Saturday, February 15, 2014

I Float

Yes, I do. And today I floated in a sensory deprivation float tank with 10 inches of salt water. It was my first experience. A friend had recently done it and enjoyed it. I did my research and was ready to give it a try.

I made my reservation and payment on line. Today I showed up 15 minutes before my scheduled time. Phil showed me to room 2. The room was pretty good size, rectangle shaped. There was a bench, a shower in the corner of the room and there was the tank. The door of the tank was closed.

His instructions were to put on the ear plugs first to get used to them, shower and then climb into the tank. The light in the room was motion activated and would turn off once I had the tank door closed. Outside the tank was a provided towel, wash cloth, spray bottle of fresh water in case I need to get salt water out of my eyes and a short water noodle. He said the water noodle can be put under your neck while floating to relief the weight/tension. There was also shampoo, conditioner and body wash in the shower.

My only question to him was, "is there a light in the tank?" to which he replied "no". While he was in the room with me we did not open the tank to look inside. He did however show me the ambient (rope) lighting on the edge of the shower floor.

He left, I locked the door, undressed, put in my ear plugs and took a shower and washed my hair. It was then time for me to open the hatch. The door is quite large and opens over to one side. Looking inside the tank I see only blackness. At the foot of the tank are a few PVC pipes. Oh, Phil also told me that since it was my first time I would probably want to put my head towards the end of the tank closet to the door. I thought that was only reasonable.

The next 10 minutes are what I can only describe as an I Love Lucy episode. The door is open and all I have to do is step inside, lay down and close the door. Sounds easy, right? Not so easy. I step in through the opening and I'm trying to sit down to get into position when my legs start floating and next thing you know I am grabbing onto the opening to hold on. I haven't even attempted to close the lid yet.

The one thing no one told me and I never read in my research is what Epsom salt feels like in water. It's best described as gel like. And it was kind of slippery. So there I am hanging on to the side. I reach down and bring the noodle into the tank with me and I close the door.

And I lay down. And my entire body floats. And then I immediately reach up in the darkness and try to find the door. I hang on to the door handle for a very short time. Then somehow I get salt in my right eye. So I open the door and blot my eye with the wash cloth I had put fresh water on, just in case. To reach the wash cloth I once again have to hang on to the side and reach over.

I then close the lid, but this time I put the noodle in the corner of it and it gives me a couple of inches of light since the light in the room was still on. I lay there floating trying to figure out what exactly it is that scares me about the dark tank. It wasn't so much the darkness or the feeling that maybe the tank was just too big. For a moment I was thinking it would be better if there wasn't so much room to drift around in. I was worried I would float around and get disoriented and not be able to find the door to get out.

But the biggest fear in the tank was, what if I couldn't breathe? Once I figured out that was my problem, I focused on breathing. After another drop of salt water in my eye and the wet wash cloth, I then closed the lid.

And I kept breathing. I relaxed my body. I couldn't feel my legs, it was as if they weren't there unless I wiggled my foot. I tried my arms by my sides and the water made my elbows raise up to my shoulders and that felt weird. So I tossed my arms up over my head.

I could feel my hair all splayed out on the water and imagined myself a mermaid. I had the noodle under my neck for a little bit. Then removed it and my head sank a little more into the water. The water never went over my face, it barely covered over my hair line around my face.

As I floated I was trying to remember how I was feeling so I could record it. I had no sense of time. I was to spend 60 minutes in there. I thought to myself, am I supposed to try to fall asleep, or am I sleeping already? Then my breathing would get very slow and I would take deep breaths.

The tank was a very comfortable temperature. My skin wasn't cold at all. If I moved a foot or an arm, it would shift my entire body. Sometimes I would feel the pipe at the end of the tank. Sometimes it felt like I drifted off to one side. At one point I did a foot jerk, that thing you do when you are sleeping. But I didn't think I was sleeping, but maybe I was.

I had no aches or pains while in the water. Sometimes I felt like I was just laying on the bottom of the tank, but I wasn't. A couple of times I would put my hand underneath my back to feel the gap of water between my back and the bottom of the tank.

I resisted rolling over to float on my stomach which I kind of really wanted to do, but I don't know what I would do with my face, trying to keep it out of the water. Let me say, salt water in your eyes does not feel good.

When the 60 minutes was up, as Phil said would happen, piano music starts playing in the tank, it gradually gets louder and louder. I found the lid and pushed it open. It takes a bit of effort to open it all the way off to the side. Then as I stepped out I realized I probably should have had the plastic mat to step on since I was a little slimy and the floor a little slippery. I was going to bring my flip flops but forgot them. That would have helped.

After getting out I closed the lid and hit the shower one more time. But not before glancing at my face once in the mirror to see the dried salt on my cheeks.

After getting dressed I went out to the front area of the spa and just sat for a few minutes and relayed my experience to Phil. I think he was a little surprised when I told him I did manage to close the lid.

I'm glad I have my first float over with. I think I will be able to immensely enjoy it more the second time. And even though I wore ear plugs, my ears still have a little moisture in them.

The say a lot of the benefits of floating are felt later, after the float. I'm hoping I sleep really well tonight. I can already visualize though when I lay down I'm going to be seeing that black tank and I'm not sure how I feel about that.

Here is the place I went to:

Added 2/17/14. The last two nights have been some of the best sleep I've had. And during a windstorm too. Here is a paragraph from UFloat's website, This is what I experienced.
 Can I fall asleep in the tank?

Yes and falling asleep is encouraged, as you will find that one hour of sleep in the tank is equal to about 4 hours of rest. Since you are very buoyant in the water, your body and spine are supported better than any mattress. Because you are lying in water and not on a bed, there are no pressure points on your body which allows blood to circulate freely throughout your body. The interesting thing about the float experience and level of relaxation that can be achieved, is that a lot of people aren't sure if they fell asleep or not during their float because it puts our brain in the Theta state that is experienced between being awake and sleeping, even if you do not actually fall asleep.

1 comment:

Russell said...

Your description is so visual that it makes me feel I was there. Keep having fun!