Floating Towards a Peak Experience

There’s nothing I love more than finding unique happenings in South Florida. Once I started connecting with wellness professionals, events and groups, I quickly realized how many exciting wellbeing happenings there are. Browsing Facebook, I was excited to discover an event called “Illumin8: Peak Experiences with Dr. Nick Atlas.”

Of course, I had to go.

Atlas holds a PhD in psychology and specializes in integrative approaches to sleep, dreams and deep relaxation. He is also the director of Evolutionary Education, a mindfulness learning center based in Georgia. The class I attended was an offshoot of that program, and held at Float8 Wellness Lounge in Deerfield. (After the class the owner, Destiny, hooked me up with my first 90 minute float experience—more on that in a minute).

Soft spoken and very present, Atlas welcomed us all to the session and began with a calming meditation.

The focus of the class was cultivating more “peak experiences”—those moments in our lives when we experience a high state of bliss, joyfulness and ease. Some call it a spiritual moment. Atlas asked us to reflect and identify moments in our lives we thought were peak.

The writer with her grandson, Emerson. (Photo courtesy Debra K)
The writer with her grandson, Emerson. (Photo courtesy Debra K)

A few came to my mind, but one in particular stood out: the moment I laid eyes on my grandson, only seconds after he was born. I approached Emerson and unwaveringly he stared right into my eyes with focus and attention. My daughter, Tori commented, “Wow, look at him stare at you.” I felt frozen and immediately felt he was a soul I’d known before and he was letting me know he was joining me for the rest of my journey. I looked right back into his eyes and experienced a moment of pure joy and excitement; a peak experience. We still stare at each other all the time.

Atlas let us know in order to have more peak experiences, we have to be willing to dive into those areas within ourselves that are less joyful and often painful. The idea is to bring ourselves into balance. Or, as Dr. Atlas said, “The electrical charge around our wounds can be rewired.” I asked him how—how can we actually go about doing that?—and he replied, “Just do it. Focus your mind by sitting down or lying down and trying to understand what is really going on.  You can find those areas in your body that are stuck or in pain and try to find the internal cause of this. It’s like doing your emotional laundry. Start your morning by asking yourself ‘What am I feeling? What needs to move through? What am I holding on to? Where am I tense?’ Whatever shows up…go there.”

I took “go there” to mean, try to correlate some of your physical areas of concern to internal work needing attention. For example, are there situations in your life causing you tension and stress which might be impacting your ability to sleep, focus or get things accomplished? A correlation that might need to be addressed internally as well as physically. This type focus does not come easily to me and my  initial thought was, ‘Oh great, more laundry’ but I realized that slowing down and simplifying my approach to stressors in my life—addressing them one by one—could be beneficial.

After class, I took what I learned to my float pod—a small, sleek tank filled with 10 inches of an approximately 30 percent Epsom salt solution. I’d never seen one in person before, but had heard amazing things about the restorative powers of just…floating. After showering, I put in my ear plugs, closed the pod, shut off the lights and began my session. Because my ears were plugged and slightly underwater, I could hear my heart beating loudly.

The writer before stepping into the float tank. (Photo courtesy Debra K)
The writer before stepping into the float tank. (Photo courtesy Debra K)

As I acclimated to the pod, my thoughts drifted to situations in my life that needed attention. That caused me a bit of anxiety, so I tried to settle into the silence and focus on my breathing. I said to myself over and over, “You are here for you and you will always be here for you.” This mantra I established for myself when I find myself holding too tightly to expectations I have for others. This relaxed me and I actually dozed off for a bit.

When I became aware of my surroundings again, I thought I was lying on a bed. It wasn’t until I moved and heard a slight splash that I remembered I was in water. Just about the time I started to wonder how much time I had left, the lights went on and my session was complete. I definitely felt calmer and more centered than I had when I started the session. And now I can add floating to my wellbeing toolkit, as an antidote for the days I feel especially stressed and overwhelmed.

Go figure: emotional laundry is best cleaned with salt water.

The next full moon is coming up, and Float8 Wellness Lounge is hosting another Full Moon Overnight Float on May 26. Guests can float for eight hours overnight and are greeted the next morning with a sunrise breakfast. Click here for more details

Debra K., the natural health explorer, is an Emmy-nominated television producer and host. She is a national keynote speaker and the founder of two companies in the wellness industry—Well World TV and the award-winning Well World Productions. With a strong desire to bring amazing stories to life, she is on a quest to uncover the most inspiring and educational stories in South Florida. Her goal? To share content that creates a Well World. Have ideas? Send her an email at DK@JourneyIntoWellbeing.com

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