Dispatches from the Float Ambassadors

Frank E., Float Ambassador, CIIS Graduate Student, Zazen Manager

Things just didn't feel right and I didn't know what was wrong with me. I had all the usual trappings of modern life held together with one of those painfully fake smiles, yet I couldn't ignore the fact that I constantly felt empty inside. While this is probably how every self help author beings, this time it was happening to me. With no one in my family willing to have a real conversation about what was wrong, I turned to talk therapy for help. 

Harboring a harsh inner critic, I initially felt a great deal of self judgment around the idea of sharing my deepest and most personal feelings with a complete stranger. Yet I later realized that a psychotherapist was the perfect person to do that with. Who better to explore the depths of my mind with than someone who has traveled into the darkest regions of their own psyche and made it back. I felt comforted by the idea of having a sherpa to walk with me down the windy and unknown path of my inner life.

Around the same time I discovered isolation float tanks through an online documentary. Two hours after doing a quick google search I walked into Zazen's front door. I entered the tank for the first time without any idea of what to expect. A dark room, no lights, a sound proof tank, what was I thinking? Pushing past my fears I dove into the experience and entered into what felt like a warm hug from the salty ocean. Emerging on the other side, my entire body melted into relaxation as I finally experience what life without anxiety felt like.

After about my third float I quickly realized how useful the tank was for introspection and meditation. The difficult work of exploring my psyche with a talk therapist often brought up hard emotions that regularly thew me into a tailspin. Floating grounded me by allowing a spaciousness and clarity to surround the difficult feelings, while also allowing my nervous system to settle down. Sometimes I opted to float before my therapy sessions, creating a unique opportunity to move my awareness from the outer world into my inner experience. This process helped me witness the torrent of thoughts, worries, fears, beliefs and feelings that I often bypasses in life.

Over the year of floating and therapy I came to better know myself through exploring the conditioning, belief systems and "shoulds" I was handed down by older generations. Week after week I developed an awareness around my emotional states, growing my ability to hold boundaries and tell people how I felt in the moment. My life didn't exactly become a happily ever after story through this process, but now I have gained an awareness to choose a new way of being in the world. One that isn't preprogramed and entirely run by habit, rather now I can choose to relate to myself and others in an intentional and meaningful way.

The healing potential of combining therapy and float tanks are as close to magic as you can get. Having both available at Zazen has been one of the greatest gifts I have come across on my healing journey. There are few places in the world that offer this unique combination and that's one of the many reasons Zazen is a special place.