In my job in the software industry, there has occasionally been some idle time – which before I got all “focused” like I am now (Thank you Mr. Daytimer) was devoted to random Google searches for random interesting stuff.  During one of these searches, I stumbled across some articles about sensory deprivation, John Lilly, and floatation tanks.  The whole thing fascinated me, and on a serendipitous business trip to Chicago I had the occasion to visit the Space-Time Tanks Floatation Center, to experience floatation and sensory deprivation first hand.  I took them up on a deal where for $100 you could get a one hour massage AND a one hour session in the float tank – I was the king of the relaxation world for that night.

My first floatation experience was so profoundly amazing – after leaving the float tank I walked down a chilly Chicago downtown street, just gazing in shop/restaurant windows and re-experiencing what it meant to be alive.  Passers-by on the street had an aura about them, and I felt as if I could love just about anyone, anything in the realm of human experience.  I flagged down a cab, and got to talking with the cab driver (who was Palestinian) – and we became fast friends as we discussed the Palestinian-Israeli conflict and the common bonds that all humans share.  At SpaceTime Tanks, I had purchased a copy of Michael Hutchison’s “The Book of Floating: Exploring the Private Sea”, and I had nearly read it in its entirety by the time the train reached my station in the suburbs.  After my first night I was hooked – steeped in floating – and I decided then and there that I would own a floatation tank, so that I could experience it on a regular basis and offer it as a service to anyone else who wanted to give it a try.  That’s how “Float: Portland” was born.

That’s the way the world works.  Set an intention, believe in it with all your heart, embrace the feeling of having achieved your intention, and the universe allows it to manifest.  Within 9 months I had a floatation tank (a Samadhi floatation tank) set up in the 2nd bedroom of my apartment, and I was floating every day.  I was also able to introduce a whole host of new people to the tank, most of whom loved it and came back to float repeatedly.  An interview with me was published in The Bollard, a local on-line periodical (follow the link to see a picture of me floating in the tank), which raised local awareness about floating.  All the while my experiences in the tank were deepening – on occasions I would spend 2 or more hours in the tank, just exploring “the void” in all its uniqueness.  There were times that it would feel like my whole body was vibrating with an almost electrical energy, as if I could feel every electron in my body whirring, every impulse of communication between my cells.  I always emerged refreshed, even more excited about the rest of my life (as well as upcoming floats).

Flash forward a couple of years.  I’m married, my wife is pregnant, and the two of us are on a mad search for a house that can accomodate our growing family.  We fall in love with a house in the ‘burbs (really it’s only a mile away from our old apartment) with plans to renovate the basement to accomodate the floatation tank.  Perfect!  However, once we moved in and really assessed the basement situation, we realized that it would take a lot more time/money than we had to make the space what it needs to be for the floatation tank.  It’s important to me that the tank be in a pristine environment – and I’m not sure that our basement could become that without a LOT of work.  And faith, though I have faith on overdrive these days.

I’ve been considering what it would take to open a “real” float center here in Portland (or anywhere – we’re flexible).  In some ways Portland seems perfect – there are a lot of therapeutic modalities here, and there are no floatation tanks north of Boston as far as I can tell.  On the other hand, rents are high in this city, and it’s unclear whether or not I could find enough people to float to pay the overhead AND sustain our family.  So if anyone out there has thoughts on this that’d be great (or just an e-mail to let me know how much you’re craving a place to float).

As far as I can tell, these are our options: 

  1. Find a spa that is interested in hosting the tank. It seems that if a tank can’t be in our home, the best place for it would be a spa (with the space) where they would be excited to add floatation as a component of their business. We’d work out a fair “split the profits after overhead” arrangement with any spa owner, assuming they were excited and committed to the idea. To me it seems like a no-brainer if the spa has the space – a floatation tank would attract a lot of attention for their business, and they are very easy to maintain.
  2. Find a really inexpensive place to rent for the tank.  Emphasis on inexpensive (though it still needs to be appropriate).  We’ve realized that running a single tank floatation center, unless it’s in our home, really isn’t worth it from an “income-generated” perspective.  While an existing spa is already set up with the resources to set appointments and usher people to/from the tank, that’s not what we’re set up to do – and it only makes financial sense to start something up if more tanks and/or modalities (like opening a spa ourselves) were in the picture.
  3. Buy more tanks and open a float center.  This would actually be great if the Greater Portland area could support such an endeavor.  Still, it feels a bit risky, and I do have a family to support…so I’m not really sure that this is the best option.  We do currently have the capital to make it happen, however, so it’s an option on the table.  If someone could convince us that some OTHER location would be appropriate we’d consider it – hey, we’re flexible!
  4. Something else????  You tell me!  I’m opening up the floor here to creative brainstorms.  Here’s our current criteria:  We want to be able to use the tank regularly, we want to be able to let other people use the tank as well, and we want it to generate passive income for us.

So that’s the floating story as it’s currently told.  We would love to be able to float again and to offer others the experience – it’s truly unique, transformative, and…well…special.  I  miss it.  However, it has become apparent that the more we agonize over making something happen, the less anything happens.  In the spirit of “intentions manifesting” I’m opening myself up to what the world has to offer.  I’m also willing to accept that maybe my float tank’s time has not yet come (again) – and I’ll have to just say a little prayer and wait.  Which, come to think of it, is what I have to do no matter what.

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