Good morning, floaters! Is it just me, or are you feeling ready to walk our beautiful Saint Louis parks abloom with flowering cherry trees, to make way for gaggles of baby ducklings, and to find the poet in your heart arrested by a sea of lavender crocuses as they slowly peak their noses through the dead undergrowth? Hands up? Well, I’m ready! I’m ready for our world to lean into warmth and color, and it’s right on schedule. Anyone else out there have spring fever?
You may or may not become quite as dramatic as I do about upcoming spring weather, but for the sake of this blog, I’ll imagine that we’re on the same page. We are nearing the end of a month that often feels dreary, we’re being teased by random 70-degree days, and we’re generally ready to shake off the layers and turn our faces towards the sun.
I just finished a blog post about how floating can help us shift our depressed and anxious moods, and as dear as that subject is to my heart, I’m ready to swing into the positive. Today’s question is not, “how do we shift our negative feelings,” but rather, “how do we cultivate the positive feelings that we want to feel more of?” I tend to believe that we need to work both ends. Today, our focus will be on what you can do to help you activate a positive mood, and why you should do it in a float tank.
So, first, a run-on sentence for your reading pleasure: just as we must adopt a practice of opening to the difficult feelings in ourselves if we want to help the suffering we carry in our bodies and minds to shift, we must also to adopt a program – something we regularly practice – in order for us to successfully cultivate positive feelings. Consider this quote from Huchinson’s The Book of Floating:
“Weight lifters don’t grow such monumental muscles naturally, nor through randomly heaving heavy weights. They use a sophisticated program of regular efforts, exercising again and again the muscles they wish to build. Similarly, the way to…stimulate our positive chemicals… is through a consciously applied program of self-regulation. It’s now apparent that the flotation tank is an ideal environment and tool – at this time the ideal environment and tool – to employ for such a program.” (81)
Hear that? We need to practice feeling positive things, and a float tank is the ideal environment in which to engage in practices that will help us cultivate a positive-frame-of-body-and-mind. The ideal environment.
Next, I’ll share one major reason why floating is the ideal environment, as well as several suggestions for practices that you can employ in order to leave your FLOAT STL experiences in a positive mood:
When we float in a float tank, we become highly suggestible. This essentially means that floating places us in a state in which our brains are more accepting of information. In the float tank, nothing is distracting you from selecting what you want to feed your brain. The next time you come in for an appointment, take advantage of your brain’s heightened suggestibility by practicing these things:
- Visualize something concrete that you would like to happen in your life. A goal, or your perfect day: Take your time and walk yourself through the whole thing, knowing that you can change anything at any point. Take in the details. Where are you? Are you indoors or outdoors? Feel your senses. What are you doing? Who are you interacting with? How do you feel? Feel your body as you feel yourself meeting your goal or moving through your perfect day. Know that your brain does not know the difference between you actually living this day, and you living this day through visualization.
- Visualize something more ambiguous that encourages positive feelings: Lets say that you don’t have a goal that you are currently working towards. Perhaps you just wish to explore positive feelings. You might choose to visualize something less concrete, but that nevertheless brings positivity to you. You might imagine a warm nurturing light, enveloping you and caring for you. Or, imagine a safe sound, or a safe place. Imagine a vibration that runs through you and calls forth the openness and love in you. Consider imagining one of the elements – earth, wind, fire, air, or water – bringing positivity to you in whatever way your imagination comes up with – knowing that these natural elements know exactly how to bring you the positivity that you need. Again, remember that your brain does not know the difference between you actually experiencing these loving qualities and you experiencing them through visualization.
- Practice saying affirming statements that you wish to deeply believe about yourself, others, and our world: You might choose to make affirming statements to yourself, like “I am whole,” “I have the power to create change,” and “I let go of all that no longer serves me.” Or about others, “other people love and accept me just as I am.” Or, about our world, “my world and home are full of safety, security, and love.” If your inner critic becomes triggered by this practice, simply ask it to step back for now. Remember that you are in complete control and you can choose to make affirming statements that you wish to believe. See what it is like to experiment with making these statements out loud. Shy? Whisper first and then let yourself use your regular speaking voice. This will activate the verbal part of your brain. Our float tank rooms are soundproof, so you can make these statements without wondering whether anyone will overhear you. Know that it is more likely that making such positive statements out loud will result in your mind accepting these statements as if they were true. Take it from Donna, who is quoted in the book of floating: “the tank is the perfect tool for programming and goal setting, just changing your attitudes about yourself, replacing negative thoughts with positive messages.” Aware that floating enormously increases suggestibility, Donna “reprograms” herself with tapes of positive messages and guided visualizations, played to her while she floats.”
- Practice compassionate physical contact towards yourself: Tara Brach is a psychologist and spiritual teacher who often speaks for the power of healing self-touch. She suggests placing a hand over your heart and varying the pressure. Imagine a loving energy directed from yourself towards your heart. Let yourself feel loved by that hand. If you struggle with this, you might imagine that your hand belongs to a loving person. Someone who you know loves you. Imagine their hand on your heart, and give yourself permission to imagine all of the people in the world who are becoming more loving and forgiving people, and who would support you as you place your hand over your heart.
Whatever practice you choose, remember to repeat, repeat, repeat!
We hope that when you exit a float, having practiced such things, you will feel a light in you. An inner vibrance that you can bring with you into the world. That as you identify your ability to strengthen it within you, you can feel a boost of confidence to call it forth in service of your community, family, pets and self.
We wish to offer you all of the support you need in order to assist your practice of cultivating positivity. If we can do anything to help, such as play music, listen to you talk about your practice, or make suggestions about what has worked well for us, please let us know. If you have any practices that have worked well for you, please share them with us. We’d love to hear from you!