If you have ever learnt to swim or ride a bike you know it takes more than one attempt to master these skills. In this regard floating is quite similar, like swimming or riding a bike some of us may pick it up straight away whilst the rest of us need a bit extra practice to be able to enjoy these activities to their fullest.
Now it might seem odd to lie there listening to your own thoughts whilst lying in a saline solution of Epsom Salt water surrounded by darkness. Completely relaxing and shutting off your mind can certainly be a challenge, even more so when we are uncertain before trying it.
If you want to give floating a chance it is worth floating at least 3 times. That’s right 3 times! You may be thinking, ‘what if I don’t like it my first time?’ ‘Why should I give it another go?’ this is what this post is all about, I am here to tell you about my experience.
Most first-time floaters will fall into one of two categories: Type A, you loved your float session, settled in easily, drifted away and came out feeling amazing. Or you were Type B, took a while to settle in and find a comfortable position, had difficulty controlling that monkey mind and were unsure if you could do that again for an hour.
I was a Type B floater and just like learning to ride my bike it took me a few attempts to really understand what I needed to do to get the most enjoyment and benefit out of floating. It wasn’t until the day after my first float that I really felt the benefits, I had a great sleep and felt so good that it made me eager to go back and give it another go. I am so glad that I did as it had a profound impact on my life.
At that time, I wasn’t in a great place mentally or physically, my job was super stressful, I wasn’t healthy, partying too much and burning the candle at both ends. My amazing girlfriend at the time (now my super awesome wife) was supportive and was there for me. We both needed a way to de-stress, de-compress and relax, we found floating by accident or was it meant to be… Either way I had to give floating a few more try’s.
My second float was very different to my first float, this time I had music throughout the session to try and focus on something else and distract me from my monkey mind. In all honesty it wasn’t the best float, it took me longer to get settled in and comfortable. My mind was racing as it had been a particularly stressful day, I tried to focus on my breathing and drifted off for a short while. My arm jerked during the session and I woke myself up, I stupidly went to scratch an itch on my nose and dripped water in my eye. My second float was not plain sailing, by the time I settled it felt like no time at all until the music came on. I felt a bit disappointed that it wasn’t as good as the first one. I was determined to make sure my next one was great. I slept well that night, which was a surprise to me as I didn’t feel as though I had achieved anything during that session.
My third float was an even better experience as I knew what to expect. This time I had music just at the beginning and the end, I found the music a little distracting all the way through during my second session. Within the first 15 minutes of my float I began to drift in and out of consciousness. There were times when I felt like there was nothing around me at all, as though I was laying on a cloud. I totally forgot that I was laying on a bed of water in a float tank. I decided to float in the evening after a particularly stressful day at work, it made a huge difference in my ability to relax. I could forget about the worries of work and life easily and drift off into nothingness.
Upon reflection, I believe I was trying too hard to try and recapture the same feeling as I had had in session two. Float three felt easier, I let go of everything and just went with the flow. I was given a great tip as well, which was to see my thoughts as clouds passing by. Watching them come and go but not allowing them to be connected to me. As each thought drifted away the deeper my float became as I surrendered myself to the moment, that hour in the wonderful, cradling cocoon allowed me to just be. Something I had neglected for a long time, overloading my life to try and escape the moment and myself. For the first time in a long time I felt at peace and connected with my inner self and inner child again.
That night I had the best sleep I had had in years, this continued for around 5 nights until Friday night…Ahem! Where I got little sleep, to be fair this was self-inflicted. But I did feel that I had a great deal more energy than usual so could enjoy myself more and not head home early. There is research that backs this up, floating has been shown to reduce activity in the amygdala, the area of the brain responsible for the fight-or-flight response, which in turn reduces the amount of stress hormone cortisol in the blood, making it easier to sleep.
As I stated earlier, think of floating as learning to ride a bike or learning to swim. You may feel awkward doing it for a few times. However, eventually it becomes a natural habit, you can feel comfortable and an expert in it. Floating is the same. You should commit to at least three float sessions for you to be able to really know if it is for you.
It all started with those three magic floats for me, since then I have floated almost 200 times over several years. I couldn’t live without it now; the tank is like a great friend to support you when you need it through good times and bad. Floating has prompted me to take better care of myself, physically and mentally, accepting myself for who I am. Oh, and open my own centre with my awesome wife, just give it a go it may float your boat!