Trust the Float

Have you ever watched children learning to swim? One of the first things they’re taught to do is float on their backs. To do so, children are instructed to lay flat on their backs while the instructor supports them. Eventually, the instructor will remove their arms underneath the child’s back while the child remains floating… that’s the idea, at least.  What often happens is that fear kicks in. The child panics, flutters his/her arms, tries to sit up, and essentially does not trust that they are being supported or that he or she has the ability to float on their own. In other words, they do not trust the float.

I’ve gotten into swimming this year – having a bad back, it’s become my exercise of choice. I highly endorse swimming for many reasons (but that’s a whole different post). Whether I’m in the pool or the ocean, I will occasionally lie flat on my back, close my eyes, and float. For me, that is my moment of surrender.  It’s a mental – more than a physical – exercise for me: Can I do it? Can I allow myself to float freely without feeling self-conscious or fearful that something will happen around me while I’m floating? Can I surrender and enjoy the freedom? It’s become a meditation for me – I float and tell myself and God that I’m trusting that everything will be okay.

I’ve even taken this exercise a step further… Whenever I feel my anxiety building, I often IMAGINE myself floating in the water. I will practice releasing control, trusting the calmness, and letting the peace take hold. I simply close my eyes and imagine that feeling of surrender in the water–the relaxation, the lightness, and the freeing feeling of relinquishing control. Surrendering. Being still. And trusting the float.

I encourage you to try it, especially if you’re having a bout of anxiety. Close your eyes and imagine yourself floating without fear. Literally, extend your arms outward if that helps to give you the sensation of floating. Truly feel it… the float… and the trust that everything IS okay.

Addendum: I just learned that therapeutic floating is actually a thing. Google “float spas” and you will discover float tanks (often in magnesium-filled waters) where users can float to their hearts’ content. There’s even a term for it – Sensory Deprivation. And, here, I thought it was “my thing”.   I will chalk that up as a confirmation that I’m onto something.  More reason for you to try it!

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