watch me as I go … float
I’m the first to admit I’m not usually one to “fall for” fads. but when a coworker friend offered me a free gift certificate to try flotation therapy, I thought, what the hell? I love taking a hot bath most days, so this should be right up my alley.
a quick look into floating had me curious and excited. people claim it doesn’t just offer a quiet, relaxing hour surrounded by warm water, but they also say it relieves joint pain, decreases stress and can even help with depression. (disclaimer: there is NO scientific proof of any benefit to doing this, so take it with a grain of salt. hee hee.)
bring it on.
floating is not a new concept. today you can float in an open pool or an enclosed pod, but in the past they’ve also been called isolation tanks or sensory deprivation tanks. they’ve been around since the mid 1950s, but seem to be all the rage right now (and didn’t Michael Jackson get into this too??). search the internet for float spas in your city and you’re bound to find one somewhere nearby if your city is big enough.
my first experience was in an open pool. the room was very warm — something like 95 degrees, I think the woman told me — and the water was very warm as well. after rinsing under a shower conveniently located right in the room (that’s the rules, man), I turned off the light. I entered the pool, sat down and leaned back. and, what do you know, I was floating immediately. weird. there’s a headrest you can use, which I did because I have a cranky neck, but you don’t have to. your head will float, too. I swear. there’s an intercom in case you need help and a blue light under the water that you can leave on if you’re freaked out by the darkness. I turned it out and was amazed at how dark it got in the room. it was black — and it didn’t change as time passed. my eyes did not adjust to the darkness. it was just, well, DARK. and silent.
the open pool
I admit this first time floating was weird. I liked it a lot, but there was one big problem: I couldn’t turn off my brain. I was still thinking of all the things going on in my life and I found it hard to relax fully despite the quiet and the darkness. I wasn’t nervous at all, but just overwhelmed. I just couldn’t stop thinking about where I am in my life and where I wish I were. before I knew it, it was over. the hour flew by. light spa-like music comes on to alert you that your time is up. if you don’t wake from that, the jets come on a few minutes later. I got out, showered, dressed and went to the women’s restroom to dry my hair with their complimentary hair dryers (yay!). I put on fresh makeup and headed to the “quiet room” to rest, read a book I brought with me (I brought “Brave Enough” by Cheryl Strayed, but they also have some books and journals lying around). I spent maybe 15 minutes or so relaxing before heading to check out. I’m not sure why, but they offer a second complimentary float (to try to win you over, I’m sure). so I signed up.
that night, I slept better than I’ve slept in weeks. I don’t know if it was because of the floating, but I’m fairly certain. I felt great when I climbed into bed, so I snapped a few photos to remind myself that I can indeed feel OK again. I don’t have to cry myself to sleep. and hey … my joints actually DID feel a bit better!
so … today was my second float. this time I was in one of the pods, which I admit I wasn’t sure I’d like. I was a bit freaked out by the idea of getting into this egg-shaped tub and closing a lid over me. I think the room with the pod was a bit cooler (in temperature) than the pool room, so I was hoping the water would be warmer than last time (I love the water to be hot when I get a bath … this water is NOT HOT, just warm.). I followed the to-do list again like a good girl (shower, earplugs, wipe off makeup, silence cell phone, turn off light) and climbed into the pod. I sat down and thought, you know, I might as well try this the way it’s intended to be done. so I pulled the lid down and closed myself in. I turned off the light and leaned back. the water in the pod seemed to be shallower than the pool and this time I decided to not use the neck rest. I’m not sure if that’s what made a difference, or the heat, or that I’m just so exhausted from so much stress, but I think it might’ve been less than 5 minutes and I was completely asleep. I was floating in an enclosed pod, ASLEEP. it’s just so weird. I tell you, it’s so weird and so damn relaxing at the same time. I woke up and wondered if they forgot to wake me. you have NO IDEA what time it is or how long you’ve been in there, so that might freak some people out. I changed my arm position and rubbed my belly and neck a bit (it’s fun to feel how all the salt collects on your skin … my belly had chunks of salt on it … I swear) and tried to focus on my breathing. I realized how hot it really had gotten, so I opened the lid. EEK. it felt freezing outside of the pod, so I’m not sure I’d recommend that. but I wanted to breathe some “fresher” air, so I left it open. I would say maybe 10 minutes passed (it’s so hard to tell, though) and the soft music started to play. I smiled (they didn’t forget me!) and reached to my right to feel for the light switch to turn the soft blue light back on so I could see well enough to climb out. then to shower, dress and back to the restroom to dry my hair. this time, I didn’t even bring any makeup. totally over trying to impress anyone at this point. nobody I care about was going to see me anyway. unless he can see from almost 2,000 miles away …
anyway. here’s the pod. would you get in and close the lid?
so this is my floating story so far. I have two more appointments set up. I got the membership and it includes unlimited float times and it’s on a monthly basis. there’s no fee to cancel. the only hassle is getting downtown to do it. there’s free parking and everyone has been super nice. it’s laid back and not snotty at all. I think I’ll try it for this month and see how it goes.
it’s been nice to focus on me for the past week or two. I’m taking steps in the right direction with yoga and floating and journaling and relaxing music and reading and talking to friends.
it’s been a year so far, I’ll say that. I’m ready for some good news and good times.
until then, I’ll float.
note: I should point out WHERE I go to float!
A Place to Float