18 Jul Self-Care Sunday: Finding Yourself While Floating
This is the first in a series of weekly posts focused on meditative and mindful activities that will help you practice self-care and tune into your own inner guidance. A new activity I’ve added to my self-care routine is floating! I want to take you through a bit of my first float experience for this inaugural blog post. For those unfamiliar with float therapy, dig in and get acquainted. A float tank, aka sensory deprivation tank, is designed to help you calm you mind, reduce stress, release anxiety, alleviate physical pain, and can also soften your skin. Outside of the physical benefits, some people say that float therapy helped them sharpen their focus, solve problems, and heal past trauma. Those unable to practice traditional meditation techniques may find value in floating. Maybe you’ve heard about it and want to know what the buzz is about? If you’ve never been floating, let me open the pod for you to experience this water world…
You are in a soundproof cabin or tank full of Epsom salt allowing you to float freely without effort. The water is heated and maintained at a constant 94-95 degrees causing you to easily forget where your body ends and the water begins. There is only the light in the cabin or pod that you allow in by adjusting the setting, you can usually set it on low/ambient lighting or go for full on darkness. Then the next part is easy, you shower, put in your ear plugs, rub petroleum jelly (provided) on any cuts you don’t want to get salt in and simply lie there for 30-90 minutes depending on which package you’ve purchased and let your mind do the rest. It may take a while to surrender and get comfortable with silently floating in darkness. If your experience is anything like mine, your thoughts may be all over the place: You wonder if they put enough salt in there to keep you afloat in case you accidentally drift off to sleep or what happens if you get a bit of salt in your eye or ear if one of the plugs shift. You wonder if you’re doing it “right”, if you are really in the tank alone, if you’re supposed to hear your heart beat that loudly, and if your stomach is supposed to sound like you’re at the bottom of an ocean. You wonder if you forgot to turn off the stove and get irritated thinking about the email you received and answered right before you walked into the float room. Then suddenly you see a quick flash of a moment in time you had long forgotten. Your mood shifts, face muscles soften and you just go with it. You think, “This isn’t so bad!” and start to imagine that you’re thousands of miles away from where you are. You hear the crash of waves on a far-away beach and the rustle of trees, trees you remember listening to each night from your grandparents porch when you were only 6. You’re swinging, see a rainbow of lights in the distance, and seconds later, an indescribable stillness comes over you. You feel at ease, you are where you are in this moment and it feels good. You’re searching for another thought then remember you’re just supposed to let them come. Before you know it, the lights come on and time is up! You get out, shower again, and make your way to the front to sit in the relaxation space if provided. You may immediately notice how much lighter and more aware you feel. It may take days to fully embrace everything you may have experienced (or didn’t) but in that moment you know whether you come back or not, it helped to unlock a couple doors in your subconscious mind that may prompt you to explore a bit more about what surfaced when you go home. Maybe you journal about the experience or meditate on it. Maybe you simply go back to your daily routine but somewhere in the back of your mind you’ll know you have a space you can go back to when you want to shut out the noise of the world and reconnect with self.
Now of course your experience will be YOUR experience but I wanted to at least give you a glimpse of what you may experience with a bit of my own encounters thrown into the mix. I found much of my information about floating online but there’s a really good intro to it in Yoga Journal. I searched for a float location with a variety of different tanks because I am a bit claustrophobic in tight spaces with water. I found a wonderful place 20 miles north of where I live called Synergy Float Center. They have 3 different tank styles and other services such as magnetic resonance therapy and reiki available for purchase. If you’re in the DC Metro area, check them out. The owner, Chris Jones, is a disabled veteran who served as an officer in the military, he’s made his next mission one that will help others find their safe space and themselves with float therapy.