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Mindfulness & The Float Tank

Interview with Theodor Martin, one of the founders of Floatasian Float Spa

What is meditation?

Meditation is the practice of calming yourself down to a state where it is easier to focus on something or nothing at all. Slowing down your breath, nervous system and brain waves, so that your brain can make connections that it otherwise wouldn’t have the capacity to do. Most of the time your brain is kept busy interpreting, adapting and responding to your surroundings.

What is mindfulness? 

The word “mindfulness” describes the practice where you by meditation or other techniques make yourself more focused and more aware of yourself and your surroundings. The goal of mindfulness is to live and fully experience as much as possible of the present moment. The past is already gone and the future has not arrived yet so the only time you can really live, is now! Breathing techniques, Meditation, Yoga, Qi-Gong, Tai-Chi are some practices that make you more mindful.

How did you stumble upon meditation and mindfulness?

I came across meditation at a very young age without even knowing I was meditating.

I have always been interested in and have read a lot of books related to how to become successful in business and in life. From there I already knew that many successful people in the world are practicing some sort of meditation.

It wasn’t until I started floating that I became more interested in meditation. Floatation is commonly described as ‘meditation on steroids’. I strongly agree with that.

Did you get hooked directly on your first try?

I enjoyed it but no, meditation is a practice that later on becomes a skill. However, I did become hooked of floatation after my first float session. Inside the tank there are no distractions, you can´t even feel your own body. In the tank you have no choice, you reach a meditative state automatically. After my first time in the tank, my interest in meditation increased a lot.

What have you learned from your own mindfulness practice?

My life is dedicated to feeling great and to optimize my own wellbeing and help others to do the same. Practicing meditation is a key element to that.

It’s great to visualize the future and there is of course nothing bad about looking back on happy memories. It is when your thoughts get stuck worrying about the future or regretting the past that it's time to snap out of it and focus on the present. Learning mindfulness gives you a set of skills that will help you to stay focused and in the moment.

I have also learned how to reduce tension in my body by breathing the correct way and to be aware of my own body by so-called “body scanning”.

A good way of practicing mindfulness is to sit or lie down in a comfortable position. Another very good way of practicing mindfulness is in the floatation tank. It is way more effective and so much easier.

What has been the key benefits of your own mindfulness practice so far when it comes to your general well-being?

  • It has helped me to become calmer and focused in situations where I before might have become stressed instead. 
  • It has helped me to feel in control in situations where I otherwise might have felt overwhelmed. 
  • I am less anxious now than before and I have an inner calm that makes my life more enjoyable. 

Same as above but for your work efficiency instead of your well-being.

Being an entrepreneur and a manager, a lot of information needs to be digested every day. Taking 5 minutes of mindfulness meditation or 5 minutes of box breathing before arriving at work, helps to bring order in my mind. Later in the afternoon a float session boosts my energy levels and gives me the wonderful environment for problem-solving.

How often do you practice mindfulness/meditation and for how long on average?

I have tried many different mindfulness practices. Some work better than others for me. I do some of them on a daily basis but it is in the float tank that I really enter a deep state of meditation and increase my levels of consciousness and understanding of myself as well as the universe.

I’m sure mindfulness coaches, would recommend something different for their students but below is a list of what I do that works for me:

  • Floatation 2-4 hours a week
  • Sitting mindfulness meditation 20-30 minutes per week
  • Walking meditation 20 minutes per day
  • Mindful & Moving exercises 30 min per week
  • Wimhof breathing: 3-5 minutes every day
  • HRV-training: 10-20 minutes per week
  • Spontaneous Box breathing 3-15 min per day

Why is it important to meditate every day?

If you don’t meditate your life moves on as it always has. However, If you do meditate, you will feel better, calmer and focused that day. So the questions should be. Why don't you meditate every day?

Where do you practice your mindfulness?

There are always things you do throughout the day where you can practice mindfulness. Doing dishes and cleaning are popular ones. Most people use those two examples for daydreaming. I try to do the opposite. When I'm washing the dishes, I´m really showing the dirt who is the boss.

I also practice mindfulness when I commute, especially in Taxis. Just sitting there can be boring so there I have an optimal opportunity to practice turning off my thoughts of the past and stop fantasizing about the future and direct my focus on my own breath while I scan my body from head to toe; how are they feeling today?

I also enjoy to meditate while I walk. Especially in nature. Here in Shanghai, it is a bit harder but you always have the parks. I go to the park several times a day admiring the beauty of the plants, the wind, the sunshine or the rain while enjoying the wonderful sensations it brings me.

Where do you prefer to practice your meditation?

I prefer meditating inside the float tank, there I feel at home, connected to the universe. When floating, time and space disappear and as there is no pressure on your body, no lights or sound, it’s the amazing environment for this practice. Meditation inside the tank also helps you with meditation outside of the tank and vice versa.

What time during the day do you prefer to practice meditation or mindfulness?

I prefer to do a 3-5 minute Wim Hof breathing in the morning to start my day. I also do 5 minutes of mindfulness meditation or Box breathing on my way to work. Later in the afternoon I take small breaks and walk out in the park. If I have time and we have an available tank, I often go for a float.

What are the three most challenging things you meet when teaching others to meditate?

  • I don’t teach meditation, there are several apps, books and good coaches for that. I let my clients listen to a guided meditation inside the floatation tank or give them advice on some good breathing techniques that they can do at the beginning of their float sessions. We are working closely with mindfulness coaches here in Shanghai so it is better that they teach the mindfulness part and that I focus on giving our customers the very best float sessions. Although they are closely connected. 
  • There is not a right or wrong way to practice meditation. Different teachers teach you differently and sadly many of the coaches out there are fundamentalists who believe that only their own way of doing it, is the correct way.
  • When you are feeling stressed you don’t feel that you have time to meditate as your brain is running at a very high speed. And to deliver the message about meditation to a stressful person is very hard. Whatever you say will disappear from their mind in seconds.

What is your goal with your own meditation practice?

My goal is to live in peace and harmony in a world full of chaos. That is why we started a floatation spa. We wanted to create an oasis so that people would have a place they could escape to when needed.

What do you enjoy the most about your job?

I provide advice on what to do inside the floatation tank to reach a deeper state of mindfulness. And when clients have been practicing for a while and improved their floating experience after each float and tell/show me how their lives are improving, then, of course, I feel some kind of success.

What does the mindfulness community feel about floatation?

“If you want to really boost your meditation and mindfulness practice you should try floatation" Brandon at Shanghai Mindfulness always says that 1 hour in the tank equals more than 10 hours of mindfulness meditation".

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