This afternoon I went for my second float therapy experience at H2om Float, this time 60 minutes, a week from my first 30 minute session. I have been told and have read several articles that mention the need to give float therapy at least three attempts before deciding whether or not you feel it is beneficial for you, and I agree. Prior to floating I sought to educate myself on the concept/experience (what to expect, why it is beneficial), and while I recommend doing so, as with anything, your experience will likely be unique and it will take time to figure it out for yourself.
My first float session was a lot about adjusting, learning how it works, what to expect, battling fear and anxiety, and testing my personal tolerance to total sensory deprivation. As a research-oriented individual, I was immediately fascinated with "floating," particularly after discovering how I responded initially (panic). I will say, despite the panic and adjustment period during my first float, I was able to experience something unforgettable and entirely new to me (somewhat inexpressible)... and that is, deep connection with myself, no outside stimulation, complete darkness, loss of where I was in space or time, ultimate stillness. People have compared this to returning to the womb, being in an alternate universe or state, etc. Yes, I found it terrifying... fascinating and exhilarating, but terrifying. I already knew that if I could release the fear and anxiety -this- could be a breakthrough therapy for me. I have struggled with insomnia, night terrors, sleeping disorder, ptsd, claustrophobia, anxiety, and depression. What an incredible way to safely, directly face fear and anxiety head on, without medication, without being watched, without anyone else's expectations. What an incredible way to willingly move beyond fear into a deep state of relaxation, self reflection, and rest, embracing stillness. During my first float, near the end, I was still afraid (and surprised with myself at how frightened I was by not having light or any outside stimulation), but I began to test myself, hand holding onto the light button, trying to see how long I could go in the dark and how close I might be to releasing my hand from the side of the tank, just floating. I entered my second float session with intent to go as long as possible in the dark, ear plugs in, no light, tank closed, and maybe, just maybe, release contact with the light button on the side of the tank and release my need to be aware of where everything is/where I was... and to not panic or feel anxious, but instead relax, savor stillness, trust, and so much more. Float therapy is a fantastic exercise to have with yourself, your mind, your fears and limitations. Possibly twenty minutes into my hour session I was beginning to let go of the side of the tank (no light, no sound), getting so close to free floating, and I would spring up and panic, searching for the light or lid. I did this maybe two times and almost thought to just float with the light on. I really wanted to experience floating with total sensory deprivation, with my arms freely at my sides, no fear, and no concern over losing contact with the light button. I had fear of losing my own sensory control, feeling trapped and not having physical or mental ability to get out. Then, I finally made the decision to do it, no matter what. I found, at first, that most of the fear occurred when I kept my eyes open (in the dark), so I closed them, and when I would open them I used self-talk and intentional breathing to remain calm. I fought with myself to keep my hands in the water and to not sit up to try to find the side walls, light, or exit.
I was amazed with how, once I made my mental decision that I would experience sensory deprivation floating completely (and just relax), that was it-- I did it. I smiled and realized that there were no rules or expectations; you do not have to stay completely still. I swayed my head back and forth, moved my arms and legs slightly, and began to truly connect with myself, let go of all fear and concern (all of it), and, after a while, it did not seem as dark. I found that, when I truly made peace with just being in the tank and not battling to get out or find light, I had not lost ability to find the lid to get out when my session was over. The first and second float I watched light patterns in front of my eyes. The second float, I felt as if I was spinning in a slow circle, but when the float was over I was not in a different direction. I feel the float tanks are extremely unique in what they have to offer-- personally, I can not conceptualize a better tool for those struggling with depression, anxiety, insomnia, and/or inability to relax. For those who think they can not do it, I believe you can if I can.
I believe this is highly beneficial for those who have room to work on facing/overcoming fear. What you gain inside of the tank does not stop when you get out and carry on in the outside world. Beyond the psychological benefits, I have seen improvement in my skin and my muscles and joints feel better than ever. Team members at H2om Float Jacksonville are knowledgeable and passionate about the modalities they offer, readily willing to answer questions and assist however possible. The environment at H2om Float Jacksonville is very sanitary and peaceful.