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Floating Through PTSD

Heather’s Journey

by Heather W

I first explored and experienced floating about three years ago, in an attempt to manage my severe symptoms from Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD). While receiving professional medical treatment had become vital, I still had to learn coping and management skills for my relentless anxiety, depression, and other symptoms.  I read about floating in an article about PTSD and felt hope that maybe it could be helpful to me. The thought of floating in water in a calm environment further spurred my hopes for any amount of peace. I found Paradise Float Spa online, and my float journey commenced.

Denise, the owner of Paradise Float Spa, welcomed me into a serene environment that definitely felt like a spa.  I informed her of my reasons for wanting to try floating, and she listened and validated my concerns while explaining the many benefits floating offers.  After informing me about all of the essential information, I was assigned to a private room. My first float was a positive experience, but I spent much of the time exploring the concept and becoming comfortable with my environment.  I knew that I wanted to float again, and Denise explained that the best benefits of floating would be obtained from consistency. So, I began floating regularly for a set number of weeks.  I began to feel my anxiety slowly starting to decrease and each hour in the float tank became the calmest part of my day. At this point, I was still floating while listening to guided meditation; I simply could not manage to get my brain to stop obsessing on a million thoughts at once when in silence.  Denise was so patient with me and my many PTSD issues, encouraging me to float as much as possible.

While still struggling daily with PTSD, my floating became a bit inconsistent.  Depression and isolation proved difficult to overcome at times, but I still had great hopes for floating’s full benefits.  Several months ago, I was talking with Denise and shared just how much I was struggling with my anxiety. She suggested that I should commit to float 3 times a week for at least 6 weeks and see what happened.  I trusted her and was so desperate to find any peace possible. She also suggested that I try to slowly diminish the calming music and guided meditation, to better achieve desensitization. The thought of such a long period of silence with my own thoughts scared me, almost to a state of panic. However, with her encouragement and my hope, I was able to float in silence.  And what happened next, was nothing short of amazing!

I have never had a frame of reference for the state of being truly calm, physically and mentally.  I experienced a major shift in my brain. I now feel almost hypnotic while floating. My brain hasn’t stopped, but I am able to let the many thoughts pass by in front of me without having to obsess on them.  I never understood when others would share that they actually fell asleep while floating. I couldn’t imagine ever being that desensitized or calm without medication. Now, there is a very good chance I may fall asleep while floating also.  Floating provides me a state of peace that I am unable to achieve through any other practice, but the key has definitely become the consistency. The other most incredible benefit I have gained through floating is the frame of reference I now have in my mind for being in a complete state of tranquility. With this new reference, I am now able to respond to high anxiety moments by closing my eyes and mentally transporting myself to the float tank and using imagery to gain a sense of that calm state. This shift and coping skill is huge for me!

While I have only described my floating experience as it relates specifically to my PTSD, there are so many other benefits to be gained as well. I share my experience in hopes that it may help others who have similar struggles and may wonder about the benefits of floating. I would say floating should be an essential practice for anyone who struggles with PTSD, or even anxiety and depression in general.  I have found that you really have to work it to receive all of the benefits floating offers, meaning that you have to actually float consistently to fully experience peace and relaxation. This is my personal journey of floating, and I hope that sharing it will make it more available to others who are also seeking peace and good health.

Heather W.