We’ve already landed in St. Louis, checked in to our AirBnb, and have been greeted by the warm embrace of our float family here for the Rise Float Gathering.
The welcome party was wonderful. Drinks were had, stories were shared, and old friends greeted each other and new relationships formed across tables in excited conversations about salt damage, float tank research, and the wild stories we’re all bringing in from our parts of the world.
Already, it promises to be a fun, exciting, and invigorating weekend here at the Donald Danforth Center.
Check back in for live updates to all the speakers, events, and goings on this weekend at the Rise Float Gathering.
Sat May 04
9:00 am — 9:15 Opening Remarks – Jake and Kevin
In between mic troubles, Jake and Kevin kicked off the event with a warm conversation around the stage, greeting Glenn and Lee Perry as they came in. They brought warmth to the otherwise sterile Dansforth Plant Science Research center.
Jake led a guided meditation to bring everyone present this morning. Feeling the entire room exhale in unison while centering ourselves was the perfect sort of magic to open the weekend with.
Not to be outdone, Kevin taught everyone some laughter yoga and had the entire audience playing with each other like schoolyard children.
9:15 am — 9:45 Stephen Johnson
Our resident industry poet opened with “wild psychonauts are not typically welcome in polite society. This is why we gather.”
So often, his words create a synthesis between spirituality and logic.
His piece this year explicated the parallel’s between gathering with our floaty brethren and floating in our tanks. It’s a helpful reminder in our interconnected nature and how sharing our experiences together make us stronger.
Following his talk, Jake and Kevin sat him down on the couch on stage and just talked. About philosophy, playfulness, and perception.
He shared his plans on making a documentary with his son to talk with the industry all across the country. He mentioned a release sometime around the beginning of next year and it will be fully available to the industry.
9:45 am — 10:25 Lee and Glenn Perry
The spirit of playfulness continued as the parents of the industry came onto the stage. Glenn briefly played hide and seek while a mic’d Lee tried to quietly ask for a pen. Even while Glenn discussed his challenging personal growth found through floating, there was a conversational warmth that exuded from them.
The couple announced their intention to release a book January 6th, 2020 about their experiences with John C. Lilly, building the float industry, and what they’ve learned about the world.
Glenn talked about the dichotomy between Love and Fear. About how certain people may embody these traits, and each of us are somewhere on the spectrum, humorously saying “we are each somewhere between the Dalai Llama and Donald Trump.”
While sharing the story of his first float, he offered his insights on how we can remain present while living in a society that seems intent on preventing us from doing so. “It takes Herculean effort to remain present while in fear” and reminded us all that the act of floating is a defiant act and is one of the single greatest tools to mitigate fear and stay present every day.
Lee spent her time on stage petitioning the entire industry to help them name their book, or if anyone has particular things that they would like to see in the book.
11:05 am — 11:40 Angela McAllister
The owner of Lucidity Float in Chattanooga, Angela talked about the importance of dealing with stress and negativity. As float center owners, how can anyone authentically encourage customers to remove stress if the owners aren’t living that experience. A theme in the discussions today.
She started her professional life with a degree in environmental science and advocated for public schools. She eventually moved into pharmaceuticals as a drug rep, selling drugs that helped treat the symptoms of stress, ironically enough.
After the corporate life wore her down, she went back into non-profit work and joined a retreat where she got the inspiration to open her own float center. She was initially resistant to opening a tank since there was already a float center in her town.
Her float journey started at this local center. She learned, through lots of trial and error, how to become more centered, relaxed, and attentive through her practice of floating.
After she had been floating for a while, the center changed hands and the service fell into disrepair. The rooms fell apart, the tanks weren’t maintained, even the water wasn’t being changed out. She was so upset by her experience, she offered to buy the center to make it the kind of place that made helped her become the self-actualized person she is.
The support she received from the community was overwhelming. Many of the old customers returned and thanked her for saving the center from falling too far down the path it was headed. Her story is a helpful reminder of the power float centers have on their communities that are often silent.
