Floatation is a wonderful tool that allows a person of any age to feel as though the did when they were a kid. If it were a pill to be swallowed, there'd be commercials plastered and prescriptions filled. Yet, despite it's consistent affect, floatation remains on the fringe of cultural awareness. Floatation has been around nearly 50 years and has been providing much needed relief for countless people for all that time and yet still hasn't crossed that tipping point. So what is different with this latest surge in interest? Has anything changed that will usher in a new age of floatation? Floatation can be a scary thing to the uninitiated. It is a dark, moist, and often musty environment. There is nothing to do but lay back and witness the unwinding. This is quite a shift from the cultural norm that blasts stimulus at us with ever increasing intensity. A shift from the context of most human experience. It is very difficult to look back with historical context and project into what life would have been like at other times in human history. I am only alive now and experiencing this moment. With that said, however, I think it is easy to state with confidence that we are, at this point, experiencing demands on our attention that are far surpassing any other time in history, save the few short periods of cataclysmic events. The demands are immediate such as dealing with automobiles, cell phones, flashing lights, and the countless other stimuli vying for our mind's attention, but also complex and structural such as the movement of culture away from natural environments into fabricated environments. In this past 50 years the human species, especially in advanced industrialized nations, has undergone an evolutionary revolution. Technology has restructured the food we eat, the environment we live in, even the makeup of our family units and the relations we foster with each other. Needless to say, our bodies' are under tremendous chronic stress while we learn hwow to integrate this new way of living. For me, this is the change that will lift floatation into the daily activities of even the most ardent resistor. From the most generic point of view, one can see stress as simply more incoming stimulus than available resources to process. A little stress is necessary for any system to remain healthy, but too much stress deteriorates and eventually breaks a system. R.E.S.T. Floatation is a very unique technique that provides the mind/body system an environment unlike any other environment in which they estimate up to 90% of the incoming stimulus is removed. This, almost total release of stimulus, has a very amazing effect on the body. It allows the body to direct the now freed resources to integrate at accelerated rates. It is this very integration that allows for the plethora of benefits that is commonplace with floatation. An integrated person thinks clearer, moves faster and with greater efficiency, and is overall, happier. So what is different now? Honestly, we have no more room to wiggle. Our current lifestyles are unsustainable without some technique that allow for more rapid integration. The chronic stress that most of us face today will eventually break us unless we have a way to metabolize it more rapidly and floatation does just that. Our world is now ready for floatation and with its acceptance in our culture, will we see a new phase of humanity emerging just as it did with agriculture, television, and the computer.
A few years after finishing college (over 15 years ago) I began studying neo-shamanism, which is a practice of using drumbeats to slow the mind and explore one’s mind through a form of active imagination. The exploration is done to develop greater awareness about oneself. I took an eight week course that met every Saturday. There were about fifteen other participants and we all did ten or fifteen minute journeys on topics ranging from things like, “What is your power animal?” to “Having a conversation with a relative who has passed on.” My journeys were always very intense, vivid, and imaginative. At the time, I thought the “journey” was what mattered. However, as the months and years passed, I realized the journeys I did with the drums were small drops in a much larger lake known as my life. The journeys were not the important thing. What mattered was the insights I gained from the journeys and how how I integrated those insights into my life. My teacher always hammered away at, “How are you going to bring this [insight] into your life and your community.” I discovered that when I acted on the insights I developed, which sometimes took great courage, my life improved. I developed closer relationships with the people in my life and I began to act in a way that brought greater harmony to myself and those around me.
As a float facilitator, I always encourage my clients to integrate their float experience into their life. For example, someone recently came out of their float feeling really relaxed and blissful. It was the middle of the day so she had to go out and go to meetings, do errands, etc. It was her first float. She said how it would probably be better to float at the end of the day so she could go home and not have to deal with things like making dinner, etc. I gave her a different way of looking at it. “No,” I said. “The objective is to take this sense of calm and integrate it into your day so you can go back home to your kids, and dinner and be in a calmer state of mind.” I told her how I used to float in New York City on 23rd Street and I would immediately walk out onto the street and “plug in” to the speed of the city. I would go shopping, meet up with a friend, or get on the subway to get home. “A person can be slow in their mind but quick in their movements,” I said. She was thankful to get that perspective.
Integrating an uncomfortable float is as important as integrating a blissful float. I had someone in recently who had a panic at the end of her float because she could not find the door. She had become so disoriented that she lost her sense of direction. I told her it was great she unplugged so much that she forgot where she was. I also pointed out how if someone panics in there, it is pointing at places where a person is panicking or struggling to control things. “We all do it,” I told her laughing. “I still have times when I panic in a float.” It is a wonderful thing because it is pointing at a place where we resist. The important thing to do with such an event is to ask, “What am I really panicking about?” Could it be frustration in a relationship? Could it be uncertainty about a career? It is very important to examine those types of questions because the answers are where the “float gold” lies. The answers are where we can begin to approach our everyday life in a different way and that is ultimately where the richness of life is found.
Instead of always reflecting only on how your floats are going, consider asking, “How is floating affecting my life or how is it I am using my float experiences to enhance my life and the lives of those around me?” Winston Churchill said, “We make a living by what we get. We make a life by what we give.” I encourage you to infuse the world with life by using your float experiences to make you and your world a better place.