“I learned that the interior of life was as rewarding as the exterior of life, and that my richest moments occurred when I was absolutely still.”
My first float was half parts weird and wonderful. It was in January 2014, in PAFC’s first pod, which was only about a week old. To be honest, I had been skeptical and dismissive when I first heard the scientific term ‘sensory deprivation’ (and look at me now!). I hadn’t read up much, so I really didn’t know what to expect.
I got in, bobbed around way too clumsily, and couldn’t stop bumping into the sides. Then I made the mistake of touching my face with my salty hand and got stinging salt water in my eyes. I tried to bear with my tearing eyes for a good 10 minutes, then realised the stinging wasn’t going away, so I got out. Checked the time. It was (only) around the 30-minute mark. Washed my face, and thought, this is trickier than I expected.
Epsom salt – great on your skin, not in your eyes
Almost reluctantly, I decided to try again. I got back into the pod, this time moving as carefully as I could. I tried my best to stay still. Now the water stayed calm too, moving only slightly with each breath. A short while later, I finally got there. To repeat an often-used-but-so-true description, suddenly I didn’t know where the water ended and where my body began. I remember feeling really amazed by the sensation of being completely weightless. The darkness, which at first had felt a little unsettling, now became the perfect canvas for my imagination. I imagined that I was swaying slightly on a cloud, or just above the softest fabric I’d ever felt. It was the most relaxed my body had been in YEARS.
Too quickly, the hour was up. That was when I realised that there’s a lot I don’t know about, if only I could be more patient and open-minded.
My point is, that first float is probably the most mind-boggling. Like everything else, new experiences take a little getting used to. It’s easy to make a quick judgement and give up the moment you feel restless. But if you trust the water, you might find something worth discovering within yourself.
I hope that others can get past the weird and get to the wonderful like I did. So here’s a simple but important guide to your first float.
BEFORE YOUR FLOAT
Schedule it on a day where you won’t feel pressed for time. You want to be free to process the experience. Subsequently, slipping one in between errands can work, and can even give you a boost on a busy day.
It’s fine to watch videos or read about other people’s experiences. But don’t go in expecting to see or feel the same. Every experience is different. The important thing is, don’t compare your float to anyone else’s. Your mind and body are unique, and the same goes for your float.
- Ask questions
Pay attention to your pre-float briefing. Tips on how to find a comfortable position can get you into the meditative zone quicker. Ask us if you’re nervous about anything – the more comfortable you feel, the easier it is to relax.
DURING YOUR FLOAT
It’s just you and the silence…or does your brain suddenly sound like the neighbourhood market? Don’t panic if you feel restless. It takes time and practice to quiet your mind. An easy way to start is to focus on your breathing. Say it in your head as you breathe in and out. Or try relaxing every part of your body from head to toe, one by one.
- Keep an open mind
It’s the only way new ideas can get in. At the base level, the tank gives you quality downtime without any effort. If you approach it with an open mind, you can also make it your tool for personal growth. As Russell Simmons once said, “Stillness is the soil in which our imagination is nourished and our ideas can grow to incredible heights.”
- Go with the flow
It’s OK if your mind is still active. Let your thoughts come and go. Think of your brain as a computer – it takes time to shut down all the ‘open’ programmes. Eventually, you relax and enter a prolonged theta state. A place we rarely access, normally only achieved after long periods of meditation. Here, you experience a boost in problem-solving capabilities, creativity, and vivid mental imagery. Suppressed emotions or memories may arise, and you may also access your subconscious. Every float trains your brain to get here quicker.
AFTER YOUR FLOAT
- Take it all in
Avoid jumping back into the chaos immediately. Take at least ten minutes to absorb the experience and prep yourself for whatever’s next. With a clear head, you might finally make a move on something you’ve been procrastinating on.
See if you feel a difference in the days (or weeks) after your float. Maybe it’s in the way you react (less road rage perhaps). Or maybe you finally had an uninterrupted night’s sleep after weeks of insomnia. This will help you figure out how floatation works best for you. For example, you might be more suited for an early morning float because you feel energised after; ready for a new day.
- Build on it
Inner calm and clarity isn’t something you just pick up. It’s a discipline. The float tank helps you rest, build calm, and find focus, but you must be ready to take it further if you want a lasting effect. Make floatation your enabler to achieve bigger things.