She has an anonymous journal in her post float lounge with stories ranging from the mundane, to the hilarious, to the epic and life changing. She also acknowledged that for some floaters, the tank can bring up trauma and has the power to be damaging. Angela emphasized the importance of providing the tools for floaters that can help guide people to the best possible outcome.
She’s started keeping her own journal of floaters and what she’s seeing, to help make sure that Lucidity is offering all the information they can to floaters before the ever step into the tank.
11:40 am — 12:15 Wendi Elmore
Float STL places an emphasis on community engagement and actively seeks out community leaders in their team. Wendi has been active in tech, yoga, and creating mindfulness in communities of color. She started a floating group for people of color at Float STL to help create a space for mindfulness.
She talks about the importance of education when sharing floating with communities that are traditionally under-served. She shared that for some people of color who have a fear of water and worry about drowning in any body of water.
Wendi also noted how important it can be to have people that look like them for new floaters and if the representation isn’t there, it can make people hesitant to participate or feel less welcome, even unconsciously.
We should be conscious of the communities around us.
Kevin and Jake spoke with her about the impact she has had for them and about how her community building at Float STL has helped them realize their own blind spots in engaging with communities of color locally.
12:15 pm — 12:30 Mike Boeger
The New FTA shared their vision on what’s coming out in 2020 with the Float Tank Association. Mike is a new organizer for the FTA to help with a third party perspective on the needs of the industry.
They’ve worked to integrate feedback from the last couple of years to implement aggressive change. To start, they’re asking for FTA members to elect a new board from a list of nominees. There will be a more comprehensive structure for community engagement from the top down, including FTA officers, committees, and local chapters all across the globe.
2:15 pm — 3:00 Paul & Heather Clift
Following a delightful lunch where float families met, laughed, and shared, the owners of Samana Float in Colorado brought us back with a re-telling of a float knock knock joke.
They sat down on the couch to just sit and share with us. Paul expounded on the relationship between para-magnetic materials, states, and higher levels of consciousness. While I can’t share the exact information that Paul shared, suffice to say that para-magnetic materials are known to help create fertile soil and are generally considered good for healthy living. This is significant because magnesium is para-magnetic, so every time we’re floating, we’re exposing our bodies to para-magnetism.
He shared the parallels between modern floating and old caves found in dormant volcanoes that were rich in para-magnetic materials as well. In the darkness, shamans were able to find hidden truths. This work parallels strongly the work that float centers do, guiding people in darkness to find the light in our lives.
He closed by guiding a meditation using a metaphor about a seed growing in the ground and experiencing its life cycle, reminding us that our float tanks are fertile soil.
3:00 pm — 3:45 Kevin Johnson
When speaking about mindfulness, there are few people in the industry as practiced or focused as Kevin Johnson. He’s working on a book about his experiences and the knowledge that he’s accumulated in his 35 years of floating.
His talk takes us back about 8 years when Joe Rogan started talking about float tanks on his podcast. To Kevin, this was a missed opportunity in the industry. The sensational stories that got shared around floating rose to the top. People were looking for transformation. The early adopters were sharing wild, psychedelic experiences.
The opportunity that the industry missed was talking about the spiritual experiences when floating was becoming mainstream. In focusing on health benefits, research and biometrics of floating, he sees that as burying the lead on the essence of the float experience.
Kevin thinks that as they become familiar with floating, they are looking for the next level of the experience. They will inevitably want more if they’re looking to make it a part of their life. He emphasizes the importance of not priming people’s floats, but making sure that we show them there are ways to create a practice that takes floats further.
Kevin developed a system called Transformational Floatation for the experienced floater so they can move on to the next level of personal development in the float tank.
This program is reliant on experienced floaters being able to identify their own states of consciousness. Depending on which state of consciousness you’re in, you can determine when your brain is the most pliable to certain ideas.
Floating is a powerful tool for our psychology. We can give our brain a break so that it can do the work it normally doesn’t have the resources to work on. We’re avoiding most of the really hard work.
