Intuitively when we get into a float tank we do nothing. Except in the face of the maximising trend of the 21st century’s Silicon Valley culture, the value of just doing nothing can be a very perishable idea. What often happens after a few floats are thoughts like, “what if I meditate in the tank?” Or “what happens if I use the other relaxation techniques I practice.” The thinking runs “Won’t that make me go deeper, won’t that maximise what I get out of the couple of hours it’s taken to get to float and get back to my day?” If what you are looking for in a float session is float therapy, and especially if you have fibromyalgia, the answer to these questions is no.
Rather than maximising the benefits of the float, using other techniques tends to curb what you can achieve with a consistent float therapy program. It would be a bit like choosing cycling as your cardio-vascular exercise and trying to run or swim while out on a ride. If you want to reclaim your life from the chronic stress or a fibro driven spiral of degeneration, do nothing in the tank at your local float centre.
Some things people do in float tanks
Float tanks have been around for decades and people use them for many objectives. Some to recover from extreme exercise regimes, others to improve performance in sports like archery or basketball, or to explore consciousness. The last of these was John Lilly’s mission. He invented flotation tanks and spent 10 years studying how his consciousness behaved in the tank. Only then did use other techniques to take his research to the next level. Quite a few people around floating have taken to the last part — trying different things in tanks — more readily than starting out with 10 years of calibration. Consequently, we find many advocates for the use of mediation, guided imagery, self-hypnosis or autogenic techniques in the tank. Regardless of what benefits that might have for healthy people, doing anything but floating in the tank is likely to impede healing the life fibrotic.
Society’s expectations of how to address problems seem more about going mega with drug or surgery interventions, or some other action. This attitude seems to be seeping into even complementary and alternative healing approaches. The notion that fixing what ails you depends on letting go and taking the time to come to your senses is obscured by the message to take massive action, be epic, go hard –what most of us understand as standard operating procedure for teenagers. However, if you are using float tanks for float therapy to regain peace of mind, and the confidence that one day you might be free of suffering, just let go and relax.
Float therapy is one way to use a float tank
To move beyond the path you have been walking with the nightmare of stress overload or fibro using floating depends on finding a way through the fog to a wider and deeper sensory experience of the world. Float therapy is a holistic system that facilitates this journey. After several sessions you are likely to experience a mild altered state of consciousness in the float tank. This can take the form of an unusual experience of time, hearing noises or seeing images in the silence and darkness of the tank. These altered states of consciousness help to break up your habitual experiences of the world. As you progress through the treatment program, you will find floating enables you to see your world a new, paving the way for new sensory experiences of the world. It often starts by seeing or smelling something with a new and vital intensity in the days immediately after a float. As your awareness of these events grow, your experience of yourself strengthens, and incrementally your energy will improve in a way that facilitates a broadening of your current way of living.
The changes in sensory awareness often initiate positive emotional and cognitive changes. As you continue to float, these changes integrate holistically, taking you further along the spiral of self-acceptance, strengthening and healing. Very few treatments provide a context for integrating your body sensations, emotions, thoughts, beliefs and meanings as effectively as a program of float therapy.
What you do when you float shapes the effectiveness of that integrative context and the outcome of the therapy. What happens from floating prompts most of the treatment’s life-changing benefits for chronic stress and fibro sufferers. Any other technique you use in the tank, regardless of how long you have been using it, is more likely to interfere with the processes of float therapy. In fact, the longer you have been using a technique the more likely it is woven into the habitual patterns of thinking, feeling and sensing that are constitutive of your experience of the fibromyalgia nightmare. To foster change, leave your current way of doing things at the tank room door.
If you bring other techniques into the tank, you are likely to disrupt the processes and experiences that make floating beneficial as a fibro therapy. You would still benefit from floating if you use other techniques, but you reduce the chance your health and well-being will improve beyond a modest plateau. Who has time for that? Especially if you have already been disappointed with mediocre pain and function improvements after making profound efforts to get better with medical and complementary therapies. To maximise the fibro benefits of floating, all you do in the tank is float.
Please seek medical advice if you are going to use the information provided here to treat a medical condition. I am not a doctor. This series is for information purposes only. It explains what I did to stop suffering from fibromyalgia after more than 20 years of misery. It has been published because for many people, details from the scientific research that allowed me to make the breakthrough is rarely discussed and difficult to access and identify. Originally posted in 2015 the rest of the series can be emailed to you if you message me through the contact page.