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5 Stress-Management Techniques that Might Just Increase the Benefits of Floating

Updated: Aug 13, 2023

This is a guest blog from our float ambassador Tobias Hall, chiropractor and owner of Featherston Street Pain Clinic in Wellington.

1) Ho’Oponopono

Ho’Oponopono (say that 3 times fast) is an ancient form of traditional Hawaiian healing. The word translated into English simply means ‘correction’. Ho’Oponopono is essentially the intentional practice of reconciliation and forgiveness. Traditional Ho’Oponopono was originally practiced by Hawaiian healers as a form of group therapy and way of resolving conflict within families, Modern Ho’Oponopono is an excellent method for relationships but also for increased personal happiness, resilience and stress management.

In 1976 Morrnah Simeona, regarded as a healing priest or kahuna lapaʻau, adapted the traditional Ho’Oponopono of family reconciliation for the cultural realities of modern day. The fundamental change was that Morrnah expanded the scope and intention of Ho’Oponopono to include the resolution of internal conflicts, including those between an adult person and their own inner child, as well as self-practice to heal interpersonal relationships.

In many ways Mornah’s revision of Ho’Oponopono is a form of spiritual ‘extreme ownership’. The idea is to take complete responsibility for healing everything that occurs in your stream of consciousness, and to view it all as your own creation. A Ho’Oponopono practitioner takes responsibility for healing and reconciling all the pain and negativity that they encounter. A key concept in this philosophy is viewing all of human experience and memory is being stored within a collective subconscious, in this case one that can be accessed and healed as a daily practice.

At the very least Ho’Oponopono is a way of consciously activating the positive and empathic parts of our psyche, be it collective or intrapersonal. The ability to do this on command is potentially of huge benefit to those of us who find that old unhappy patterns of thought tend to be our default response to many of life’s challenges and situations. It is a powerful tool for stress management in other words.  In practice Ho’Oponopono is super accessible and really no more complex than simple mantra or prayer, needless to say this could be an awesome support to your weekly float session. Maybe you should check it out.

2) Mindfulness Training 

Mindfulness is essentially a successful and much-needed rebrand of meditation. Nearly all of us had decided that we sucked at meditation and gave up on it, mostly because we couldn’t switch out minds off completely the first time we tried it. We desperately needed to get past that and the mindfulness concept seems to have saved the day.

Mindfulness cultivates the brains ability to focus in ways that are not based in the habit of incessant thought. If we learn to focus on the present moment, which is made up mostly of sensory information, being largely thought based our stress and our problems will tend to fall away. There is great potential for stress relief and stress management in learning to focus in this way. The more mindful presence we can muster in our day to day lives the more inner peace we are liable to have access to, and the better out interactions with others. Its opposite is the scattered mind that cannot rest; cannot switch off and is seldom truly available for others.

Floating is not always a free one-way ticket to inner peace. It’s super important to understand that there will most likely be many times when mindful presence is useful to you in the tank, as it is in day to day life. In fact, let’s be realistic: the tank IS an extension of your day to day life and not really something separate.

The opportunity to focus and be mindful during your floats can act as a vehicle for increased presence outside the tank, think of it as a mindfulness gym in that sense. A grounding in mindfulness also stands to help you get through those floats where the mind wants to wonder. Mind wondering isn’t always the end of the world and can sometimes lead you somewhere good, yet there are other times where it is more the saboteur of a good float experience. The ability to be mindful during your float potentially gives you more control of your experience, and therefore the amount and type of benefits you receive from floating.

3) Psychedelic Medicines 

We live in a culture where 99% of people still view psychedelics as an amusing bit of weirdness at best and dangerous Class-A drugs at worst. The research says otherwise, however. We are in a quiet but rapid movement towards decriminalisation and therapeutically sanctioned use of psychedelics. This is long overdue given the potential for healing and stress relief that is held within this touchy feely and big-hearted family of molecules.

