Dorian Tomace is a Saint Louis transplant, hailing from the east coast. After she generously
offered her time and knowledge to support our 2017 RISE float conference, we asked if she would do us one more favor by chatting with us about her floating experience. Dorian talks about the importance of openness and curiosity, self-care, friendship, and how floating fits into the whole picture. We hope you enjoy!
Dorian, thank you so much for coming in and offering some of your time.
I’m grateful to be here talking with you guys.
Thank you! Can you tell me how you learned about floating?
I live in the same building as Kevin and Arathi, and when we were getting to know one another, Kevin said that he and his business partners had a newly opened float center and were getting ready to open a second one. The concept was completely foreign to me. And I, just moving here from the east coast and wanting to be a giant sponge and absorb everything that Saint Louis has to offer, was really intrigued by the idea of it.
I will say that it was hard for me to understand it just by listening to someone describe it. But now, after being here, visiting the space and experiencing what a float entails, it makes so much sense. I understand it.
Yes, it can be hard to understand what it will be like just by hearing about it. It’s hard to compare it to something familiar or have a frame of reference for it because it’s so unlike most other environments.
Yes, it is. I talk about floating with people and if they say, “I can’t do it for 90 minute, or I get too restless, or my mind would wander and I wouldn’t last.” I say, just try it. You’re not held captive in there. If you want to get out, you certainly can.
That’s very true. Dorian, can you tell me about your very first float?
Well, I tried to get some information from your website and from Kevin, but I also like to work off limited information so I don’t over think things or overly prepare. I got here early, and tried to be very open and curious about the whole process. When I walked in, I noticed the peaceful environment and the soothing ambiance.. The pace of the way I spoke slowed down, the volume of my voice lowered, I kicked off my shoes, and I felt super comfortable. The whole environment prepped me to be in a relaxed state. Kevin walked me through everything and showed me what to do. When I was in the pod, I remember feeling completely buoyant, and I fell asleep while I was floating. It’s was hard to tell whether I had been asleep for 10 minutes or 20 minutes or an hour. And when I wasn’t asleep, I was in a dream like state. It was wonderful. I know that when my float ended, I felt very chill.
I think that some of the sensations I experienced are hard for me to describe because I haven’t been floating for a long time, and I don’t know if there are correct terms to describe what it is I was feeling. But when I got out, Kevin asked me how it was, and I said, “I don’t know how to describe it. It’s kind of dream-like, it’s kind of like euphoria.” And I feel kind of weird saying this, but I’d describe it as feeling kind of like an out of body experience because you have no sense of anything around you.
That doesn’t sound weird to me at all. Right, with the temperature of the water being the same as your body, you can lose sense of where the perimeter of your body is, which really causes you to feel like you are floating.
Yes! Also, my first time was mid-afternoon on a weekend, and I felt super tired afterwards. I
had things to do, but I just ended up going home and relaxing. I do remember that I had a very good night’s sleep. In retrospect, I kind of wish I knew I would feel so relaxed because I didn’t really have the energy to do things I needed to do.
The next time I floated, I tried it in the morning, and it was great, but I felt the sleepy feeling again. So, the third time was a charm because I did a 7-8:30pm nighttime appointment. I thought that floating at night would interrupt my sleep, but the opposite happened. It puts me in such a relaxed veg-like state that I have a lovely night’s sleep. So, I’ve learned that my sweet spot is Sunday night at 7pm in a pod.
I love how curious you’ve been about this. You’ve been floating and checking in with yourself to see what feels optimal for you. That sounds playful to me!
Yes, and the last time I floated, we did a girl’s night. It was me, Arathi, Julie, and Robin. The four of us floated at the same time, so it was sort of a goddess Sunday night float together. We arrived a half hour early to chill out and catch up with each other. We all floated, and then we stayed about 30m after, just chilling. And then we met back up at my place afterwards and continued the chilling with some wine and snacks.
Right, getting together for a float is such a creative way to re-connect with your friends.
It was. And what it showed me is that it’s really special to share the experience with someone else. I want people close to me to have a change to have the positive feelings that I’m feeling.
I have a girlfriend who is pretty in tune with meditating. And before I started to float I told her about it. I know it’s hard to shut your mind off and enjoy the experience. You end up thinking about your laundry list of things to do. So, she suggested to me to visualize a hole exiting from the top of my head and begin to count. So, when I get into my float, that’s what I do. I just start focusing on the top of my head, and count.
So, you just visualize a hole exiting from the top of your head and count, 1, 2, 3…?Yep!
You know, that’s really brilliant. It’s so simple, but it’s brilliant. When you repeat something like that, it helps to keep your mind focused instead of randomly wandering, and then from that place of focus, it can just kind of go off-line and then your relaxation can come forward.
