My intention for this first blog post is to give you some background into my life, and how and why I ended up running a float center, and teaching courses about metaprogramming in float centers.
For as far back as I can remember, I have been fascinated with exploring and questioning things I did not understand. When I was a kid, I often asked many questions of my family about why things were the way they were. When I was in high school, I discovered the role of symbolism in books and movies. My friends would often get annoyed with me because I enjoyed peeling away the layers of a movie to look at what the symbols might be pointing at. “Can’t you just take the movie at face value?,” they would ask. I would always think, “Yes, but it’s so much more fun to look at the pieces to see how they fit together to form a whole.”
As a child I had been very drawn to religion, but in my teenage years I was very drawn to science. Religion seemed amorphous and science helped me feel like I was in control. It also seemed like a powerful way to make a difference through environmental work. In college, I studied biology. The rigid methodology and vast topics gave me a good foundation about the complex pieces that make up life. Later, while working in environmental consulting and the internet industry after college, I also began doing deep inner work in the realm of shamanic practice. I was compelled to do this work after a six month bout of chronic fatigue syndrome at the age of twenty four. I “looked” very healthy and the doctors could not find anything wrong with me but I was exhausted all the time. I began meditating every day, twice a day. I began to slow down and read more. Eventually, the sickness lifted. When it dissipated, I realized I felt much more whole inside than before. It’s almost like the sickness was a teacher that taught me about the importance of slowing down and paying attention to what is going on in my mind. It also taught me how I was not in “control” of everything. It was the beginning of integrating my interest in religion/spirituality with my science background.
After this period of slowing down, I stumbled upon a method for exploring my mind. The method is called shamanism. This type of work involved learning how to explore my psyche through the use of active (or dream-base) imagination. While science taught me how to tease apart things one could measure, the shamanic training taught me to pay attention to the unseen and unmeasurable things and to “let go” of controlling every factor in my life. I began to discover that life is not black and white. By “letting go” and allowing new ideas into my life, I began to make significant changes in my life. I no longer felt I had to have the “right” career. Instead, I began to listen to my dreams, meaningful coincidences, and people I respected, and I made big changes in my life that led me to do international development work in North Africa, to studying my parents’ native language in Ireland, and to having an invigorating career as a high school biology teacher in New York City.
In addition to teaching science, I also taught about the mind. In fact, a few weeks after arriving in New York City in 2004, someone asked me to teach them about shamanism. I had already done some teaching about it back in Los Angeles. I ended up teaching workshops on it for several years, and starting a group in NYC. It was great. However, in 2007, I was in upstate New York facilitating a weekend workshop when I realized some things. First, I discovered the tools I taught were not making enough of a difference in people’s lives. I was bothered by that. Second, I looked at my life and I saw how I still had some patterns and behaviors that were self destructive. My relationship at the time was not going well and I was a big part of that. Who was I to be teaching people about personal growth and the mind? The day after that weekend, I decided to take a sabbatical from teaching about the mind and shamanism. I needed to figure things out.
A few months after that, I stumbled upon work based on John C. Lilly, the inventor of float tanks. Through a series of meaningful coincidences, I did work with a facilitator through email that involved sorting through my early memories and rewriting a belief I formed when I was about three years old. It was powerful work. In fact, I got to the root of my self destructive patterns in the course of one day – deeper and faster than anything I had ever done, including shamanic work and Jungian analysis. I then went through a process of using language to rewrite the belief. I completed the process in about four weeks and I noticed some big differences in my behavior. Given the results, I approached the man who facilitated the work about learning more about what he did. I studied program theory (based on John Lilly’s system of metaprogramming) and, at the suggestion of my mentor, I began floating.
My first floats were very uncomfortable. There were parts of me that wanted to continue to resist slowing down and looking at unresolved places within myself. However, I kept at it and I continued to make adjustments in my mind using Lilly’s tools of metaprogramming. The results were outstanding. I saw myself be a much better teacher to my science students. I no longer kept them at arms length. Our relationships became more authentic and I was, therefore, able to make a greater difference in their lives. I also saw myself get closer to my family and friends. As I continued to float and apply the tools of metaprogramming, I began to see things about myself and about others that enhanced the quality of my life and the lives of those around me. For example, when teaching, the students move very fast. Floating helped me slow down so I could be more observant. It’s almost like I would be two or three steps ahead of them.
