We live in a world of so much sensory stimulation, it’s no wonder we all feel agitated and often overwhelmed. Wouldn’t it be nice to float in silence, stillness and darkness for a while.
There’s a Minecraft video series my son is far too fond of and the man’s voice grates on me like nails scratching a chalkboard (for those of you old enough to remember chalkboards instead of whiteboards – and that sound!).
Little Yang would sit for hours immersed in the imaginary worlds of Minecraft that others create in these videos – if I let him. Not only can’t I stand the man’s irritating voice, but I want my son out enjoying the real world, or imaginary worlds of his own creation.
Such is our kids’ need for constant stimulation that I’ve created meditation videos that ‘stimulate’ them in soothing ways so they can step out of their worlds of Minecraft, too much homework, too much television, too many extra-curricular activities, too many toys, just far too much.
Me, as much as I teach and practice yoga, particularly yin yoga, and try to maintain a meditation practice, I really needed the complete and utter sense of yin freedom I got when I stepped into a float tank, and the feeling I was left with when I emerged – smelling a bit like sulphur, but surprisingly unwrinkled.
So without revealing all (obviously. and thank God!) here’s my otherwise naked experience.
The room is like a normal massage or treatment room only I feel a little like I’m in the Avatar movie.
The float tank, or pod, is about the size of a very small car, but I have no sense of claustrophobia.
I shower first, as is the requirement, and imagine I’m washing away the stress, ready for complete bliss.
The water temperature is set to body temperature – it feels cool compared to a warm bath or regular spa, but it soon feels comfortable.
You can wear ear plugs if you like and use a neck pillow, but I opt for the ‘a naturale’ experience.
Soft ambient music plays to lull you and I spend a moment to acclimatize before switching the light off. The music soon fades to silence.
It takes a while to feel weightless – the muscles hold on, or the mind tries to control them.
But breath by breath, as I become more mindful, the body surrenders to zero gravity and when I decide to move my arms to feel the sensation it’s like moving through treacle. Everything feels heavy, and yet so very light.
I stay so still that my body seems to melt into the water –there’s nothing separating my skin and the water. It’s like I’ve dissolved like the salt.
I let the water enter my ears and magnify the silence. Although its dark, it’s not pitch black, and I close my eyes softly so they don’t search the darkness.
Thoughts float at first and I let them, doing my mindful best not to argue and just accept (gee my boobs look big bobbing up at this angle). It feels so much easier to surrender silly thoughts and even worries when the weight of the world is off your shoulders.
I enter a deep meditative state without focusing on anything other than the presence of being there, blissful, floating, free.
There’s a sense of timelessness and yet time disappears too – I feel I have stayed conscious in meditation yet maybe I’ve drifted into sleep.
The music starts again and I feel it softly penetrating my ears until I’m awake and relaxed when the lights switch on and the tank starts to drain.
I don’t emerge transformed but I feel deeply relaxed – I have let things go. I have found freedom and a depth within myself through floating.
Float tanks have been around since the 1950’s, with research supporting the theory that floating enables our brains to relax and perform at a higher level and allow us to enter deeper states of consciousness.
Elite athletes at Australian Institute of Sport have long used them to aid in recovery and they are a ‘cure’ for jet lag.
The term ‘sensory deprivation’ is often used to describe the float tank experience, although Float.life where I floated prefers the term REST – reduced environmental stimulation therapy.
The tanks are kept hygienic, drained, flushed and filled in between each float with a type of chlorine also added and the high concentration of Epsom salts (magnesium sulphate) also kills any germs – it is found in natural spa waters.
The salt is what enables you to float and it also enables a process of reverse osmosis where water leaves the skin, leaving it soft and silky.
I’d like to say the soft glow lasted for a long time, but life intervenes doesn’t it.
Enjoy it while it lasts. (I would definitely recommend as an alternative to a massage or other spa treatment).
Ever floated? Any questions? Linking up for IBOT.