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Walking Over Fire and Through My Fears
by Arline Rowden, Reiki Master Teacher © 1999
A couple of months ago a long time friend and client, Jane (not her real name), scheduled a series of Reiki and consultation sessions with me. When Jane arrived for the first session she talked about the many changes she wanted to make in her life. Jane also told me that she remembered the many risks I had taken in the process of changing my life and that was why she wanted to work with me. After the session, I took some time for remembering, especially about my fire walk and how it affected my life.
I was a fearful child, afraid of the dark or more accurately I was afraid of being alone, especially in the dark. I grew up on a farm in southwestern Wisconsin and went to school during the 50's and early 60's. My parents didn't even lock our house, because they felt safe. There wasn't even a telephone in the grade school that I attended, everyone believed we were safe there.
Looking back, I realize that I was a very sensitive child and was feeling the presence of non-physical energies around me and didn't have anyone to explain that to me. I just felt as though something was there that I couldn't see and it scared me.
I also had a very active imagination and created my own inner world to live in since I spent a lot of time playing by myself as a child. I had six older sisters, but by the time I was 8, only my 12 year old sister, Sharon, was still at home. One day after school, I remember sitting on our lawn until my parents and sister came home from town because I was afraid to go into our big old house by myself.
My parents tried to reason with me about my fears, but the fear won out over reason. Even the fun of having my driver's license as a teenager was dampened a bit whenever I was driving home alone on dark country roads. I was afraid to look up in the rear view mirror or into the back seat because I was afraid someone/something would be there. I always kept my doors locked whether I was in or out of the car. How could anyone get in there? Fears aren't logical.
In my early 20's, my fears began to expand as I became more aware of the world around me. In my opinion, the world wasn't a very safe place. I also rebelled against religion and stopped going to my church. Actually, it was the phase of my life when I believed that God was something that was made up centuries ago to keep the masses in line. My world was a scary place and life didn't seem to make much sense to me.
When I was 24, my mother was killed in a car accident. A few months later, one of my sisters, Diane, was murdered by her former husband just a few months after they were divorced. She was only 34 years old and left behind seven children.
So new fears were added to my old familiar fear. Now I was afraid of death and afraid of what might happen to my loved ones and myself in life. Since I didn't believe in our existence after death, this one life was all the time we would have to exist or so I believed back then. So it really didn't seem fair when someone died at a young age.
The next year, I married for the first time. Although the marriage lasted for 16 years, I left the marriage emotionally in the first year. Mike was never physically abusive, but he was very troubled by his own fears and wounded by his early life experiences. Of course, I was a very wounded person, too, so we actually did fit together quite well.
Even though I was very unhappy, I was afraid to end the marriage. In my mind, I feared that the same fate that Diane had suffered would happen to me if I divorced Mike. I decided that staying married was my only safe option.
Even though my personal life was not good, I was doing quite well in my professional life. It seemed that I was using my career as an escape from the rest of my life. The pressures of a demanding work schedule, that included a lot of overtime hours, took their toll on me though.
I was very stressed and I needed help and direction in my life. My emotions had been so blocked and suppressed that I really didn't know how I felt most of the time. I had been depressed for years without realizing it.
In 1976, I began attending some anonymous group meetings and the Unity Church and became open to a new idea of God as a higher power. I began to explore meditation as a way of connecting with and getting to know God, to release tension and to better understand myself. Meditation became an important tool in my healing process. I even came to understand and appreciate my awareness of the non-physical energies around me.
Life was better for a few years, but eventually I relapsed into my old ways of being. Then I experienced a ruptured disc in my lower back in 1983. What a wake up call that was! It took all my strength, physically and emotionally, and about a year to recover and to really get serious about getting back on track again.
Then I joined a support group for six months. A Unity minister, Claire Beaumont, the group facilitator was just whom I needed at the time. She was very warm, caring and supportive while helping me to take a good look at my unresolved issues.
