FROM “MONKEY MIND” TO MINDFULNESS
Did you ever want to get away from it all? Just shut the door on all the noise and say, “so long. I want to be alone?” But you can’t afford a chalet in Aspen or a beach house on Malibu, or even the time for that cabin in Grayling. Well, there’s still hope for getting away, found in floatation, or simply, “tanking.” “See you later honey, I’m going to get tanked,” may just be the next catch phrase.
One of the most beautiful locations I’ve found is right here in Michigan at Motor City Float, located in Clawson on 14 Mile near Crooks. The staff are excellent, kind, thoughtful and informed. The rooms are immaculate, quiet and comforting; and the provisions for your shower and post-float are pleasant and available. Enjoy a tea or cookie in the quiet room afterward, and even record your thoughts in their guest journal.
I’ve been floating for 30 years, yes, since “Altered States”, and this is the best place I’ve seen, including my own tank. The rates are good, the packages are fair and fully explained on their website, and after your first float you’ll be figuring out how and when to get to the next one. The more often you go, the sooner your body responds to the “relaxation response,” and thus, more time is spent in creative reverie.
WHAT IS FLOATING?
Floatation is a method of total relaxation which is as simple as lying on your back, just as you do each night. But the benefits found in floating and its far-reaching effects seem too good to be true once you examine its simplicity.
In 11 inches of water, a concentration of 1100 lbs. of pharmaceutical grade epsom salts bobs and floats you atop the 94º (skin temperature) surface like a cork; alleviating physical stress from gravity on your organs, bones, joints and blood vessels; thus, freeing circulation, relieving minor aches, spasms, joint pains and everyday tensions associated with headaches and stress. Your body is relieved of gravity in a minor, yet noticeable way. But that’s only the beginning.
Close the door on the tank and you’ve shut out all mental stimulation by closing off your senses to the world outside. There are no telephones, traffic, questions or demands. Your mind and body are now free to drift off into right brain bliss. The left brain’s logic is shut off because there is nothing to stimulate it; allowing the right, creative brain to open to reveries, insights, creativity and visualizations, and often, epiphanies. A theta brain wave state is reached effortlessly and it is in this state of daydreaming where most “eureka” moments occur.
There are no catches and no formulas. Unlike transcendental meditation, yoga or other forms of mindfulness practice, floating doesn’t need to be learned. It is as natural as was floating in your mother’s womb. In fact, it’s probably as close as you’ll get to going back to the womb. You don’t do, you just are. You may relate this to lying back in a hot tub of bubbles after a trying day, but the similarity ends there; bath water gets cold, gravity still pulls and the phone still rings.
HOW LONG DO YOU FLOAT?
In the tank, time flies by, uninterrupted; 15 minutes can seem like 3 hours or 3 hours can feel like 15 minutes. Images come and go, yet can be held and suspended since there’s nothing to disturb thought patterns and flow. Complete relaxation is reached in a matter of 30 minutes or less. the rest of the time is spent like a child at play, without reference to time, in right brain creative mode. Most floats last an hour, but you can tag on extra time in some locations, at an extra charge.
As the last of the movement from the waves settles into stillness, the first thing you notice is the blackness. No matter how hard you try, you will not see any light. You literally do not know if your eyes are opened or closed. The next thing you notice will be the complete and total silence. Other than your own pulse or breathing, you will hear nothing. You will feel weightless atop the water and perhaps touch off one of the sides of the tank, feeling as if you’ve floated for minutes before reaching the other end. The air filtration system passes cool air over your face, making you feel as if you’re relaxing beneath an open window on the darkest night you’ve never seen.
After you’re done exploring the perimeters of the tank, you’ll slowly feel the relaxation response kick in. This is the state where, in meditation, you feel a stillness in the mind and body as if you’d just taken off a heavy coat. In the tank, you feel what can be explained as a lifting, with the buoyancy of the salt water pushing you up so the edges of the water’s surface meets the outline of your body. Your mind goes through its natural process of thinking, breathing, blinking, searching, but soon settles into the warmth.
Floating was used for sports and fitness therapy; but now, with a mindfulness and meditation movement making a comeback, this method of “finding bliss” is the guaranteed method for reaching it regularly. The more you float, the less time it takes for the relaxation response to kick in and the sooner you’ll settle in to euphoria.
John Lennon used a float tank during his recording of “Double Fantasy.” The tank has been used in training rooms of Pro football, baseball and Olympic teams for recuperation and visualization; a client told of how he, in his mid-60’s, was able to master German in 10 weeks while listening to audio-suggestion in the tank without any prior knowledge of the language. (Boy, was he ever wrinkled when he got out.)
Even though floating is simple in its application, the unseen, long-term benefits offer everything from building up the immune system to lower susceptibility to disease and infection, recovery from injury, freeing blood flow and relieving stress on joints, tendons, organs and muscles. You can sort out problems or issues one at a time, leaving the tensions and stresses of the outside world to dissolve in the water. And you can also break habits and addictions via auto-suggestion without the need of a hypnotist. The natural release of opiates and hormones happens without trying. And one great side-effect is a decrease of aging due to both relaxation and healing that occurs naturally. Even if your only goal is to relax, floatation guarantees it. So what better way to get away than to lay back and float away?