A short blog on my journey of floating, when I first floated, how it has helped me and others, and why I think it should be more popular.
In 2014 I had finished studying Sport & Recreation. I was young and enthusiastic about exploring different methods of therapy for mental & physical pain as well as expanding my consciousness. I had heard through podcasts, and people I looked up to that Floatation was unlike anything they had ever tried before. An environment where you are ‘deprived’ of your senses and lay in extremely salty water- what was all the fuss about, I wondered? So I investigated online, and there was only one place I could find to experience this ‘sensory deprivation.
Tucked away in a suburban neighbourhood was a lovely couple that had a float tank in their garage. The room had a peaceful ambience with warm colours, a Buddha statue and the glow of a Himalayan salt lamp; I was instantly put at ease and felt my heart open in preparation for the float.
Initially, it felt quite strange lying fully exposed in a salty tub within a stranger’s garage… then things started to shift and change. My mind began to wander, and I was looking at myself inside the tank from a bird’s-eye view, that’s when I became disconnected from my body, and my perspective began to rise higher and higher. Now looking down at the garage that I was peacefully floating in, I started seeing more buildings, the neighbouring streets and suburbs, and I thought how far could I take this. It was a slow and visually stimulating journey, looking down at now the city I was in, then the North Island, then all of New Zealand. Earth was now the focal point; I was no longer relevant in this perspective. From Earth onwards, it was understandable that this was all in my head and just imaginary- however, in the moment it felt as real as when I first stepped into the ambient room 30 minutes earlier.
I became separate from my physical body and was roaming further and further away from my ‘self’. Gazing in awe of our surrounding planets and their moons, our sun and our solar system. I continued travelling beyond what I knew existed, moving into the darkness of space and time… it all became too grand to witness and digest until I finally felt my awareness slingshot back to where I started.
In the blink of an eye, I was back… Lying in the float tank, warm, safe and well-travelled. It felt as though only a few moments had passed, and yet I had gone further than any physical human being has been before, and I had seen our whole observable universe.
From that moment, I knew that floating would become an integral part of my life and a powerful tool for understanding myself.
Some years passed by, and I stayed busy shuffling through life while still searching for alternative methods of therapy. I had a couple more floats, but the experiences weren’t of the level of my first. It wasn’t until I contacted Float Culture and started regular floating that I really began understanding the full extent of its usefulness to human beings.
I started using myself as an experiment to see what else we could gain from this state of solitude. Working as a personal trainer and fitness coaching full time was physically exhausting; in the float tank, I found relaxation and comfort for my aching muscles.
Within the tank, the water and air are set to skin temperature. Half a tonne of Epsom salt is dissolved in the water to ensure it is dense enough to float perfectly on top, creating a feeling of weightlessness and facilitating decompression of our muscles, joints and spine. That is a very difficult environment/sensation to replicate. The salt has high magnesium levels, which get absorbed through the skin and leave you feeling brand new when you step out.
My floating routine was vital for my physical recovery from high-intensity training and working long active hours. I have recommended floating to many of my clients and friends who have suffered from pain or tight muscles, and they have all been amazed by the positive effect that a one-hour float can have.
Inside the tank is a light, which you can switch off once you’re settled, leaving you in utter darkness just like when you close your eyes. Complete silence greets you within the tank and surprises you when you start to notice the sounds of your heart beating, air travelling through the airways as you breathe and creaks of bones moving. I have even heard my eyes moving against the back of my eyelids in more recent floats.
In this state of total peace, I have been able to unpack my busy mind and look at my life, my struggles and my blessings in a profoundly gracious manner. Without the interferences and comparisons that come from our physical world, you can look at things from an objective, responsive and loving place. I find so much forgiveness and reassurance in this state. When I emerge from the tank, it is like a rebirth and a cleansing of perspective.
There is much more to be said about these effects floating has on the physical and mental state of humans, but there is also the spirit that is greatly enriched from this experience. Whether you consider yourself a spiritual person or not it is highly likely you will encounter some form of awaking or self-awareness whilst floating. This is my favourite aspect of Floatation therapy, leaving behind the body and mind; you are left with just your ‘self’.
Personally, I believe this to be the most powerful tool that floating can give you. Although sometimes it can be hard to confront our demons, to leave behind our problems and to temporally let go of the things that keep us trapped in the physical plane I firmly believe this is the missing link for humanity that could bring our planet to enlightenment – To open our eyes to the grand gift of life that we have been given and that we are all connected as one. We are one planet, one consciousness and should have one goal, to spread unconditional love and to prosper together as one in this life and the next.
In today’s society, we are constantly bombarded by sensory overload. We are encouraged to live in an “alert problem-solving state of consciousness to innovate and consume as fast as possible. This is important for technological advancement, but it leaves a massive deficit for our spiritual development. The absence of mindfulness and spiritual exploration leaves us stricken with anxiety, stress and other mental health problems. Floatation gives us the opportunity to practise responsiveness over-reactivity, to focus on abundance over scarcity and to look deep within ourselves without the external pressures of society.
Practising to respond rather than react can help us be more objective and understand challenges that present themselves to us daily, thus avoiding the ‘fight or flight’ response and reducing the rate of accumulated stress. This is particularly beneficial for people with hyperactive minds and overthinkers. During a float session, sensory input is greatly reduced, making it much easier to absorb and process information; with practice, this can be applied and used within ordinary life. As you learn to observe and slow your thoughts, you will find that your mind will remain calmer and clearer from this ‘absorb & respond’ state than the ‘deflect & react’ state.
Focusing on abundance, the things you DO have or the things you CAN do is an excellent way to cultivate gratitude. Being grateful in the present moment will enhance your well-being and create a more positive outlook on your life.
Without the usual pressures and comparisons of society, it is easier for us to look at ourselves without bias or judgement. You have only yourself to see and compare. Look instead with love, forgiveness and understanding than judgement, guilt or shame. It may not always be easy… but with practice, positive affirmations and the willingness for change, you can emerge from the tank with a fresh, clear and grateful perspective on your life and yourself – that is why you should Float.
By Tomas French
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