I went floating last night and it was a crazy experience. No, it wasn't a psychedelic one, I didn't meet a celestial being or past ancestors, but I was able to inhale, exhale, and be with myself.
I try to practice meditation regularly, but I know I need to recognize my present moment more. It's a challenge and hasn't come easy to me. But I'm not giving up on finding my zen state of mind.
I went to The Float Place in Patchogue, NY, but there are floating spas all over! Float tank mediation is known for its incredible benefits, including, but not limited to, mental clarity, physical relaxation, and anxiety and depression relief. The sensory deprivation tank filled with a thousand pounds of Epsom salt is the ideal environment to just let go and find your happy place.
The idea of being alone in a dark small space can sound terrifying but don't worry, I got you.
Here's your floating 101:
The first 10-15 minutes will feel like forever
Who knows what I was doing the first handful of minutes because it took some time for me to get comfortable in the pod. I honestly didn't know if I was going to survive the full 90-minute session!
Your neck may ache
I had no idea this would happen, but your head wants to be supported and your muscles don't understand that they are floating. I was given a thin foam pillow to help relieve neck tension. It also helps to focus on your body awareness. Tense up all your muscles, breathe in, hold your breath, and release all the tension.
If you have a cut or two on your body, make sure to cover it up with some vaseline and a band-aid before the salty waters get to it.
Don't come in with crazy expectations
I'm telling you right now, you're not going to be an enlightened Buddha.
If you didn't know, salt stings your eyes
If you need to itch, make sure to wipe your hands with a clean, dry towel before rubbing your face.
It's a little intimidating, but try to relax and use a visualization practice
You're in a pitch-dark, confined space with you and only you. There are no distractions from the outside world, so if you're as anxious as I am, this can be a little freaky. Focus on visualizing your happy place. An even better technique is to visualize a color or bright light, which will help you hone in on the present moment.
Put your arms over your head
Trust me, you won't regret it.
You can hear yourself blink and maybe even your heartbeat
I kept blinking just so I could hear the motion.
It's dark, like really dark
I had my eyes closed for most of the experience, but if they were open, I would only see darkness.
The time apart from the world will feel different
It could be refreshing, lonely, or peaceful depending on how you take it, but, at the end of the day, it'll feel different.
Remember two words: inhale & exhale
Focus on your breath to help you get into a meditative state of mind and focus on the now.
Do not shave the day before
Salt and your freshly shaven skin are not a match made in heaven.
You may get a little sea sick
There's a chance you can feel a little knocked around afterwards, but those feelings will pass once you're out of the tank.
Bring a journal so you can write about your experience, thoughts, and feelings afterwards
After my session, I was invited to a calming room that had coloring books, journals, color therapy glasses, and more. These were great tools I used to help decompress and gather up my thoughts.
It takes practice
Like meditation, floating takes practice. You may not feel its beneficial effects the first time around, but with time, you will master it.