KIRTLAND, Ohio -- On a snowy, cold night in Kirtland, dozens gathered at East Shore Unitarian Church on Chillicothe Road.
They didn’t go there for a worship service per se, but did arrive hoping to become closer to a higher power.
“I’m really nervous,” said Lisa Owings of Akron, who brought her children to watch the night's events.
The event was called “Power of Fire,” and by the night's end, almost all of the attendees who paid $125 for the workshop would be walking across hot, fiery coals.
The firewalk is just one several “Extreme Spiritualism Seminars and Workshops,” organized and taught by Shakthi Paramasivam.
“It’s amazing, but it’s not magic,” said Shakthi, as he prefers to be called.
To hold the event, Shakthi had to get permits from both the Lake County Health Department and the Kirtland Fire Department.
Shakthi has been fascinated with a higher power since he was very young.
He says, “It’s the spirit in each of us.”
If all goes well, none of the approximately 40 participants will get hurt or burned.
“Nothing I’m going to say is new,” said Shakthi. “Everything is love, but can you go out there and look down the hot coals and say that everything is love and when they do they enter a new reality for themselves.”
There are no tricks or illusions.
The coals are burning at 1,000 F. and each person was encouraged to walk across seven to ten feet of smoldering embers.
The plan was for each person to raise their energy "to match the energy of the fire" to make walking across it easy.
But first each person had to mentally prepare.
At a studio in Twinsburg, where Shakthi teaches yoga and meditation under his company name of “Shakthi Unlimited,” he told Fox 8’s Suzanne Stratford that the process is the same for all of the daring spiritual stunts and adventures.
“You make the decision to do something and you do it. That’s the whole idea about this,” said Shakthi.
Some of the other extreme spiritualism events include skydiving, breaking arrows with the soft part of the neck, bending rebar with the neck and walking across broken glass barefoot.
He advised people not to try any of the daring stunts at home.
They must only be attempted under strict supervision after extensive preparation.
“There is a certain consciousness you have to raise yourself to,” said Shakthi. “There are specific steps taken to get there and then after that it’s like a switch. They can turn it on.”
Back in Kirtland, part of the preparation included meditation and chanting love to a higher power.
Then one by one the participants in Kirtland walked across the hot embers, and incredibly, no one was burned.
“If we think we are better than the fire or weaker than the fire we will get blisters,” said Shakthi.
He says love and joy are higher energies than fear and anger.
And ultimately that’s what the firewalk and all of the extreme spiritualism events are really all about.
“They say I’ve seen fear and stepped through it and what else can I do that I thought was not possible?!” said Lisa.
She was beaming with joy after walking across the hot coals, not once, but twice.
“It was amazing,” said Lisa. “It’s hard to put into words how great it was.”
Additional firewalks are planned for April and July.
For more information, contact Shakthi at (216) 849-6621 or click here.