I promised I’d post about my experience floating, but first (as an awesome bonus) – firsthand experience from one of my awesome Paleo f(x) roomies, Brendon. One of my (awesome) Paleo f(x) roommates, Julie, and I had mentioned maybe floating while in Austin (why not), then Brendon said she was in too, so, there we went. 🙂
Floating is one of the coolest experiences, and I’m completely addicted. I tend to be a little bit high-strung so I love the extreme calm that stays with me after leaving the float tank. The first time, I was a little bit apprehensive getting into the tank and shutting the door, but once I relaxed it was amazing.
I’ve heard Joe Rogan describe it as the mind untethered from the body, and that’s how it feels! (Rogan also likens it to a good mushroom trip, but I wouldn’t know anything about that!) You lose track of where your skin ends and the water begins, and it’s an awesome feeling of oneness with the world. I’ve meditated before, but my float tank experiences go far beyond any level I’ve reached with typical meditation (or even kundalini yoga meditations which are more intense for me).
During my first experience, I freaked out at one point when I started seeing things – seeing things in a pitch black room! I saw them whether my eyes were open or closed, and I couldn’t make it stop! I calmed myself down by remembering that it was all coming from inside me, and whatever I was seeing needed to be seen and released. I’ve heard other people talk of having full-blown visions and hearing choirs sing, but I haven’t gotten to that point yet. Regardless of what I saw, heard or felt during my sessions, floating gives me such a feeling of euphoria that lasts for a few days afterward.
My experience floating:
Zero Gravity in Austin is amazing. First, you get a 15-minute massage chair experience – I call it “experience” because there’s music and cosmic/spacey type stuff that you watch. Super relaxing. It can definitely put you into a weird, spacey, but relaxed mood – ready to float!
The float tanks at Zero Gravity are basically giant rooms (not like the photo above or most images that come up when you Google “float tank”). Think of it as a luxury float room instead of a tank. (Most places are not like this.) Honestly, I had no idea what to expect. I’ve done yoga nidra and meditation before – meditation is usually tough for me, I can’t slow down my thoughts, but yoga nidra is easier. An hour seems like a LONG time at first though, seriously.
I stepped into the tank, closed the door, and got into floating position (aka I tried not to flop down into the water). My first thought: holy crap, I’m actually floating! It’s way more of a floaty (is that a word?) feeling than floating in a pool or on a pool float. For the first while (because I have no idea how long it actually lasted), I was just laying there, thinking it was so cool to be floating, feeling weightless. Then, I think I started to maybe almost panic a little – how long have I been in here? Has it been like 50 minutes? Or maybe two minutes? How am I going to last an hour in here? I had earplugs in and woah – when those are in, all you can hear is your heartbeat. My heartbeat was so loud.
Then I felt like the air was a little bit warm, maybe too moist. Am I breathing funny? Is it hard to breathe? How long have I been in here? Maybe I should get out for a break? No, I’m not getting out, I’m just going to float and float and..seriously, how long has it been?
But, the breathing thoughts actually made me focus on breathing more – breathe in, breathe out, slowing my breaths down, counting breaths, etc. You could say I was having a hard time letting myself go to actually get into the floating experience. (It’s kind of easy for your body/brain to try to resist it though.) But then I had the awesome idea of thinking through a yoga nidra practice to make myself relax. Totally worked.
I still have no idea how long it took me to actually get into the floating, but I’m thinking maybe 20-30 minutes. After that, I was just enjoying the floating, drifting off, swaying. (Swaying was kind of weird – I just kept thinking wait, is the water moving? Am I making my arms/legs move? I don’t think I’m trying to. They’re just kind of swaying on their own but I must be controlling it, right? Sway sway sway.) AND THEN I felt like I was really really into the floating. And of course, the music came on and the dimmed lights came on. The float was over and I was sad. 😦
OK, guys, be careful when you step out of the tank the first time. My legs felt like jelly. I was so thankful to have a handrail to hold on to. After I showered, I was talking to a floatation ambassador (I like that better than saying “employee” or “staff”) about how it took a while to get into it, but then it was awesome. She mentioned swaying and I said – YES, whew, I thought it was something weird going on and I was just trying to swim or something. Whew. She also mentioned people coming out of the tank and feeling like everything is brighter – the sky, colors, etc. (I felt like that but it had been rainy when we got there…and then sunny. Coincidence? Maybe not.)
I knew I had to do it again. So….I took my mom to Total Zen Float in the Orlando area. I have to preface this by saying: my mom has a hard time relaxing, she’s always go, go, go. So she was asking things like: What do you do in there the whole time? Can I bring my phone? Is there music? You’re not in the same tank with me? It’s enclosed? (And I kept saying mom, it’s fine, it’s fine.) The Total Zen guys got a few questions from her. They have two tanks – one kind of looks like a giant tanning bed, and another like a giant ice chest (or dog crate). She was not getting into the ice chest one, but seemed more ok of the tanning bed one.
Anyway, fast forward an hour and she said she actually liked it and she stayed in the tank the whole time. (I’m skeptical.) The next morning, she said she hadn’t slept that well in a long time. So – yay – she maybe liked it a little? And I discovered that floating is more awesome the more you go. I feel like I waste (not waste, but you know) less time trying to get into the floating now – and more time just floating away and enjoying the experience. I keep meaning to go for 90 minutes instead of 60 – I feel like I start to get more into it, but then, every single time, I’m really super into it and the music comes on and I am sad. 90 minutes. Next time.
Why do I keep floating? It’s a different way of relaxing in a deeper way. I’m not sure how to explain it, but I feel like after floating, I can more easily deal with crap from every day life and work. Work issues? That’s cool, I floated yesterday so I can see the bigger picture. Tired? That’s cool, cause that means I’m living. Awesome? Yes, I am. I can’t wait to float again. Can I float every day? Maybe there’s a secret float tank in my city that I just don’t know about yet…
Moral of the story: go float. Please. Try it just once.
For some more firsthand experiences, check out these posts:
And if you want to get a little deeper into it:
Happy floating! 🙂