The Transformational Floatation system is a fascinating project that focuses on the development of different levels of intelligence based on Maslow’s Hierarchy of Needs. Instead of doing a disservice to the elaborate system that he’s developed by trying to paraphrase it here, everyone should feel encouraged to reach out to Kevin Johnson to get more information.
Beyond just that, though, what he says is most important is that as an industry, programs like these are needed to get our floaters to the next level.
3:45 pm — 4:30 Ashkahn Jahromi and Graham Talley
The Float On boys, playing kazoos while wearing chicken hats, talked about something that they should be considered experts in: Fun.
Ashkahn asks, “does having fun in business come at the expense at the profitability of your company?”
As small businesses, small inefficiencies don’t affect the bottom line like it does on big businesses. There are some tangible benefits to focusing on fun that we don’t really consider in business traditionally.
Having fun makes things easier to work on. In business and in relationships. If you’re not designing your recurring tasks in a fun way, they become a burden. Having fun can improve efficiency, creativity, and keeping your employees invested in your company. So having fun can potentially make your business more profitable.
When looking at long term efficiency, burnout can wear down your employees and create high turnover if you’re not focusing on having fun.
Creating fun is a skill and can be practiced. It requires actively looking for opportunities to create fun. Fun can encourage good behavior. If something is typically difficult but it becomes fun, then it becomes more likely to be done.
Fun creates friendship. Bonding and celebrating makes work more enjoyable and help lead to more fulfilling business relationships.
Don’t get in your own way of fun. You have to be willing to go out of your way to make your business fun, and that can take more time and effort, but if you let it, it can make everything more rewarding.
To illustrate this point, the guys handed out personalized kazoos to everyone in attendance and led them in a kazoo song. Words can’t describe the elation of this experience. It was silly, heartfelt, and absolutely rewarding.
So instead of describing it, here’s a recording from inside the space that may help illuminate this experience.
Grashkamn's Kazoo Orchestra
Sun May 05
9:00 am — 9:15 Morning Welcome – Jake and Kevin
The second day of the event kicked off with more of the warmth and kindness that Jake and Kevin are known for. Many of the people greeting friends from the night before, where people had gone to happy hours, dinners, and after parties until 2 in the morning.
9:15 am — 10:00 Carol Johnson
To recenter us and prepare everyone for the day ahead of mindfulness and serenity, Carol led everyone in guided meditation accompanied by singing bowls while she chanted. It was both spiritual and harmonic, her voice drawing each of us to a place of zen and stilling any lingering feelings of drudgery from the night before.
10:00 am — 10:45 Donna and Chris Petrovics
A bittersweet talk, Chris and Donna share the story of Pro Float in a heart first way.
Chris started out in manufacturing, but he was wildly unhappy, Donna was a nurse. They had been high school sweethearts and reconnected 8 years later.
One day, it all became too much and Chris had to walk away from manufacturing, instead turning to building his own float tanks. Their first tank took 10 months to build and knew that it couldn’t be replicated.
They discovered the Float Conference the day before it was about to start. They hopped in a car, drove down to Portland, and dove in head first. They started making tanks right away.
They had their first baby and named him Duncan. five days after he was born, they were installing their very first tanks, an 11 hour drive away.
From there, they hired staff and it became a whirlwind of tanks and installs. One day, after returning from an install for Clarity Float Spa, Chris came home to a scavenger hunt of post it notes leading him to another pregnancy test from Donna. They were having another baby.
After that, they helped coordinate bringing Duncan Trussell to the next Float Conference. It was a dream come true, the name sake of their first born, making everything come full circle.
At this point, they’ve made 150 tanks and installed them personally, all over the world.
Inversely, since they’ve started, Chris has missed 3 wedding anniversary’s, 6 birthdays, and had over 300 days away from home doing installs.
This Friday, Pro Float completes its last tank.
