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How a Creative and Climber Experiences Floating; Where Art and Athletics Collide

Wrapped in darkness and deep silence, accepting the embrace of warm waters effortlessly floating through gentle sways, time melts away. Stilled by the comfort of quiet – a luxury my anxious adult brain never knew it craved. The subtle drop of my shoulders, relief cascading down my spine, a quiet mind, and a heart that seems to open. Devoid of city sirens and gravity, this is the sensory deprivation tank, a sanctuary for those seeking physical rejuvenation, creative renewal, and time to reflect.

For individuals embracing artistic or athletic realms (or both if you’re me), floating offers a multitude of benefits. I’ve personally had the privilege to feel the weightlessness from thousands of pounds of salt allowing my muscles to relax and experience deep slumber in the tanks and the nights that follow. I'm grateful for true rests leading to deeper recovery and the ability to physically perform better, sooner. We could talk about the reduction in cortisol levels (Feinstein et al. (2018)) or dive deeper into the reduction of muscle tension and enhanced recovery (Jonsson et al. (2019)), but I think it’s best to forgo science-backed studies for today and focus on a different angle – the mental experience.

The allure of floating extends beyond its physical advantages. Amidst our creative or athletic endeavors, we yearn for moments of stillness – spaces where inspiration can flourish, the mind can wander freely, and the outside world can melt away. While the tanks have offloaded the wear and tear of being a full time rock climber and seduced overworked muscles into a bed of relaxation and recovery, they were more importantly, a place of invaluable downtime.

There’s something to being naked in a pitch black pool of saltwater with nothing more than the company of resounding silence inviting your mind to bare its soul. And despite what you may think, being swaddled by saltwater seems to whisper to your mind “it’s okay to be vulnerable, you’re safe in this blanket of buoyancy”. For loud minded souls like me, it’s never quiet upstairs. My days are packed with a cacophony of images, thoughts, and big emotions that dim my light and demand I put aside my autonomy.

For me, the float tanks have been a deeply personal time where time and space are paused. It’s neither visions nor deep slumber, but the landing place suspended between both experiences. It’s a time where I find myself nodding into deep sleep for a seemingly few minutes and waking to a bright thought filling my whole body with warm revelation. For this is a space where creative ideas and unresolved thoughts dance together in a new light, allowing me the ability to step back, observe, and reflect. A much needed reprieve from the weight of wading through each in my mind. Free of external distractions and light it’s as if my brain could visualize colors in a new way and weave untold stories into works of art to share when I return to the busy world.

While every experience is a bit different among floaters, I have found physical relief that has fostered growth and performance as an athlete; but more importantly, I have experienced a quiet mind and healing soul. The tanks are a quiet haven where time slows, offering reprieve from the chaos of life and providing space for me to explore and express myself in new ways.

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