Mind of A Meditator- Andy Zaremba

This last month, we've been inviting some game changers and top players in to check out their MQ (or Mindfulness Quotient). Today, we meet Andy, co-owner of Float House and, as Hiroko calls him, a true peaceful warrior. 

Tell us about yourself in 140 characters or less. — I am an awareness embodied in a temporary form that has many other titles.  The one I resonate most with is being human.

What is your background with all things mindfulness & floating? My back ground in Mindfulness/ Meditation is purely experiential.  No formal training or education.  I learned about Float tanks while attending McMaster University.  I had my first float in Nov. 2010 and we opened our first Float House location in Vancouver, BC, Canada in May of 2013. 

If you were to describe the MQ to your best friend, what would you say? — The MQ is a tool to asses how well you can down-regulate after a stressful event, learn more about how your brain is wired, and it will increase your awareness of how you function in the world in relation to events.  It will also reveal potential mental and emotional blind spots that you may not have previously been aware of.   A must do for anyone seeking self awareness. 

What strikes me with Andy is his demeanor. He reminds me of men of another age- gentlemen, hand-shaking men, that when they shake your hand they mean it. 

Andy is, together with his brother Mike, the owner of the Float House. He is also the co-host of Vancouver Real, maybe Vancouver’s most famous podcast. He is the coordinator of Vancouver Real Community and one of the people behind the Vancouver Mindful Mass. In a few words, Andy is a powerhouse, a pioneer and an innovator.

So here we go with the MQ. Andy seems obviously very interested. The MQ looks at sympathetic and para-sympathetic responses in the body, which is mostly what floating is all about.

 I ask him- “Did I tell you Andy that this entails some math?”.
Yes, he knows and he lets me know, humbly enough, that this “makes him a little nervous”. 

So here is the point of the MQ:

The point is self-awareness.

Realizing that
a) life is stressful and
b) that stress does “something” to our bodies- it activates physiological reactions, and
c) becoming aware, we can also learn to regulate, which in other words means relax when needed and fire up (or get aroused) when needed.

And here are a few of the things that we discovered:

His muscles are very smooth and relaxed, even when under stress. All this floating works!

This guy knows how to breathe slowly.

His baseline is around 16 breaths per minute during the last task. When the test required him to do slow abdominal breathing, he is very comfortable to go down to around 3 breaths per minute which is considerably slow (average slow breathing is 6 breaths per minute).

In terms of HRV, when he is breathing slowly and intentionally, his HR min-max is around 13-20 and could certainly improve with some training. His SDNN is around 1298.945, NN50 8, PNN50 0.138, RMSSD 52.070, VFL 1478.618, LF 2988.095, HF 52.957, LF/HF 56.957, power 4519.669.

The interesting thing about stress (and so interesting for floating) is that it accumulates. So the micro sweat goes up all along the test.

Temperature also goes up.

This is a warrior.

This is someone that thrives on stress.

This is someone that understands the upside of stress.

With stress, you would expect temperature to go down.

Finally, looking at brain activity, we look at the response of the brain when we close our eyes- expecting a strong alpha response. This is the case here and there is also some alpha during the stroop test, the intention of which is to create a little bit of confusion in our ability to respond.

All in all: this was amazing, congrats Andy, the peaceful warrior!