If you want to get better at anything, you’ve got to practice. In basketball, if you want to practice free throws, it works best on an empty court. Just you and the hoop. It’s not as interesting as a basketball court filled with people and it’s not as fun as playing a game. Studying how you’ve thrown each shot, however, will lead to more insight. Similarly, float tanks are like clearing the court of distraction.
Most people go into float tank to empty their minds. To relax. To chill.
I go into the tank to brainstorm my biggest decisions in life.
At home, in transit, and while listening to boring people, I can get some mild brainstorming in. Maybe the equivalent of one practice free throw before or after a game. I might get in some lengthier brainstorming while writing, otherwise, I’ve been getting sucked into the distraction economy too much to focus on one thing for too long.
That’s why float tanks are so important to me. You must unplug.
You can’t check your phone or write notes in the tank. I guess you could… but the epsom salt would get into everything and ruin your augmented brain and soak your notebook. All you’ve got in there is you and your thoughts. It’s intimidating for most.
That’s where I’ve ironed out my most pivotal ideas.
After you get to a point where you’ve practiced your free throws enough on an empty court, you can bring that skill to be tested in a real game of basketball. You might figure out ways to improve your form, or your throw, and maybe others could offer advice as well. Without that practice, however, they won’t be of much help.
Practicing mulling over your deepest thoughts is similar.
Compared to years ago, where I’d thrash around ideas in my brain like I was several points behind in the fourth quarter of the pivotal basketball game, this time was more focused. I had a few main ideas to consider. One pertained to how I was getting too worked up in scheduled writing. Another, private.
Maybe it’s maturity? Maybe I’ve overall kept myself in better spirits lately?
I’d also say pouring everything completely into a hobby, using that “spare time” you think you have, can help. Publishing 500 words daily, which might involve writing over 1,500 words in a day, allows a certain freedom of expression where I can let out some of the more minor brainstorming thoughts.
Your goals are different than mine. However, if you can find the time to practice the free throw (free thoughts) that will land you closer to winning your game, be it art, programming, or anything at all, you may find contentment.
Also published on Float Seattle.