Stripping the Stimulus
Stripping the stimulus
My week spent in a float tank
It wasn’t long after my meditation mishaps,
that I started diving deeper into my mindfulness practice. I started looking into techniques to further enhance connectivity. In no time, I stumbled upon podcasts by Joe Rogan and Aubrey Marcus about float tanks. These salt water pods deprive you of your senses and peel away distractions and other stimuli. With thousands of pounds of salt, you float effortlessly in a dark room while wearing earplugs—allowing for ultimate relaxation.
Whether it was text messages, the construction going on outside my window, or my neighbor’s dog barking, distractions were always around when I tried to meditate. Additionally, we are in a continuously ‘plugged-in’ culture. Technology has allowed us to constantly scroll Instagram, fiend on Facebook feeds, or receive work emails. This pod takes all of that away.
Before writing this post, I decided to float 60 minutes a day for 5 consecutive days (a very small feat for most experienced floaters). I had tried floating twice before embarking on this 5-day journey. The first time I ever floated, I thought it was incredible. I felt as though I was floating through space. Zero gravity, zero concern about my naked body’s vulnerability, and zero sense of where the water ended and my body began. I drifted between sleep and consciousness, and next thing I knew, the music was playing to alert me that the hour had ended. I exited the pod feeling as though I just woke up from the best nap of my life.
The next experience could not have been more different. I couldn’t breathe, my skin felt as though it was crawling with every negative thought that passed through my mind—You’re a terrible daughter, why don’t you call your mother more? Your relationship is failing, and you’re not enough to hold it together. Why aren’t you more successful? —I cried. I sat on the floor of the tank waiting for the music to start so I could get out.
Needless to say, with such opposing experiences, I didn’t know what to expect going into the next 5 days.
Floating Day 1:
Today it took a while to silence my thoughts, at least half the float was spent trying to reel my mind in. But, once I hit that space of clarity and relaxation, I could have floated for an eternity. I left feeling rejuvenated, and ready to attack the day.
Floating Day 2:
It was easier to get into the groove today. I spent far less time trying to silence my mind, and more time just being. Thoughts came and went, and I was completely content with the now.
Floating Day 3:
Today creativity struck. I was floating thinking about work, and all that I had to do. I felt extremely overwhelmed and, to be honest, a little guilty for spending 60 minutes away from my desk and email. Then, it hit me, that lightbulb moment. Everything I was stressed about at work finally made sense. Lists ran through my head. Themes. Headings. Missions. Visions.
In the beginning of the float I was anxious to get out because I felt guilty being there. Now I couldn’t wait to get out because of the breakthrough I had made in the tank, and wanted to act on it.
Floating Day 4:
Today, floating is beginning to feel like part of my routine. It’s a time for me to relax, and turn my brain (and body) off. This float seemed quicker than the others, but the most noticeable thing is how I’m feeling outside of the tank. I’m sleeping more soundly, able to train harder in the gym, I’m less sore, and I’m less aggravated with daily stressors.
Floating Day 5:
I’m sad to see this streak come to an end. I want to absorb everything possible from this float, but I’ve been up since 4:00 a.m. and I’m tired as I enter the tank. I can feel myself fighting sleepiness, and am wrestling to stay awake. That said, it was very easy to focus on my breathing, and fall into a meditative state. I can definitely tell a difference from Day 1, and am feeling the accumulative effects.
As you can tell,
each float was different. After these 5 days, I found that going into the tank with an expectation is to set yourself up for failure. Wow, that was harsh. What I mean is, go into each float with an open mind—there, that’s better.
Before my second ever float experience (remember, the one that resulted in tears?), I went into it expecting clarity, an epiphany, anything to get me through the psychological turmoil I was dealing with at the time. Instead of the self-discovery I desired, I was confronted by some dark demons. This isn’t always bad, and in fact gives us a huge opportunity for growth (but we’ll get into that later), but when you’re expecting a completely different outcome, it can be quite a rude awakening. Like meditation, floating is a practice, and something that we get better at with time.