By Monika Nygaard, 
Published in Alderlea Magazine, April/97

A metaphor of life - how to get your energy up to the same level as fire! By studying the inner workings of the mind, NLP has modeled and condensed the process of board breaking and the firewalk, so these abilities can be achieved quickly and easily, giving participants a whole new level of empowerment.

Twice now Iíve had the thrill of going on a firewalk.  It was one of those things I never thought Iíd do, but when the opportunity presented itself, I couldnít resist the challenge.

What led up to it was my training in Neuro Linguistic Programming (NLP) and the fascinating study of the inner workings of the mind.  Itís founders, John Grinder and Richard Bandler, in the early 1970ís were intrigued by how some therapists had exceptional results and wanted to find out how they did it. Copying these therapists mannerisms and wording just didnít work, so they studied them in depth over time.  What they learned was about the workings of the unconscious mind, itís structure and processes.  From this, they developed what is called modeling, where anyone can duplicate what someone else can do by not just observing their outward behaviour and words, but also finding out about their beliefs, values, inner strategies and perceptual filters.

This is the process that was used in the firewalk.  Our instructor told us that the way firewalking is accomplished is to get oneís energy level up to the same level as the fire.  So, for 8 hours we did various exercises that physically, emotionally and mentally built up our energy level.  These included various martial arts and yoga techniques among others.

Towards the end we did board breaking.  Traditionally board breaking used to take 5 years of martial arts training before it was taught.  We accomplished it in ½ hour, by finding out how others did it internally.

First, the mechanics of it were taught:  the proper movement of shoulders, hips, legs, arms and hands and where to hit the board.  Then the inner workings:  visualise your hand six inches through the other side of the board, going into tunnel vision, breathing properly, believing it is possible to do anything with energy, and getting in touch with a time when you felt very energised, empowered and felt you could do anything.

The first time I did it I remembered being extremely angry and chopping wood, the second time I remembered a time I felt very excited and that I could do anything.  Miraculously, it seemed, the boards broke and after that it was a simple progression to walking on fire.

The coals were glowing red in the darkness of the night as we each prepared to walk the 12 feet of burning coals.  We each imagined a quality or goal we wanted to reach at the other end - such as love, calmness, empowerment, oneness, etc.  The coals only felt warm to me.  Some said they felt cool or like pebbles or popcorn.  All 24 of us walked successfully. It took me several hours to fall asleep after that and I didnít need any caffeine for over a month.  I was also able to get off the thyroid medication I had been on for two years and that one doctor had told me I wouldnít be able to quit taking and would be on for the rest of my life.  I guess once I realized I could get my energy level up to the same level as fire, I didnít really need any help with my energy.

I guess it shows you really can do most anything you set your mind to.  The firewalk is an excellent metaphor of life.

Monika Nygaard is a Certified Neuro Linguistic Programming (NLP) Trainer, Time Line Therapy® Master Trainer and Hypnotherapy Trainer. She can be reached at nlp4change@shaw.ca
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