Since Float House in Gastown opened up about a year ago, I've floated close to 100, if not more than 100 times. I consider myself an experienced floater and am jazzed whenever I get an opportunity to talk to first timers about the experience.
Other than showering off really well, making sure your ear plugs are in nicely, what else is there to know about floating? Chances are if you ask any experienced floater, they'll have their own unique insights as well as some "true across the board" tips for you on your first float adventure.
1. Go in without expectation.
First time floaters have all sorts of expectations which can lead to disappointment int themselves after a float. When I sit in the waiting area before or after an experience, the first thing I hear is "I don't know if I'll be able to shut my brain off". My response? "So don't shut your brain off. Go in without expectations, go in open to anything and everything."
Why this helps: First of all, not all of us were born like Gandhi. Meditating can be downright challenging for some of us, and placing the expectation that you'll have no thoughts or that you'll be able to quiet that busy mind of yours for 90 minutes straight on the first try is not important to your experience in a float tank.
Why this helps: Well, duh… right? Of course if you're going for a float, you want to relax. Seriously though, this is crucial. Try taking a few minutes before your float to transition into the experience. Read a book, close your eyes and do some deep breathing, or simply repeat a mantra to yourself while you're showering off for your float. "I am safe and protected, this time is for me" is one idea you could roll with.
3. Ask yourself what you're really afraid of.
One of the common reasons I hear people tell me they haven't gone for a float yet is because they're afraid of something. Not being able to quiet the mind, being claustrophobic, drowning (virtually impossible in a float tank), you name it. When I'm afraid of something, I ask myself what I am afraid of and then I future pace the outcome I'm creating in my mind until it can't go any further. Inevitably, I end up at a place of acknowledgement for how unrealistic my "what if" scenario truly is, and this usually squashes the fear on the spot.
Why this helps: Most of the time, we don't even know why we're afraid, so this is a very powerful practice, both in and out of the tank.
4. Don't try to stop your thoughts from flowing.
I've already touched on this a little, but I think it's important enough to elaborate. This is the number one reason most people fail to try. Whether you're a highly creative person or you have ADD (or both lol) this may be a concern for you. You shouldn't worry about this, because floating isn't a place for rules. You can use floating however you like, and no matter what it's going to provide the physical benefits. You're floating in nearly 1000 pounds of epsom salts in a dark tank void of all sensory disruption. You can think all you like, that sh*% is relaxing!
Why this helps: When you're floating for the first time, you'll have an adjustment period. The first float is all about getting to know what it's like when you're left alone with yourself, how it feels to float on top of water and what kind of thoughts flood your mind that you may not have been aware of before. Each time you float it's a new experience, and some floats you'll drift off into a meditative place and some floats you may strategize and plan your to-do list. It's all good!
5. Go on a light stomach and avoid drinking a lot of fluids before you float.
Being in a tank with complete sensory deprivation means hyper body awareness. I like to have a very light meal or nothing at all before a float so my mind isn't drawn to focus on my digestive system. And avoiding liquids is pretty cut and dry - you can't pee in the tank! (Seriously, don't pee in the tank.)
Why this helps: Need I say more? Maximizing the benefits of your float can be as simple as remaining in the tank for the duration of your 90 minute session. And while you're free to get in and out as much as you please, it's a much more rewarding experience if your float goes undisrupted. That doesn't mean you have to float for 90 minutes every time. Some floaters get out early, some book doubles.
6. Schedule some quiet time for after your float to integrate the experience.
This 90 minute experience is a luxury for many of us city dwellers. It's a time where no one can get ahold of you to ask for something or demand your attention. As a business owner, this is a much needed chunk of time where I'm only responsible for myself - bliss. Pure. Bliss.
Why this helps: Jumping from one super blissful experience back into the chaos of your day can be jolting. Take even 5 minutes to yourself after a float to really soak in the experience you had, ponder thoughts or personal stuff that came up and drink some water. Then, set an intention and step back into the flow of your day. P.S. - FloatHouse has a cozy little lounge with couches and free tea, take advantage.
7. Look at floating as a priority self-care ritual.
Floating isn't expensive if you compare it to other relaxation services like spa bookings, massages, yoga passes or anything else you do to chill. That said, floating is a unique setting in which you not only reap the physical benefits of reducing your cortisol levels, balancing your hormones and for some even losing weight or breaking an addiction, you're also getting a chance to do some deep personal work, undisrupted business strategy or catch up on some much needed rest.
Why this helps: No other experience compares to floating, and this is why as a busy entrepreneur I consider it a priority in my life and make the time. We all have 24 hours in a day, 7 days in a week, and 365 days in a year, no more, no less. It’s up to us how we choose to use this time each and every day, no matter what job you work or where you live.
8. Bonus Tip: A lot of first time floaters will find themselves bobbing around in the tank. This is easily remedied by following these steps:
1) After you shower, dry your face/ears and put in your earplugs. 2) Step into the tank and lie on your back. 3) Put your arms out to the sides of the tank and hold yourself still for 20-30 seconds or until you feel stabilized. 4) Release your arms to your sides and you'll find yourself floating in one spot without bobbing around.