An Introduction To Floating

Appx. Read Time: 4-5 minutes

tl;dr – Customer takes over ownership of business and needs 14 months to figure out how to tell people what they sell

Hello and welcome to Awaken Float Lounge. Because we are hard to find by accident, I will assume that the basic question that led you here is something like “What is floating?”. I must warn you in advance, however, that in the attempt to answer this question I will submit you to a bit of a hoax; namely, I cannot really do it.  If floating for 2 years now has taught me anything, it is that there are as many answers to the question as people asking it. One of the reasons this appears to be the case is that floating is perhaps the most subjective experience a lot of people have, and a lot of times the attempt to put it in words simply leads to laughter over the difficulty in putting it into words. Nevertheless, here we are on something called an Owner’s Blog, so I suppose we can agree that the attempt seems worth the effort.

One of the more interesting angles that many people approach floating from is that of therapy. They hear that it is good for this physical ailment or that mental ailment and they are in search of a fix for something and that leads them to us. I found it very interesting when taking over the business that the State of California would not let me put the word “therapy” in the business name due to me not holding any particular license, and yet hardly a day goes by that one of our customers does not refer to it as some kind of therapy for themselves. I suppose this is not entirely surprising (subjective therapies are nothing new, after all), but if “therapy” is in the list of reasons that led you here, I figured you should know that we are not (yet) held to any objective standard. It’s different for everyone.

For some clients, it is the physical benefits of the zero-g environment and the supplemental effects of the magnesium sulfate used to float you in the water. These people say things like “I feel like I just got a massage, but no one touched me”, “I feel so stretched out and loose after I float” and “it felt so good to unplug my body from reality for a bit”. We also have received numerous referrals from physical therapy practitioners for a variety of post-incident rehabs. For the people seeking physical therapy, the mental experience is not a lot to write home about and they spend their time in the tank either in a state of sleep or “just-about-to-fall-asleep”.

For others, almost the exact opposite is true: the physical benefits are the more passive part of the experience and the mental effects of the sensory isolation are why they float. These people say things like “it felt like I was having a conversation with myself as a child”, “I saw colors and shapes that were fascinating” and “I seemed to watch my thoughts like I watch the clouds, much more passively”. So the sensory isolation seems to free the mind and allow it to enter a more creative, imaginative or even helpful space; getting out of it’s own way, so to speak.

If the mental effects sound a bit like meditation to you, then you are in good company. Quite a few of our members view floating as a “meditation shortcut”; a way into the deep states of meditation that many people spend much time attempting to reach. This would be assumed to come, primarily, from the sensory isolation aspect of floating; in removing as many and as much of your sense inputs as possible, the mind is able to free-associate in a more varied, patient manner. Another more common analog to floating our clients bring up in conversation is that of yoga. Like meditation, yoga means many things depending on who you ask; but taking only the etymology of the word into account, yoga is a union of the Self and the experience of being disconnected from your senses can produce quite dramatic unions of the inner psychic life.

To this point, we’ve left a lot of specifics about the experience a little vague and now might be a good time to address more practical matters. Due to the subjectivity of the experience, answering the question “yeah, but what do I do in there?” is probably best answered by examples that we’ve heard from members at Awaken. For those approaching from a more physical angle, stretching is a very popular part of the experience. The environment allows you to “feel your insides” more acutely and a lot of clients report that their body seems to tell them what needs to be stretched or worked during the session. Breath work is also incredibly popular in the tank because you are able to listen to your breathing in a much more dramatic manner than is available when the rest of your senses are inundated with the external world.

For a lot of those who feel more connected to their mind than their body, a float session can often take the form of an internal dialogue. Again, this is something that can be achieved anywhere to differing degrees, but the tank facilitates this greatly by providing an environment where there is nothing else to focus on. Clients have reported not only conversations with themselves at various points in their life but also imaginary dialogues with family and friends. Most of the time, this type of floater does not set any intentions before starting, but that does not need to be the case. A lot of us consider floating as “practice in the art of letting go” or even “practice in the art of being bored”. It can be hard to work on remaining calm, cool and collected when your senses are being constantly bombarded with stimuli and floating allows for a space where you can disconnect from those signals willfully and work on allowing more of reality to be located in the “things I would not change” bin.

So, now, we have developed floating into something like an idea of a healthy habit; and like with all habits there is a tendency for people to ask “What would I gain from adopting this habit that I would not get without it?” Ordinarily, that’s a fine question to ask; but with floating it is as if it works in a rather different way. From my perspective, I could not tell you, in any specific terms, what kind of changes floating has produced in me. It is like practicing floating (or, really, any trip away from the senses) produces iterative changes in the pattern that is my self that are more recognizable to others than to me; and this seems to be symptomatic in others as well. In this way, the best person to ask about what kind of changes floating has produced in you is someone other than you. We have seen an increase in couples and friends who are floating together (mostly in separate tanks, but we do accommodate couples who wish to try floating in the same tank together), and I believe this is because whatever effects there are seem to be multiplied if they are shared. Because the experience is so subjective, it can produce an outstanding amount to talk about between two people who have just had it; and, in the act of talking about it, there seems to be a deepening of the understanding of what just happened for both.

Another question asked of many habits is “How much of a commitment is it?” Most of our regular clients at Awaken come by 1 to 2 times a month for a 1 or 2 hour session. Floating does not seem to be like a lot of habits where the more you do it, the better or faster the results come. While some people have done extended floats of 6-8 hours or floated once a day for a week, the law of diminishing returns does seem to apply here. It would appear that the mind and body need a certain amount of time between sessions to take full advantage of the environment.

The final thing I’d like to mention in this first post is why the word Lounge is in our name. Awaken is, first and foremost, a community of encouraged exploration into what it means to be human; the floating is the means by which we do that exploring. While floating is primarily a solitary experience and discussing it with anyone else is by no means expected, plenty of our clients do wish to share insights and impressions and you will always have at least one experienced floater here with you that will be happy to listen, should you feel the urge to share.

On behalf of all our members, thank you for your interest in Awaken Float Lounge; we invite you to help yourself.