• Altered states Float

By Sharon Pegrum

For many people there comes a time in their life when they start to explore different ways to heal their spirit. This comes in a variety of forms – discovering religion, exploring healing modalities, working through issues with counselling….whatever forms the end goal is to live a more fulfilled and meaningful life.

But the one thing we discover along the way is that it is not about the end goal but more importantly about the journey and the layers we strip off along the way.

Whether you start this journey in your 20s or 80s we have all accumulated stuff along the way. Some of these are our own baggage picked up during childhood, teenage years and adulthood. There is also a theory that says we hold onto the limiting beliefs and behaviours of our ancestral lines. The science to back this up is outlined well in this article.

It’s no surprise then that whatever form our healing takes we are unlikely to be “fixed” immediately and in fact, the idea of a solution that corrects all our human tendencies learned over years, and perhaps generations is not usually possible.

In the start of any spiritual journey it is normal to start searching for an answer to all the questions we suddenly have. When we explore different avenues it can be disheartening to feel like these “solutions” either don’t have any impact or wear off after a while.

The thing is we are looking for a consistent answer to a human question and as we know humans are complex and ever changing. Therefore, the answer you seek is often changing and never simple.

I have heard this healing journey likened to peeling away the layers of an onion and for me that is one of the best descriptions. The only thing lacking in this description is change in the way you approach each layer.

I like to think of it more as your evening meal. Each evening you most likely eat something, the end goal is always the same – to nourish your body and assuage your hunger. However, if every single evening you prepared the exact same meal in the exact same way, chances are you would get bored pretty quickly. Even if it was your absolute favourite meal, there is only so long you will be enjoying that meal.

It’s exactly the same when we take a spiritual journey. Each time we peel off a layer we need to reassess where we are now and what we need. Each strategy that we use may last us for a week, a month or forever but there will always be things we shed that are no longer working for us and new things that we need to pick up and hold for a while.

So, how do we know when to pick up something new and when we should keep hold of something? There is a simple answer to that – ask yourself. One of the most powerful things you can do is take some time every day to check in with yourself and question what it is you need at the moment.

We live such fast paced, busy words that unless we purposely take time to consider our needs we can go long periods without actually connecting with our core self and listening to it.

When you are meditating on this question of what you need, it is useful to consider the current strategies that you are using in your spiritual journey. Just observe how each of these make you feel. You may discover that they are things that no longer serve you but you are holding onto them because they used to work or you feel committed to them in some way. Or you may realise that you need to commit to them more.

It is also a good time to just sit and let new concepts flow to you. It’s useful here to use the idea of “let go and let God”. This doesn’t have to be about religious faith but think of God as whatever universal force you believe in – the universe, mother earth, source…anything that is meaningful to you.

Take the challenges you are having in your spiritual journey and give them over to a greater power with faith that the answer is there and will come to you in time.

Along any spiritual journey staying open and receptive as well as connected to self and whatever universal power you believe in is vital. This requires space and time and a commitment to self as the most important thing in your journey.

We are all on a spiritual journey but each is unique and individual, it is important that you tread the path that is right for you, right now.

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  • Altered states Float

By Danial Williams

After a day of traveling, airport stopovers and a flight delay, Carla and I finally arrived in Ulaanbaatar (UB), the capital of Mongolia. Having a float booked was the perfect way to settle into the country. I do this everywhere I visit because it’s a great way to settle into a new environment and get over jetlag, its something I highly recommend! We visited Mongolia's only float centre. The MUS floating centre was 3.3km from our hotel. That's the same distance from home to Altered States Float (unit 3/33). It was around -30 degrees Celsius outside and a good friend once told me the number 3 means divine protection. That’s a lot of 3’so we thought f*** it lets walk there. Our float wasn’t booked until the afternoon, meaning we had all day to explore UB. We ended up walking around like lost un-acclimatised tourists the whole day, in the coldest place we have ever experienced. By the time we got to the float centre it would have been 5 plus hours walking outside and by the end of it we couldn’t feel our toes or noses. I suppose that didn’t matter, maybe it would speed up 'letting go' during the float since the water set at body temperature aids with losing sense of the physical body (haha). Finally it was time to slow everything down a little. The staff were extremely welcoming and a lovely lady named Erika looked after us. After our float we had blind masseurs give us a soothing massage which was pretty cool. Then at the end we sat down with Erika and spent a long time talking about our stories and the introspective side to floating. The centre housed 6 custom built float rooms designed by the young owner who unfortunately was away during our visit. The good thing is I still keep in contact with him online and we share a lot of the same interests and both want to see floating evolve in the future. I hope to join him on a trip to explore Mongolian shamanism in the near future. I highly recommend a float at MUS floating centre if you ever visit Mongolia, in fact it should be mandatory!

