Photo credit: Bryce Evans
You may have heard of floating and floatation tanks (also known as sensory deprivation or isolation tanks) and if you have, you may also have heard fascinating stories of what can occur in the tank. I happened to have one of my most powerful experiences in the early stages of my first float and it helped me restore a healthy relationship to water.
Here I was, arriving in Calgary to a sort-of hippie collective house with a friend to try out this "floating" thing I heard about from Joe Rogan. I make my way downstairs to a private room and after getting ready, I enter the tank. I remember trying to get used to this novel environment I'd never experienced before and after settling in a bit, I twitch — the water starts moving, my heart starts racing and I'm having flashbacks to an experience many years back where I'm fighting to stay above water and get air in my lungs.
I was brought back to this time swimming with friends in a lake and as two of us pass by, a leg hits the back of my head, my body flips and I'm disoriented underwater. I have no sense of how long I was struggling to recover and get air or how long it was before I was brought back to shore by an adult also in the lake at the time. After this trauma, my relationship with water was forever strained. I was terrified and held resentment towards that event and the other party involved.
After the water settled once again in the float tank and my heart rate slowed, I began to analyze the experience from a calm state of mind, free from fear, anxiety and external distractions. Almost immediately I became aware that there was no reason to hold onto the possibility that something much more terrible could have happened that day — and I should be grateful that I'm still here. I realized that although it was not handled the best way, the incident was a chance occurrence and by all means no ones fault. I was simply wasting energy and resisting new opportunities for no reason by holding onto this fear and resentment. I accepted that it happened, that I can let it go and made peace with the experience and myself, it was that simple. My fear of drowning suddenly dissipated, as if it was dissolved into the black expansiveness of the tank.
My float continued and I found myself receiving many other benefits from that time in the tank. I want to emphasize that it's nearly impossible to drown within a float tank — and it simply triggered that experience for me — as the water is only 10" deep, you're floating above the surface and if you happen to fall asleep the worst that can happen is a little salt water in your eyes (that's a horrible burn though!). I have since floated over 25 more times at Float House after moving to Vancouver and each one is different: visualizations, auditory hallucinations, and deep states of meditation have been involved. There have been more profound experiences that have occurred for me, but I will always remember my first float for this reason. By having a space where I could face that irrational fear free from distractions, I was finally able to see it for what it truly was and let go.
It's important to realize everyone's experience will be different and you should do your best to not have expectations of what will happen within the float tank for you. Float on!
How has the tank helped you? / What fear do you want to overcome?
Let us know by sharing in the comments below!