A slice of Shalheaven: Can You Walk On Hot Coals?

By Katie Feld, Illustrations Editor

I spent the dog days of August lazily channel surfing, and came across an episode of the popular TV series, Fear Factor. I instantly had an insight, not two minutes into this episode. The key to a more productive and enjoyable school year can be summed up in one word: “fire-walking.”

Let me explain. Fire-walking is the phenomenon of ordinary people walking barefoot across white-hot coal (and here’s the, ahem, kicker) without feeling any pain or suffering any burns to their skin. According to Wikipedia, fire-walking dates back thousands of years and can be found today in diverse cultures on practically every continent. In fact, to hear Fear Factor tell it, UCLA Physics professor Bernard Leikind and best-selling author Tony Robbins may just make fire-walking this season’s trendiest trend.

At first, I couldn’t understand how it was possible to walk on coals and not get a single burn. I saw it on the show — regular people with no special protection don’t blister, and they certainly don’t seem to feel any pain. How do they do it?

It turns out that the magic of not getting burned on the coals is that you’re keeping on moving.  Coals are coated with ash, which doesn’t transmit heat quickly. But get stuck — as many did last summer at a Tony Robbins seminar — and you’re likely to burn as well, as they did.  The key is to move forward while maintaining a calm and collected mindset.

I recognize the irony of realizing the importance of exercising the mind as a result of watching an afternoon’s worth of mind-numbing game shows. Regardless, I really do think there is something to all this: in short, it’s all mental. This shouldn’t be a revolutionary idea for any of us.  We’ve heard it before: “Act happy and you’ll become happy,” or “If you say you’ll fail, you will fail.” I guess this whole Fear Factor thing stuck because it showed physical proof of this theory.

With a fresh start to a new school year we have the chance to apply this theory to how we “do” school. With a newfound appreciation for the power of the mind, we can focus our attitudes on improving our realities.

When you find yourself with a sky-high pile of homework and the inevitable feelings of doom, remember to think positively and put things into perspective.  Maybe set a goal to avoid saying “I’m gonna fail,” or “I cant do this.” Instead, when you feel the “hot coals” burning, know that you can do this. Keep moving forward, because if you stand their in panic your bound to get “burned.”

It sounds annoying and perky and all that, but if the right mindset can win you $50,000 on Fear Factor, it can definitely get you through this upcoming school year. I understand that this is all easier said than done. However, this is my beginning of the school year pitch. It’s meant to be somewhat challenging.  If school gets too tough, remember — it’s easier than eating a plate of spiders!

Have a great year; it is yours for the taking if you just think it so.