FloatingJuly 17, 2010
Man, I put the internets away, went and washed my face and brushed my teeth, and then came back and got them out again, because you should hear what I did today. Well, I got my hair colored and cut
and went and saw the Mighty Slim Pickins, who were great.
But I also did something completely new:
Sensory deprivation. I went and floated for an hour inside a flotation tank.
Bethany talked me into it -- she'd been floating in Oakland a number of times, but this was her first time to Float Matrix, and it was my first time ever.
Let's start here: It's freaky.
I loved the ambiance of the place -- it was beautifully outfitted, just like a nice spa. The very nice man who owns it, Kane (HELLO ROMANCE NAME), was very knowledgeable and comforting at the same time. I think he saw the wild look at the back of my eye, like a horse getting ready to bolt (except that the only thing I know about horses was the old horse my dad boarded when I was a kid, 20-year old Darby, who wouldn't do more than walk sedately--that's not what I looked like today. Maybe more like a cat caught in a thunderstorm. Enough with the similes!). He ushered us into a nice changing room where we showered and scrubbed and changed into robes and flip-flops, both thoughtfully provided for us.
Kane asked me just before he pulled back the curtain, "Did your sister tell you what these look like?" She hadn't. I shook my head. He pulled back the white sheet to reveal a COFFIN-LIKE metal tank. We all laughed, but my laughter was hysteria. They chose to overlook that.
It's a flesh-colored swim suit. I know what you thought.
This is where I nearly melted down, although I was SO COOL in person. Really. Ask Bethany.
Inside that tank is water, heated to body temperature. The air above that is body temperature or a little warmer. And dissolved in the water is one thousand pounds (really) of epsom salts. So you put in your earplugs, get in, turn around, and shut that door behind you (there's a dim light inside, yes). Then you lean back and float. You really, really float. It's hard to push your limbs down, but you don't need to. Just float. (Nekkid. Naturally.)
Now, you reach to your right and click off that dim blue light. Now it's completely pitch dark, not a speck of light, and those walls that just surrounded you fly away, and you're suspended in an enormous realm, somewhere completely unknown. And SUDDENLY YOU ARE IN THE TOMB. Wait, I mean WOMB. Whatever. I had a sketchy couple of seconds at the beginning where I was all like, get-me-out-of-here-right-now-are-you-fucking-kidding-me-with-this. But Kane had warned me about this -- the brain is programmed to receive lots of stuff, and we constantly have noise and images and smells around us, and suddenly we're plunged into this deprivation -- it's anxiety producing. He said to focus on my breath. I can do that. I did.
And it got okay. More than okay. It felt amazing. It felt like a massage, only you know how sometimes massages hurt? This didn't. Everything felt great. It was like lying on a bed, only without any pressure anywhere -- just perfect support. Warm. Calm. Dark. SCARY OH GOD SCARY and then I'd breathe again and it was great.
Also, Kane mentioned that epsom salt is magnesium sulfate, and I've been trying to work more magnesium into my diet for the migraines -- this was a great way to take it in, through the skin. And I've been fighting a migraine for a couple of days now, and guess what? The low-grade threatening pain is gone.
Bethany was in a tank near mine, and she said when he knocked on hers and turned on her light, it felt like she'd been in for twenty minutes. She might have fallen asleep. Me, the sixty minutes felt like two hours. Time elongated. Also common, apparently.
I'll do it again, if only for the post-massage high feeling. I have a goal, also, of trying to meditate a little more next time. But an hour is a long time to focus on one's breathing. I focused on a couple of To Do lists, because I'm incapable of not doing that. And I think the second time, I'd know what to expect, and that would make it easier. But I love trying new things, and this was completely new, and terribly awesome. You should go and tell me what you think.