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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

Photo on 2010-07-17 at 11.28 #3
an I-just-woke-up pic -- see the many layers of colors? Platinum silver on top so I can grow into my gray hair, which was the point, red underneath, brown under that

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. 

Float

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. 

Comments

So glad you wrote about this--I bought a session a couple of months ago and haven't done it yet. The tomb/womb thing freaks me out a bit. It is all in the experience, right?

I have heard you can reach a theta state which can be amazing. Try again and let us know! Actually it's something on my Life List - and you've given me the incentive to move it up the list for this winter! it can rest you like a solid 8 hours of sleep in that short while...

Thanks for the detailed description - I was excited when you tweeted about this because I have been really curious about what this would be like. I'd like to try it!

Not quite the same, mostly due to the overriding stress of the situation, but similar... when I had to have an MRI on my head a year or two ago. I was not crazy about the confined space and extended period of time and really thought about -- and tried to guide -- my response. I pretty much floated through it -- concentrating on my breathing, the sounds, I was in space, I was sleeping, I was dreaming... I don't ever want to have an MRI again, but it was sort of amazing. I wonder if we have any of those flotation tanks 'round here. ; )

Sing it, sister! So glad you liked it!

I tried a float tank a number of years ago on a business trip!. Couldn't take it and rang the bell to get the heck out of there in a hurry. The claustorphobia just took over and I couldn't rationalize my way to more than 15 minutes. Good on you for lasting and taking in the benefits.

I have always, ALWAYS wanted to do this, despite the "Altered States" stigma. (heh). I may have to find out if there's a place for it near me.

Also, yeah, that flesh-colored bathing suit made me look twice, hahah.

Sounds fabulous! I've been wanting to do that years ago and totally forgot. And I *love* the Mighty Slims!!! I can't believe I missed them! Next time!

Never in a million years would you talk me into this! I just had 3 MRIs in the space of a month. One of them took over an hour! I've used up all my coping skills for a lifetime with that, so there is no chance of me trying a deprivation tank :-).

I've wanted to try sensory depo for a long time, but never did. Maybe some day!

Oh wow, that's so interesting! I'm not sure I could handle it, but it's certainly intriguing.

I've been wanting to try one of those for so long! The closest I've been able to come is shutting myself into one of our sound booths at work (in the audiology clinic). It, at least, makes all of the sound go away which is fantastic.

Oooh, coolness... I always wanted to try this but had forgotten about it for a while. Have now found a float centre near me and fully intend to go check it out. (I mean, since Elfbaby is still not allowing me more than 4 hours uninterrupted sleep and all, getting my rest concentrated in a 1hr dose sounds like a winner!)

Hmmmmm, I don't know about this. Reading it at first had me twitching. But I am a big girl and perhaps I could do this. But only if I knew I could have a glass of wine after.

wow this sounds relaxing but it would be too closed in for me. I read that in my home town Berlin they have a spa called Liquidrome that offers this pool and underwater music. http://www.liquidrom-berlin.de/de/
I will check it out on a future trip.

Holy crap...lesbian rockabilly! I LOVE it (my husband loves it,too!). I've watched that video MORE than 13 times - great song, great singing, great guitar!

Wow -- I had forgotten about flotation. THey used to have a place in Vancouver about 20+ years ago called The Bodhi Tree -- I tried it a couple of times when I was in university. Eerie, but I enjoyed it. I also went once when I had a migraine that I couldn't clear up with painkillers, etc. I did a float + shiatsu massage (OUCH) -- headache was gone.

Hmmmm. Wonder if I could skip the sensory deprivation part and just rub epsom salts into my temples when I'm working on a migraine?

Or soak in a bathtub full of the stuff?

Like several others who've posted, I didn't realize I was claustrophobic until I had to do an MRI several years back in one of those full-body tube things. For an hour. I freaked about halfway through and had to get out; then they started all over again once I calmed down. ::shuddering just thinking about it::

But I need to find some way to work in the magnesium if that can help.

Other suggestions, anyone?

You are a much stronger woman that I. I can't even do aquariums without slightly panicking.

My first thought was, Oh, serious dose of magnesium, cool, that should kick her migraine. I'd rather do mag in a deep bathtub with a romance novel, candles, and good music. Don't much need sensory dep after the years of not being able to see right -- btdt, though having a choice about it does give it a different slant.

Epsom salts are a great way to jack up the mag -- standard treatment here. If you exfoliate your legs a bit at the same time, I think it increases the intake level. Are you taking mag citrate capsules? Couldn't live without them, really truly.

Like the hair. Really loved your pure platinum blond look -- you're going to look great when you go white!

Did you have the platinum silver colored into your hair? I tried going "natural" when I was 50, but wasn't quite gray enough to look sexy (like some of the beautiful gray-heads I see). Now that I'm 13 years older, maybe I'll try again - well no, maybe not. I'd look so OLD! But the platinum silver looks like an intriguing idea to take to my colorist. Maybe my hair would look fantastic this time around - and my wrinkles would match the gray. LOL.

I have this weird fear that I would accidentally pee while I was in the sensory deprivation tank. OH MY GOD I CAN'T BELIEVE I JUST ADMITTED THAT.

Love the hair coloring! I've got to find out more about that platinum silver idea--I've been struggling with whether to color my (quickly graying) (long) hair, but I didn't want all the gray out, nor do I want to get in a situation where if I miss an appointment I'll look absurd and badger-y. Maybe this is the answer? Thanks if so!

Soaking in an Epsom Salt bath is one of the most effective means of making the magnesium your body needs readily available.

Can you do a five minute session? Baby steps, man. I need baby steps.

Isn't it a fabulous/weird sensation? my friend Allison owns Float in Oakland, which has a different sort of ambience (it's also an art gallery) but the floatation experience is the same wherever you go. It's kinda cool that this is back again - I first did this in the early eighties, then the places kind of disappeared. Maybe people are more ready for it now!

Oh, I had forgotten about floating - I did it several times about 25 years ago. I'll have to find a place to do it in Madison now that I've moved up here. I really liked it a lot!

Tee hee! I was picturing you without your teeth, and then you putting them back in again--! (Cf. opening paragraph.) Ho ho ho, hee hee hee--! *** I think you are going to have wonderful, regal "mature" hair, like your Mom, one day (well, longer than that!) *** Orlando! How exciting! I just gave another copy of your book as a present...with two little cotton balls (for ears, for some of the language) and a little fan made from pleated paper (for steamy scenes)...this recipient is a bit (understatement) conservative, but I think she'll like the book, once she gets into it. *** Floatation...where was that when two boys were in their teens?! I went canoeing on Mono Lake, which has 2 1/2 times the salt concentration of the ocean...it was completely the opposite of sensory deprivation...tufa towers...tufas forming, with little bubbles where fresh water encountered salt as it entered the lake...nesting ospreys...tufa formations mirrored on the ultra calm, glassy lake surface...gulls running along the shore with mouths open, capturing alkalai flies...dreams of ordering one of those pokeboats advertised in the New Yorker...or maybe getting an inner tube....Keep enjoying Life!

Holy COW. I wasn't sure I could do this before, and now I'm really not sure! I can see myself doing the "ohohohoheeeeeeeYAHHHHH GET ME OUT OF HERE!" thing.

Or maybe not. I am quite a fan of sleeping (and SO close to the Oakland Float place).

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