Fear, Anxiety & Floatier Things: Part 2
One response we hear over and over from people when we talk to them about floating is, “Oh no … I’m claustrophobic.”
But … only 5% of the population is actually claustrophobic, according to Wikipedia:
Claustrophobia is defined as: “the fear of being enclosed in a small space or room and unable to escape. It can be triggered by many situations or stimuli, including elevators crowded to capacity, windowless rooms, small cars and even tight-necked clothing. It is typically classified as an anxiety disorder, which often results in panic attacks. ”
We hear from much higher than 5% of the new people we talk to about floating that “claustrophobia” is the reason they won’t try it. But those people aren’t, actually, claustrophic, which is very much a clinical condition.
So … what’s really going on here?
The more honest or accurate response might be:
“I’m afraid of being alone.”
“I’m afraid of being in the dark.”
“I’m afraid of not being in control.”
“I’m afraid of being left with my thoughts.”
“I don’t know how to meditate.”
“I’m afraid of being left in there.”
These are all much more accurate, and very valid concerns. So, allow us to clear a few things up:
= You don’t have to be in the dark. =
Float with the lights on! That’s totally okay. One of our tanks has a light in it specifically for this reason. You’ll still get a ton of benefit, even with the lights on. In fact, in studies of physiological stress markers during a float, being in the dark was the least important aspect of the experience. It’s more important for the meditative/mental aspects of the experience, but not needed for plain ole’ stress management and relaxation.
= You’re in control =
There’s no locks on the doors. You can get out whenever you want to. You can choose to have lights on, music going, be still the whole time or play around and stretch the whole time. It’s totally up to you. You’re in full control the whole time.
= You don’t have to be alone with just your thoughts =
This is a common concern. In fact, studies have shown that some people literally prefer electric shocks to being alone with their thoughts. (https://www.theatlantic.com/…/people-prefer-electri…/373936/) This isn’t surprising. Our culture in particular has become highly used to distraction and stimulation, constant entertainment, constant aversion away from just being with our thoughts. It seems that boredom is a thing of the past in our culture, a lost gift of time for reflection. Here’s the good news: you don’t have to be alone with your thoughts. There’s a lot of benefit if you are, but you don’t have to be. You can have music playing the entire float, if you want to. Again, still a ton of benefits to be had otherwise. Just being in a microgravity environment, with no stimulation on your skin, no proprioceptive input, no vestibular input, all while absorbing large amounts of magnesium … those all have phenomenal benefit for your nervous system, body and mind.
= You don’t have to know a darned thing about meditation =
Literally, nothing. Doesn’t matter if you’ve never meditated a minute of your life. You don’t need to go spend 6 months on a mountaintop in Nepal to learn how. Just float. The meditation just happens as a natural byproduct. It actually feels like kind of a massive cheat. Many of us spent years and years learning how to meditate while sitting uncomfortably in some painful position in our heavy meat suits. Floating just bypasses all of that and takes you directly to the good stuff. It’s like training wheels for new meditators, and a rocketpack for experienced meditators.
= We leave no floater behind =
In 3 years of running Cloud Nine Flotation, nobody – NOBODY – has ever been left behind in a float.
So, it comes down to: “I’m afraid of being alone.”
Yeah. That’s the tough one, isn’t it?
Of all the humans in the world who’s company we could enjoy, why is our own often the most intimidating? Is it because we are our own worst critics? Our own harshest judges? Or is it just plain old boredom? What is boredom but a craving for distraction? It comes back to the same questions: why are we so eager to be distracted away from our own company? What is lurking in there, what is so difficult in that inner landscape, that we feel we have to run away from it? Do we *really* think we can just keep running away from our selves, and that that’s a race we can EVER win? Really? When will we stop running a losing race? When we die?
Maybe it’s time to stop running. To look deeply at these questions. To learn how to accept our selves instead of judging or critiquing our selves. To just BE with our selves, see what wants to come up and be resolved, be accepted, be loved, so we don’t have to spend the rest of our lives running, and exhausting ourselves, in an unwinnable marathon.
When someone says, “Oh no … I’m claustrophobic”, nine times out of ten, this is what they’re really saying: “Oh no … I prefer to keep running my unwinnable marathon, and will keep running it until I die.”
Are you ready to stop running from your self?
There’s really NO better place to see what’s going on on the inside, and figure out how to move beyond it in healthier new directions, than in a float. (Which, by the way, in our case, are 8 feet long, 5 feet wide, 3 feet above you, and, again, come with the option of lights and music. Don’t want to deprive your primary senses? That’s cool. Just FLOAT.)
If you have a friend who won’t try floating because they say they’re claustrophobic, consider tagging them in this post. Not in a jabbing or mocking way. But with love, and with the intention to help them work through that and discover something that could be really good for them and which they might really enjoy.
The fear is real. The label, in the vast majority of cases, isn’t. It’s important to focus on what the real fear is, though. Because we can’t conquer fears that we don’t properly understand the origin of.