Being able to relax in an 8 foot by 11 foot tank of water in pitch blackness with no sound is not an easy task, especially for people afraid of water and small spaces. Here are five tips I use in order to help me relax and feel relaxed and at one with the water in floatation tanks.
1. Let the water do the work
One first trying floating it is hard to allow the body to surrender in the water. We carry our bodies 24 hours a day, even when we sleep. The opportunity to float on a substance that can hold us up without us having to work is foreign to us. It can take the entire float session or even multiple sessions to train your body to let go in the water, specifically your head and neck. I use head floats to help me relax my head if I am really tense and also move and tense my neck when I first get in to notice how much tension I am carrying. Letting the water do the work is really all you have to do in a float tank. Easier said than done at first but it is possible.
2. Feel your body
When you arms are at your sides or above your head during floating it can allow the body to merge into the water, not knowing where your body ends and the body begins. This can also be disorientating. I would often put one hand on my heart and one hand on my body so my mind would know that it had contact with my touch and allow my body to relax. I also liked to move and sway my body, letting my hair flow in the water after the float or when I felt anxious in the stillness.
3. Follow your breath
One of the coolest things about sensory deprivation is that you can hear your breath coming in and out and even your heart beat. It is like having a direct line to your life force. Following my breath, even counting my breaths was the quickest way for me to relax and feel the connection to my body while in the water.
4. Use an intention
When I felt like I wanted to get out or fears of drowning or being stuck in the tank I would use the mantra "I am safe. I am home." I would combine it with my breath so as I inhaled I would say or "I am safe" and as I exhaled, I would say "I am home." I tried this both mentally and with a whisper to actually feel the words reverberate inside of my body.
5. Keep going
During high times of anxiety during floating I often want to open the door, jump out and go running. When this happens I try to notice the reaction of my brain to an irrational fear and I just commit to one more breath and then another one and on and on. I keep floating, breathing and feeling my body in water until the timer goes off or I feel I am getting out in peace and not because of fear.