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.