Something I do to relax and reset my mind and body every so often is to visit my local float center. There are a few of these places in my city, but I have really only been to this one, and we’ve developed a relationship. I tried it once and I didn’t have a good an experience as I thought I would, but I knew there was promise. I purchased a membership which was transferable and cancelable and came back a couple more times to try to get into it. After the third or fourth time, I was hooked.
What on earth are you talking about?!? What is “floating,” you may ask? I did not know anything about it until I started going, so you’re not alone. Essentially, I spend 90 minutes alone in a sensory deprivation tank, floating in body-temperature-neutral water treated with so much Epsom salt that a person cannot NOT float. The tanks are reserved in individual private rooms with a shower, toiletries (shampoo, conditioner, body wash and lotion), a towel and clean flip flops. The reservation is for a total of 2 hours.
Now if you’re like most people, the words “sensory deprivation” are kinda freaky. I mean, who wants to be deprived of anything, especially your senses? I don’t know if it’s an autistic thing, but I actually love the experience, because to me, “deprivation” is a total misnomer. Are you being deprived of your senses, or are you being freed from that which bombards them constantly?
Living in a city is noisy and bright/flashy. Most of the input we take in is not under our control and a lot of it is intense, too much. Even in my house, even when my husband is gone and the dogs are quiet, there is still noise. Cars zoom past the house on our street. Trucks bounce over the speed bump in front of our house, tossing the contents of their cargo areas up and letting them drop a split second later making loud crashing sounds. And all hell breaks loose if a stay cat dares cross in front of the window. Even birds chirping outside the window… the sounds are endless. Have you ever experienced freedom from sound?
Same with lights… even at night, we have streetlights, traffic lights, neighbors’ security floodlights, plus the sun, moon and stars, airplanes and satellites that fill the night sky. We can close our eyes, sure, but have you ever truly experienced freedom from visual stimuli with your eyes open?
Now imagine that freedom. Would it be frightening or enlightening to you?
But wait… there’s more! There is a force that we very rarely escape in our daily lives, one that is so integral to the human experience that we evolved within it and probably could not survive for long without it. I’m talking about gravity.
In the float tank, you are weightless. You lie back in 8-10″ of water, so salty it will sting any open sores, scratches or wounds, not to mention assault your eyes or taste buds, should it get a splash anywhere near your face. Despite these caveats, the feeling of weightlessness is something I cannot recommend enough. It’s almost like what I would imagine being in space to be like, except for $200,000 less of an investment.
The last freedom I feel when I float is freedom from time. It isn’t that time ceases to pass when floating, but you surrender your need to be aware of it. In the tank, the shop pipes in music when it is time for you to get out, shower and get dressed in time for them to sanitize the room for the next client. For someone who struggles with time, keeping track of it, often wondering where it went, etc, being able to just be in a space and not worry about time is a huge escape, almost like shifting into an alternative universe or something.
So Saturday for 90 minutes I was free. Free from noise, free from light, free from gravity and free from time. I did not feel deprived in the least!
Can you say you’ve ever been so free? Would you like to? Look up your friendly neighborhood float center and give it a try. And, as an added bonus, if you live in our are traveling to Portland, OR, holler at me and I’ll give you a discounted gift card at my float center of choice. This is good for anyone at any time, even if you’re coming into town in a month or in a year. If you want to experience this sort of freedom, let me know. I will hook you up!