The reasons to float are many, but it all starts with that first one, which can be tricky for some and as easy as breathing for others.
Let's go over 10 practical tips that'll help you have a marvelous float, the first time.
Each float means something different to everyone. A regular floater might come in for pain relief one day, and wind up needing relaxation from a stressful week the next float.
Tip 1: Book Your Appointment at the Right Time for You
Seems easy, right? Make the phone call, set up a time and anxiously await your float day. But let's back up a little. Floating is all about you, it's all about your me-time, so it only makes sense to book a float on a day that works best for you, not because it's conveniently placed between Activity A. and Activity B.
You know how it feels to rush through something or not give it your all because your mind is focused on your next objective? The same thing happens to many floaters when they schedule their appointment right before another activity. Give yourself time and space so you can be wholly present during your float and not concentrate on making supper, or going back to work as soon as you leave.
Tip 2: Lay Low on Energy Food
I used to love my morning coffee. It was warm and soothing, and I looked forward to it every day. Do you know what drinking and eating caffeinated/sugary things taught me? Not to float right after I consumed them.
Yes, it's true, natural and artificial energy foods and drinks are a major boost for us when we need them, but they're your float time's worst enemy. Take it from an experienced floater, you don't want to be all jittery during a float, especially not during your first float, when it's truly important for you to unwind and relax.
Tip 3: Don't Shave
Do you know what's in the water of a float tank? Yep, 1,000 pounds of Epsom Salt. It's what keeps you floating effortlessly. That wondrous salt is also what stings if you have sensitive skin and you've just shaved. Avoid shaving for 24 hours before you float, my friend. You'll thank me for it.
Tip 4: Arrive Early
Give yourself plenty of time on your float day. This allows you to keep your full appointment (arriving late usually cuts into your float time). More importantly, because it's your first float, it offers you the chance to ask your float attendant questions. This leads us right into the next tip . . . listening.
Tip 5: Listen
After you've arrived at the Center, you'll be checked-in and given orientation. While you're always encouraged to ask as many questions as you want, it's just as important listen to your float attendant. They're here to guide you, to make sure you know what to expect and how to have a safe, comfortable float (for the first time, and all the other floats you'll be back to enjoy!).
Tip 6: Use the Ear Plugs and Take a Warm Shower
Fresh ear plugs are provided for you each float. You're not required to wear them, but I always recommend it. Your head will rest half-in-half-out of the water. They're mold-able, so shape them just enough to get inside the large part of your ear and "smoosh" them around until you know water won't seep in. By the way, put them in before you shower (they won't stick to ears that are already wet).
You're probably aware by now that part of any float center's steps for water sanitation begins with clients taking showers before their floats. What you probably don't know (and if you do, way to go, because I didn't learn this until way after opening a float center), is that you should take a warm shower.
Now, I know, that doesn't sound appealing. I, too, love my hot showers. It feels good! But here's the thing: float tank water is heated to skin temperature (skin receptor neutral ensures that you don't know where your body ends and the water begins about 15 to 20 minutes into your float). If you take a hot shower before you float, you will raise your body's temperature, which in turn makes the tank's water "feel" cooler.
After you float, take a shower as hot as you want . . . you'll love it.
Oh, and before I forget to tell you, be sure to pat your face dry before you get into the tank. If you don't and you're lying back and feel water trickling down your face, you'll instinctively bring your hand up to wipe it away. Guess what? You just brought salt water to your face and probably got some in your eye. Save yourself the irritation and dry your face.
Tip 7: Trust the New Environment
My very first float was a 90-minute session. I lost track of time, but I guess I was in 15 minutes, was in pain and ready to get out. It wasn't comfortable. "What the heck," I thought. "This is supposed to be relaxing!" What I didn't realize was how much stress and tension I was holding in my neck and shoulders. I essentially seized up, thinking I could help the water keep me afloat if I stayed absolutely still. Relaxing (slowly, ever so slowly) my neck and then my shoulders, I finally hit that blissful state I had hoped to achieve. My muscles melted away because I simply let go.
The float tank is a brand new environment for you physically and mentally. Don't be surprised if you find you're pushing yourself side to side from the tank walls, playing with the controls, and just taking a moment to adjust before you settle in.
Tip 8: Breathe
If you don't regularly meditate, you may find it difficult to calm your mind. A useful tip from experienced meditators like Leo Babauta from ZenHabits.net says to "place attention on your breath as it comes in, and follow it through your nose all the way down to your lungs. Try counting 'one' as you take in the first breath, then 'two' as you breathe out. Repeat this to the count of 10, then start again at one."
Listen to your body and be mindful of why you're here.
Tip 9: Turn the Lights Off
You've come this far, so try taking it to the next step by turning off the light inside your tank. Sensory deprivation is exactly what it sounds like. The tank is designed to remove all external stimuli; everything that bombards us on a daily basis disappears, including light, allowing your body and mind to finally focus on itself and shut off that fight-or-flight response. Keeping the light on is up to you, but when it's off . . . that's when the magic happens. Think of it this way, as a report from Healthline puts it: "Exposure to light during sleep makes it difficult for your brain to achieve deeper sleep." When it comes to floating, you wouldn't want your brain distracted, reducing your float's effectiveness, would you?
Tip 10: Try Not to Over-think
It's hard, I know. Work, home, kids, things you have to do today, things you should've done, and stuff you should not have said. Over-thinking in the tank is natural for the first time floater. But if you follow Steps 8 and 9, you might just find yourself tuning out, forgetting about those cares and troubles.
Forget about the time. Many first timers say they couldn't stop thinking about how much time they had left, whether they missed the chime or the light that goes off that tells them their float is coming to an end. Don't worry about time. It's irrelevant. Your float will come to an end, whether your thoughts are on it or not. So why not just not think about it?
Try not to think about "making" this float do what you want it to do, either. For many, it takes two to three floats before they truly know how it's affecting them mentally and physically. Just let go, find your comfort zone, relax and float. The rest will come naturally.
 Meditation for Beginners: 20 Practical Tips for Understanding the Mind
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