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Why I float: Jay Macdonald

Jay reflects on his 25-year-long floating practice, expressing that he floats to be the best and happiest version of himself, to share positivity, and to promote well-being wherever he goes.

My introduction to floating

1990 was the first time I ever heard the words ‘Floatation Tank’ - My father was building a rehearsal studio business for musicians and bands who needed somewhere to practice without having to worry about disturbing anyone. In the warehouse space there was a chill out area for partners, family, friends or the band members to take 5 and grab some refreshments. The plan was to introduce a Floatation Tank for the ultimate chill out experience. Sadly, due to the recession that hit the UK at this time the business did not attract enough clients and the Float Tank never manifest and the business was closed 2 years later.

In 1994 I experienced a rather painful divorce from my wife and went from being a hard working family man with two beautiful children in my life everyday to having no where to live and no purpose other than my career. This transition was not a part of my life plan and I was not very graceful in my ability to accept this new life path. I drank a lot, I went out clubbing and ran away from the internal pain that was flowing through my mind & body 24 hours a day and fuelling the separation of my Mind, Body & Souls Spirit given to me at birth.

This path that I was on led me towards two blessings that were to become major factors in my future life - the first was playing drums in a nightclub with DJ’s, an experience that I eventually would turn into a career and the second was having my first ever Floatation Tank experience. It was 1994 - The company I worked for were moving offices and all the staff had to come into the city on a Saturday and pack up all our belongings into crates ready for a weekend move. At midday on this sunny Saturday afternoon my colleagues said to me “Do you wanna go for a Float?” - My eyes lit up and I said “What is a Float?” He said “You go inside a Flotation Tank” As soon as I heard those words I knew what he meant and I instantly said “YES”

A complete sensory experience

And so it was about two hours later I was in a building on Clink St, on the South side of the River Thames near London Bridge meeting some guys who owned and ran a Floatation Tank Centre called ‘Floatworks” - I signed a Waiver form, filled in my contact details and was given my very first ‘Walk Through’ introduction as to the process that was required to have the best Float Experience! I was handed a towel, my ear plugs and told to quite simply “Enjoy”

I walked into that room with a head full of noise - thoughts, memories, anxieties, stress, hurt, pain, fear, worry all battling for my attention inside my mind - I was living in my head and for as long as I could always remember since before my teenage years, I had always done so… from the moment I awoke, what to wear, what to eat, what time is it, when is the bus, when is the next train, omg I am late for work (again), what lie should I tell and then when I was at work being worried about home life and the dramas in my personal of hanging out on the streets getting up to mischief - remembering all the lies I told daily to remain cool and in the gang. Then as I moved into my young adult life being replaced by the lack of mindfulness by returning home from work where I worried about family, friends, money, constantly chatting to myself in my mind, going over old arguments in preparation of another argument with my ex whilst all the time trying to working out what life was all about and wondering at which point I would feel like I was apart of this crazy world we live in and who exactly was I?

Then I took my shower and my mind settled focussed on the directions I had been given - “take a quick shower, just wash the day off of yourself, dry your face, put ear plugs in securely, step into tank, lay down, close lid, relax your head back, if you need a support one is there, just place behind your neck, when you are comfortable you can turn the light off. Music will play for 10 minutes just to help you settle in then it will be silent for 50 minutes. Music will start again to let you know your float time is up. Try not to move around too much, DO NOT TOUCH YOUR FACE, if you get salt in your eyes it will sting. If you do, wash out with this clean water and start again. See you in an hour - ENJOY!!! -

Enjoy - that was all I was looking for at that moment in time - A nice experience! nothing more…..

