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Big, Wet & Loud! 6 Things I Learned from Float Con '22


How wild is this year's Float Conference official poster?

It was created by Portland artist Carter Shappy.




Happy October, Floaty Friends! As the Autumn chill settles in, I find myself reminiscing about the end of the summer. My mind drifts back to walking barefoot on the sun-warmed rocks of Cape Elizabeth. Jutting out into the Atlantic coastline, Crescent Beach is a glittering jewel awash in daylight. Lulled by the rhythmic sound of surf on stone, I chose this spot to meditate, center myself, and engage in play.


This haven, just outside of Portland (MAINE, that is), is where I prepared for a full and beautiful weekend among the "salt royalty" (...halophiles?)...my beloved *Floaty Fam*, for the 11th Annual Float Conference. This was my second year attending and it did not disappoint! Salty compatriots from coast to coast descended on the city for 3 days of revelry, genuine connection, and tons of information. I'm so grateful to have been able to attend, and to experience such a valuable event. There was such a buzz of excitement as old and new friends came together. Here are some highlights and observations from the weekend's speakers, seminars, workshops, and sights.



Dr. Justin Feinstein is ready to change the world.

Dr. Feinstein, a maestro on the leading-edge of flotation therapy research, is a seasoned, dynamic keynote at the conference annually. When I began my own research process, I found his TEDTalk on the effects of disconnection on the nervous system. This presentation (linked at the bottom of this page) was my first exposure to empirical scientific data around floatation therapy's influence on anxiety levels. In Portland, I sat in on his talk in order to learn what his team had been working on most recently. Based primarily in Tulsa (but with a global network reach), Dr. Feinstein has an extensive background in clinical neuropsychology. From my rudimentary understanding, aspects of his work have centered around conducting quantifiable research that explores the neuroscience of fear and clinical anxiety. One thing that is abundantly clear is that many more studies need to be funded and conducted to harness the full potential of the floatation modality. In order to gather verifiable data, Justin founded the Float Research Collective. The Collective's mission is clear and profound:


To establish worldwide acceptance for Floatation-REST (Reduced Environmental Stimulation Therapy) as a treatment to naturally relieve pain, stress, anxiety and other related conditions.

- www.clinicalfloat.org


The Float Research Collective is currently championing a monumental task. Via education, research, fundraising, and advocacy, the collective is working to establish flotation therapy as a recognized form of treatment prescribed by the medical community and reimbursable by insurance. Dr. Feinstein and his colleagues have forged relationships with independently owned float centers to conduct on-going research toward this end. I have so much to lean in this evolving industry, but the members of the FRC stand as both an educational resources and dedicated proponents in reaching their mission.



The Harders are SO generous.

The hosts of this year's conference were Amy & James Harder. They own FLOAT HARDER in South Portland. Active members on the conference Board of Directors, I had seen their smiling faces in the past, and met them for some hugs and laughs in Milwaukee. This year, they were able to shine a bright spotlight on the city they love so much. Amy is an avid roller skater, and infused the event with an aspect of her silly personality by bringing a full-on roller disco to the middle of the arena! There was a DJ pumping in beats and lights flashing: It was a groovy 70's disco derby and it gave me life!! I also came home with my own, beautiful, pre-loved pair of skates as a souvenir so I could practice. This pair has also dreamed up The Grateful Cup, a clean juice and smoothie cafe that is constantly looking for ways to give back to the community. They take their role as stewards of kindness pretty seriously!


James & Amy Harder with Lee & Glenn Perry;

All groundbreakers in this industry, and wonderful people.


Overall, their thoughtful personal touches made for such a memorable weekend. They hosted a banger of a party where they opened up their center to all attendees and we enjoyed a night of dope music, new friends, local brews, and performers on stilts!! Additionally, they were always available for a chat or questions, and intentionally highlighted local artists, artisans, and businesses to feature each day.



Aloha is Magic.

Nadia Linda Hole is a goddess walking on earth. She has been at both of the float conferences I have attended, and one can’t help but feel her lightness of spirit even before she opens her mouth to speak. Nadia is a lifelong practitioner of Qi-Gong. This is an ancient practice that observes and nurtures the current of energy running through the body by controlled movement and breath-alignment techniques.

