There is nothing quite like a pot of tea and Sunday morning! This morning’s pot is Red Velvet Cake from David’sTea in Canada. What is not to love about a black tea that includes beet root powder and chocolate?
Last weekend I came across an article from the Baltimore Sun about a sensory deprivation tank in Baltimore. I’ve toyed with sensory deprivation but never to the level achieved by floating in a deprivation tank. I knew right away that I had to do it and scheduled three, 90 minute sessions – one each week for three weeks.
The reason I was so excited about the experience is due to my recent clarity around where I am at this moment of my spiritual path. The messages I’ve received have been loud and clear, “Go inward!”
I’ve signed up for my first seven day silent meditation retreat in late February. While I’ve attended many meditation retreats before, an extended silent retreat is something I’ve wanted to do for a long time, and everything has fallen into place perfectly for me to attend. Friends were interested in joining me but it turns out I’m going on my own and frankly, I’m happy it’s turned out that way. The thought of being silent (and this includes no reading or journaling) for seven days is exciting and frightful. To be with my thoughts – only my thoughts – for seven days? So I thought the floating experience might be a way to gently ease myself into the process.
I admit I was giddy with anticipation all day yesterday! Of course I had no idea what might (or might not) happen at Be-Free-Floating but I was anxious and at the same time, mindful of any expectations or desires that might get in my way.
The business is only 3 miles from where I live but it’s an area of town that I’m not familiar with. I was happy that my appointment was scheduled in the daylight hours, although it would end at night. It would be easy to drive by without even noticing Be Free.
When I arrived a man who had just completed a float was talking to the technician on duty, Twig, about his experience. I didn’t want to hear about it as I become easily distracted by expectations. I looked about the room, warm and cozy with bookshelves, a wood stove, and comfy chairs. When it was time, Twig took me into the float room and explained the process – everything from the mechanics to showering and cleanliness, to tips for a pleasant float.
I have to admit that there was a small voice of fear when I looked at the float chamber which is liken to a coffin containing 10 inches of water kept at body temperature and loaded with epsom salts. It was a little intimidating at first. And when I opened the door it was black – very black – and more intimidating. But the room itself was a nice purple glow (colors are easily changed by the floater) and the room itself was lovely. I reminded myself that I was safe and had nothing to fear. I shared that I’ve experienced some levels of sensory deprivation before so I felt confident any fear would pass if I stayed centered with my intention which was to give my higher self the opportunity to experience itself without distraction of my physical body or surroundings. At the very least, I was giving my self 90 minutes to turn off the noise in my head.
After my shower I walked into the chamber and sat with the door open. Once inside, I could easily see my surroundings and used my hands to feel around the tank. I’ve always had a fear of something in the water – lake, pond, ocean, swimming pool – you name it. So looking and feeling around while I could still see was important for my comfort. I noticed the heaviness of the salt water and the buoyancy of my hands by my side. Once satisfied, I closed the door and relaxed into Savasana.
My body felt relaxed but at the same time, my head felt very heavy and my shoulders felt like they were up to my ears. I thought that maybe I wasn’t relaxed enough so I took a deep breath in and exhaled slowly while dropping further into deep relaxation. I stretched my body out and relaxed it again. I find it very easy to relax my body but I experienced this feeling with my head for most of the float. [While I’m not sure what brought about the experience, I did have several cups of hot tea – caffeinated – in the morning. Perhaps my body still had the caffeine coursing through it’s veins.]
It was only natural for me to silently recite mantras in the same way that I do during some meditations. I did this while also adjusting to my new state of being… feeling a waft of cool air from the fan, touching the side of the chamber, and using my pinky to push me away. At one point I wondered if my eyes were opened or closed. I really couldn’t tell and decided it didn’t matter.
At the beginning of my session, Twig explained that I had some extra time and asked if I’d like to go longer than 90 minutes. I answered of course and honestly, I’m not sure how long I floated.
I found myself releasing the need for words – I could not repeat mantras. I noticed that without any conscious movement on my part, my body was moving, rhythmically. I felt a burn in my left shoulder and remembered my intention to heal that area of my body. The burn was sharp and quick and I wanted to move my arm but felt like I needed to remain still. For a moment, I felt as though my body was being gently manipulated as it had been many years ago when I experienced a salt water massage in Italy.
At some point the senses of my body stopped and I heard my heart beat. It was a beautiful and glorious sound to hear as I felt my heart expand and fill with love. For a short time it felt as though that which is I expanded beyond the body yet still within the tank. And then suddenly, I became very aware of my body and the heaviness of it’s head. I searched for my heart beat but it was gone. I stretched, took a deep breath, then relaxed. Then, as Twig shared that I would, I heard the filtration turn on, indicating it was time to get out. Only it didn’t turn on…
I have no idea what I heard. It wasn’t very loud and honestly, I wasn’t sure it was the filtration system. I sat up and opened the door to listen and heard the low buzz so I decided it must not be as loud at the end of a session, as it was during Twig’s demonstration. I decided to get out and while taking my shower, realized I didn’t hear anything. After I dressed I returned to Twig and discovered that my time had not been up. I probably floated for about 105 minutes (or so). I began to judge myself for getting out before time was up and decided instead to be grateful for the experience. Besides, I just floated for the first time, for almost two hours!
I am already excited about my next float (next Saturday). I’m going to engage in more physical activity this week – I might even get a massage. I don’t feel I relaxed as much as is possible and I don’t know if that is physical, mental, emotional, or all of the above. I do know that the experience was amazing and a true gift to myself. I feel grateful and loved.