So last month I went to a float spa for the first time and promised I’d give you a follow-up when I went back and that time is now!
I went back to the same spa I went to the first time and the staff was slightly different this time so I was a bit more comfortable. I am not a “spa” person, a “tanning” person, a “nails” or “hair” person and I could tell by looking around me the normal clientelle is into all that. I am a grubby-fingernail, just-in-from-outdoors, sweatpants-not-hot-yogapants, haircut-once-a-year sort of person so going into any manner of spa was nerve-wracking for me and I was glad to leave and get back to the familiar dog hair lined seats of my car. Going back a seocnd time was not a big deal- like I said, different staff and this time I knew the layout and walked in confidently with an inch of crud under my nails leftover from the morning’s gardening.
I showered and got ready for my float in record time (though honestly, I would pay to have an hour’s hot uninterrupted shower no question) and remembered the halo to put around my head to float with. Now, the first time I did this I was shocked by the amount of pain I started out with. Floating in salt water is not supposed to be painful and frankly I couldn’t have even parsed out in my head how that would work but my body tensed up so badly in my neck and shoulders that without the foam halo around my head keeping my neck steady, I thought I was going to have to leave the pod. Now once i got straightened out it was fine and this time I remembered to just put the halo on first and then of course I was amazed at the absence of pain altogether.
I’ve read accounts of people floating in isolation tanks who weren’t able to tell if they were awake or asleep, or weren’t able to tell if they were floating. The first float wasn’t like that for me. I think i was concentrating on staying afloat when in actuality you’ll float whether you’re trying or not because there is that much salt in the water. But I was occupied with keeping my limbs from touching the sides and it interrupted the calm state here and there. This time because I had that halo on from the get-go my body just straightened out like it was supposed to and that freed my brain up to not focus on it.
For the repeat visit I felt bold enough to put the lid down on the pod to really shut out the light because last time the pinprick of light from the EXIT sign kept me focused on closing my eyes to shut it out and though I knew any stimulus is to be avoided when you float, I didn’t think it was THAT big of a deal. Besides, my actual hangup with the lid had to do with temperature. The water was not quite hot enough to poach my backside but definitely in the over-easy range and the room itself was near sauna-warmth. I thought if I closed the lid I’d pass right out in the water. But I reasoned everybody else did it and since this wasn’t jumping off a bridge or anything, I closed the lid and shut out that pinprick of light because as it turned out,
It was that big of a deal.
I was nervous of hearing something this time around. If you’ll recall, hearing some man say “hello” very clearly in my right ear almost had me jump up naked right out of there and I was sort of curious to hear more and sort of hoping it didn’t. Well, it didn’t and I’m a little disappointed. But while I was floating correctly this time I did in fact lose sensation of my limbs, not in the sense that they went numb. When your limbs go numb they get heavy and they flop when you try to use them. This was more a loss of sense that they existed, as if I didn’t in with them attached to begin with. I suppose one would say that rather than my limbs disconnected from me, I more melted into my surroundings with no perception at all of the sides or bottom or top of the pod. And that’s a little far-out.
Because the brain doesn’t have any outside stimulus, it gets busy inside which is why people often will see lines, shapes, movements in the dark when floating. In my first float I saw some definte images as if on a tv screen- eyes, people, etc. There wasn’t so much of that this time, a few pairs of very clear eyes, a couple of dogs. What I did see most definitely was nothing. I’m talking nothing as in naught, not there, an all-encompassing zero. Have you ever been in the basement during an electrical outage and you’re fumbling around for a fusebox with no torch? When you look out you see nothing but dark but you get this sense of something there- a wall, a pile of boxes, the stairs. There’s a “weight” to the darkness your eye can almost feel right across the iris.
With the actual light, even that tiny, tiny bit, doused, all the weight of what I was seeing disappeared into total nothingness. I suddenly couldn’t determine if my eyes were shut or open, if I was seeing or not. Several times I looked to the side, willed myself to blink just to make sure and the drifted back off. And this made me later muse if that is what being totally blind must feel like, to be unaware of anything from the eyes at all rather than to simply exist in a sort of visual darkness or dimming of reality. It was a very odd but not unpleasant sensation that I’d like to try again.
At some point I fell asleep, though not as I usually do with a gradual awareness of sleepiness and mental slowing down but rather I wasn’t aware any shift of conciousness had happened until I received a physical sign. When I fall asleep normally my body twitches anywhere from a light jiggle to a full-on thrash and my husband and I argue all the time about whether I “just twitched” or not. While I can certainly feel the thrashing because it jerks me into a full state of wakefulness, I’ve never been able to perceive the finer twitching and always thought he was pulling my leg about that. Turns out he was right- as I slipped into sleep my body “twitched” causing the water to ripple sharply around me!
Logically I couldn’t have been asleep for more than a couple of minutes at most but I did dream during that short period and was aware that I was dreaming with the sense that I wanted to wake and was more or less wasting time looking for a lost dog until the end of the dream. I do have lucid dreams on occasion and that’s usually the point where I want it to “hurry up” so I can get back to my life. I’m sort of an inpatient dreamer.
At the end of the session I showered again and this time did avail myself of some oxygen in the outer spa area. I felt a little tense with this- if you’ve had a lot of hosptial visits putting a canula in may be a little troubling- I’m really not keen on that. There was a choice of several different scented oxygen treatments and I went with Lavender. I suppose the idea is to relax by smelling essential oils in the air but I really didn’t enjoy it much and became dizzy after a few minutes. Guess I’m just not a “spa” person after all; my fellow floaters were all chatting happily to each other filling out their dream journals in their hot-yoga pants while I was pulling the tubing out of my nose trying not to fall over.
That’s ok. I do see myself going back at some point to unwind in the coming months, possibly at a closer spa. If you’ve tried floating and have had a cool experience leave a comment!