A thought on… Claustrophobia

A thought on…

Claustrophobia in the pod

It’s normal to be a little claustrophobic. Most people have a healthy fear of heights, spiders, unfriendly dogs, and often clowns. When you see the pod for the first time, it’s normal to get a little jittery. Anxiety and excitement are close friends after all, and sometimes it’s hard to tell which one you’re experiencing.

If you’ve never floated before, the pod can seem a bit nonsensical. You don’t often find yourself enclosed in darkness and half submerged in salt water that makes you feel like a cork in the ocean. When you close the door for the first time a feeling of awe and trepidation may take hold.

I believe this to be the essence of most claustrophobic reactions: Being out of/losing control. IF we were to shut the door and lock you in there, no matter what for the whole hour, then yes, anxiety would be expected.

But that’s not the case, during the induction we explain the ins and outs of the pod, we show you how to use the light, open the door and how to get comfortable. This is your float, your session, and your experience after all. You get to control whether you dive into the deep end, or gradually dip each toe centimetre by centimetre. While we encourage you to attempt the full sensory deprivation experience, what is more important is that you’re able to go at your own pace when exploring the environment.

Your expectations will influence your initial sessions as well. When you get in for the first time and it feels strange rather than instantly amazing, you can start to get a little uncomfortable and even irritated. Your ego can get in the way too. Do these statements sound familiar?

“I could NEVER float”

“That WOULDN’T work for me”

“I couldn’t be alone with myself for an HOUR”

“NO WAY am I going to close the door”

These responses can be part of the story you’ve been telling yourself, one that you can become so entrenched in that it’s hard to see any alternative. You’re afraid of the dark, small spaces make you uncomfortable, being alone is boring, etc etc.

The problem is that when you define yourself by the limits of your past reactions, you can inadvertently close the doors to new experiences and realities. The process of finding out who you are takes a lifetime, don’t let too many negative reactions narrow your reality to a razor blade fineness.

To recap… Of course, floating is strange! We live in and ARE sensory beings, going into a sensory deprived environment is not part of anybody’s 9-5 reality.

Here is a list of three things to remember if things start to get a little weird:

1. Breathe

When anxiety arises, relax your body and focus on your breath. It sounds almost too simple, but following your breath is one of the best ways to ground yourself, get back to your body, and out of your mind. When we focus on our breath we also interrupt our stream of consciousness, which is important if we catch ourselves dwelling or spiralling into a panic.

 

2. Question question question

This is a little more philosophical, but question why you’re afraid. Start a dialogue in your head, talk to yourself as if you were watching someone else in your situation. What would you say to comfort that person? Chances are the response will also comfort you.

 

3. Lights on, door open  

If you’re still uncomfortable, you can always switch the light back on, and open the pod door. While there is some stoicism in toughing out discomfort, it’s also good to know you have the option. You can also wedge a rolled up towel between the pod and lid door, stopping it from closing completely if you want to ease into it more slowly. Letting go is a choice, don’t force yourself, take it gradually if you like.

This thought experiment might not change your initial reactions to the pods and sensory deprivation in general. The purpose I would say, is to get you to question your fears, perhaps even follow them, seeing where they lead instead of backing away. Where you go from here is a long process, but in my opinion, a long meandering journey is preferable to a short and narrow one.

See you in the tanks and happy floating x