Nadia Linda Hole, the radiant "Barefoot Doctor", herself.


Within Nadia's transcendent workshops, you learn how to check in with your Qi, your life force, and help it GROW. She has a healer's heart and a laughing soul. You'll never catch her taking herself too seriously, and she's the first to crack a joke in the middle of a powerful Qi-Gong session. With seemingly simplistic core movements, she teaches you how to get in touch with your heart center and allow it to pour out of you and expand the limits of your being. What an effervescent and prismatic soul. I have been able to keep up with her and deepen my practice by tuning into her bustling Instagram account. You can find her at @NadiaAlohaMD . On her page, she posts daily affirmations and exercises to help her many friends feel balanced. Her joy is contagious. Thank you, Nadia!



In Portland, they love dogs as much as I do!

This was such a welcome, comforting, and exciting surprise! Portland is a very dog friendly town. My hotel had dogs in the lobby every evening, the restaurants had dog bowls, “puppuccinos”, and servers running over to tables for pup photos and pets. My heart was bursting! There was even a docile and comforting therapy dog attending the conference. (J.B., below. Sign me up for any services his center is offering! What a sweetheart.) If every float spa had a therapy dog, the world could be a better place. Hmm...When I open my own healing space, I'll offer a service called a Pupgrade, where you get to sit and pet a therapy dog during your post-float relaxation. Sounds like my kind of heaven!


Beautiful Pups of Portland








Rosie Charlie Cosmo J.B. Raina



Portland is vibrant.

I've been lucky enough to spend time in Portland in the past, but this versatile city real came alive on this visit! As mentioned above, we got to see the city through our hosts' eyes. This year's board of directors took us out to a fun night at Bayside Bowl. This is a brand new 3-story trendy bowling complex with a rooftop bar featuring views across the whole city. They had multiple non-alcoholic beers to sample on the menu (very exciting for me). They had a DJ on the roof and a sunk-in airstream camper cemented into place dishing out incredible locally sourced tacos (Drool!).

You know I love a good string light!


Beyond our group social, I did a little exploring on my own. There is an energetic restaurant scene. Black Cow is a retro soda shop with some of THE BEST burgers and handcrafted sodas I've ever had. Sagamore Hill Lounge is a posh, yet unassuming, eccentrically decorated cocktail bar that pays gilded homage to Teddy Roosevelt's famed summer mansion. I was impressed with their creative mocktails. There is a lush farmers market with rows of luscious produce, and endless stretches of ground to toss a frisbee! On my exploration day, I started the morning by dining al fresco on a lobster egg scramble, and by the evening I had stumbled into an amateur comedy competition at a distillery. Late summer is definitely one of the most lively times to experience all that this bustling waterfront town has to offer.



The universe provides life-changing opportunities when you least expect it.

One of the most fascinating, and spiritually fruitful benefits of attending the Float Conference was access to an incredibly unique study. The gentleman running the study, Richard Bonk, is a perceptive artist and teacher, among many other things. In the righteous pursuit of nothing short of enlightenment, Richard has crafted a protocol through which one may achieve a state of lucidity within the float tank. Known as Alternate Waking States Method (AWSIM), this technique incorporates a meditation practice over an extended period of time (typically 4 hours) within the tank, to active states of lucid dreaming and out of body experiences. Master Bonk dares to be a curious, questioning, limit-testing psychonaut. He actively gives of himself to the float community at large, engaging individuals in voluntary mind-expansion exploration, and inspiring thoughtful conversation amongst neuro-discourse enthusiasts the world over (and beyond??). I am immensely grateful to now know of his work, and to be invited to participate in this ever-expanding study. I eagerly await as he continues his studies and reveals what his finds, and I challenge myself to become an active and engaged participant in the dialogue. If anyone would like to participate in Richard's research, please do reach out. I'd be happy to connect you. Richard, thank you for years of dedication to your practice!


- - -


Would love to hear about your own seasonal adventures! Let's connect anytime. Please check out the resources below to learn more about the incredible people I've introduced you to here.

As always, thank you so much for reading.

♥️A



Notes & Resources:

Carter Shappy, Float Conference Featured Artist


Dr. Justin Feinstein


Amy & James Harder


Dr. Nadia Linda Hole


Richard Bonk

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