Jane Robins

The mind-altering potential of fire walking

Are you ready to change your life?

  • From Spectator Life
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Thirty of us gathered in the upstairs room of a local hospice, subdued as we contemplated the imminent laying of our raw flesh onto fire. Steve from Peterborough arrived to give a pep talk to prepare us for what awaited us in the car park below.

We sighed empathetically when Steve told us he had failed maths O-Level three times

He was, he said, an expert fire walker, trained by the man who trained the most famous fire walker in the world – the American motivational guru Tony Robbins, an incredible-hulk of a man known for whipping people up into frenzies of self-belief and positivity. On YouTube you can see him booming, ‘Yes! Yes! Yes!’ as he steers a terrified Oprah Winfrey along a path of red-hot coals. Fire walking, Robbins says, is all about ‘using fear before it uses you,’ a skill that, once acquired ‘will be the incremental step toward unlocking an extraordinary life.’

Steve from Peterborough told us that Robbins had thought the UK unready for fire walking; the implication being that Britons were less inclined to go ‘whoop! whoop !whoop!’ on demand, let alone embrace the flames and unleash our extraordinary lives. But Steve believed in us and set about motivating us, UK-style. We were going to ‘let everything go’ he said, as we walked purposefully across the coals – no mincing like this or running like this – just walking purposefully. ‘How are you going to walk?!!’ ‘Purposefully?’ we mumbled.

As we walked, we were to ‘think good things;’ meaningful things that were personal to us. It was at this point that my mind slipped, quite unexpectedly, from sceptical and fearful to emotional. It became clear that, as I stepped onto the coals, I would be thinking of my son when he had needed me most, as a baby.

The room was quiet.

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