Yes, that’s exactly right. And, I don’t put any pressure on myself. Whatever number I get to,
sometimes it’s in the 40s or the 60s, or up to 200. It just doesn’t matter.
Do you ever just wake up and have no idea where you left off?
Yea. Sometimes I just start having dreams. All of a sudden, I’ll be asleep. And then I’ll wake up and think, I lost count. So, then I’ll just start over again. I’ll think, well, the last number I remember is 36, so just let me start there again. Or, I find myself repeating a number, like 31, 31, 31, 32, 31, 32…And, you know what? There are no rules, I just go with it. It works for my mind.
So, by the way you describe your floats, it sounds like they’re pretty consistent. You come to float in the evening, you have a practice to help your mind relax, you drift into a dream like euphoric state, and then you leave feeling relaxed, tired and ready for bed.
Right, I am a creature of habit. So, when I find something that I like, I like to stick with it. And, yes, my body tends to respond to floating in a consistent way.
So, I’m curious, can you talk a little bit about how your floating complements your life, job, and other interests?
I love to be physically active outdoors. I jog, I power walk, and ride my bike around Forest Park and Tower Grove Park. I do hot yoga in the winter. I’m also a Zumba instructor and I teach at the gym at my office. Zumba is probably the opposite of Floating, with its Latin music and people shouting, “yeah!”
So, it’s not uncommon for my hip or lower back to be a little sore from my activity. In the past, I’d get a massage to work out the kinks. Now, floating is a way for me to fully relax my body in a completely different way. When I get out of the tank, my body feels so completely loosy-goosy that I do a few stretches and my neck and lower back crack and crinkle. I’m not typically a bone cracker, but it feels so good.
Also, I like to save experiences like this for when I really need them. I just don’t have the time to do floats here three times a week. Some people may, and that’s great. That might be a constant state of luxury. Same thing with massages. I save them for a time I really need them. I’ll ask myself, “is this a really stressful week where work is tough,” or “am I I’m running a really big work event?” If so, I give this to myself as something to unwind afterwards. I treat myself to a float.
So, it sounds like floating is a tool that helps you de-stress from being active outdoors and at work?
Yes, and I balance it with other things. I enjoy volunteering around Saint Louis. I’m a wish-
granter for the Make-A- Wish Foundation (which basically means that I’m the direct liaison with the Wish Kid, in charge of coordinating the details about the wisher’s wishes, which are often to go to Disney). And I also volunteer to transport blood from the American Red Cross to hospitals in the Saint Louis area. So, lets say a new mom is giving birth and she’s hemorrhaging and needs blood, or there’s been a major car accident. They’ll call me, and I’ll drive to the American Red Cross and then transport the blood to the hospital in need. I just got trained today, So I’m an officially trained to transport blood.
Wow, when I think of myself or someone I love being in a situation like that in a hospital that doesn’t have enough of the right blood type, I’d love to know that other people care and would do what you are doing.
I think I’m collecting all my karma points. It does feel good to give back, and it also feels good to have the good come back to you. That contributes to health and wellbeing. Things like floating, massages, working out outside, volunteering and giving back, having friends and a network and a community of people to learn on for support.
It sounds like you care deeply about self-care and touch all of those contexts.
Yeah, it’s all interconnected to make your whole being happy. You can’t describe happiness, but you just know when you are. That’s the ultimate to me, to be happy. What makes you happy changes over time. Sometimes it’s a successful career, or traveling, or having a work-life balance, or spending time with family and friends. Whatever it is, there isn’t a right or wrong. You just have to know what is right for you.
This is such a great conversation. I feel like we could just keep talking. Can I ask you a few fun and quick float-related questions?
So one of them is room or pod, but is sounds like you like the pod. What do you like more about the pod?
So, here’s the deal. I prefer the atmosphere and water to be on the warmer side, and I felt a
little chilly in the room. Kevin told me that it’s absolutely okay to ask you to change the
temperature, and it turns out that I like it to be a degree warmer.
Is there a color light that you like?
My first time I didn’t know it was an option. And so I tried a few. I’ve done Blue, Pink, Red.
Do you feel any emotional difference between the different colors?
I can’t say that I do, but I do like just changing it up. Just a part of my curiosity.
Earplugs or no earplugs?
Earplugs. There have been times that I’ve got a bubble of water in my ear, and it helps to use a drop of alcohol to dry it up. There was this one time that I scratched my nose, and a drip of water got into my nasal passage. And I thought, oh my god, why did I touch my face? And that was no good.
Have you ever listened to music the entire time?
Nope, I didn’t know that was an option.
Well, those are all of my questions for you. Thank you for coming in!
It’s been absolutely my pleasure.
We caught Dorian right before she is leaving on what sounds like a beautiful trip to Croatia
with some girlfriends. We wish her and relaxing and rejuvenating vacation and look forward to connecting with her again soon!
Thank you, Dorian!