Claire included a guided meditation in each group session. The meditations were so beautiful and powerful. I began to wish that I could do meditations for others. Claire encouraged me to explore that dream by joining her facilitators' training group and her weekly meditation group.
As I began to get healthier emotionally, I decided it would be helpful to work with a therapist. There were also many books, workshops, etc. that have assisted me in my personal and spiritual growth. Life was improving, but I still wasn't able to confront my biggest fear about leaving my marriage and being safe.
During this time, Mike was either unable or unwilling to confront his own fears and wounds from the past. So it became very clear that we weren't going in the same direction. I didn't think I could continue in the marriage and stay on my healing path.
A friend from my meditation group, Frank Coffey, had told me about doing a fire walk. Then he learned to facilitate fire walks for others. Frank told me that a fire walk could be a very powerful way to confront fear. He had my attention and I signed up for one of his fire walk workshops.
The fire walk workshop was based on Neuro Linguistic Programming principles and contained lecture and creative visualization work. The group also said "When I take my first step my body knows how to protect itself." out loud many times with lots of feeling and a tight fist to anchor the statement into our consciousness.
There was a bed of hot coals six feet in length. Frank stood at the starting point so he could determine when each person was ready to begin their walk. As each person walked he/she would look up, focus on a predetermined visualization and say either cool moss (or another short statement) over and over as they were walking on the hot coals.
I successfully completed the fire walk that day (it was the first of 3 fire walks) as did all of the other people attending the workshop. Mike didn't know that I was doing the fire walk until I returned from it. When I told him what I had done that afternoon, he was going to pack and leave even though I had not asked him to do that. There was such a profound change in my energy that he realized right away that I would now be able to confront my fears. I had never told anyone what my fear was about getting divorced, I was only able to acknowledge and talk about it later.
November of 1987 is a month I'll always remember. I took Reiki I the first weekend of the month. The second weekend I did my fire walk. The third weekend I went to a 3 day meditation gathering. Then I came home and filed for divorce.
When I told Mike, he asked if there was anything he could do to change my mind about the divorce. I told him that I had always wanted to change him and now I wanted him to find someone who would love him just the way that he was.
For me, my fear of being murdered by my former husband was a figment of my imagination, but it controlled my life as though it were true. A quotation from Djwhal Khul channeled by Alice Bailey in Angels With Us (pages 24 & 25) says a lot about fear. "The power of fear is enormously aggravated by the thought form we ourselves have built of our own individual fears and phobias. This thought form grows in power as we pay attention to it, for 'energy follows thought,' till we become dominated by it."
During the years since my fire walks, I've felt afraid to do some of the things I've wanted to do. So I'd tell myself, if I could do a fire walk, then I can confront this fear.
Fear was present when I was going through the divorce process and I was on my own again. I was frightened when I started to date after so many years as part of a couple. It was scary to begin a new relationship and then to get married for the second time.
I felt fear when I decided to leave the traditional work force, after 26 years in Corporate America, and start my own business. When we moved from Milwaukee to the Madison area, some fear crept into the picture. I felt anxiety when I decided to rent an office after always working out of my home. But I walked through my fears as I had walked over the hot coals on my fire walks.
Of course there were other feelings like excitement involved with these changes, but fear was present, too. Now I believe fear is just part of the human experience, it's only negative if I allow it to stop me from making the changes that I have decided to make.
My life is definitely richer now. I'm doing work that I love. I have a wonderful Madison location to work out of when I'm not working at home. My current marriage to Ron is very good and happy with an occasional bump on the road. I have good relationships with friends and many family members. We live in a beautiful country setting with wonderful neighbors. We have a very sweet black lab named Levi and spirited tri-colored kitty named Nikki. Soon we'll have a new yellow lab puppy named Amber. And I'm no longer afraid to be alone in the daylight or the dark. Life is good.
(Published in New Avenues Magazine in 1999.)