We love the practice of mindfulness here at Think Tank Flotation: from Tea Ceremonies, to hand grinding coffee, to extra long belly breathing sessions (aka a 60 minute float). Things just tend to be more enjoyable when you don't rush them. Unfortunately in 2019 we're out here trying to do everything as fast as possible, with every distraction known to man trying to stop us. Even now, as I type I’m being bombarded by external stimulation: I’m typing but noticing the Facebook notification beckon me, my partner is ranting about one thing or another as I mindlessly respond “uh-huh,” instagram is telling me that my video has been viewed however many times, and on top of everything I have a “to-do” list 3 miles long that is taunting me from the “memo” list on my phone.
It. is. Exhausting.
It’s exhausting and all I’m trying to do is write an article on how floating is similar to Savasana. Being present is a struggle in 2019, but that's ok. Being mindful has been a goal of spiritual and meditational practices for centuries! If it was difficult THEN, adding the technological distractions of our generation only makes it harder.
Luckily, THIS is where flotation comes in. I think one of the biggest detriments to the practice of floating was the phrase “SENSORY DEPRIVATION”. Deprivation has an immensely negative weight associated with its use. Deprivation implies a want and need for something, but you are being denied. Being DEPRIVED food, water, sunlight when you are in dire need of it. This is NOT how floating feels. Floating has never felt like deprivation, in fact the opposite. Floating allows certain EXTERIOR sensed to be diminished, so that our more INTERNAL senses can be heightened. It is 60 minutes of peace and quiet that we will never passively happen upon. We have to start actively making time for it.
So, here's how flotation works: The water in the tank is purposefully the same temperature as our bodies, that way we aren't distracted by it. The salt to water ratio in each tank allows us to float effortlessly so we aren't subjected to the effects of gravity (this aspect allows our bodies to release muscle tension that impedes our focus and relaxation). Flotation tanks can also be made completely dark to cut down on visual stimulation! This space was truly MADE for meditation. Even someone like myself, an adult with an ADHD diagnosis, is able to focus (or meditate) in a flotation tank. Something I had never been able to do before.
I read an article written by Meg Agnew, a yoga and meditation teacher who explores how Buddhism and yoga complement each other. It is titled “Starting with Savasana.” If you read it and pretend she's writing about flotation, it makes just as much sense. In fact you could replace every mention of Savasana with “floating,” it would really detail the practice of meditation in a float tank:
“Savasana is also a wonderful way to start each day. This relaxed lying back position is the one I assume in the early morning hours before I’m completely awake and my mind hasn’t had a chance to create a to-do list. Instead, I’m creating and participating in a form of the “beginning your day with clarity” practice that Phillip describes in Emotional Chaos to Clarity. I take my pillow out from under my head so that my head rests heavily like it does when I’m floating in a body of water. Like when I’m floating, I relax and let my body feel completely supported. Today is a Sunday and I feel the day is also stretched out leisurely before me. I can give this practice some extra time and attention.”
Try starting your day with Savasana; it's incredible how the act of doing nothing (mindfully) can change the outlook of your day. Try something each day that forces you to be more mindful. It doesn't have to be a big hour long meditation session where you find “enlightenment.” Being present can be as simple as buying loose tea instead of tea bags. Conscious decisions. Pick the tea, measure it, smell it, wait for it. Try plugging your phone in AWAY from your bed at night. This makes your last moments before sleep peaceful and less taxing on your eyes. Finally, come float. Dedicate an undistracted hour to your brain and body. Our society as a whole could use a little slowing down and some deep breaths.