This week I tried out the new Sydney Float Centre in Brookvale and admittedly felt nervous about booking my first appointment for an hour long sensory deprivation float tank session.
I’ve always struggled with claustrophobia, but being a yogi and meditator the curiosity to explore weightlessness with no external distractions and gaze inward without the need to adjust a cushion or ignore noises intrigued me enough to get past my fear.
The first four of the eight limbs of yoga aim to prepare us for meditation. The breath, movement, diet and lifestyle of a yogi steer us in the direction of finding inner stillness, which leads to the last four limbs, all focused on meditation.
“Withdrawal of the Senses,” or Pratyahara (the fifth limb) bridges our consciousness from external awareness to internal awareness. It’s the first step of meditation and in an overly stimulated world it can be difficult to achieve. So when I heard about the new Sydney Float Centre in the Northern Beaches, boasting of taking people effortlessly into meditative states I knew I had to try it.
Meditation, Floating and Theta Brainwaves
Floating, just like meditation, brings people into a theta brain wave state where we are very relaxed but not sleeping, aware but not overly active. We’re in the in-between consicousness, like lucid dreaming. It’s believed that in this theta state we process the experiences of our day and life.
The Ayurvedic system looks at all experiences as consumption, as if we’re eating all the things we hear, see, smell, touch and interact with. We internalise all of it, and just like food we must digest all of life.
Digesting our food means breaking it down, taking up needed nutrients and then eliminating that which is not needed, the waste. And when we don’t eliminate the waste from what we’ve consumed, well, we feel pretty shitty (pun intended).
Yoga and Ayurveda teach us how to digest all parts of our life as best as possible, not just food. But, just like eating food, if we don’t eliminate or let go of the parts of our life that don’t serve us, we end up getting emotionally constipated, and well…feeling pretty shitty.
So much of the healing power of mindfulness relaxation practices like meditation, yoga or floating come from the ability to bring us into the theta brainwave state where we can process and release the experiences of our life.
Sadly, many of us live lives where we don’t take the time on a regular basis to mentally and emotionally let go of the waste. Creating a practice of this is a curtail part of living a healthy life as is actively cleaning out the waste that’s creating blocks within you.
Yoga style detox focuses on cleansing not just with regards to food, but in all areas of our life. In the New Years Yoga Detox starting next Friday we’ll create time, space and systems to process and eliminate physically as well as mentally and emotionally.
Processing In the Float Tank
As soon as I stepped into the room with the alien looking float pod I had a mini freak out about being stuck inside, but Paul the centre directer assured me I was in control of environment at all times.
So I took a deep breath and stepped into the tank and closed the lid. After the first few minutes of nervousness and talking down my claustrophobic feelings I was able to let go and really relax in the 9ft by 6ft spaceship looking pod filled with a water solution of over 500kgs of epsom salt that held me in an anti-gravity feeling float.
Because the water is kept at 35.5 degrees, considered skin-receptor neutral, I started to loose sense of where my skin ended and the water started.
I turned the lights out on the pod, closed the lid to the tank, and in the sound-proof, light-proof room my sense of external world started to dissolve and the awareness of my inner reality became extremely heightened.
I could feel myself slipping into a deep meditative state and enhanced it by using body scanning and deep breathing techniques. I watched as my body, completely free from the pressure of gravity, let go and released tension in areas I didn’t even realise I was holding it. And then I began to watch my mind do the same.
Thoughts, emotions, fears, memories started coming up and there was nothing to distract me from seeing them, feeling them and then just staying in a state of witnessing and experience them past through me until I dissolved back into a state of feeling held and relaxed.
At the end of the session I felt like I was still floating. I felt lighter and could hear my voice sounded more relaxed and at ease. The experience of letting go of all effort, physically and mentally took me to a deep theta wave length state and the crucial act of releasing that which was blocking my system just happened naturally.
More Ways to Experience Theta Brain Waves
- Yoga Nidra
- Deep Breathing, Pranayama
- Yin Yoga & Restorative Yoga
- Massage & energy work like Reiki
Only 4 spots left for the Bali Spirit Retreat I’ll be leading April 1-7