Is there a short cut to meditation? We live in a world of instant gratification. We want it all and we want it now. No work, there’s got to be a short cut. And there always is.
Want to lose weight without training and dieting? Liposuction does that for you. Want to pile on the muscle without pumping iron? Someone at the gym will slip you a pill. Want to speak in a foreign language, but don’t want to put in the hours listening to tapes and conjugating verbs? There’s an app for that.
And when it comes to calming our minds and delving into the depths of our soul, we want an easy solution. Welcome to the McMindfulness Generation.
There is a myth that meditation is difficult, a constant battle with the errant mind. And the McMindfulness Generation wants the shortcut.
I have two bits of good news for those who think like that. First, meditation doesn’t have to be difficult. And second, there is a shortcut. The floatation tank makes meditation as easy as slipping backwards into the warm embracing security of the water, and simply letting go.
So someone who has never meditated can get all the benefits of the deep relaxation and soul-calming silence, without retreating to a monastery or a temple for a month. Just chill out for a few hours in the tank, and in the quiet room with a green tea afterwards, and you will walk out on top of the world.
Is it really that simple? The guru to the Beatles, Maharishi Mahesh Yogi, said that you could spend months doing mental exercises to learn to block out the visual world. Or you could simply close your eyes. The end result is the same.
TRAINING WHEELS FOR MEDITATION
The floatation tank is the ultimate closing of the eyes. Once you sink into the welcoming darkness the real world disappears, taking all the stresses and worries with it. The tank is the shortcut you have been waiting for.
And for those who believe the modern world should be shiny and high-tech, the tank is reassuringly futuristic. Once you step into the private room in Zero Gravity Float’s luxurious Cork premises, you step into luxury and indulgence. The lighting is subdued and the shower is strong and gently massaging. Then you turn to the pod itself.
This is a beautiful white egg, with the lid raised invitingly. It glows eerily from the coloured lights inside. You step into the egg, and the water is body temperature. You don’t even register that you have stepped into it. At 10 inches deep it is more of a warm puddle than an intimidating pool, and as you ease onto your back you get your first surprise. Because of the high salt content your body floats like you are in the Dead Sea, only a clean version of the dead sea. And because the temperature is so perfectly controlled to match your skin temperature, you feel like you are floating in space rather than in water. As you pull down the lid and hit the light switch you are plunged into a deep vacuum. You see nothing, you hear nothing, and you feel nothing. Perfect serenity.
WHAT IF I’M CLAUSTROPHOBIC
Don’t worry about feeling claustrophobic. Very few people do. The feeling is more expansive than constricting. You feel like you are in a vast universe rather than in a tight hole.
Now that your session has begun, how do you take advantage of the shortcut to meditation? You are already halfway there. The tank has effortlessly blocked all sensory input, eliminating all external distractions. You are alone with your thoughts. But the tank has done more.
When we think about meditation many of us have a picture in our head of some scraggly haired Indian with his legs twisted like a pretzel, and we know that is forever beyond us. If I twist my legs like a pretzel I am going to hospital for hip surgery. But the point of the lotus position is not the effort. It is the body position – perfect balance, with the spine and head straight. And for people who have done a lifetime of yoga it is easy to sit like that. It’s comfortable. To meditate you need to be able to sit easily with your spine and head straight. Slump your head and you will probably just fall asleep.
Once you have been in the tank you will realise your body is in the perfect position. You are completely supported and as your muscles switch off you relax into the most comfortable float. Your spine is straight and your head rests on top of the spine with no strain. Best of all, there are no pretzels involved!
HOW TO MEDITATE
Now you are ready to meditate. If you are an experienced meditator, just follow your usual practice. Gently repeat your mantra, focus on your breath, or float neutrally watching your thoughts and letting them drift by. If you are into mindfulness you will never find a better place to practice it.
But if you are not an experienced meditator, don’t worry. The simplest thing to do is to observe your breath. Don’t try to force the breathing. No need to speed it up or slow it down. Just observe it. And as you breathe out, count one in your head. Count up to ten, then start again at one.
At times you will lose the count, either blanking out for a few minutes of serenity, or being distracted by a thought. Don’t beat yourself up. It doesn’t matter. When you become aware you have lost the breath, just bring your attention back to it. As simple as that. Start the count at one, and give yourself a break.
Continue like that until you lose yourself in the peace.
Most likely you will be caught by surprise when the music comes on, gently letting you know your session has come to an end, and nudging you back to the real world. An hour will feel like minutes. As you slowly rise from the water and shower off the salts, you will feel like you were at a health spa for the weekend.
Yes, there is a shortcut to meditation. Enter the Tank The Short Cut To Meditation.