“Life is a tide; float on it. Go down with it and go up with it, but be detached. Then it is not difficult.” — Prem Rawat
I remember the first time I swam. I’m not sure how old I had been, though I’m inclined to say I had been around 5 years old. I was playing around on the sandy shore of a lake with a gentle tide moving in and out and, inching deeper, I suddenly lost my balance in an odd way and rolled into the unknown.
Something happened that stayed with me until today — I began to float. I wasn’t particularly apprehensive of water at that age, I just never even thought that floating had been a possibility. Since that time, I’ve been an obsessive swimmer. From exploring inaccessible lakes situated in national parks, including that of our Prime Ministers own private oasis, I make it a point to conquer a lake by swimming out to its center and simply floating in peace and silence.
And so it had been with unparalleled glee that I entered my first float tank. After listening to Joe Rogan go on about this new trend and tuning into Hamilton Morris’s documentary (Tanks for the Memories), I couldn’t wait to get my float on.
There are the general, widely-discussed benefits we hear about often — the positive effects of magnesium, the mindful component of floating, etc. There are also the more nuanced effects, benefits that you don’t see coming until you get in and out of the tank. Below are a few of my musings on the subject:
- In a increasingly perceptive world, we need moments in which our senses are disengaged
Think of it as somewhat of a calibration of our nervous system. We’re glued to our phones, subservient to our work computers, analyzing life whilst in traffic, etc. Our senses are constantly engaged and our attention is persistently demanded by our surroundings or obligations. A break from this is blissful if not completely necessary sometimes.
- Floating can be beneficial for anyone and everyone
The athlete looking to immerse themselves in magnesium to restore electrolytes and speed up muscle recovery or alleviate injury;
The spiritualist looking to enter an uninterrupted, sensory-deprived meditative state to introspect, connect, align chakras, or heal;
The health-wise looking to disengage from technology, work, or stress and simply have a mental break or practice mindfulness;
The anxiety-ridden looking to conquer perturbation and relieve tension;
The psychonaut looking for a different and novel high;
The pamper-seeker, the introspector or retrospector, the trier of new things
- It takes you back to a very familiar place
For the first time since being in our mothers womb, we’re suspended in liquid, complete darkness, no sound and no feel. It’s an odd thing but a wondrous one at that.
- It forces some time to yourself
Some of us don’t get too much time alone unless it entails a commute to work or perhaps while showering. And, when we do, we don’t know what to do with that time so we tune into a podcast, Netflix, embark on a to-do list of chores, etc. There’s something completely placating about being in the company of only yourself with zero distraction, offering a great opportunity for introspection.
- The range of mental benefits
Already touched upon, there are numerous possibilities in terms of intangible benefits to floating — all depending on what our intention is. If we want a quiet place to garner some inspiration or employ our creativity; if we want to lower stress, to combat depression, to meditate or practice mindfulness — it’s all made possible in the pitch dark and quiet confines of the tank.
- The range of physical benefits
Which are being realized more and more by the way. From the absorption of sodium and magnesium, relief of stress and lowering of blood pressure, accelerated healing and alleviation of muscle cramping, relief from arthritis and joint pain, improved digestive and immuno function as well as cortisol levels. Not to mention the aesthetic benefits — skin, hair, nails all benefit as well.
Personally, my prized take-away had been an experience that can be summed up in one word. It is the same reason I enjoy a breathtaking view after an excruciating hike or an exhilarating moment of creativity followed by awe at what has been created, as well as the very same reason I have a life-long fascination with swimming out to the center of a lake and simply floating there, suspended in the water without distraction. Stillness.