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Italian firewalk empowerment seminar backfires on participants’ feet

Melissa Kaplan Jul 7, 2010

As far as empowerment practices go, walking on burning hot coals is pretty hardcore. But if you want to walk through fire and not get burned, you’ve got to use the right flammables. Performance coach Alessandro Di Priamo was motivating a group of about 50 workers at a hotel seminar in Rome to brace the burning embers, but the seminar backfired, landing eight participants in nearby hospitals with several injuries. Di Priamo tested the flaming path to discover the wrong coals had been sent to the hotel.

Beyond the use of specific coals to help the firewalker on their way, there are a list of other tricks used in the practice to help firewalkers survive. If you’re gonna do it: 1. Do it at night, 2. Do it on coals that have been burning awhile, and 3. Walk briskly (but don’t shirk on the dignity).

Whether this will cause a backlash in firewalking seminars for the corporate world is yet to be seen, but perhaps the perceived danger is what lent such significance to the practice. Many cultures the world over have used the firewalk in religious and healing ceremonies for thousands of years, from Japanese Taoists and Buddhists to Greek Eastern Orthodox Christians to little girls in Bali. Little documentation is readily available as to whether they acquired injuries after the walk.

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