some people have in fact been burned. During the 1970s I set out to demystify firewalking and created the world’s first firewalking seminar. I trained hundreds of instructors to conduct the seminar around the planet and, as of the year 2000, well over three million people have participated in the firewalking seminar. How many were seriously burned? About 50. Since people are sometimes injured, that too needs to be addressed. (I’m not counting those who’ve tried to stand still or linger on the coals.)
Injuries underscore that the mind, rather than the coal bed, represents the variable. When people are not in the state of mind that allows all body systems to operate at peak performance, the capillaries constrict and prevent the blood from moving freely through the tissue on the soles of the feet. When that occurs, the blood cannot carry heat away from the sole and cannot maintain the temperature required to prevent burning. The result can be blistering or charring of the skin. Dr. Andrew Weil, the renowned Harvard-trained physician and medical researcher, has investigated firewalking for many years and says, “There is no way I can be convinced that mental state is not the key variable in firewalking.”
When the subject of conductivity comes up, I think of when I have patted the coals with a shovel to even out the embers. The shovel is metal and extremely conductive. As soon as the hot shovel is placed in a bucket of water, it creates an audible “hiss.” The shovel is not in the coals any longer than our feet. So the coals obviously conduct the temperature just fine. It seems silly to consider the “conductivity” of a heat source; rather, the issue is about the conductivity of anything placed in contact with the heat source. The metal, being dense, conducts the heat from the source extremely well. Human flesh, however, is not very conductive. When people burn, it may indicate that their states of mind have made them more “dense.” A “fluid” mind-state translates into fluidity of the body itself. So what needs to be examined is not the conductivity of the coals, but why human flesh is sometimes more conductive than at other times.
The body itself is an excellent reflection of mental state. If the body is tense, that is an indication of thought processes that will interfere with the physical mechanisms employed by the body to protect itself. When I say that you must be “relaxed,” I do not mean the same kind of relaxed feeling you have when lounging in a hammock. I believe that people who ultimately cross the coals unharmed have a deep sense of knowing that they won’t burn their feet — before they even take the first step.
After people tell themselves “I can do this and not get burned,” and they feel “comfortable” with that certainty, they proceed to walk with “confidence.” All these states — relaxed, comfortable, confident — indicate a certain chemical condition within the brain and body. Thus, firewalking becomes an exercise in examining the mind/body connection. Firewalking is popular among athletes, executives, and healthcare providers. Anyone seeking to explore the mind/body connection, and ways to apply this information toward enhancing human potential, will find the value. Firewalking reveals that being a mere human is nothing mere.
The implications of “mind in matter” can offer new hope to people with severe illnesses as well as anyone seeking to overcome limitations imposed by old beliefs…