Five tips to a better float.
By Bryan Gray
There is no right way.
Floating is something you get better at with practice and experience, I lost count of how many floats I’ve had but I’m certainly over 1000 at this point and I’ve developed a few systems to help coach people through the introductory phase in the tanks. Our lives at times can be filled with obligations and pressures but remember that the tanks here are one helluva way to combat any negative effects, and it only takes a little more than an hour of your time.
Tip #1. Don’t try to do anything.
This is a fairly common mistake I see happening and it’s rooted in expectation. Because many of us have heard that floating is a mediation aid or meditation inducer (both are true) we get in there and try to meditate. This manifests in attempts to quiet the mind forcibly for lack of a better term. While some of us have learned to focus on breathing techniques or repeat mantras as a way to settle down, the rest of us, myself included, fail miserably at that technique. So what can we do to quiet the mind?
The best technique I’ve developed is to let my mind run itself out, like a Labrador at the dog park. I’ve found that if I just let my mind wander around, thinking about whatever it wants, one of two things will happen. Either it will wear itself out and I’ll disappear into Theta State, or it will settle on something that captivates it and I will get a fresh perspective on that thing. All my best ideas will literally float into my mind during this phase and perhaps more importantly, if my mind settles on something that bothers me (usually something interpersonal) I’ll get a bird’s eye view of my thinking and the capability to alter that mode of thinking.
Tip #2. The shower reset.
So this is a nifty trick I picked up when I worked an overnight shift up in Portland Oregon. Our float center up there ran 24 hours a day and I worked 9pm-5am. Being a cold, rainy city that shuts down early I was often unenthusiastic about walking home at 2am, if we weren’t booked, so I learned to spend the night in the tank. During these longer floats there would come a point where I would feel wide awake and often restless. At first I tried, rather unsuccessfully, to power through that restlessness but one day I figured out the shower reset trick.
Now whenever you feel restless in there, but also want to float longer, step out of the tank, rinse off in the shower real quick and jump back in. I always sink deeper into Theta when I step back in. Always. My theory is that reintroducing your body to gravity saps you of the energy you think you have as your body now has to adjust to deal with gravity once more. This works once but not twice in a session. For me anyways. Try it yourself and see what works for you.
Remember, floating is not a competition, not a race, it’s a journey and there is no endpoint. Floating is simply the best way to check in with your body. If you want to get out of the tank, it’s no big deal. We have had several clients take a few floats to push past that hour mark and witness the magic that happens. The bottom line here is, if you’re having trouble, just talk to us. We will work with you to make sure you get the most possible out of floating.
“Try to sink. It’s impossible, it’s a great exercise for your imagination and you’ll get to the point of spinal decompression a lot faster.”
Tip #3. Harness the power of your imagination.
We all know that the mind is a powerful thing. We’ve all heard the Deepaks and Robbinses of the world speak about creating your own reality. Well the float tank is the place to begin implementing this strategy, by harnessing the power of imagination and visualization.
I give everybody this advice when I walk them through the procedures on their first float, so some of ya’ll might have heard me say this, but it bears repeating. I have a ton of happy accidents using random visual images that pop into my head regarding my body map. There are literally too many for me to possibly remember but I’ll leave a few notable examples.
Imagining that my neck starts at my diaphragm and extends way past the top of my head (like a giraffe) was the very first time this happened and it completely freed my neck up. It rid me of this tendency I had to put my head too far back and allowed my neck to straighten up, shoulders sunk into the water and loosened up all my upper vertebrae.
Imagining the nerve endings in my feet and sloooowly tracing their path up my legs, all the way to my brain somehow activated my lower body and relaxed it to the point where it felt like somebody was pulling my legs away from me.
Most recently, resting my right hand on my left hip and my left hand on my right hip, then imagining that they are a roller coaster bar (the type that you pull over your head in front of you once you take your seat) makes them feel extremely heavy and ends up pushing my hips downward into the water more. This feels amazing to me as I was hit by a car last year and thrown way out of alignment.
It is my experience that any time you entertain the visual images that enter your mind in the tank, they tend to have a physical consequence. This goes beyond just the physical body as well. Many an athlete has envisioned the perfect motion, the feelings of victory or the strategic course of a game, only to have those things manifest in reality. I’ve been experimenting with this notion with some success in the tank. If you want to hear more about my wild rides in the float tanks you can listen to this podcast I was on. At 33 minutes I talk specifically about the Mantra I use. There’s also a lot of talk about my sordid past. Win-Win.
Tip 4. Trust the Water.
(This one is important)
Some people have trouble settling in due to unresolved issues with the water. For starters, if you’re at all concerned about the sanitation you can read about our filtration process here, as it’s too lengthy to include in this email. Rest assured that we are selfishly motivated to keep these things extremely clean due to the fact that Glenn and I are in the tanks more than anyone else.
I like to joke with people that if anything is going to happen to people in the tank, statistics show that it’s going to be us first. No one floats more than us!!!
Secondly, I find that some neck and shoulder tension issues can be traced back to not entirely trusting the buoyancy of the water. The water will certainly hold you up. It’s twice as buoyant as the Dead Sea and 10x saltier than the ocean. Everybody floats. The buoyancy measurement is known as specific gravity and we keep ours between 1.26 and 1.28. For reference, the ocean is about 1.035 and the Dead Sea is about 1.24 so this water is incredibly buoyant. You can relax and it will hold you up, I promise.
Let all your muscles relax and you’ll see what I mean. In fact, try to sink. It’s impossible, it’s a great exercise for your imagination and you’ll get to the point of spinal decompression a lot faster.
Tip #5. Know that you are in control.
There is no wrong way to float.
We will work with you to develop the best possible experience for you. The tank was designed to remove all of your sensory input (or as much as possible) and induce the Theta Brain Wave. As such the experience is designed to be done with the door shut and the lights off but you can certainly do any combination of those things. Is it getting hot in there? Crack the door open. Did you get cold last time? Let us know and we’ll turn the heat up. Did you know you can float in the pod without shutting the hatch? You do now!! We’ll show you how to do it.
You should also be aware that each float is an experience unto itself. There will be times you get in, immediately your mind goes blank and 90 minutes feels like the blink of an eye. There will be times that you spend longer than you want thinking about work or something trivial but that is just what your mind needs to do (part of the natural process of storing memory and organization). It’s all good, whatever your experience is.
So those are my tips.
It seems to me that the root of most hang-ups in the tank stems from either having expectations or believing that there is “a right way to float.”
I can tell you that relieving yourself of these beliefs will dramatically increase your experiences and ultimately lead you to your peak experience in the tank, ironically the one you might have expected. For me, one of the biggest attractions I had to floating was the lack of dogma. Once you jump in there, no one can tell you what to do, how to think, how to behave or what the answers you may be looking for are. Every single conclusion, solution or release of tension you discover in there comes from you! Floating is truly the “Magic Feather” that allows elephants to fly, by revealing the latent abilities we all have waiting inside us. Don’t give up! In fact, if you have any questions or want to ask me anything at all you can call me personally (my number is at the bottom of this email). That’s how much I care about getting people floating. It’s done so much for me as a personal development tool and I want to show you that same power.
Thanks for floating. I hope to see you soon.