What is Floating REALLY??
Even after all my years of floating, I often have a hard time truly telling people what this practice is in a way that fully encompasses it. I mostly talk about what floating CAN BE. It can be a stress-reduction practice, but I’ve also had guests tell me how anxious or frustrated they felt in the tank. Floating can be a therapy that reduces pain, but I’ve also had guests get headaches or cramp up. I’ve seen people walk out of their floats smiling and others confused. I’ve had some tell me how easy it was and others how hard. As I witness all the things a float can be for myself and others, I have often wondered what, if anything, all floats have in common. What is it that I’ve devoted so much of my life to really?
At its most superficial level, floating is water, salt, silence, and darkness. But it’s more than that. I sometimes talk about it in terms of biology – what it does for and to the body – or psychology – what it does for and to the mind. Though impressive, those lists seem a bit lacking as well, and not everything on them applies to everyone that gets in the tank.
How Big Must The Box Be?
I think part of the reason I can’t quite wrap my head around floating enough to describe it in its entirety is because its definition continues to expand with time. I am constantly having to adjust the parameters of what floating is and what it can do as I continue to have new experiences in the tank. Then I listen to stories from guests for whom floating becomes something entirely different. It makes me hesitant to say much at all to people who haven’t tried it, as if I might be putting false boundaries on their potential experiences. It’s better to experience a float and then decide what it is for you. It will most certainly be different than what it is for others. Then I hope you’ll try it again to see how the experience can change. You too will likely have to hold your definition loosely as you continue to explore what’s possible.
Despite my struggles, I have come up with a few characteristics that I believe apply to all floats. They form pretty vague boundaries, as I feel they should. Together, though, these 3 characteristics are the closest thing I have so far to a definition of floating.
1. Floating Can’t Be Forced
Floating strips away all of our misconceptions about where the line is between what we can control and what we can’t. And it turns out we can’t control much at all. It’s as though we’re cold butter trying to get into a piece of toast. Inside that warm toast are all the things we want out of our float- relaxation, peace, clarity, healing. We can try to force our way in – aggressively spreading ourselves into it over and over until we destroy the bread entirely, and yet remain separate from it even still. Or we can be patient enough to soften and seep into the experience. We can allow ourselves to melt. Control as little as you can – just your breath if you’re able – and you’ll melt into whatever you need the most. Every time.
2. Floating Is A Mirror
I’ve had guests share with me on occasion that they saw themselves in their float. Some of them mean it literally, but most of them mean that they clearly experienced their state of being. They saw who they were in that moment. Apart from stimulation and distraction, you are left only with yourself; that’s all you have to experience. This happens to everyone, though some have a hard time seeing their experience was simply a reflection of themselves. The cool thing is everyone who allows themselves to let go of control (melt) in the tank experiences something positive underneath. But it’s not the tank giving you happiness or peace or clarity; you found them in yourself and the float reflected that back to you. You can train the pathway to finding those things too. As you do, it becomes easier to dig beneath your exterior to find joy and solace, both inside and outside the tank.
3. Floating Is Potential
Because you are the only variable that really changes from float to float, your experiences will change as you do. Consequently, the depths of those experiences are limited only by the limits you place on yourself. Each one of us is a galaxy; our ability to explore the inner reaches of ourselves increases as we develop the tools to do so. I’ve yet to find how far and how deep I can go. I don’t expect I ever will.
Of course, these three characteristics apply to life in general as well. What floating is really is a classroom where we can see, understand, and integrate these, and other life lessons, much more easily if we’re open enough to receiving them. It’s a space where we can practice things in a way where they sink in, and the benefits of that practice inevitably start to show up in life. As floating becomes easier, deeper, and more meaningful, so does everything else.
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