So… for 10 minutes I settled, I relaxed and my mind exploded….. in the silence and darkness my voice inside my mind was somehow released of all resistance… it (my mind) went into over drive… I was hearing every thought run around my head. I just lay there and let it happen - I let them all come and I let them all go. Then I felt my finger touch the edge of the tank and I was confused because I felt like I had been floating in the other direction. I made a very slight movement and kind of pushed myself away from the wall…. hours went past (or at least it felt like hours and then my same finger touched the tank side again??? this was confusing as I was expecting my other finger to touch the other side of the tank??? I was now, totally immersed in the magic of floatation. My sensory deprivation was playing havoc with my 24 years of life experience - there were zero neurological pathways of memory to compare this experience - it was my first time of Floating? This was a brand new memory being implanted into my consciousness and subconscious. (Even thought I didn’t know what they were at this time in my life) My breathing settled, I felt still, I could hear my heart beating, I was lost in Floatation and then I jumped back into reality - it was like an electric shock with out the feeling or pain - a jolt. I had slipped away somewhere and then jolted back into the tank. I opened my eyes and it was just the same darkness as when my eyelids were closed. I closed them again, I listened to my breath and concentrated on my heart beat. My hearing was really focusing on the nothingness, it was deafening but delightful. The sound of nothing is quite something that is for sure then all of a sudden there was a bubble like popping sound in my ear? it sounded like air had escaped past my ear plug so I gently moved my arm and positioned my hand to my head and moved my finger ever so slowly so as not to disturb the water level and I pushed the earl plug into my ear - I felt it suck tight and I returned to my floating position. Both arms raised up either side of my head was ever so conformable and I delighted at the sensation as I felt the movement of water slowly settle back to stillness.

I became aware of my breath, my heartbeat, the silence, the temperature and as I wondered how long I had been floating I vanished - I slid down a tunnel, gently into another dimension and I was at peace with myself even though I never actually realised it until the music came back on. At that moment I was back in the tank and I turned on the light - I had a stretch and I opened the tank door. Stepped out - got in the shower - washed, dried and got dressed. My movements were slow and sure. I was relaxed. I was smiling. I was happy.

My floatation enlightenment

I left the privacy of my room and returned to reception to find my friend sitting waiting for me at reception. He was smiling and his eyes were alive as he asked me “How did you get on?” - I couldn’t talk. I was not able to articulate any words. The Sun was shining outside through the window and all I could say was “I need to be in the Sunshine” I walked outside and stood still - I closed my eyes and absorbed every ray of sunshine into my skin - I felt amazing. Then I realised that my mind was silent. For the first time for as long as I could remember I was at one with the world. My mind, body and soul were all connected and I was in a perfect state of being. I was doing nothing - the wind, the sun, the sounds, the smells - all sensations were being recorded into my existence and being filed away perfectly without question or judgment - I was at Peace with myself and the world around me - I was whole, I was one with the Universe and It was BLISS!

I could not wait to return and do it all again. And that is what I did. I signed up for a membership and I floated regularly every week, sometimes more than once for the next 7 years.

Why I embraced floating into my life

My hectic lifestyle, my family problems, my work problems, my routine, my late nights, my hedonistic lifestyle were all manageable because I was floating regularly. If at anytime I was too busy to float I could feel the insanity of my life returning as my mind, body and soul were separated and the noise would return along with the negative vibrations of my life - I would start to stress out, lose my temper, worry, get anxious and all I had to do was go for a float and I would be fine. I was addicted to floating and I loved it!

What I failed to do was actually take the time to really understand what it was that the Floatation Tank experience was doing to me but it sent me on a journey towards self realisation that came to its fruition in 2014 - I was studying mindfulness, yoga, meditation, diet and fitness and each and every one of them all brought about a feeling of bliss in one way or another the same feeling I got from Floatation. But without all the hard work. My floating routine gradually vanished from my life for the previous 10 years due to family & work responsibilities and financial limitations and without realising it I was always searching for the Floating experience to return to my life. Then I had this eureka moment… What will happen when my life is good, my mind body and soul are connected, when my work is great, my financial worries are no more, when my family life is heavenly, when my routine is nothing but peace, love & happiness and then I continue floating - how amazing would that be for my health and that is when I decided that I would like to work at Floatworks full time. Then Floatworks closed, a year went by, then it reopened with new investors on the other side of London and every time I got in touch about getting a job I was sadly making contact at the wrong time until April 2019 when I saw a post on Instagram… NEW FLOAT CENTRE OPENING in ISLINGTON…. and I just knew that this was my moment…..

