How to Float

Today’s post and those that follow in the series are going to show you how to float.  The Float Spot will take you through the best practices, mentally and physically, so you’ll learn how to float for the best sensory deprivation tank experience possible.

How to Float – Mindfulness

The mental aspect of floating is perhaps the part most overlooked from the quick orientation most floatation centers give first timers.  While disappointing, it’s understandable – showing a person how to achieve a mindfulness mindset that’s already skeptical of a new, unique experience that takes place inside a futuristic “egg-spaceship-pod” could be a little off-putting.  But if you really want to get the most out of your sensory deprivation experience, then mindfulness is the key.

Mindfulness Meditation is a meditative technique that focuses on observing life around you, as it happens, and doing so without preconceptions or judgments.  Mindful, after all, means “inclined to be aware”.  Simply put, you observe and note, but don’t go beyond that.  Normally, our brains are the efficient super-highways of observation, reflection, and action – as an example, you observe it is raining outside, you think through that things will be wet, you act by putting on rain boots and bringing an umbrella.  In the mindfulness exercise, it’s more along the lines of observing that it is raining outside, notice your thought process as a result, and then allowing that observation to ‘float on’ out of the forefront of your consciousness.  This allows for a relaxed, freeing mindset, aiding in the type of mental relaxation that makes for an amazing floating experience.

Mindful Meditation

Mindful Meditation

How to Float with Mindfulness

First, go through the normal routine for floatation prep.  Take a quick rinse-down shower, stretch yourself out a bit, and center yourself within the tank so you are floating comfortably away from the walls with no bodily movement so you don’t spend the first 10 minutes playing the human pin ball inside the tank.  As your body begins to calm down, lay back and relax.  In order to get your muscles as relaxed as possible, go ahead and tense up all of the muscles in your body and hold that tensed position for a few seconds.  Then slowly release.  Do this until you feel your muscles go loose and limp.

At this point you are ready to begin the Mindful Meditative process while floating.  Focus your thoughts on your breath, pay attention to how it goes in and out.  Normal breathing, no need to do anything drastic, just become aware of your body and how it is acting.  As you become more and more aware of your breath, transition from observing your breath, to observing the split second when your inhalation stops and your exhale begins, and vice versa.  Focus more and more on that moment.  Why focus on your breath?

The reason that you concentrate on your breath is because it is something real; it is reality. You will notice as you sit there for an extended period of time thoughts will enter your brain like crazy. The idea is not to “block” or “stop” your thoughts from happening. That will lead to frustration. Instead, concentrate on the reality of your situation and allow your thoughts to enter and exit your mind as your breath enters and exits your nostrils.  –’s “The Mindfulness Meditation Mini-Guide

As you float, you may become relaxed enough to close your eyes or you may wish to keep them open.  Whichever is most comfortable is what you should do.  When your float is over, slowly focus more on external things and come back to join the world around you – simple as that.

Observing the World Around You

Observing the World Around You

How to Float – Mindfulness Issues

Some people find that thoughts constantly enter their mind, taking them away from focusing on their breathing.  And that’s fine!  Don’t beat yourself up for having thoughts.  Instead, treat them mindfully.  When a random, crazy thought enters your head, just observe the fact that this thought has occurred.  Now instead of reflecting on what it means, what’s going on – the who, what, where, why, when questions that you’d normally have when considering something – don’t.  Observe the thought and let it drift out of the forefront of your consciousness the same way it drifted in.  Turn your attention back to your breathing, and resume your meditation.

Another issue people encounter is as simple as having expectations beforehand.  Many people hear of floating or getting in a sensory deprivation tank and hear about how their friends fell into a deep sleep, had all their aches and pains taken away, had some sort of crazy hallucination experience, or how physically comfortable it was.  If you have these expectations, not feeling or experiencing them exactly how they heard other people experiencing them can oftentimes throw that experience off resulting in a float that doesn’t live up to the preconceived standards.  Don’t focus on what someone else experienced – that’s their reality.  You want to experience your own reality – instead, see what mindfulness and floatation therapy bring to you.  Keep in mind, the more your practice mindfulness while floating, and in your daily life, the wider range of experiences you will have.  By practicing this mindfulness in times of stress out in the real world, you’ll notice stress levels will begin to fall just like they do in the sensory deprivation tank; your body and mind learning from your experience in the tank and beneficially applying it in your every day life!

Additional Mindful Meditation Resources:

Mental Workout App for Mindful Meditation

Psychology Today Guide to Mindful Meditation

Free Guided Mindful Meditation Tracks from UCLA Health

Mindful Meditation Institute


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