If you’ve ever used a computer and turned to someone for help, this will be a familiar phrase.
It’s generally the first thing to try if you’re getting poor performance, when the system seems slow to respond to inputs, if you keep getting errors, when the machine is exhibiting unwanted behaviours, and especially when the machine just locks up entirely.
You have probably noticed that when you have a lot of tabs open, the whole system becomes sluggish, and it takes longer to complete even simple tasks. This can be frustrating. Lots of the machine’s resources are tied up with those open tabs, but not really doing anything.
The mind is not too dissimilar.
When there are lots of other things going on in your mind it can be hard to find the focused attention that is needed to achieve the task at hand. And it can lead to feeling totally overwhelmed. When one thing after another presses itself into your awareness, demands your attention, until you feel paralysed, unable to even know where to begin prioritising.
Most of the time all that is needed is a reboot to clear out the clutter and start with a clean slate. Then the tasks can be addressed one by one with the full resources of a fresh machine.
There are a number of techniques available to give your machine some kind of reset. One is the de-hypnotising breath. It sounds simple, but is quite effective:
- Step 1: say out loud “I am going to take a de-hypnotising breath”
- Step 2: take a slow, deep, breath in
- Step 3: relax and let the air flow out of the lungs with an ‘ah!’ sound
- Step 4: take a moment to feel the results
But for a full reboot, you really need to turn it off and on again. And that’s what floating can do.
Floating ceases all input, and provides time to defragment your mind. Have you ever tried to defragment your hard drive, and carry on working? If so, you’ll know it’s a pretty futile exercise. What is really needed while the machine is tidying up the file system is no inputs at all.
When you emerge from your float you will feel calm and clear. Your attention will be unified, and your awareness of sensory inputs will be vivid and detailed. You will feel relaxed and refreshed, yet alert.
But the thing that amazes people the most is when they emerge and know exactly what to do next. When the route through is clear, and they can remain relaxed and proceed. Once you’ve floated a few times, you may begin to realise that this space is always there for you, any time, welcoming and familiar.
Have you tried turning it off and on again?