Why I float now

I have spent 25 years knowing that what the world needs is Peace, Love & Happiness. It needs to be experienced from a view point of bliss. How to achieve that requires a hugs amount of self realisation, dedication and celebrations. First a Human must experience the illness of the human condition - insanity, psychosis & neurosis brought about by the madness of the world we live in - education, study, examinations, win win win, getting a job, commuting, working long hours, growing up into an adult, managing money, getting into debt, becoming a consumer, being apart of the system, becoming a slave, finding balance in social activity, fitness, good food but of course that is easier said than done…. we eat poor quality food, we consume too much sugar, caffeine, nicotine, alcohol, medicine, recreational drugs, tv, news radio and advertising - we are bombarded in every moment and we try so hard to find happiness and we search everywhere for it and all the time it exists within each of us… and the best way to find that bliss is to go for a Float. Floating is an essential part of a human beings well being especially in our crazy western society.

I now FLOAT because it compliments who I am, the life I have always wanted, a life I have searched for everywhere and one I only found when I went within myself - That is what Floating does for me - It takes me away from the outside world and returns me to the world inside of ME - I have discovered that the world outside of me is a reflection of my internal world so when I am stressed, unhappy, bitter, complaining, running late, justifying my every word or action in my mind, fed up, frustrated and generally all I see around me is negativity it is because my internal world is negative.

Of course, to get to a permanent state of ‘Floatation Enlightenment’ as I like to refer to it, has not been easy. I had to take a good look within myself and what I found was the mess of my life - the hurt, the pain, the confusion and the addictions all voicing their opinions of fear, guilt, shame, grief and the lies and that was truly quite a disturbing reality to be faced with. But it was MY REALITY - it was MY TRUTH and I had to learn how to accept it, how to forgive myself and others and how to be grateful for the experiences that were responsible for making me ME. “Know Yourself” was something I had always said to other people but now it was time for me to actually get to “KNOW MYSELF”

There came a time in my life where I stopped floating due to a demanding work / life routine and everything started to spin out of control - I was living life at a very fast pace working hard and playing hard 24 hours a day. I was not sleeping properly and I was not resting or recuperating at all - in fact from 2009-2015 I rarely floated at all and my mind had well and truly spun out of control and at the time I was not aware of it - I was lost inside my self and in the world outside and unbeknown to me I was heading towards a crisis point. A darkness was manifesting inside of me and I was doing everything I possibly could to avoid this feeling - I was drinking, partying hard and numbing the stress and anxieties by running away from them as fast as I could.

I decided about four years ago in 2015 I experienced a total mental break down - what I believe was my mid-life-crisis, a moment when all of a sudden I truly had no idea what the purpose of my life was, what I doing or why and sadly, I have to admit the confusion led me to want to just end it all - a very dark moment indeed for any human but one that I am ever so grateful I did not embrace - I was lucky, I have a beautiful family of three children who I love with all my heart and a family whom I love and who love me, I have friends who are supportive and caring and I was able to speak openly about my depression, anxiety and loss of control. I was able to get help, albeit both very good help at first from my doctor or local hospital but after a lot of angry outbursts I managed to get myself onto an NHS course called AMEC - Anger Management and Emotional Control - I also went on a journey of Self Realisation studying the Paramahansa Yogananda - Self Realisation Fellowship that introduced me to breathing, energisation and yoga techniques - I also studied Mindfulness and embraced on a journey of educating myself through reading books on Mind, Body & Soul - Buddhism, Christianity, Islam and Judaism that all seemed to trying to guide us Humans to some kind of Heaven or Perfect way of ‘BEING’ - I emerged myself in science and Nature documentaries about The Universe, The Solar System, The Earth, Quantum Physics and I discovered the magic of life that resides in us all. And with patience and tenacity I gradually changed the way I thought and I took control of my mind. I mastered my addictions, I changed my eating habits, I changed my routines. I started to think positively, speak positively, act positively and best of all I mastered myself. I took control of my conscious mind and I reprogrammed my beliefs - I replaced my old neurological programming with new neurological programming and my world changed before my very eyes. Then in early 2019 I experienced what I now believe to be ‘Enlightenment” (or at least a taste of it) - I am whole, I am one, I am peace, I am joy, I am bliss, I am happy and my mind is silent - no longer do I need to write endless lists of what to do. nor do I worry about my past or my future - I am present - I am in the moment and that is exactly how I feel when I am floating - That very first time back in 1994 and every single time I floated ever since - I become ME - the perfect me - or at least it allowed me to see the me I was at that very time - and it enabled me to change the things I didn’t like and to embrace the things I did.

