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I can not imagine now not having the fire walk experience as a chapter in my book of life. This was such an achievement to have taken it off my ‘to do’ list and put on the ‘accomplishment’ list. Actually, it is on the ‘to do again’ list. The intense self amazement I felt knowing that Me, Myself, and I together, controlled our body to not burn, has become an incredible anchor. It is one I retrieve whenever I need a boost in visualizing a successful outcome as I transform an ambitious dream, into an attainable goal.
In Neuro Linguistic Programming (NLP), an anchor is a state which you can bring back to boost a frame of mind you are in, or to get you out of a stuck negative state, into an enhanced positive one. A technical definition to anchoring is stimulus response conditioning. For example, the sound of the phone ringing has you automatically pick up the phone, and a certain beep lets you know then the coffee maker is done.
An intentional anchor is created by bringing back a previous emotional state you were in and increasing its intensity so it is even better the second time around. Go back to a significant moment now, and make what you saw bigger, brighter, and more colorful. Turn up the volume in the sounds which had meaning to you. Feel any sensations you had and enjoy the sensations even more. When you have peaked all three of these senses, choose a spot on your body (knuckle, wrist, etc.) and apply a light pressure for about 5-10 seconds. Your subconscious is now able to retrieve that state instantly just by touching it again. It has neuro-logically linked that positive state, with the physical touch.
What I anchored from the fire walk was not the achievement, it was the state just before the walk. It was that psychological inner confidence that gave me the strength, courage, and belief that I am capable of not only taking my first step, I will complete it all the way to the last without burning. If I can walk across 10 meters (30 feet) of red, hot burning coals by pre-framing a desired outcome, that means I can draw upon that state and transfer it to other areas of challenge in my life and have the same successful completion. My anchor has linked that mental state, to a triumphant result.
The group I was with did not just show up, take our shoes off and begin walking; it was hours of preparation. The most impacting technique we were taught was to visualize ourselves doing the walk with full congruency. To see the final step taken with success, feel only slight heat on our feet, and hear the voices congratulating us as we complete the task. Without realizing it at the time, I utilized one of the four pillars of NLP called outcome thinking. It is designed around removing negative thoughts and focusing only on the conclusion.
The group I was with began this process in a secluded area in the spectacular mountains of British Columbia, Canada. It was beautiful evening, raining just a little as I carry my chopped piece of a wood to a very long fire pit. It was 1 meter wide by 10 meters long (3′ x 10′). All of us put our log down and watched it start to burn. This was the beginning stage in preparation for our ‘walk’ later.
It was quite mesmerizing to see my log burning. Soon, it will be a red coal my feet were to step on. That moment was kind of surreal. Am I really doing this? Is it possible for me to walk across hot coals and not burn myself? Others have done so, but, could I? “Of course you can,” I was assured over and over again by my mentor, “just believe.”
We left the fire pit to go inside a large cabin to continue our preparedness. As all mentors have a way congruent to them on how to get you mentally ready for the walk, it is best for me not to disclose the full process I went through. Overall it included visualization where you see the end result, feel the walk without burning the souls of your feet, smell the scent of the fire, and become one with moment. By the time we went to walk on the coals, our belief system, and understanding on how to do so, was strong.
Back outdoors I saw a second spectacular fire. This one used to continuously fuel the walks with fresh hot coals. As I watched a young man fill up a wheel barrel to replenish our pit, I had a momentary negative thought enter me. I recall thinking to myself, it was good as it was! It did not need topping up, what was he doing? It was my part that wants to protect me from failure by preventing me from trying speaking inside my head. My mentor warned it may come to visit.
The part which tells me I can not capable of doing this. The part that is so afraid of trying something new it makes even a simple task seem so enormous or scary that it cannot be done. Its intention is to keep me from harm by utilizing fear and creating anxiety. I politely asked me to keep my thoughts to myself, as I had a walk to achieve. There was to be no negative thoughts present during this venture.
I walked over to the tent area to remove my shoes, socks, and roll up my pants to my knees. Our instructor asked we take off our jackets too. We can control our thoughts, but a loose piece of clothing will likely lose to the flame. With my jacket hung up, I proceed to wait for my turn.
It was quite inspirational to watch those ahead of me be successful. I used another NLP technique called modeling as I paid detailed attention to what every one did. How they walked, breathed, their pace, and the pressure put on the coals. If I did exactly what those ahead of me did to walk on 10 meters of hot coals without burning, so could I.
My friend Alec attended this event too and would be waiting at the end of the pit to give me a congratulations hug. We both get into our positions when my turn arrived. As I’m mentally prepare to start, I glanced at him. His expression seemed to portray a thought I had in my head. This was going to be simple, the coals have not been replenished for a while! Oops.
Before I see it, I hear the wheel barrel approaching. Voices were saying, “Hold on. We are going to fill it up again.” Alec was laughing. Of course, what are friends for? Inside? My part had returned to fill me with fear over this new situation. “Oh no, it is scarier now! This IS going to hurt! Why ME?”. It seemed like there were multiple voices. Where did they come from? I had a walk to do. Gosh they are loud.
I put myself in position, visualized the end result, focused on complete quiet in my head, and started to walk. All I felt was a good, comfortable warmth on my feet. As I was walking, I felt a shock from my own acknowledgement that I really am doing this. Half way through it, my shock was upgraded to happiness within myself. When Alec’s arms wrapped around me after walking 10 meters on a path of freshly planted, burning red hot coals, I was so giddy in my own high of accomplishment, I felt intoxicated.
That is why I anchored the moment right before my walk. I had to overcome the challenge of the freshened coals that seemed to be make the task more difficult than I thought it would be. All of my inner strength and determination was utilized to quiet my self that disbelieved in me, and wanted to protect me with scare tactics. Had I not been able to disregard that voice, I would have had a disappointing failure to fuel regret, instead of an empowering experience to draw upon.
My Fire Anchor has brought me to where I am today. I have an incredibly strong belief in the many NLP techniques mentioned in this article. I believe if you can do it, under similar circumstances, with well-formed conditions, and utilizing Outcome Thinking, I can do it. You can do it too. Begin now.
Go into your memory now and find that time the results your created were particularly outstanding. A time when you premeditated to yourself, “I can do this”, right before an incredible success. That state, ambition, and full alignment within, can be used over and over. It isn’t limited to a one time use. It is a ‘green’ resource you created; so reduce when not in use, re-use to its maximum potential, and recycle it again, and again, and again.
write by Donaldson