Life is a float…
Life inside a sensory deprivation chamber…Sounds awful doesn’t it…well read on to find out….
First developed in 1964 by John C. Lilly in 1954, he was a medical practitioner a neuropsychiatrist, he wanted to test the effects of sensory deprivation, the conclusion is that short term sensory deprivation can be very relaxing and induce a state similar to meditation. The term deprivation instills this image of losing out on something, however a regular one to two hour float invigorates the mind and body.
As a sufferer of chronic pain (Fibromyalgia), I wanted to test if I feel any benefits from a float. The room is slightly bigger than a bed and you are able to stand up inside. The water is heated to skin temperature and is loaded with Epsom salts. I am aware through research that the benefits happen the more you float, so because of this my blog will be ongoing and I cant imagine an immediate affect?
My Float experience
I was guided to what felt like a cocoon at the back of the salon, it felt warm and inviting. My host Jo explained what to expect from my float experience and the important measures like the insertion of ear plugs and application of Vaseline onto any small cuts that I may have to prevent stinging, for me this was not an issue as I imagined it would be like being in the sea and my experience has always been salt has helped my wounds to heal, I suffer with enough pain so slight stinging from cuts will not bother me, but it may others. She also advised that there was a neck pillow, but if possible, recommended not to use it.
I was going to float for an hour; admittedly I did wonder how I would manage a whole hour, doing nothing!
I stood under the huge showerhead, droplets of water bounced of my skin like hot tropical rain. Now ready to climb inside…. The Sensory Deprivation Room! The water was warm and didn’t travel far beyond my ankles, the light projected the feeling of a warm blue summers evening, with a starry sky shining down from above, all in all it felt quite cozy…Womb like, and not at all claustrophobic.
I sat down and started to lay back, it was a strange feeling as I bobbed to the top without control, the forces of nature pushing against my body, one of my first thoughts were ‘wow, I wish my bed felt like this’. Suffering with daily chronic pain, it felt so good to feel no pressure beneath me, it felt like warm fuzzy air wrapped around me.
The sound of tranquil music could be heard through my muffled ear plugged underwater hearing, It was hard to switch off, my thoughts were racing, I realised that I hadn’t dried my face, I lay for a while then started to worry about the possibility of salt dripping into my eyes, so I jump out of the tank to dry my face, back in again and I enjoy the sensation of the heat and the nothingness. A few moments later I start to think about my neck, remembering a friend had said that they found the strain difficult on their sore neck, in hindsight I wonder if I was just focusing on their experience rather than my own, despite this I did start to feel a crook in my neck, so back out of the tank and back in with pillow (my recommendation, take pillow in with you, just incase). This changed the alignment of my body so that my hearing was no longer muffled under water, for me this made me feel more concerned with the outside world so I decided to go without the pillow. With all this faffing around I was probably 15 minutes into my float, who knows, sense of time was lost, this is quite nice when you dare to let go!
By now the music had stopped, so I decided to turn the lights to truly experience sensory deprivation. At first the lack of sound proved difficult, as it was just my tinnitus and I, the noise screaming through my ears, I lay mindfully and connected with my breath, allowing myself to distract from the ringing.
With the focus on my breath and body I started to drift into a conscious state of sleep. Every now and then I could hear myself snore. What I did find is that when I really drifted off, my body would snap out of it, with a body twitch and my mind subconsciously saying, “don’t let go”. I believe however with subsequent floats, when my body and mind come to trust the experience, that this will not happen.
The occasional thought about time entered the chatter of my mind, “how long have I been here”, “how long is left”, but the further I got into my float experience the more I didn’t want it to end.
Laying there in a cosmos of nothingness and deep relaxation, the music began to play; this was the cue that my float was over. I start to stretch out my limbs and turn myself around to experience my environment from a different perspective; essentially I had a play in the water before it was over, my inner child surfacing.
I was amused that it was a small challenge to push my feet to the floor and sit up, the salt resisting against me having to leave.
I climbed out slowly and sat on the side for a few moments. Then back under the monsoon like shower. I washed my hair with wonderful smelling natural organic products, I wrapped a sarong around me and moseyed down to the sauna. With the beautiful smell of natural wood and a warm heat as though being in a Nordic forest on a hot summers day. I spent 10 minutes in there, by this point I felt truly pampered!
My overall experience was fantastic, and I am definitely going to continue with floating as I truly believe it will get better with time, after all its not often that I devote an hour to just me!!!
I did feel very tired after my experience, and a little low that afternoon, perhaps it allowed some difficult emotions to surface, so for the rest of the day, I continued to be kind to me, going at my own pace, resting where I could.
The following day I felt completely refreshed, after having a good relatively pain free sleep, the first in a while, and my anxiety levels were non-existent!
I will continue to blog my float experience to track my progress, both physically and mentally…check back in for float number two.
TO BE CONTINUED!
By Bonnie Elstar