I have a confession to make. I own a Float therapy studio. But I didn’t really like floating the first time.
The truth is, I went along with my husband because he wanted to try it out. I like to try new things, but sensory deprivation? The truth is I’m not really about deprivation of any kind. And besides, I am too busy.
We made an appointment for mid morning on a weekday and I kind of hoped that something really critical was going to happen at work to prevent me from being able to go. I was flattering myself – I am not nearly that indispensable. And no issues came up, so I was stuck with the appointment.
Before I knew it, I was in the float room all on my own. I am a mother of 4 with a full-time job. Alone does not feel like a natural state for me. That in itself felt kind of weird. Not to mention the giant white coffin filled with 10 inches of salt water in the middle of the room.
I showered and then gingerly eased myself into the pod. The next excuse I had lined up in my head is that the water was either going to be too hot or too cold. But to no avail – the water was exactly the same temperature as my body. It did have a slightly slimy feel to it, since the pod actually contains 1000 pounds of pharmaceutical grade Epson salts. This negated my next excuse, which was that it was going to be just like taking a bath at home, but more expensive.
After a moment, I stretched my body out and floated on my back. Although I had read enough to know that my body would be extremely buoyant in the saline solution, I was still shocked at how my body actually floated almost on top of the water. It was as if every molecule of water was supporting my body. And it felt… incredible.
But that’s when things got weird. I couldn’t figure out how to position my arms. I tried letting them float at my sides, but then I worried I was doing it wrong, so I raised them above my head. In doing so, I got some of the salt water in my eye, which stung. I spent the next five minutes fumbling the dark for a washcloth and fresh water spray bottle.
I spent the next 20 minutes or so turning the lights on and off, opening and closing the lid, adjusting the volume of the music, and wondering how much time had passed.
However, I did have about 15 minutes towards the end of the session when I had settled into a comfortable position, adjusted the sound and lights to my liking and was able to focus on my breath and relax. I had to admit that it was pleasant.
As I showered, I thought to myself that it was an enjoyable experience but decided that floating probably wasn’t really for me. I’m not really “new agey” and I am busier than most people, I thought. It’s great that other people have so much time for self-care, I told myself. But that’s not me.
My husband and I went to a Ramen restaurant down the road and started to talk about our experiences. Immediately, I realized that I had got a lot more out of the float than I had realized. I remember that conversation so clearly because I was present in a way that I rarely am. I felt unrushed, like I had time to really listen to the man across from me, rather than just waiting to talk. I didn’t lose track of what I was saying or struggle to find the right words. Thoughts and ideas emerged and I didn’t feel pressure to capture them before I lost track. In other words, I felt connected and content with myself and with my lunch date.
And that continued throughout the day. I got to work and felt a kind of focus that I don’t usually enjoy at work. I was able to deal with one task at a time and solve problems so much faster than usual. I wasn’t distracted or irritated by the noise in the office. Even though I had only half a day left, I got more done that afternoon than I usually accomplish in a whole day. And more importantly, I enjoyed it.