People have always talked about how the holidays can be the hardest time of year. I understood how that might happen on anintellectual level, but I didn’t have the experience until this season. My father passed away six months ago and this is the first holiday season I am experiencing since he passed away.
The biggest thing I am noticing is that I have a constant desire to always be in motion. It’s almost as though if I slow down I am going to sink or fall into an abyss. At times I don’t even realize I am doing it. I can sense the frustration and I keep moving around, or doing other evasive things like eating, to prevent from dealing with the mourning. The week of Thanksgiving was hard. On an intellectual/logical level everything seemed fine. I slowed down and asked myself, “What is going on?” The answer then became clear. When I realized I was tense because mourning my dad, the next thought was, “How can I fix it?” It was as though I was on the eightieth floor of a skyscraper and there was a fire on the third floor – and there was no way to get to the third floor to put out the fire. I just couldn’t seem to do anything about it.
Fortunately, I have easy access to floating, and I knew a way into the fire of my mourning was to go float. I will add that I float frequently (once a week, but usually several times a week). On the Tuesday before Thanksgiving it had been several days since my last float. My mind was tense. When I went in to float I immediately began to sense a relief upon turning off the light. Slowly my mind slowed down. The tightness abated and things began to flow. I don’t remember much of what happened during the float. I did not cry. The best way I can explain it is I “loosened the screws” and the pressure lifted. It was as though I was able to transport myself down to that third floor with the fire, and walk into the fire, and realize it was not going to hurt me. In fact, there was comfort in the warmth. At one point, I sensed the presence of my father – whether he was actually there or not does not matter to me. There was something comforting about that sense of real presence and connection between me and him, and that sense of connection is not something I could have achieved outside the float tank. When I finished my float, I was at peace. The tension was no longer there. I have continued to do a lot of floating this month. It has been helping me a lot.
Go into the darkness, dear son
For there you will find me
Not out in the world
But in your heart
Only in the quiet, in the dark
Will I meet you there
And shake your hand
Touch your heart
Meet me there
I’m a big fan of floating – not because it is my business, but because it works. If you are anything like me, you often evade the things you must deal with. Interestingly, the things we must deal with are not the “to do list” items. Those are easy. The things we must deal with are the loss of those we love, or the discomfort of telling someone something difficult, such as, “I love you / I miss you / I need to talk about what happened the other night…” The things we tend to push aside are deeper topics, such as, “Am I where I am supposed to be in my life (e.g., as a father, a husband, or a professional)?” When we slow down and face ourselves, we recognize the thing we were resisting dealing with (the fire) is actually the source of strength and comfort. For example, my dad’s passing has been painful but it has also been a gift as it has taught me the preciousness of life, and the beauty of having people who love me (and who I love) in my life.
The holidays often amplify deeper tensions. That’s a good thing. In fact, it is something to embrace. At the same time, to think youcan handle it without tools, such as floating, might not get you the results you desire. Use floating as a tool to slow down and go to the “lower floors” of your mind. Doing so will reduce tension and bring you closer to the people in your life – and THAT is something to celebrate.
Happy Holidays to you and your family!