The phrase ‘switch off’ comes up during conversations at the centre. I am here to ‘switch off,’ ‘I almost switched off,’ ‘I totally switched off,’ or ‘I couldn’t quite switch off.’ If we had a penny for every time that phrase was used in a week, we would have quite a healthy sum of money. The desire to step away from reality and empty your mind appeals to a vast number of people. As we listen to people coin the term ‘switch off,’ I have been intrigued by why we are in search of such a feeling.
It appears many of us are living inside our heads for so much of the time that we miss seizing the sights and sounds around us. We miss the smaller details, sipping a drink so we can savour it, the simple act of taking a breath or enjoying the warmth of water upon our skin. The float pod creates an environment for such wonderous feelings to take place, but it does not guarantee a ‘switched off’ experience. This is not necessarily a negative thing since our brain is such an extraordinary part of us. The fact that we can conjure up dreams in our deepest state is fascinating in its own way.
Sometimes a switched on float may sound a bit like this;
‘I couldn’t stop thinking!’ – Perhaps this is the perfect time to think, maybe you have not had a minute to yourself all day and your brain needs to process all that has happened. Maybe it will provide you with greater clarity.
‘My mind was racing,’ - For first timers your mind may very well race as the experience can feel novel and surreal. For regulars, slowing down thoughts takes some practice and there is never a time where you will maintain one approach. Floats change all the time.
‘I was thinking about mundane tasks,’ – Your mind does not need to go into the deeper questions every second of the day; it’s ok if you thought about cooking or cleaning. Give your mind permission to have a break from the analytics of life.
‘I felt a little bored,’ - It’s not the destination but the journey that counts! Boredom is just the beginning of igniting a little or big spark to our imagination. In our overstimulated world, a lack of stimulation is ironically what your mind probably needs.
These are just a few of things that can come up and when you read it over it does make a bit more sense. Yet it does beg certain questions, why do we struggle to embrace the thinking process?
Do we tend to worry more or feel frightened by our own emotions?
Is it much harder to confront the harder questions or the occasional mundane moments?
Without over-thinking things, let’s try to break things down step by step.
1) Your breath is a focus point even if you are thinking, it is possible to bring yourself back to your breathing. Every time you do wonder off in your brain, practise counting to 10 then inhale and exhale. There is no set time for when you do this so guide yourself back when you feel ready.
2) Sometimes letting yourself feel at ease with thoughts and emotions involves slowing down. One exercise that may help is to pick a word from your thought processes to visualize. Watch that word float in the air. It does not matter what the word means; the point is to slow things right down so visualize just one word.
3) Fully immerse yourself into the ‘mundane task thinking’ that comes up. You may find some small pleasure in letting your mind drift into that state. There is no set way to relax so it is best to accept what comes up rather than fight it.
4) Give yourself permission to be bored because your mind may need it. Some of our best laid plans occur when we are bored as that time away from stimulation allows our brain to re-boot.
The step-by-step process is not a definitive guide to to reach ‘nothingness’ in every float session. This blog post is a conversational piece which aims to highlight how some float sessions can be. We do not want to have unrealistic expectations of reaching nirvana. The expectations may prevent some of us from getting the most of out our sessions.
We place too much ‘pressure’ on the desire to relax, too much emphasis on ‘not thinking,’ on ‘escapism.’ Our minds and bodies are powerful enough to know when to relax but we need to trust there may not be one set way to decompress. And guess what, this is ok!
The beauty of floatation therapy means you end up feeling lighter regardless of what you did or did not think about. You have placed yourself in an environment where you can pause even if it is momentarily. No-one is asking anything from you, the opportunity to be alone is there and your body is free from the natural pull of gravity.
Ultimately the idea of switching off does not need to take over as the state you are placed in is already doing what it needs to. You are completely free to be whoever and whatever you like in the pod. There is no need to expect, wait for something to happen or worry about why you are thinking because it is your unique experience.