Why My Mother was Right About Float Therapy

I'm of Dutch heritage, so it should be of no surprise that I have blue Dutch Delft scattered throughout my house.

Years ago (I don't dare tell you how many years ago), my mother gifted me with a small square Delft wall plaque that declares--in Dutch--"No one receives a work list for their life".

That's a big thought for such a small plaque.  And those words have served me well.

You get the gist of what my mother was trying to tell me, right?

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What's Your Agenda?

When you think about your floating agenda, there are a few ways to apply my mother's saying: "No one receives a work list for their life."

First, you--and only you--need to figure out why you want to try float therapy. 

Before you ever slip into that chamber of warm water, you should give some serious thought to what benefits of floating you especially want to experience.

Are you floating only to de-stress?  To better manage some chronic pain? To obtain a more sustained meditative state? To heal some nagging injury?  To chase lucid dreaming? To practice visualizing some athletic move or some presentation you have to give at work?  To brainstorm a new art idea?

I think you get the point.  Before you float, take the time to make some decisions about what you want from your float.

Do that and you are well on your way to maximizing the benefits of your float.

How Do I Negotiate With my Brain?

Once you are settled inside your float chamber, you will have to negotiate with your brain.

There comes a point where your brain--starved of the stimuli of sight or sound or touch--frantically throws out mental chatter.  Lying supine in the water, your monkey-mind shifts into high gear.

"Did I leave the stove on? Was that Max I saw on the street the other day? Where the hell have the last ten years gone? Did my boss like my presentation? When are they going to promote me at work? Oh, wasn't that cardinal the most brilliant red you've ever seen?

As you stretch out in the warm water, your brain snatches at anything and everything.

One moment your brain is spitting up the most trivial observations:  "That guy at the coffee shop had the brightest orange socks I've ever seen." The next moment, your brain is confronting you with a big question:  "When am I finally going to do something about buying a cottage for our family?"

You--and only you--can deal with what your brain is doing.

How?

Paradoxically, you negotiate with your brain by not negotiating at all.  You take control by resolving to surf the waves of mental chatter that your brain throws up at you.  You--and only you--can decide to stay calm, not try to control what's happening.  Rather, just skillfully ride the waves.

If you do that, soon you will accompany yourself across the choppy sea of busy thoughts to that island of peaceful quiet that is waiting for you. 

Do you think you can do that?

Now, It's up to You

Inside that float chamber, you'll finally drift into that deeper, quieter state.

Things become much clearer, even though your eyes can't see a thing.  You body and your mind deliver you into a deeply relaxed state.

Now, it's time to revisit your original intentions that you formed before you stepped into your float chamber. 

Let me give you a few examples:

Is this relaxed state where you want to stay for the rest of your float? Or do you also want to start paying attention to those deep muscle tensions that have been plaguing you? Is now the time to invite some lucid dreaming? Or do you want to visualize that nifty hockey move that has been eluding you on the ice?

Maybe you find yourself slipping into a meditative state of deep presence, and you want to stay with that.

It's up to you. But, in any case, be sure to re-visit your original intentions for floating.

One Final Question

After your float is done, there's one more question that only you can answer.

You--and only you--can decide if you are going to float again.

Before you answer that question for yourself, take the time to observe, to collect some evidence.  What happens in the hours and days following your float?  What improvements have you spotted?

For example, did your sleep patterns change?  How?  What did your relaxation do for your mental clarity? Did your visualizations in the float chamber help you prepare as you hoped they would?  How long before your stress rachets up your spine and neck again?

You might want to keep a daily journal to jot down your observations.  Then you will be better prepared to decide when you will need to float again.

After all, your mother can't decide that for you.  Only you can.