The next chapter of our journey consisted of a 7 day dog sledding tour down frozen Lake Terelj. About 3 years ago I started talking to the experienced French musher Joël, who started the tour company ‘Wind of Mongolia’ many years ago. Joël, his Mongolian wife Bayaana and her family run winter dog sledding tours from December to April. They treat you like family and are very laid back. As you would expect from a couple who spend a lot of time with their loving dogs trekking through peaceful landscapes. Everyday the routine was wake up, have breakfast, pack the sleds, harness the dogs to your sled, then spend the whole day sledding to the next destination with a lunch stopover by a fire. The dogs are mostly Alaskan huskies as well as big powerful Greenlanders. They are all loving and love a good pat and hug. I liked some of their names which included Angus & Young, Bowie, Sid, cocaine, cannabis & poppers. One dog was called Carla and our Carla got quite the fright every time Joël yelled at Carla the dog (HAHA). Most nights we stayed with the nomads in Mongolian Gers (tents) and the rest were spent camping on a mountain. You would here wolves at night, see vultures circling areas and wolverine prints scattered along the track. To sum it up, the trip is basically a very raw camping trip without the necessities of western life, including toilets and showers. We drank a lot of vodka and ate a lot of meat the nomads prepared for us. That’s just what they did and too bad if you don’t drink, they will force it down you... I liked their thinking. I will save most of the details on what we ate but to give you an idea, one dish was a full sheep’s head on a plate.

We absolutely loved being isolated and surrounded by peaceful silence. It’s our kind of holiday we thrive on rather than the hustle and bustle of a noisy city. Everyday just picturesque landscapes, lots of wildlife and a night sky filled with shooting stars. A culture so rich in history and a nomadic lifestyle that has hardly changed from the Khan Empire, the longest contiguous empire the world has ever seen. I’m trying to remember what my thoughts were during the journey and to be honest there weren’t many at all. That’s the beauty of it, just being in the present, no distractions, picturesque views, surrounded by animals and nature with not a care in the world. Studies have shown that exposure to quiet natural environments will enhance immune function and lower key indicators of stress… or in layman terms, studies have shown you wont give a f*** for a while. Its true and we have heard of people dealing with problems going on the trip then changing their whole outlook on life for the better. So if you love dogs, don’t mind eating meat and are seeking adventure then this trip may be for you. Oh and the cold you have to not mind the cold! Age also shouldn’t be an excuse. The oldest person that has participated on the tour was a 91 year old French guy and it was something he wanted to experience before he died. How cool is that! Although Bayaana did say it was quite stressful because she couldn’t sleep properly, constantly checking he was still breathing when he slept. Apparently the oldest Aussies they have had were a couple in their early 70s, and the husband holds the record for eating 80 Buus (Mongolian dumplings) in one night which still baffles the tour guide to this day who loves to share the story.

Next time you’re at Altered States Float play the ancient Mongolian fortune telling game (Shagai) out in the back area. It was given to us by a nomadic family as a Mongolian new year gift, be aware though the fortune telling can be quite brutal.

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  • Altered states Float

By Danial Williams

I had my first float about 7 years ago in the hills off Perth. I was in a very experimental stage of my teenage years, doing things I probably shouldn't have on a regular occasion. I heard floating induced a psychedelic experience without any side effects from a friend and that got me willing to try. At the time I was also very passionate about my sport of Thai Boxing. I learnt floating was great for accelerating recovery, you float without the pressure of gravity on your body while absorbing magnesium. So I booked my first float because it was like killing two birds with one stone, heal the body while also having a psychedelic experience. Yes I was very naive and floating for the wrong reason.

