“What? Sorry, can you say that again – I was distracted.”
This is a phrase that’s all-too-commonly uttered these days. However, it seems apparent that it’s less a sign of personal failure and more an indication that the technological world we’re surrounded by is, indeed, incredibly distracting. Some of this is accidental, but much of it is purposefully designed by businesses, government, and individuals to grab our attention and keep it for as long as possible.
Unfortunately, this sensory assault takes its toll on us human beings, and being distracted is a symptom of the much larger problems of endemic stress and anxiety that plague so much of the population. It’s no surprise that this environment has led to an increase in popularity for meditation, mindfulness, and activities like floating. Floating lets you escape all of these distractions for a time, to give your body and mind time to rest, process, and heal.
When you come out of a float tank, the world often seems more vibrant. Colors appear brighter, the air after a fresh rain smells nicer, and good food tastes even more delicious. This heightened awareness isn’t just limited to your normal senses – many floaters report feeling more connection and empathy with the people around them. Often this is directed towards close friends or loved ones, but we’ve heard plenty of stories about small acts of kindness towards even total strangers post-float.
There is a common saying, phrased in many different ways through the years, that taking care of yourself and loving yourself are necessary preconditions for taking care of, and loving, others. Like an emotional version of the oxygen masks that drop down in a plane during an emergency: you make sure that you’re taken care of before taking care of those around you. Floating is a great example, and as any experienced floater will tell you, many of the most significant benefits of floating extend past your time spent in the tank, and beyond just making you feel better.
As a result, although it’s a practice that’s essentially about being completely alone, floating can actually be a wonderful experience for bonding and deepening connections with others. It’s very common for friends to come in together so that they can relax and hang out afterwards. Many couples also find that floating is a wonderful way to start off a romantic weekend together, or even just a casual date night. Taking time to process the thoughts that are always whirling through your head, and to let go of the stress from your regular obligations, is a perfect way to free up more space in your awareness and attention for those things (and people) that are right in front of you.
There is an openness and joy that comes along with being both relaxed and present. Some people might refer to it as being in a kind of flow state, where conversations and interactions just seem to click into place. This is a state where if something goes wrong, it’s laughed away rather than dwelled upon, and where normal distractions breeze by completely unnoticed and unheeded. Plus, if you’re grabbing lunch or dinner afterwards, food really does taste amazing (which certainly doesn’t hurt that magical feeling you have post-float).
All of these effects are more than just collected anecdotes – research on flotation consistently shows reduced stress and anxiety, along with increased feelings of serenity and well-being. Several studies have also shown that creativity increases post-float, which could certainly be a part of why spending time with others right after a float can be so enjoyable. Feelings of being more present and aware are also consistently reported by float participants, and there are even some pilot studies showing improvement in attention and quality of life for those diagnosed with ADHD.
The unfortunate fact is that our brains are hardwired to be on alert for threats in our environment, and the modern world that surrounds us – with its loud noises, flashing lights, ever-present screens, and bustling crowds – keeps us pretty much constantly on edge. Being so mentally preoccupied all the time, it’s no wonder that it’s often hard to even focus on the person right across the table from you, and what they’re saying.
Whatever way you accomplish it, it’s important to cultivate the ability to tune out the ever-present distractions that bombard us (both those from the real world, and the ones that come from your own mental chatter). We, of course, recommend floating as the ideal tool, and whether you come in alone, with friends, or with your romantic partner, we’re sure that you’ll find the distractions melt away as your attention resurfaces.