Floating and MeditationThe floatation environment is a particularly powerful tool for meditation.
If you have ever tried meditation, you know how the flow of thoughts tends to continue unabated, and often seems to resist any attempt to stop it. Awareness jumps from one thought to the next incessantly. If and when the chatter does stop, the very surprise of noticing the fact can start the whole thing up again all too easily.
There are countless methods for focusing awareness in meditation, from repeating a sound, to counting breaths, to point-concentration, to narrating bodily sensations… the list goes on.
One of the keys is ignoring distractions…. perhaps easier said than done!
It can take years of practice before the knack of allowing the wheel of thought to spin down is learned, and can be reliably reproduced at will. For many people who try meditating this can be very dispiriting, and some give up when results are not forthcoming. If this sounds familiar, chances are you will love floatation.
Floatation can take you to that deep, calm, silent awareness reliably and rapidly, without the need for years of work.
You may find body awareness increases dramatically in the absence of external stimuli, with breathing and heartbeat filling your senses at first. Here is an ideal opportunity for breath work. With no distractions, all those methods for meditation suddenly make so much sense.
This bodily awareness can give way, to leave your attention entirely to your thoughts. The difference in the floatation environment is that your train of thought is no longer fuelled by awareness of your surroundings. Your mind can let go, and the chatter can gradually run down and cease.
In fact, it is not uncommon for the extreme relaxation experienced during floating to flow naturally on into the meditative state without any technique at all.
Turner and Fine of the Medical College of Ohio concluded one of their research papers on floatation with a comparison with other relaxation techniques:
“These [other] techniques have the individual elicit relaxation utilising some internal strategy….In contrast floatation uses an environment to induce relaxation with the individual passively experiencing the process”
Everyone’s experience is unique. For some it takes two or three floats to become familiar enough that your body lets go and accepts it as a safe environment. For others this can happen on their first float. The effect of floating is cumulative, and regular floating can be transformative in surprising and beautiful ways.
As you might expect, the physical and psychological benefits of floatation share much with those of meditation. Floating can activate the parasympathetic response: a relaxation of the muscles, a drop in heart rate and blood pressure, reduced cortisol and adrenalin, reduced lactic acid and improved circulation.
The frequency and pattern of brainwaves also changes. The higher frequency (16-31Hz) Beta waves associated with the normal waking state of logical thought and inner dialogue tend to drop off. The lower frequency Alpha (8-15Hz) and (4-7Hz) Theta waves dominate. Theta waves are found when in a state of deeply relaxed awareness, such as the moments before sleep, and during meditation. Theta waves are also associated with REM sleep and visual imagery.
For those with an interest in meditation, floating is a great way to learn to focus, and to experience what it is like to switch off the mind and be present. This then makes it easier to do so in your day to day experience.
If you have a regular meditation or mindfulness practice, we would like to invite you to give it a try in the floatation environment. The combination of your practice with being suspended, weightless in the silent darkness could be something very special indeed.
Some have likened their state of mind after floating to that following a couple of days on a silent meditation retreat.
The blissful post-float glow can carry onwards and outwards into your life, and we take great care to provide comfortable and relaxed surroundings to facilitate that transition.
You emerge into the beautiful natural environment of the Forest of Dean, a wonderful feast for your newly awakened senses.
Go for a walk among the rich green trees, listen to the birds, feel the breeze on your face.