My first float wasn't the best. I had too much expectation and didn't get that 'trip' I was after. I actually threw up after my session as I felt very nauseous during and after my float, this happens to a very small percentage of first timers but it definitely goes away. Anyway I booked another session since all the tension in my body from training surprisingly disappeared, while also still determined to get the dream like experience I was after.

As a teenager I would describe myself as very shy, I couldn't talk to a girl if my life depended on it ! I was quite insecure with a lot of self doubt and that's why I ventured off wanting to experiment with different substances. But it was floating that taught me more about myself than anything else. It makes sense, you are alone with basically no distraction whatsoever, forced to deal with any issues you may have. It does take practice, and the first few goes are all about getting used to the environment. So my first time I remember feeling very awkward when meeting the owner of the tank. My thoughts in the tank were "shit I bet she thinks I'm really weird, oh no I don't want to see her again and have to talk to her when I'm finished... and why am I not in another universe seeing crazy space alien shit yet...".

Over 1 year later, a new centre in the city closer to home opened up. I was a regular floater by then. I quickly learnt floating is about 'you' and not just about seeing crazy shit (lol). The beauty of the tank is you are in complete control the whole time. Some people will experience visuals, although you can stop them by simply becoming aware. Personally I think it's a beautiful thing, the feeling of completely letting go and not fighting the course of your session.

At this stage I was studying full time, had a casual job as a window cleaner and trained 6 days a week. The tank was being used as a tool for reaching my sporting goals through visualization and meditation. I would float religiously during 'fight camp', the process of preparing your body 4 - 8 weeks out from a fight. A float a week kept me recovered and focused on my goals.

With the whole family now involved and sold on floating, it made sense to get our own tank. It saved the drive to the city; becoming relaxed from a float, and then getting stuck in traffic on the way home. Our first float tank was the Apollo float tank. Still today one of my favourite float tank models. Now we had one at home I was able to float longer than an hour if I wanted. My professional fighting career really lifted, I was winning and in just 2 years of using the tank I achieved my first world title. I believe visualization is extremely important in achieving goals and the tank is the best environment to do so because you are just left with your mind. You can go over things clearly, then fall into a meditative state and come out feeling extremely positive and confident. I was believing in the things I visualized would happen and felt confident about it. It was the perfect added tool for my training regime. I was improving both mentally and physically, able to feel more comfortable and even less anxious in social situations while doing well in my sporting achievements.

Having a tank at home was great, although there is a lot of work involved in having a residential tank. You will find you are constantly cleaning and maintaining the water, even when your not floating for long periods of time. That becomes annoying and costly. The desire to run my own centre had been a long time goal once I finished studying. It was a no-brainer really, there wasn't a centre in the Canning area and we always had people wanting to float at ours. Floating was on the news, celebrities were swearing by it and floating was becoming more and more popular. While I was abroad nationally and internationally to compete, I was lucky enough to visit numerous float centers. The people I met in the industry were all legends and really encouraging on the idea of me opening up my own centre back home.

The time came when my dad owned a unit and the lease was ending for the current tenants, in-fact there were a lot of units in Willetton that were up for lease with no bites. Now was the perfect time to open a centre, although I didn't have the money. Thankfully my parents fully supported the idea of running a float centre, even when I had doubts and wanted to back out they would encourage me to follow through. I was able to borrow the funds for my share of the business. My brother who also loved floating was onboard to invest his share and run the centre with me. He was already running a side business in Neurofeedback around his current job, so it worked out perfect because the two compliment each other. There is no way this centre would be surviving without him, nor Mum and Dad, not only financially but their life experiences surpass me, especially in the business world. I am truely lucky to have the best guidance and being only 24, I have a hell of lot to learn !

A couple of years on, I now hold 8 titles, including 3 world titles. I've had the opportunity to travel around the world, as well as represent Australia twice and one time winning a gold medal. I have also recently completed my Bachelor of Criminology at Murdoch University. I do plan to maintain a professional career in combat sports once things are settled here and possibly continue studying. The avenues for exploring float science are endless and are only just coming back to light, only just a few days ago an article came out on the positive effects floating had for clinical stress related disorders (social anxiety, agoraphobia..).

Thanks for reading my story. Right now my partner and I are on our way to Mongolia. Thankfully we have a float booked when we arrive before exploring one of the coldest countries in the world. One day we both hope to open our own retreat style float centre.

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