So, last night I did my first ‘float’. Floating is new to Des Moines and I heard about it from another local health & fitness professional.
I am a believer in the healing abilities that epsom salt carries. I religiously soak in epsom salts after every long run. Even when it’s 100 degrees outside, I’ll still sit, soak and sweat miserably through it. Because I know the good it does my overworked muscles.
So, of course, I was more than intrigued to learn that you could actually float in 800 pounds of epsom salt water!
Then… I learned more during a tour of the facility. You actually climb into a tank. That is enclosed. With a door. You float in about 6-10 inches of water. The salt to water ratio has an affect like the Dead Sea and you are literally buoyant. Check out the video on the benefits and more on how the process works.
Ok, so did you see it? The float tank? Intimidating, right? Well, it left me apprehensive, to say the very least. Still, I was intrigued. So, I booked my appointment.
I arrived at the float center a little early and received a very thorough checklist of what to do prior (put ear plugs in, shower, wash hair, pat face dry, tie hair back), how to step into the tank (head to the back, feet to the front) and finally best positions to ease any tension on the neck and back (arms up over the head).
Even though I was told I would get cold leaving the door open the entire time and that it would be distracting from the peaceful zen experience. I thought to myself- no way- this door to the tank is going to remain open the entire time.
So, I was left alone to prepare for the float and step into the tank. I felt a little weird getting in. But, the water was very shallow. I (naturally) played with all the buttons on the control panel to see how the lights and heat worked. And I laid back to settle into my position. I decided to just start with my arms over my head, since that was the recommendation for the most comfort and of course that felt somewhat unnatural.
I closed my eyes and decided to picture myself lying on a beach. After all, the last time I laid like this, I was soaking up some rays under a hot sun and it felt glorious. If I could reimagine that scene, maybe I could get into a comfort zone.
Next, I followed simple steps to turn off my mind. The thing is, when you find yourself in a darker place without music or distraction- that’s when your mind turns on. I had one particular issue that was stressing me out from earlier in the day and dang it if it was going to keep me from enjoying this.
I closed my eyes. I picked a 2 word mantra- calm and healing. I focused on my breathing. I focused on my chest rising and falling as I breathed. I repeated my mantra. Soon enough, I had fallen asleep. I know this because I woke myself up several times with that annoying twitch of a limb. I was amazed. I actually fell asleep?!!?? And I actually fell asleep multiple times??! Now, I will note. One time I woke up because my watch buzzed. While I had remembered to silence my cell phone, I forgot that my phone and watch are synced and my watch buzzed when I received texts. Note to self for next time- silence both!
Then, the warning rang all too true. The open door was letting cold air in. I woke up one more time and felt cool on the upper part of my body that was not touching the water. I wanted to sink deep into the warm water, but that’s the thing, you can’t. Buoyancy, remember? And, the cold made me have to pee.
So, I lugged myself out of the float tank, toweled off, put on the robe and slippers they left for just this occasion, and nearly ran to the bathroom (I mean, I had to go!)
As I settled back into the float tank (of course, I checked my watch first and I had 20 minutes left to float. Amazingly, 70 minutes had already drifted by…) I decided to shut myself in. Be brave. More importantly, be warm. It was somewhat magical. I wish I had been braver to shut the door earlier, maybe even from the beginning. Full disclosure- I did leave it open a crack with a towel- this was recommended to keep fresh air circulated since it was a fairly humid day. But it was much more relaxing closed in like that. Much more enjoyable.
So, how did I feel afterwards? Three syllables: Ah-Mah-Zing. Amazing! I felt totally relaxed. I felt zen. I felt no stress. I felt no hurry. I felt loose all over in a really good way. Like you do after receiving a very, very good sports massage. This morning, that feeling remained. Zen. Calm. Stress-free.
Today, I had an incredibly productive day at work. More productive than I may have had in a month. I was focused. I didn’t have a headache from straining to see my computer screen. My shoulders and back didn’t ache from sitting at my desk. I felt alert.
They say floating is an ancient practice of self- care. It promotes healing of muscle aches, it eases anxiety, it helps those with trouble concentrating, it helps with fatigue and burn out… namely, it releases stress by allowing you to relax without distractions and meditate without really even realizing that’s what you’re doing.
Bottom line- I’m a believer.