Floatation Nation

It’s the only kind of tank I’ll ever be trusted with. And because my stock is worthless this is the closest I’m going to get to being floated. Perhaps the owners of the ‘Floatation Centre’ I recently visited are aspirational enough to see themselves floating on the stock market. In ten years time, there could be a Floatation Centre on every High Street. From Tasmania to Christmas Island.

But could such a practice go ‘mainstream?’ And what next, High Street Sweat Lodges (Sweaters r’us.) Vipassanā Motels at the side of every highway. Vision Quest optometrists, their glasses would offer a shamanic view of the world. Maybe this will be a new boom industry. I suppose we could refer to it as ‘The Healing Retail Sector,’ but for me, it’s good old fashioned sadomasochism.

To be fair I enjoyed my first ‘float’ so much I booked another three. But halfway through the second, the novelty began to wear off. By the third, I’d begun to talk to myself to ease the mental discomfort. And by the fourth, I got out before my session was complete. This definitely says more about me than the practice. Anything that can be perceived as an ‘ordeal’ feels to me like an ‘ordeal.’

I had a similar experience at a sweat lodge. I got through the first, but at the second I found the drumming and chanting too much to bear so I left in a judgmental rage. Recently I left a five rhythms dance early because I despise the circle at the end. I don’t tolerate listening to less than perfect people (like me) telling each other how beautiful they all are. Of course, they’re not, some of them are broken and twisted. Some of them (I’d wager) make poor decisions, behave in selfish and unscrupulous ways (actually I know some of them are well dodgy). They’re human beings just like the rest of us. But you’d struggle to believe that if you heard them blowing smoke up each other’s bottoms.

Maybe I’m just too cynical and subliminally angry. Or perhaps these practices simply don’t ‘speak’ to me, like the people at The Vipassanā Motel. And now I can add the people who go to five rhythms to the list.

To add some perspective my partner loves floating. She finds it incredibly meditative and healing. She’s joined the monthly club where she gets to float (once a month) at the reduced price of $59. She also ‘sweats’ regularly and she hangs out in the desert for three nights with nothing but water to keep her company (Vision Quest.) The closest I get to that is hanging out with dessert for three nights with nothing but self-loathing. Having a whole pudding to myself ain’t good for my enlightenment. Though my taste buds somewhat benefit.

What I did learn from floating was that I am allowed to have my own reality. I’ve always felt pressure to have the ‘prescribed’ experience. With that comes judgment, ‘surely I should be able to focus on my breathing, empty my mind, acquire profound spiritual wisdom.’ Unfortunately not, what came to mind in the Floatation pod was ‘I wonder what a fart would sound like in here?’ Of course, I didn’t fart because I’m a good man. I was also concerned I might ‘follow through,’ no one gets paid enough to pick a floater out of a flotation tank.

So I’m not a floater, or a sweater, a mindfulness practitioner or meditation guru. But I have recently found two unusual practices that ‘speak’ to me, neither of them has anything to do with the ‘alternative healing’ world. Turns out go-karting and Northern Soul dancing offer me a deep sense of wellbeing.

Please don’t take my experience as an objective barometer of any of the aforementioned practices. Try them for yourselves. You might love floating or you might find it as maddening as I did. In which case, I’d gently suggest you might give some consideration to regular therapy. Good luck!

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