My life has evolved over and over again from one year to the next but the Floatation experience has always remained the same - of course everything around the Floatation experience has improved over and over again - which makes it an even better experience before during and after but Floating enables me to see and feel who I am - it brings me to that heavenly place everyone always goes on about and it is not in some after life (well, of course that maybe true) but it is right here right now! in every moment we have the potential to live in Heaven, we can manifest Heaven in our lives in every moment.

I am a very proud, self confessed Float addict and now that I do not use Floatation as a coping mechanism I now get to enjoy the experience for exactly what it is - the most beautiful way to do absolutely nothing - in silence, in darkness, in a clean, comfortable, safe, loving environment.

Of course, I do still experience stress and anxiety but these are now just warnings - intuitive feelings that say to me - you have a lot going on - you need to manage yourself and be prepared and that is when I choose invite the following activities into my routine - I go for walks in the countryside, I go swimming, I meditate and I go for a Float. Just this weekend past I had created a very demanding routine for myself - I was working all day on a Friday, I had home and family responsibilities in the evening, I was flying to Venice to play percussion with a DJ & Saxophonist on behalf of a very high profile events agent who had booked us to perform at a wedding for their client. I had to pack, organise my interments, flights and transfers whilst also still running my business - I had to be on top form both mentally & physically as there would be very little time to stop and relax and then after the gig was finished I had to go straight back to the airport and return to the UK and drive to another gig on Sunday afternoon where I was going to be doing an Ibiza Sunday afternoon performance for three hours in the Sunshine… Sleep was going to be a rare commodity during my weekend and Sunday night turned out to be one of the best nights sleep I have had in a long time - WHY? Because after I finished work on Friday I had a one hour float - I focussed on my breath and I mediated for the whole hour. I went deep within my self and I subconsciously embraced that I am whole, I am perfect, I am strong, I am powerful, I am courageous, I am confident, I am loving, I am harmonious and that I am Happy! I left Floatworks in a glorious state of being and my weekend was an immense success from beginning to end and I did not sleep from Friday morning to Sunday night - all I did was ‘Float’ around the world in a state of peaceful mindful mediation creating noting but positive vibrations in every moment.

I float so I can be the best version of me and because Floating makes me and everyone I meet Happy!

My floating future

I want to experience & promote Floatation so that we can make the world a better place. It is from this single experience that humans can find out that they are not evil, they are not bad but that they are in their truest state amazing, loving, caring, nurturing, happy animals and that it is the world we live in that turns us into monsters. Of course, not everyone who Floats is coming from the same perspective of life as me, of for the same reasons, some people just want treat themselves to something nice, others want to help recovery from an injury or surgery. Everyone has their own reasons but the one reason in common is to experience Happiness.

For me, Floatation is the key to the truth and it requires nothing more from you other than the decision to go! no lessons, no course study, no revision or course fees - Just a gentle “Walk-Through” from a Float Guide and then you just get in the tank and let the magic bring you home!

That is why I now work at Floatworks - so I can guide as many people as I can towards their own perfect Heaven and eventually I hope to own my own Floatation Tank and who knows run my own Floatation Tank centre one day on the land my family own and help to promote Well-Being everywhere I go.

When it comes to my life - one thing I can say for sure and it is quite simple - “FLOATWORKS!”

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