Donna shared how grateful she is to the industry. They’ve both experienced so much love from everyone they’ve worked with. Their family needs to come first and she wants it known that it was such a hard decision to make.
Thank you, Chris and Donna. The industry is grateful.
11:15 am — 12:30 Justin Feinstein
Justin took a much more casual approach to his presentation than some of the previous talks over the years. He started with sharing updates about the Float Research Collective, a group that was formed at Rise last year.
In this short period of time, they’ve already made a lot of great progress and we’re finally seeing other labs and research centers take on Floatation REST research. A major development is that the University of Toledo, where some of the very first float tank research was performed, will be building their own float tank laboratory again, headed by Tom Fine. He hopes to have it fully functional before retiring.
The Float Clinic recently secured a NIH grant to continue research at LIBR, but in order to continue past the next couple years, they want to work on creating independent funding platforms that can ensure float research is funded throughout the next few years.
The talk quickly turned into a brainstorming session with the entire audience chiming in and offering suggestions about how to secure funding. If you would like more information or have any specific suggestions, email firstname.lastname@example.org.
2:00 pm — 2:30 Jacob Resch and Rick Boling
As we landed back after lunch, we were greeted with the minds behind Third Wave Magazine. Jacob Resch, of course, has been co-hosting the Rise Gathering. In collaboration with Rick Boling, who also works at Float STL, they’ve just released the third issue of the completely free float industry print magazine.
They talked about the process of creating the magazine and how it evolved from a concept at the 2017 Float Conference into a fully fleshed out collection of art and information.
They shared some of their successes and their failures along the way, with grace, humility, and humor. The creative process can be taxing and terrifying. We here got to see some of their failed designs, many which were hilarious in hindsight.
The conversation shifted to the vulnerable as they discussed how important the creative process is for them and how afraid they were about failing.
Rick talked about how this process helped him come to the decision to return to art school, while still working at Float and helping out with Rise.
It’s an endless pursuit of creativity and the fear of perfection can hold you back, but going forward itself is the definition of success.
They’re looking forward to receiving more information from the industry about what we’d like to see in the publication. If you’d like to get involved, you can go to thirdwavemag.com.
2:30 pm — 3:30 Sean Lavery and Jesse Ratner-DeCle
“What is floating and why are we all here?”
Sean and Jesse of Float Toronto have a goal to get as many people floating as possible.
5 years ago, when people would ask “what is floating?” Sean would offer up a physical description of the process of floating. It’s 10 1/2 inches of water, 1000 pounds of epsom salt, etc. Probably a similar answer that lots of people typically say in response.
Now that people are more familiar with floating, his answer has changed a bit. Now he says “introspection”. With the inundation of advertising, media, and constant screen time, you longer can think of what you want to think about, you’re thinking about what the world wants you to think about.
As individuals, we need to create “attention-free zones” for ourselves. Floating is the ultimate environment to create freedom from attention. Floating breaks off the momentum of the world around you to “offer a counterweight to the world with solitude.”
Jesse talks about how individualized the float experience is. Despite the similarities of the tanks and the sensory isolation experience, each of our floats affects us differently and the benefits are individualized.
Not too long ago, there would’ve been plenty of opportunities to have silent contemplation. With the advancement of technology, we’ve lost a lot of these moments of solitude.
Describing floating as Nothing is an attractive definition and easy to convey the idea behind it. But it’s a description that sort of exists with a nod and a wink. It isn’t Nothing, as much as it could be anything.
Float tanks are not mindfulness, but they do create the perfect environment to let mindfulness exist. It offers complete neutrality.
Thank you Jacob and Kevin for another beautiful event that was so emotionally and spiritually fulfilling. So much strength and vulnerability was shared this year in a way that doesn’t seem like it’d be possible in any other industry.
Were you at Rise? What were some of your favorite parts? Comment on the facebook post or share in an email. Did you miss it? Were there things that impacted you from the coverage? Do you have any questions about any of the talks?
For last year’s live event post, go to floattanksolutions.com/rise-float-gathering-live-event-post/
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