Mindfulness Methods: Sorting & Sleuthing

This post is part of our Mindfulness Methods series, a collection of blogs dedicated to exploring different techniques we use to enhance our float experiences. Let me emphasize that there’s no wrong way to float, but sometimes we need a little help to get the most out of our time in the tank.

“Instead of worrying about what you can’t control, shift your energy to what you can create.”

—Roy T. Bennett


You may have noticed that Michelle and I talk about the breath a lot. It is the first Mindfulness Method we wrote about, and the one we come back to time and time again. This is because it is the one action we can control to help us let go of control. Focusing on the breath to quiet the mind may not be for everyone in the beginning, though. For some of us, the process of relaxing through that pathway is a long road littered with obstacles that are bigger than we’re ready for. Some of us quiet our minds only to find the very thoughts we’re trying to escape taking advantage of the empty stage.

In those situations, it often feels safer and easier to engage the mind instead. As we train the pathway to achieve peace within ourselves, we can develop the ability to eventually allow those difficult thoughts in without being overcome by them. Finding this place of safety is something that floating is especially helpful with. It is important to acknowledge where you are in your progress, and start with what helps you the most.

In this post, I’d like to share two different ways we can focus the mind to help us not quiet our thoughts, but engage with them in a more constructive way. The two methods are: Sorting and Sleuthing.


Sorting is especially helpful when we’re feeling anxious and can’t seem to get away from unpleasant thoughts. Instead of pushing them away, we can hold them with curiosity. Try taking each thought and placing it into a category of your choosing. You’ll quickly find that a lot of your anxiety falls into a few core concerns. Narrowing your worries from an overwhelming number to 3 or 4 can make them easier to handle. This also allows you to see the deeper issues to focus on in your life, which will have a far greater effect than tackling each anxious thought individually.

A good way to know if it’s time to start sorting is if you’re feeling frustrated that you can’t relax in the float tank. Dig into that a little deeper by noticing the thoughts that keep showing up, and identifying which category they belong in. Just the act of acknowledging each one can be enough to get past them and feel better. It can also help to take some time after your float to journal about your experience. List the categories you came up with and what they taught you about yourself. The first step to improving anything is being aware of it, which is exactly what sorting can help you with.

When attempting to sort, please also be aware of your feelings. If you end up on a topic that is especially overwhelming for you, please give yourself permission to disengage. Change the subject if you can or turn on the music. You can even get out of the float tank if you feel you need to. It is possible to still run into things in the float tank that we aren’t ready to deal with on our own, but rather might be better addressed with a professional trained to know how to support us.


Sleuthing can be helpful for those of us that struggle with depressing thoughts. Our minds sometimes get caught in loops that focus on the unpleasant parts of us and our lives. Getting out of these loops can feel impossible, but we can begin to jump the track to more positive pathways with a little work. Sleuthing helps us to do that work; it is the process of combing through our lives like a detective to find evidence of good things. Are there things in your life that you do like? Are there things you can be thankful for? Find them! Pick your days apart to find every sliver of positivity. This act creates and strengthens new loops, which over time can become more of our default way of thinking.

Doing this in a float tank can make this practice especially effective. The environment is specially designed to help you turn down your stress response and relax. This allows more clarity and makes it easier to see the good things. Journaling about the positivity you found afterwards can further solidify your new, blossoming loops as well.

If you struggle with anxious and depressing thoughts like so many of us do, consider trying to engage with yourself in a different way, like through sorting or sleuthing. And if you want to make it a little easier on yourself, consider doing it in a float tank. We’d be so happy to have you.

If you’re ready, book a float with us.

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  • The ideas for this post were taken from Hillary McBride, a registered clinical counselor specializing in trauma and a PhD candidate in Clinical Psychology at the University of British Columbia. Check out her website for more information.