Surrender to the Float, Guilford

Photos and profile by Caryn B. Davis

Jeremy Spang had a shift in consciousness. Through a series of profound experiences, his perception of the world around him, and the way he viewed his own existence drastically changed. These life-altering encounters prompted Spang to open Surrender to the Float, a new float center in Guilford.

After Spang had earned his degree in communications and visual arts at Fordham University in New York, he landed what most people would consider a prized position as a production coordinator for MTV, and then later at True Entertainment where he worked on reality TV shows for Bravo.

But something wasn’t quite right. He was growing unhealthy from the stressful and fast paced lifestyle that can come from living in a city and having a career in television. He was also becoming increasingly disillusioned with his job.

“I was working for a company I thought I really liked, and then I realized I was actually making TV shows that were just wasting millions of people’s time. I felt I was using my time for no good cause. I thought it would be really cool to do something that actually helped people,” Spang says.

Spang left the city and returned to his mother’s home in Guilford, as she was living abroad. The house needed some attention so he fixed whatever needed fixing while trying to figure out what to do with the rest of his life. A couple of months later, he stumbled across a video series called “Spirit Science”. One of the episodes talked about float tanks, which were invented in 1954 by John C. Lilly. Lilly was a neuroscientist who used a lightless, soundproof tank to study the effects of sensory deprivation. His subjects floated inside tanks filled with salt water that was the same temperature as the skin (93.5° F). This enabled the participant to lose track of their body since it was no longer needed to fight gravity, and become more aware of their own consciousness. These tanks, like the one Spang has, are now also used for healing, meditation, relaxation, lucid dreaming, and as a way to prevent and alleviate physical aliments and pain.

“I didn’t know what a float tank was, but as soon as I found out I spent all my energy trying to start this float center. The reason it sparked my passion was because of a crazy experience I had prior that changed my whole outlook on what drives us as human beings,” he says.

Two years ago on New Years Eve, Spang had a dream that he was in the kitchen speaking with his father who had some kind of disease on his face. He asked his father if he were going to die, to which his father replied he would be okay. A few hours later the telephone rang, and it was his father’s girlfriend calling to say his father had had a heart attack.

“He went into a coma for five days, but then fully recovered. It shifted my whole outlook on everything in life. I wasn’t a spiritual person before this. But after it I became really interested in lucid dreaming, meditation, and astral projection,” Spang says. “I spent all the time I had learning and developing those skills because I had this new found faith that what really drives us everyday is the unconscious part of our mind. I wanted to connect to that power in any way I could. The float tank is such a great tool to help expand our consciousness, which is why when I saw it, I thought this is what I am going to do.”

There were other incidences guiding Spang in this direction, but one in particular that really solidified this path for him. Not long ago he was sitting in the New Haven train station reading the “Tibetan Book of the Dead” while waiting for a train. He put the book back in his bag and had the thought that he really wanted to meet a monk from whom he could learn. Within two minutes after thinking that, a monk walked up to him on the train platform and asked if he knew when the next train was coming. He then asked Spang if he knew of Tibet, and Spang showed him the book.

“He didn’t seem that surprised. I ended up sitting with him on the train and learned a lot about how he grew up. That’s how I got into Buddhism. Shortly after, I went to the Kagyu Thubten Chöling Monastery in Wappingers Falls, New York for a three day retreat and took a Buddhist vow of refuge,” Spang says.

The monk, Yeshi Dorjee, became Spang’s mentor and friend and is still to this day. Dorjee is also a university professor and artist; and the striking red door with gold symbols leading into the float center, is his creation.

Surrender to the Float has only been open for a few months, but thus far over 250 people have floated. Spang did a lot of research to find tanks that would appeal to the widest demographic and feel more like rooms than pods to ensure no one would get claustrophobic. He purchased two state-of-the-art Ocean Float Rooms that are larger and more expensive than pods, but offered a friendlier float experience. The tanks have a soothing blue light that can be turned on or off during the float, and are filled with 45% therapeutic grade Epsom salt that keeps them clean and kills any bacteria. With two parts per million of bromine added, the salt can respond quicker to ridding the tank of any germs. In between floaters, the water goes through a filtration process for additional sanitation. It’s actually cleaner than a swimming pool.   

The benefits of floating are multiple and multilevel. Eliminating sensory input, and having no distraction from daily life, allows the mind to relax, offering time for personal reflection and for the creative part of the brain to become more in tune.

After 40 minutes, the brain turns off its alpha waves and the theta waves kick in. The theta brainwave state, which most people achieve through deep meditation, or that time between waking and dreaming, enhances creativity, well being, improves learning, and provides easier access to the subconscious mind. People who float regularly have reported, “cutting strokes off their golf game, developing complex scientific theories, and drafting whole portions of books,” because  “the level of concentration and knowledge absorption” is greatly increased.

On a physical level, when weightless your body gets a break from having to defy gravity, giving your muscles, joints, and bones a rest. Floating is good for combating heart disease, arthritis, balancing out blood pressure, eliminating toxins, strengthening the digestive track, recovering from injuries or addiction, sore joints, and chronic pain. The Epsom salts soothes the skin, but also has a lot of magnesium in it. This mineral is a mood enhancer like serotonin and dopamine. Those levels are naturally increased in the brain as a result of floating, while stress hormones like cortisol are reduced.

Spang wants the float center to be a gathering place and offers a community float hour called Think Tank. It is a free weekly class where like-minded people can come together to talk and hang out. Each week a new host will introduce a topic for the group to discuss, or the group can decide to choose a different topic altogether. They also offer yoga and massage, Reiki and aromatherapy with Spang’s partner Jocelyn Rustemeyer, a Reiki master, and classes in meditation, lucid dreaming, and astral projection.

In the lucid dreaming class, students will learn techniques for remembering their dreams and eventually with practice, they may be able to “control their participation within their dream or be able to manipulate their imaginary experiences in the dream environment.” Lucid dreaming occurs when the brain is in a theta state, so floating helps with this process.

Astral projection (or astral travel) is an out-of-body experience where the person leaves their physical body to travel in the astral plane. In this class Spang uses Robert Bruce and Brian Mercer’s book, “Mastering Astral Projection: 90-day Guide to Out-of-Body Experience” as a guide. The participant will learn how to relax the body through relaxation techniques and then work on breath awareness and energy stimulation. Each week’s lessons will be summarized into an hour-long audio session. The person will be able to do all the exercises in the tank while listening to the session and learn more effectively because there are no distractions.

“The sense of floating removes the sensation of feeling your body. When the water temp is the same temp as your skin and you are not seeing light or hearing any noises, you just get to the point of not feeling your body, and you are no longer reminded of this reality. So at that point, the only reality you are experiencing is through your consciousness, which is why floating helps to expand your consciousness because you are connecting more to the power of the only thing that lasts,” explains Spang. “Everything else around us is illusory and is impermanent, but our consciousness stays on. We are connecting to the most powerful source, which is why people feel so good after.”

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