“If You Can’t Spend an Hour Alone with Yourself, How Can You Expect Anyone Else To?”: Adventures in a Floatation Tank

At work and in my personal life, I make a conscious effort to “practice what I preach”.  I love my job in that it allows me to offer support, encouragement, and tools to my clients to help them create a more fulfilling, balanced and enjoyable life.  Much of what I talk about in sessions with clients is “self care”, which is a practice of taking care of yourself through activities and rituals that nourish and foster relaxation and healing.

This, admittedly, can be difficult at times if you’ve struggled to have an accepting relationship with yourself.  “Oh, it’s so much easier to take care of others than to take care of myself”, is a common excuse to avoid practicing self care.  Yes, I agree that focusing on ourselves can sometimes be uncomfortable and unsettling, however the mental, physical, and emotional rewards of such practice is undeniable and incomparable.

I believe strongly in congruency and authenticity, and feel that I cannot appropriately suggest to my clients to do things that I myself am not able or willing to do.  So, I try to maintain a regular routine of self care in my own life.  This typically involves exercise, mindfulness practice, gardening, spending time with loved ones, and volunteering.

Yesterday I gave myself a gift of something I’ve never done before, and I have to admit, something I was a bit unsure about: an hour in a floatation tank.  A floatation tank is an enclosed, insulated, sound- and light- proofed tank filled with water and 1000lbs of Epsom Salt.  I entered the room which held the tank and was told that I would be retrieved again in one hour.  “Sometimes that time goes quickly, sometimes it feels like it goes very slowly”, I was informed by the woman working there.

Then she left me.  A jolt of anxiety and nervousness rushed through me.  I gingerly entered the tank and closed the lid.  Pitch blackness.  No sound.  And I was floating as if my body was weightless.  With sensory deprivation this intense, my mind started to freak out a bit.  “What if I can’t get out?”,  “What if they forget I’m in here and I get stuck?”, “How am I going to just float here for an hour?  That seems like an ETERNITY!”, were all thoughts that raced through my head.

After about (I think) ten minutes, I noticed my mind begin to settle down.  I tried to actively practice mindfulness of where I was and to notice any thoughts that came into my mind that took me away from the present moment and to put them in a balloon and let them float up to the top of the tank for the time being.  I tried to do something that has been a difficult practice for me for my entire life: to let go.

When your mind can’t get data from what you see, and when it can’t register information from what you hear, it feels quite deprived.  It’s lost two of its most reliable sources of data which can tell it if it needs to feel a certain feeling: fear, excitement, joy, surprise, or if there is some sort of threat.  At some point, the struggle to try to control the experience lifted from me and I was able float, aimlessly.  As my mind quieted, I was left with only the sensations that my body was feeling — body talk.  I felt fully, truly present in my body.

This type of experience taught me so much and in reflecting back, I believe it could be very beneficial for anyone who feels stress.  I think it could especially be powerful for people who struggle with issues related to body image and disordered eating because for this hour, your body is completely weightless.  You must trust it, as it is your only source of information and awareness.  It challenges you to re-evaluate how you perceive and feel in your body without using visual cues to determine this, and it gives you a sense of being in your body in a whole new way.

Here are the Top Ten Benefits of Floating

  • Renew your energy for daily life in one short hour
  •  Improve your health and sense of well-being
  •  Relieve stress and anxiety
  •  Overcome physical exhaustion
  •  Reset your biological clock, overcome jetlag
  •  Increase mental, physical and emotional resiliency
  •  Increase creativity and problem-solving ability
  •  Enhance athletic performance and shorten recovery time
  •  Strengthen the immune system, alleviate pain & speed healing
  •  Deepen meditation, heighten self-awareness and visualization to achieve your goals.

And more, depending on your personal goals!! Read more about floatation here.

From the perspective of a professional in the mental health field, I would add:

  • Restore and renew your perception of your body and what it means to “be at home” in your body.
  • Learn constructive and empowering tools to navigate your relationship with your thoughts and your mind
  • Learn to let go and embrace what you cannot control
  • Listen to and embrace your intuition

After my session, I felt rejuvenated, relaxed, and also slightly discombobulated.  I felt like I had been on a different plane of existence for an hour — a refreshing to “get out of your head, into your body”, and embrace a new perspective.

I’d encourage anyone who would like to explore a new way of being in your body, a refreshing way of experiencing your mind, and to experiment with “letting go” and trusting your intuition to sign up for a session in a floatation tank.  You’ll walk away feeling much different than you did before you went in, and this experience is unlike any other!

2 Responses to ““If You Can’t Spend an Hour Alone with Yourself, How Can You Expect Anyone Else To?”: Adventures in a Floatation Tank”

  1. Hi, Kate,

    I loved reading this. It took me back to many years ago when I occasionally “did” floatation tanks. For me, it was quite a “trip” in a postiive way. Your writing is beautiful. Thanks for sharing the experience in such detail. I admire your courage.

    • Hi Carolyn,

      Thank you so much for dropping by and sharing about your experience also! That’s so cool that you have tried a floatations tank- truly a unique experience. I’m still processing some of the things I took from it and am sharing with clients. What a great self care activity