February 8, 2017
The Mental Effects of Firewalking
In this life, your biggest obstacle is not other people; it’s not even your own limitations. Your greatest obstacle is simply fear.
Fear is a primal instinct that historically kept us out of trouble and alerted us to anything that might be life-threatening — such as saber-tooth tigers or incoming village raids. It’s also known as our “fight or flight” instinct. The problem is, most people are not regularly fighting off animals or living in a war zone, and fear gets in our way more than it helps us.
Fortunately, there’s a way to harness that fear and to use it to your advantage. You can learn to look at fear head-on, thank it for its presence, and then send it on its way – because you don’t need it right now. One tool you can use to do that is firewalking.
What you focus on each day — what you deem important, what you perceive as a threat, what you accomplish — is directly related to a function we have in our brain called the Reticular Activating System (RAS). RAS is essentially a fancy name for your brain’s filter. It’s what our mind uses to siphon in the information we need most and filter out anything that’s not serving us.
Take a moment right now to focus on all the stimulation your brain is currently receiving — the way your chair feels underneath you, every sound you hear, whether you’re hot or cold, the brightness of your computer screen, etc.
What you’ll notice is, a lot is happening, all the time, at any given moment.
If our brains were forced to focus on all these things constantly, we’d go insane.
Thankfully, our trusty RAS ensures we’re not privy to that constant flow of stimuli because it filters most of it out, letting in only that which we’ve conditioned it to tell us is most important.
In other words, your RAS is your brain’s bouncer. But the key thing to remember about it is: it works for you.
And that’s where firewalking comes in. When you’re faced with a bed of hot coals, your first instinct is to flee because your RAS initially perceives fire as a dangerous threat, so it sends your consciousness a directive to get away from those coals.
But remember, your RAS works for you, so if you don’t want it to tell you to be scared, you can prevent it from doing so.
If you practice envisioning yourself walking boldly and confidently across that fire, your RAS starts to shift its priorities to confidence-related sensations, filtering in stimuli that support your mission and keeping out the fear that would prevent you from accomplishing it.
In other words, you can literally condition your mind to make you less afraid of any given circumstance and, in turn, equip you with the confidence you need to transcend those circumstances and overcome any obstacle.
Your mind is a very powerful tool, but tools only work if you know how to use them. If you want to make the most of your mind, you must remember that you’re the master wielding its tools.
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