- Education and Science
Dance with the Dragon Firewalk
A personal growth trip of a lifetime
A few months back I set the date, time and venue for this month's firewalk entitled 'Dance with the Dragon' and had a rush of folks wishing to attend. I couldn't have been happier or better organised - as I thought!
So, being up to date with all things I was a little bit too ambitious when I added a Facebook status update a couple of weeks before it saying to my participants that the challenge 'begins here'. It sure did; within a day or two I received the news that the venue I'd booked had been gutted out by fire. I too was 'gutted'. My first thoughts were about the folk who had made arrangements to attend; would they still be prepared to come? And secondly, where else would I find the right type of venue to hold a firewalk?
I sensed that although my mind was racing that there was no need to panic. I called a few people and within a day or so I had the offer of a housing co-operative's land, with camping space for anyone who chose to stay overnight. I was delighted! Not only would I be comfy in my training space, I'd have the opportunity to visit friends I don't often get to see these days.
I could be there the day before and stay until the day after the walk; perfect!
The day approached for me to set off for my weekend at Talamh Life Centre, set in a beautiful part of the Scottish countryside, spoilt only by the ravaged landscapes where open cast mines stretch in every direction. But that's another story for another time ;)
The sun was shining and the car was jammed ful of everything I 'might' need... and some.
I arrived just before dinner was called for the residents and was invited to eat with the 'family'. I hadn't seen these buddies for ages so had lots of catching up to do. I'd like to add here that the work I'd set myself for that evening took a back seat as I enjoyed a few drinks with the old crew.
Now, as luck would have it the entire house and cottage was full of visitors so my sleeping space was the 'blue caravan' ... with two very lovely, young, male, French WOOFers - for those who don't know the term; Willing Workers On Organic Farms. (It's a way of combining travelling and learning for interested parties.) So, late into the night when the guitars were playing and songs being sung I retired with my new friends. It was a clear and frosty night when we left the main house and got into the 'van. It was freezing cold so I suggested lighting a fire in the burner. The guys, Fabien and Ivan were eager for me to do this, explaining that as Parisians lighting fires in burners wasn't something they were used to. I showed the 'how to' and heated the cabin up before we settled to sleep.
The day dawned early for me as light streamed into my dream time, hours before I needed to be awake so I dozed for a while but was fairly alert when it was time to surface and begin the tasks of the day.
My assistant, Barbara was first to arrive and we set about getting things ready. Ivan & Fabien helped me immensely by digging out the fire pit. People arrived in the afternoon while the sun was shining and the sky was blue, introducing themselves to each other before the formal introductions of the workshop. Unbeknown to them I knew almost every one fairly well in some way; two ladies I'd been at college with, three activists I'd been on actions with, a former partner and two from an organisation that I work for ~ woo such an intimate group! I knew the energy would be amazing!
From the start everyone gelled. Tasks were taken on easily and trust was built quickly. The guys were moving at a fast pace and soon it was time to build the fire before taking a well earned rest from the intensity of the session.
Now, each group of people have their own dynamic. This was just perfect for firewalking! Everyone was entirely open to new experiences and completely honest about their life experiences; heartwarming and energising from my perspective too.
The fire was lit and dinner over I recalled the troops to the training area. What I didn't tell them was that I'd set up a glasswalk for their return. I should have had the camera on their faces when they came in!
After the preparation each participant was invited to take their turn as they were ready, to walk on broken glass. Everyone did it; some had deep issues to put to rights and overcame their blocks and barriers to empower themselves out of that and into a new reality, where those fears can no longer exist. They had walked on broken glass and there wasn't a cut in sight; no-one was harmed.
The time flew in and soon enough the fire was ready. Now here's where it gets complicated; as Instructor I never walk on a group fire first. I was taught this way; this fire belonged to the participants. I should have no need to show my skill. In this case I should NOT lead by example, otherwise it's only my ego at it's best - or worst. So as always, each person is assured that I will help and encourage them to cross it safely but if they truly feel that this is not their time to walk, then I will accept their right to 'know' and that they choose wisely what is good for them.
Since my first firewalk in 1998 there has never been a time when I have NOT crossed the fire at some point in the celebration. This has been about my need to continue to improve myself as well as maintaining my reputation as a strong leader. I always overcome my fears by challenging them head on (sometimes to my detriment). This time I felt different. I had been excited about this firewalk for weeks, my energy was peaking and I knew that if I wanted to cross I could do it easily, but there was something stopping me. I slowed my thoughts down and paid attention. I listened to the safety of the group, each one achieving their goal of the day and made the decision to drop my ego in that instant and decline to walk over the fire.
Technically I stuck to my word but Richard gave me a coal-carry across just for the Hell of it so I did cross the fire in a sense.
This was a GREAT time for me, in every sense of the word. I wanted to be attentive and totally in service to my new firewalkers and just this once relish the safety of the group, knowing that they all know me and there was no need to prove myself to me, or to them. I was slaying my own dragon, in a much unexpected manner, even for me!
The workshop ended after a concluding session. Some folks had to set off home and a few stayed around the campfire on a frosty night to make the best of the time we had together.
I kept the burner going in the caravan throughout the evening so that the guys had a warm and cosy room to go to, my thanks to them for their hard work.
I eventually hit the hay when dawn broke and fell asleep laughing. The events of the evening replaying like a movie in my head. The banter like a radio play. And then I noticed my feet tingle as they do after a firewalk. At first I smiled as I thought I'd walked it, then laughed knowing that I hadn't - in the conventional way. I began a new relationship right there and then with myself and have been 'in love' again ever since. I hope that I can stay together for the rest of my life. I know that this is one relationship I'll work at for the rest of my life; I know I'll never be disappointed or lack anything ever again.
Sunday brought another surprise for me. I had a 'stalker' for a short time who carried a clip-board and pen, trailing me until I had dry hands to sign directorship papers for Talamh Life Centre. I had been nominated a their AGM that afternoon and was being encouraged to sign on the dotted line. I'm more than happy to do it and I'll hopefully make a good director too!
The fire just keeps on burnin'.