I then began teaching workshops about Lilly’s model of metaprogramming. I taught them mostly in New York City, but I also traveled to different states in the East, and out to California. I eventually purchased my own float tank in order to increase my “tank time” and slow my mind down more. Then one of my colleagues suggested I open up a float center where I could teach workshops and offer floating to people. She offered to be an investor. It was a hard decision because I loved teaching science. However, I decided to not “control” everything and, instead, to pay attention to the meaningful coincidences and my dreams.
After looking at everything, I decided to do it. My partner, Andrew, decided to do it with me, and our plan was to build the center in Boston (I am originally from there and Andrew was living in the area at the time). However, the day after Andrew and I gave a six month notice to our respective employers, he stumbled upon an already existing float center in Connecticut (between Boston and New York City). We ended up buying it from the previous owner and we became owners of a float center much faster than we anticipated – in four weeks instead of six months. It’s amazing how fast life can change once someone says, “Okay. I’ll do it.”
That was about one year ago. Since that time, we have adjusted to being business owners, float center owners, and full time program facilitators. It’s been an exciting ride to figure out the ins and outs of maintaining a clean and welcoming space. Perhaps even more challenging has been the constant energy required to educate people in the area about floating. When we arrived, very few people knew about floating and iFloat. Still today, many people don’t know about us. But it is changing bit by bit.
The most important thing for me is to be making a difference in the lives of others. Over the past year, I see how our work at iFloat is making a huge difference. Also, every day it seems like iFloat becomes an even more powerful vector for our work. Increasingly, I see people coming to us who are really looking to slow down. Like myself back in my 20s and early 30s, they are people who are stressed out because of internally consistent frustration. They might have chronic physical pain or strained relationships, or many other things. The commonality is that they are looking for ways out of the reality they are currently in. Some people are looking to be more relaxed. Other people see some patterns that are not working well for them.
Over the past several years, I have done a lot of training about programming, as defined by John Lilly, and I believe it is critical to apply those tools in the float space. I’ve taught a lot of workshops about programming where I have helped a lot of people and, in return, learned a lot about myself. My training helps make a difference for others, and it also helps prepare me to handle the challenges of being a float center operator. I met Lee Perry this summer for the first time by phone. Lee contacted me because she heard that I was going to be giving a talk at the Float Conference about applying metaprogramming in the tank space. It was great to speak with Lee and she was really excited about the talk because she said John Lilly always told them not to be programming clients in the tank space. She’s correct. What I find very exciting about what we do at iFloat is we teach clients how to make adjustments to their programming. However, perhaps more relevant to this blog, we have the tools with which to teach float facilitators about programming. It’s really important for Andrew and I to not be unconsciously influencing clients with our programming. At the same time, it’s also important for float facilitators to not allow themselves to be programmed with other people’s programming. As I have increased my float time and learned and applied the tool of programming in my life, I see more and more how people are influencing one another’s programming all the time. We are, as an example, influenced by television and radio all the time. It’s amazing how fashion trends change year by year, or how people can suddenly be “in favor” of things they never thought were possible. Have you ever been “tired” or “frustrated” after a conversation with a friend or client – only realizing it after the fact? That’s all because people are influencing one another’s minds. However, in a float center, people operate at slower states of mind, so the influence is even stronger.
In my blog, I will write about different topics, but likely focus on how we apply the tool of programming at iFloat to make a difference in the lives of others, and how we apply it in order to keep ourselves “clean” of other people’s programming. My hope is that the readers will find it useful so they can apply some of the ideas to enhance their experience and longevity as float facilitators.
My vision is that float centers become a staple in the United States and in other countries, as John C. Lilly envisioned. Float centers will be in every city and town. They will be integrated into companies, such as Google and GE, and into hospitals and schools. I also envision all float facilitators applying the tools of metaprogramming to be able to help their clients. As an experienced teacher and float and program facilitator, and someone who knows the importance and power of slowing down one’s mind, I hope to play a role in helping make all of that happen.
I look forward to getting to know you, the readers, as we move forward and use the tool of floating to help one another question, find answers, and shape an even more beautiful world together.
David Conneely, Co-Owner, iFloat, Westport, CT