People who are screened and use psychedelics correctly, in an appropriate and therapeutic way report startling benefits. Lasting reductions in addiction, anxiety, PTSD, fear of death and reductions in stress are all commonplace findings. It is worth noting that this research is taking place in bastions of medical research like John Hopkins in the US and Imperial College London. Just in case you were picturing it taking place at Burning Man or Glastonbury.

I have absolutely no substantial ideas for you on why or how psychedelics do what they do for humans. I am not entirely sure whether anyone else does either. Why and how a molecule that evolved in the tissues of a small family of mushrooms would have the capacity to comprehensively target and benefit the psyche, personality and spiritual awareness of a primate is beyond me. Whatever is going on there, it does at least appear that psychedelics have an adaptogenic effect on whatever is most unhappy and chronically misaligned about those that consume them.

The downside to all this is that the law says you aren’t allowed to take psychedelics in NZ. Also, Kevin & Sam say you aren’t allowed to come into Float Well tripping balls, licking the signage etc. But let’s look forward to a time when we are able to safely and carefully explore the benefits of nature’s ultimate healing gifts with floating… in a state of legislative sanity and togetherness. When we do the world’s gonna become a slightly better place.

4) Acupuncture / Massage / Joint Manipulation

Acupuncture and to be honest, pain management in general, can be of huge benefit to those of us who use floating for both stress and pain management. Floating provides increased feedback from the body about postural habits, and patterns of tension related to stress. It enables a ‘tuning in’ to neck tension that we usually don’t notice that we habitually hold onto for example. These feedback boosts that we plug into when we float can act as learning experiences. If we can improve our ability to feel the tension we hold, often we naturally start to let go of the habit, as if it was the unconscious nature of the tension that was perpetuating it.

The limitation of habit change can, for some of us, be the mess we had made of the tissues during all those years of clenching and tension before the habit change. This history can cause scar tissue build up in joints, muscles and soft tissues. Then, when we finally crack the habit, we don’t get the kind of relief we expected because the scar tissue remains.

I have worked with countless advanced yoga teachers, Pilates teachers, Alexander technique teachers, Feldenkrais teachers and voice coaches over the years who had major and instantaneous breakthroughs in their practice once they combined it with acupuncture and chiropractic techniques. They all had functionally limiting scar tissue that had been holding them back. I have also worked with many others who despite having been though many years of healing, yoga and meditation found that certain things ‘come together’ for them once they have a spinal segment successfully ‘unlocked’. I am talking major breakthroughs with heaps of tears and all that good stuff. As a culture we often underestimate the impact of body work on the topics of habit, mind, stress relief , psychology and happiness.

If you are floating with scar tissue in your spine and/or its soft tissues you could be postponing the kind of breakthroughs that floating ultimately has in store for you.

5) Yoga & Exercise 

There are any number of ways that we could come at this topic, I am going to choose to stay in my lane with it and offer a perspective on yoga and floating through my own little lens, bearing in mind there are countless possible synergies between the tank and the mat.

My perspective is related to the single topic that may be closest to my professional heart of all: movement. Our start point here is the acknowledgement that much of the value of floating is based in the idea of stillness, physical, sensory and environmental stillness. The benefits of exercise in all its common forms are based on our need for movement. As far as I am aware, every part of life needs a bit of yin and a bit of yang. We need a bit of light and a bit of dark, a bit of hot and a bit of cold, a bit of sleepy and a bit of wakey-wakey, a bit of sweet and a bit of salt… the list is endless and it includes ‘a bit of stillness and a bit of movement’.

On the journey toward stress relief, better posture and greater enlightenment for your bodies and minds we were bound to need a mixture of movement and stillness. The fact that the stillness and movement nourish one another also seems bound to universal truth. It’s probably not even worth us touching on why all this is, as that would take up precious time that we could have spent exercising or floating

The science-y bit is that we know only too well from research that people who exercise manage stress and pain way better and report better mood when compared with those who don’t exercise. The common sense bit is knowing that if we are willing to be holistic in our approach to stress and happiness journey we are likely to get better results. Don’t take my word for it though, try it out. Try floating soon before and after your favourite forms of exercise at different times and see what impact it has.

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