I Got Nothing to Say!
Okay, so here’s the thing. Floating is often associated with meditation and ultimately achieving this state of void, commonly and perhaps glibly referred to as “Nothing” by salty tank proprietors everywhere. And listen, I’m totally on board with that. Often times in the tank I drift off and only know I’ve gone somewhere else when I get back. It’s weird too: sometimes you remember that other place like a dream and sometimes you remember this state of “Nothing” very clearly. Almost as if your mind cannot comprehend what “Nothing” is really like without actually showing you.
The reason I love floating so much is that I feel so productive in that environment. It’s a common misconception that nothing happens in the tank – in my experience it’s quite the contrary. I find that my favorite floats are not the ones where I more or less blackout and time warp ahead 90 minutes, hell no. I love the one where time drags on fooooooreeeeeeever and I get to examine my thoughts while seriously decompressing my body. Floating allows me the space to clear out all the bullshit and distractions, seriously stretch my body out and get to the heart of what really matters to me. I don’t feel I’m in tune enough to know what those things might be, but if I get into the float tank and just let my mind wander around a bit, it either wears itself out or settles on a particular subject. When it settles, I figure that this topic must be important to me and I take that time to examine it. I’ll give you an example.
Romance and Pig-Headedness
A few years ago I broke up with a girlfriend I had been seeing for a while. It wasn’t my choice, and thus I was pretty pissed about it. So I did what any self-respecting, modern gentleman does, and began sending passive aggressive texts and taking nearly every opportunity I had to be a dick. I know what you’re thinking, #swoon, but don’t worry there’s a happy-ish ending to this.
One day I got in the tank just seething at this woman. As I settled into the tank and began to calm down, I was presented with a new angle to take on this whole situation. I remember thinking to myself, “Look. The last 6 months were a bit of a nightmare, she has a set of things she’s working on, we certainly have a lot of other things we could focus on, and ultimately this behavior is not getting me anywhere. Especially if we are trying to rekindle this thing.”
And as I dove deeper into that line of thinking, it occurred to me that this wasn’t even the first time I was behaving this way. I had done it years before as well, to another poor woman. I’d say that in this float I identified a cyclical behavior of mine, but the truth is, these realizations just floated into my head, so effortlessly that I don’t feel exactly comfortable taking credit for them. Either way, if it was me or if it was the Patron Saint of Adult Petulance, the result was the same. I chose to ditch that behavior.
If we were keeping a spreadsheet of these texts I was sending, or moments of aggression, you’d see the frequency plummet after this float. I wasn’t perfect (I’m still not, but it doesn’t stop me from trying), but I’d taken a giant step in the right direction, enough so that we got back together.
She kinda hates me now, even though we still talk every blue moon or so, and I can’t say I blame her. I was a dick, but floating allowed me to accept that and move forward, to be less of one to the next woman.
Program, Reprogram, Metaprogram
This sort of reprogramming happens all the time in the float tanks, for me and for others, and is one of the reasons that I believe floating will ultimately be billed as a tool for personal development. There is really no other place on God’s Green Earth™ that you can get the necessary distance from day to day reality and examine these types of behaviors. Examine them in a state of mind that is so relaxed and physically comfortable, that it is damn near impossible to attach any negativity to them. When I see these things crop up in the tank, I don’t judge them, I don’t deny their existence or try to rationalize the reasons that I might behave in that manner. I get the objectivity I need to make a rational decision as to whether or not these ideas/thoughts/actions serve me in any way and if I should continue on down that path.
Sometimes I don’t even have a say in this reprogramming. Sometimes the magic of the float tank environment takes care of your bullshit for me. It’s amazing. In my experience, the effects of floating are subtly profound and you can miss them if you aren’t paying attention. Hell, I’m a total zealot and I still don’t realize what is happening to me in there. Floating has lengthened my fuse, changed my rigid thought processes, distanced myself from a manufactured identity, given me a calm acceptance of the things I can’t change, and even changed the way I talk to myself, all completely effortlessly. Let me give you another example.
When I first started here at Float On I was going through a jazz piano program at Portland State. I’m a self-taught player and more or less bullied my way into school, but was way behind the skill curve in a lot of ways. One of which was reading music. I hate that. I have always had a hard time interpreting music on a page vs hearing it and playing it back. In school, you gotta read. So they set these pages covered in densely packed black notes in front of you and say, “play that right now.” I’ll tell you, it’s hard to be accurate with the ivories when your palms are dripping anxious sweat. Even at home, I would look at these charts and think to myself, “Can I even do this?”
Fast forward through a few months of heavy floating and suddenly I am not letting these charts ruin my life. I’m looking at the same pages that stressed me out, made me question my abilities and thinking differently. No longer did I ask myself, “can I do this?”, which inherently implies the inverse possibility of “can’t”. Instead, I’m thinking, “What happens when I try this? What happens when I try that?” Unbeknownst to me, the float tank had removed this negative perspective I was holding onto and transformed it into a playful exploratory process that removed the entire concept of can and cannot. I hadn’t even noticed it until I was suddenly halfway through learning a piece of music in the same span of time that it would’ve taken past-Bryan to even work up the courage to start. Thanks float tank!
What’s this mean for you?
I could go on and on and on and on with all the ways that floating has changed me for the better. From strengthening my mind-body connection, to killing my adrenaline response, to providing me with an impossible amount of genius ideas (like a car that runs based on how loud you are yelling) – floating is easily the best thing I’ve ever done for my personal mental and physical health. While I may be a zealot, and some might say a freak of floaty nature (I’ve been called worse), I think that floating is the way to elevate your quality of life. The effects can be very individualized, but if I had to pick an umbrella effect of floating, one that occurs for myself and for clients, I’d say that it puts my rose colored glasses on. It’s a strange thing, but for me, after a float, I walk outside and feel like the world is a much cooler place and I can’t exactly put my finger on why. I’m beginning to believe that it’s a reflection of my internal peace or inner chill, if you will. And the more I float the more that becomes my default state.
So take the time to see what “Nothing” is all about, dare to unplug yourself from reality for a moment, get you some serious me time in one of these mysterious boxes of Dead Sea at Zero G, my friends, and tell me what happens to you.