Every Sunday, my goal is to find some time to better myself. A good book, a talk with God, a quiet hike, a cleansing journal entry, a relaxing trip to the spa …whatever feeds my mind, body and/or spirit and moves me closer to the kind of father, husband, son, friend, human I want to be, is what you will find in this slot.
I recently tried something that seemed a bit …unusual. I’m 100% open-minded to alternative and holistic ways of treating what ails you, so this isn’t that out of the box for me, but there was definitely some uncertainty in what the overall experience would be like and whether or not I’d be able to do it.
Though I did not purchase it at the time, a Groupon is actually what turned me on to Float Nashville. It was over the summer when I was spending a lot of time at the lake so the word “float” intrigued me as I imagined a new water sport I could dive into. Turns out Float Nashville has nothing to do with sports or the lake, but there is water.
“Floating” consists of climbing into a large sound and light-proof tank filled with only 10 inches of water. The water is heated to body temperature and contains a high amount of Epsom salt (more dense than the Dead Sea) so you can float effortlessly without feeling the water around you. The desired result is what’s called Sensory Deprivation – no sight, sound, touch, smell ..and hopefully you’re not tasting anything. Ha!
The benefits: too many to list, but the most obvious being stress and pain relief, as well as some much-needed time to be alone and still. It’s a kind of forced meditation since you’re removing all possible distractions and are left with just your thoughts. (Insert reason #1 for my uncertainty. Me + my thoughts = what keeps me up at night.)
After being shown to your dimly lit room, you start with a quick shower to rinse off and then it’s into the tank you go. My tank was called the Escape Pod and definitely resembled something from a sci-fi flick. (Insert hesitation #2. You want me to get in there and shut the door?)
I step in, sit down and am immediately shocked at how easily you float as my rear slides halfway down the tank before I can shut the door. I’m sure it was a quite comical sight as I tried to readjust enough to reach and close the large door behind me, but I got the job done and laid myself down in the water.
I thought it was going to feel like a coffin, but it felt like infinite space. I am 6′ and with arms and legs stretched as far as they could go, I barely touched the top and bottom. My elbows could even extend fully before I grazed the side, and I have no idea how far it was from my face to the ceiling, but it’s FEET, not inches. But the goal is not to discover how many ways you can move and touch things, it’s to get still and not feel anything at all so, still I got.
The first 5-10 minutes were spent overthinking everything. “Am I tensing up? Is this the right position? Am I really going to be able to stay in here for 90 minutes or will I die of boredom first? Row row row your boat, gently down the stream. Whoa, I really can’t feel anything. Am I spinning right now? I feel like I’m in space. OK, mind, shut up. Merrily merrily merrily..dammit.” But after the initial newness of the experience wore off, I found myself relaxing more with every minute. It really did feel like I was floating in space and I could even imagine myself moving around. At one point I could’ve sworn I was vertical vs horizontal. (No, there were no drugs involved.) And the more time that passed, the more I was able to still my thoughts until there was just my heartbeat. And WOW, could I hear and feel my heartbeat. And then, I fell asleep. And woke up, questioned whether or not I had actually fallen asleep, focused on breathing along with the beat of my heart and fell asleep again. This happened at least once more and I awoke to soft music playing, alerting me it was time to go.
I opened the door (a little more gracefully than my attempts to close it) and was immediately thankful for the dimness of the room. It was a nice transition as I got out and took shower #2 to rinse off the salt water. I took my time changing, checked my phone to be sure 90 minutes had actually passed since it felt more like 15-30, and proceeded to the lobby where I was offered a variety of teas and water and told I could stay as long as I’d like. I immediately purchased more visits.
I felt like I had had a massage, chiropractic adjustment and the best night’s sleep ever. My mind was calm and, as I left, it seemed I was moving in slow motion compared to everything around me. My muscles and bones, which are constantly reminding me I’m a 37 year old who teaches high-impact cardio classes, were (and still are, days later) pain-free. Could be a coincidence, but I’ve also been more focused, cheerful and productive since going as well. (I don’t think it’s a coincidence.)
I didn’t want to do a copy and paste of their entire website or the research I’ve done, but if you’d like more info, check out: FloatNashville.com and this great article from Dr. Axe on the Benefits of Sensory Deprivation Tanks.
Find a way to still your mind for a few minutes today! And when you get the chance, give FLOATING a try! Let me know how it goes.