Embarking on my first float
Has the day finally come around? Have you cleared all obligations for the rest of the afternoon? Now I guess it’s time to float!
Your first float is going to be predominantly about comfortability, comfortability in the space, your body and your mind.
People may be telling you about their most amazing or relaxing experience in the tank or maybe you’ve been reading up about it and have built it up in your head of what to expect. The best thing to do is drop all expectations and enter with a clear and curious mind. For me even after 4 years of floating I still try to enforce this practice and forget that last float that I had or the best experience that I have had because in the tank it’s all about being in that present moment. The best way to keep these moments fresh in your mind but not in the tank is a float journal, similar to a dream journal. After exiting the tank just write down as much as possible. You’ll be amazed of the weird, whacky and incredible things you think of whilst in the tank.
Once you enter the float room begin the process of slowing down your breathing, adjusting to the dim lit room and even creating an intention. Intentions aren’t always necessary but if you feel like you need something from the tank put forth what you want to take out of it and when your mind does begin to wonder you can recall upon the idea and find some clarity in it.
Enter the tank and familiarise with your surroundings, where is the light? Where is the assistance button? The handle for the lid? Try to make it as comfortable as possible for the hour that is to come.
Your session may be one of vast nothingness or deep relaxation or it may just be purely physical and beneficial to the body this time round. Patience; I try to put this forward as much as possible. If you are not practicing meditation or yoga, anything to get your mind into a state of relaxation you cannot expect to completely shut your mind off first float session. This is a learned process in which takes practice and time. The Buddhist monks did reach enlightenment after an hour of meditation; although floatation is a much faster and easier stepping stone.
The easiest way I have experienced deeper states in the float tank is through breathing exercise. As Thich Nhat Hanh a great Vietnamese Buddhist Monk says “Breath is the bridge which connects life to consciousness, which unites your body to your thoughts. Whenever your mind becomes scattered, use your breath as the means to take hold of your mind again.” This truly applies in the tank when you have no external stimulation to distract you, your mind will search for anything to bring itself to attention. When you feel your mind drifting again, over and over always recall to the breath to fold right back into nothingness. There are a multitude of exercises to use but for me, my go to is just a simple 1:2 ratio of breathing. Inhaling for 4 seconds and exhaling for 8. This technique will soothe your nervous system naturally lowering you from the sympathetic to the para-sympathetic nervous system. This is also known as going from the “fight or flight” mode in to the “rest and digest” mode where your body naturally relaxes muscles and mind allowing us to go deeper.
Once you have a floating practice you will notice you have worked out all the kinks and are able to make the experience as comfortable as it can be. Once you step into the room your routine starts over and you feel like your floating already. You know your own process of what works and what doesn’t and what truly benefits the float. Most of us in the industry will say it generally takes 3 consecutive floats to get to a place where you have a routine and are truly comfortable. So listen to the mind and the body and let is guide you into having the fullest experience you can in the tank.
Written by Thomas George