Brian Harwood is a frequent floater here at FLOAT STL. He was kind enough to sit down with us and share about his floating experience.
How did you originally learn about floating?
Originally, I heard about it through the movie Altered States, and I was curious about it then. But, Zach Smithey turned me on to trying it. He advised me to give it a shot. I don’t know if I would say it’s been life changing, but…it’s been really close.
Can you say more about that? What makes your floats almost life changing?
The stress from work somewhat goes away, which is why I like to float on my last day of work, which is a Thursday. That way, I can decompress for the weekend, and I always sleep like a baby that night.
And it’s not just the mental benefits, it’s the physical part of it too. Your whole body gets relaxed. I don’t have neck issues anymore. I used to have a bulging disc, which would get really tight and pop. But since I’ve been floating, it relaxes and loosens. I haven’t been to the chiropractor since I started floating. So, for me, it’s been a godsend, it’s been great.
Every float is different, as you well know. Sometimes I come in here, and I’ll solve problems that I haven’t solved at home because my mind is free to do that. But, other times, I come in, and it feels like the time has gone by in 5 minutes. Last Thursday was my first float in three weeks, and I felt like I had only been in there for 20 minutes, but it had been an hour and a half. All of your problems get washed away.
I know what you mean! Drifting away, outside of time is such a wonderful feeling. This experience becomes more common the more you float. I wonder, can you remember the very first time you floated with us?
Yes. I guess the first thing I noticed was how comforting you guys were when I arrived because it was a great greeting. You always make me feel at home and relaxed. I remember that you explained the entire floating process in a really nice detailed manner.
When I first arrived, I was very anxious because I’m quite claustrophobic. But, the rooms here are great for that. There’s no claustrophobia because the rooms are so big and there’s so much air. Even the pods are roomy and you can easily open the clam shell if needed. Since it’s so dark there, you don’t even think about it. It’s not like being inside an MRI machine. It’s was like being in my bathtub, but much better! Initially, I was worried about that – being claustrophobic, but it wasn’t a problem at all.
You have floated 34 times and you come in about 2 – 4 times a month. Do you remember how you decided to make floating a consistent practice?
After my third float, I knew it was something that I wanted to do, to help me find my most centered self. I knew it would help my emotional state, and it would help me to be more mindful overall. It’s been really helpful with that. When I first started, I didn’t realize that the benefits to my body would be so great. It’s really superb physically. It’s great for your skin, like an exfoliation all over your body!
Awesome. You’ve said a lot about how floating has helped you. Can you say a little more about what makes your floats special?
My floats help me solve a lot of work problems. They make me more thoughtful about challenges in general. Instead of solving things right way, I know if it’s a Wednesday or Thursday, I can look forward to thinking about it during the float. I’ll tell myself that it’s something I don’t need to solve overnight. Sometimes, during a float, ideas will just pop into my head. Not thinking about it too hard helps the ideas just come up.
Sometimes, when I have a thought that I don’t want to forget, I get out of my float for a moment and make a note. Zach’s the one who really got me turned on to thinking about things during the float. I hadn’t initially thought about that. I thought it was supposed to be more like sleeping. Sometimes, I do fall asleep. But, other times, I’m solving problems, and the time just flies by as I don’t have any stimuli coming in, bothering me.
May I ask you a few fun quick Y/N questions?
- Room or Pod?
I like the rooms at Maryland Heights best because they remind me of laying on my back in a big swimming pool, touching nothing.
- Light on or off?
- Music or no music?
Yes! Ha ha, both. It depends on my mood! Right now, I like the silence. But, for a few months, I really liked the music. The music relaxes me. It reminds me of being a kid. I used to go to my basement after a day in high school, put on headphones, and lie in the darkness. So, it takes me right back there.
It sounds like, in some ways, floating disconnects you from everything. But, in other ways, it helps you plug in to yourself, your feelings, issues you want to resolve, or memories and thoughts.
Yes, that’s right. There’s too much going on in life right now. My floats get me to where I can be by myself and think. Or, not think at all. I try to focus on my breathing first, and then it just goes from there.
- Earplugs or no earplugs?
I lean towards none. They often pop out, so I just don’t do them anymore! But, I bet they’re helpful for people who can’t get water in their ears.
- AM or PM?
Both. Mornings are a great way to start the day and you still get a good night’s sleep. But, the end of the day is really nice too. You go home, have dinner, and then go to bed. It depends on what I want. Sometimes, I float on a Thursday night and also the following Friday morning. The effects last all day long!
What would you say to someone who is curious about floating but who is nervous to try it for the first time?
I try not to say too much because everyone is different, and I don’t want to set up preconceived notions. But, I tell people not to think about it too much, to concentrate on your breathing, and I tell them not to worry about claustrophobia.
I say, you’ll be welcomed. And you can stay in for as long as you’d like. Most people are pretty surprised. I find that most people think it’s going to be like a massage.
Brian, thank you so much for sharing so much about your floating experience and for spending this time with us. Do you have any last words?
I think floating has made me a better person, which is all we can do.
Beautiful. Thanks again Brian!!