Mind in Matter
These two experiments form the basis of my own theory. Human feet were not seared on Dr. Leikind’s glowing metal grill because the human foot was connected to a living, conscious being. The human body has mechanisms to cool itself: respiration, perspiration, and circulation. All play a part in this process and all are connected to the brain, which is influenced by the mind.
Obviously, you can have physical experiences when nothing physical is impacting you. Haven’t you ever woken from a nightmare drenched in sweat, with your heart racing? That’s an example of mind, not over, but in matter.
When a firewalker is in the proper state of mind, the blood flowing through his or her body is akin to the water in the paper cup. The blood is 98.6 degrees Fahrenheit. As it moves through the soles of the feet, it continually cools the tissue and prevents it from reaching its kindling point in the same way that the water maintained the temperature of the paper at 212 degrees.
Of course there are limits, and it has never been our intention to push them. Rather, we have simply looked for an explanation of the phenomenon of firewalking as it has been practiced throughout thousands of years, and have sought new applications that can enhance the lives of those of us living today.
When humans walk on coals at 2,200 degrees Fahrenheit without harm, they are able to do so because the body is obviously capable of cooling and protecting itself up to a certain point. We’re an amazingly tough machine, especially when you consider that engine blocks for cars are made by pouring molten metal into molds at 1,100 degrees!
My explanation also addresses why some people have been burned firewalking. In 1977, I set out to demystify firewalking and created the world’s first firewalking seminar. Since then, I’ve trained thousands of instructors. As of 2017, well over six million people have participated in a firewalking seminar. How many were seriously burned? About fifty. Injuries underscore that the role of the mind, rather than the coal bed, is the variable. When people are not in the state of mind that allows all body systems to operate at peak performance, capillaries constrict and prevent blood from moving freely through the tissue on the soles of the feet. When that occurs, the blood cannot carry heat away from the sole and cannot maintain the temperature required to prevent burning. The result can be blistering or charring. Aloe vera has certain properties that can physically restore circulation and, when applied immediately after a burn is sustained, blistering can frequently be prevented.
Dr. Andrew Weil, the renowned Harvard-trained physician and medical researcher, has investigated firewalking for years. He comments, "There is no way I can be convinced that mental state is not the key variable in firewalking."
When the subject of conductivity comes up, I think of the times when I have patted the coals with a shovel to even out the embers. The shovel is metal and extremely conductive. As soon as the hot shovel is placed in a bucket of water, it creates an audible "hiss." The shovel is not in the coals any longer than our feet. So the coals obviously conduct the temperature just fine. It seems silly to consider the "conductivity" of a heat source; rather, the issue is about the conductivity of anything placed in contact with the heat source. The metal, being dense, conducts the heat from the source extremely well. Human flesh, however, is not very conductive.
When people burn, it may indicate that their states of mind have made them more "dense." A "fluid" mind state translates into fluidity of the body itself. So what needs to be examined is not the conductivity of the coals, but why human flesh is sometimes more conductive than at other times.
Because of my extensive research, I now counsel prospective firewalkers to avoid walking on the embers until they take a moment to look inside themselves at all the conflicting inner voices. Some voices will be saying "Don't walk!" and others will be saying "Walk!" I tell people to first listen to each inner voice, then pay attention to the state of your body. Which decision makes your body more comfortable? If the decision to walk makes you feel more comfortable than the decision not to walk, then walk. Because if you are relaxed with your decision, you are in a certain bio-chemical state. Whether the relaxation with the decision to walk is based on a belief in physics or a belief in a higher power, it matters not. Both beliefs create the exact same physiology in the body. Unless their bodies are comfortable with the decision to cross the coals, I suggest people wait for another time.
The body itself is an excellent reflection of mental state. If the body is tense, that is an indication of thought processes that will interfere with the physical mechanisms employed by the body to protect itself. When I say that you must be "relaxed," I do not mean the same kind of relaxed feeling you have when lounging in a hammock. I believe that people who ultimately cross the coals unharmed have a deep sense of knowing that they won't burn their feet -- before they even take the first step. Obviously, if you think you're going to get hurt, then you would not step into the coals. You aren't stupid.
After people tell themselves "I can do this and not get burned," and they feel "comfortable" with that certainty, they proceed to walk with "confidence." All these states -- relaxed, comfortable, confident -- indicate a certain chemical condition within the brain and body. Thus, firewalking becomes an exercise in examining the mind/body connection.
This is why firewalking is so popular today among athletes, executives and healthcare providers. Anyone seeking to explore the mind/body connection, and ways to apply this information toward enhancing human potential, will find value in firewalking.
New firewalkers are amazed at the discovery that they themselves are such incredible beings. Firewalking reveals that being a mere human is nothing mere. Our minds are the new frontier and firewalking is just the beginning in the process of self-discovery. The implications of "mind in matter" are truly exciting and can offer new hope to people with severe illnesses as well as anyone seeking to overcome limitations imposed by old beliefs: salesmen, students, athletes... the list goes on and on… it may even include you!
Post Script, 2013
Today, I refer to the 3 "P"s of firewalking: Physics, Physiology, Psychology. Physics describes how heat is transferred. Physiology describes how the body responds to heat. Psychology describes how people overcome the innate resistance to walking on glowing coals... because without taking that first step, there can be no firewalking.