One of the most important realizations I’ve had in a float tank is, that floating is ALL about the individual! We’ve all heard the phrase,“Only boring people get bored,” this is most definitely true about our time spent in the void. The float tank is an inanimate object; the pitch-black environment doesn’t care how hard my workweek was. The 900 lbs. of Epsom salts is completely indifferent to what my significant other/boss/friend/co-worker said or didn’t say. And when I close the hatch, the tank isn’t smirking about how it’s captured another self-proclaimed claustrophobic person. After facilitating over 26,000 floats, I can safely say most people who thought they would be claustrophobic, actually have no problem being inside a float tank.
What goes on in the tank is simply a reflection of ME. It’s equivalent to the idea of “the looking-glass self” that sociologist, Charles Cooley, claims is how we construct our self-image, which of course directly correlates with our self-esteem.
The truth of the matter is that I am variable inside the float tank. The environment doesn’t fluctuate all that much. Sure the odd event can take place that is completely out of everyone’s control. For example, about one month into operating our first centre, the property manager gave the go ahead to install bike racks on the cinder block wall directly behind the building, without letting us know. Needless to say, the shrill screeching of the drill reverberated through the entire centre and every float tank in it. We comped five people that day.
STOP GIVING AWAY YOUR POWER TO THINGS THAT ARE OUT OF YOUR CONTROL
Here’s the part that can secretly make many of us uncomfortable - I AM RESPONSIBLE. Those three words, at first, can seem intimidating but are actually completely liberating. If something happens that’s completely out of my control; maybe a drip trickled down my face or I heard the slightest of sounds that I would have never normally noticed in the outside world, the question is then, how do I react to it? Do I let that "imperfect" aspect of my float ruin the rest of my experience? Or, do I observe the sensation, be in it fully, and then let it go?
In my opinion, this is one of the greatest lessons in a float tank. Yes, floating is fantastic for your body and the stress relief one receives from ninety minutes in the warm, silky, blackness is unparalleled. But the self-observation that the tank calls for is probably the most important element that was personally missing from my life. It allowed me the space to reflect; am I being completely honest with myself? Deep down inside I know how I’m really showing up in life. All I needed was the silence to hear it.
I’m not writing this to let Float House or any other Float centre off the hook. Each and every Float Centre should be making their most sincere efforts to ensure the highest possible quality of every single float, for every single guest, that’s forward thinking and open enough to take on Floating as a practice. I’m writing this to remind myself that I am responsible for my experience.
I have the choice in the way I will react. I believe how I act and react in a float tank is indicative of how I act and react in every other aspect of my life. What a gift that is!
I’ll leave you with this poem that has stuck with me since the age of 19, when I was a freshman collegiate football player and our coach planted this in front of our eyes on an overhead projector:
The Man in the Glass
When you get what you want in your struggle for self And the world makes you king for a day, Just go to the mirror and look at yourself And see what that man has to say.
For it isn't your father or mother or wife Who judgement upon you must pass; The fellow whose verdict counts most in your life Is the one staring back from the glass.
Some people may think your a straight-shootin' chum And call you a wonderful guy, But the man in the glass says you're only a bum If you can't look him straight in the eye.
He's the fellow to please, never mind all the rest, For he's with you clear up to the end. And you've passed your most dangerous, difficult test If the man in the glass is your friend.
You may fool the whole world down the pathway of life And get pats on your back as you pass. But your final reward will be heartaches and tears If you've cheated the man in the glass.
Peter "Dale" Wimbrow Sr.