What does floating mean to me?
If I had to sum it up in a single word, it would be freedom.
I could talk about all the usual stuff – peace and quiet and taking time for myself and relaxing and achieving a deeper meditation – which is all fantastic and well worth doing, but that’s already well documented in all the literature about floating so I’d like to tell you about something a little different.
I have several permanent health conditions that all conspire to leave me fatigued, sometimes so badly it feels like even taking another breath is too much effort, and in pain. Skin pain, joint pain, bone pain, even hair pain.
Bits of me dislocate on a very regular basis, even bits that aren’t meant to dislocate. Moving is hard because I’m like a puppet without strings. I can’t trust my legs to hold me up or my hands to grip things and daily tasks are more difficult for me than they are for most people.
It’s exhausting, honestly.
But I manage. I count my blessings and I muddle through in my own way. I take gentle walks in the forest with my dogs, practice yoga and meditation every day, and try to remember not to push myself too hard. I can do most things that I want or need to do, even if they do take me longer than most people and I have to be careful doing them, and I am forever grateful for that.
In the flotation pod, though, everything changes.
In the flotation pod, I am free.
Nothing hurts. Nothing dislocates.
The mix of water and magnesium sulphate is so supportive that I’m able to move with no difficulties – I see a lot of people saying that floating is all about keeping still in the water and finding the same stillness in your mind, but for me it’s about movement and being able to move normally, in a way that I can’t in regular water. I can let go of my tendency to brace against possible injuries and just move.
I take some time, floating in the dark (always in the dark, in silence), to soak up how it feels to be free from pain. I let my breathing slow and deepen, listen to how my heartbeat slows along with it, calm and completely relaxed in a way I can’t achieve away from the pod.
And then I start to move. I feel the way my knees bend without creaking like a door in a haunted house; the way my head moves without my neck fizzing like a bowl of Rice Krispies; the way my back flexes without sharp cracks like gunshots. I have no idea where in the pod I am and giggle to myself when my gentle movements send me bumping against the edge.
When the music comes on to signal that the session is over, I start to get out immediately. The advice is to take it slowly and I’m slower than most people so I know I’m going to need some extra time. Getting in and out of the pod is easy because the water is so buoyant but I still like to take it steady – apart from everything else, it makes the transition back to ‘real life’ more gentle.
Afterwards, I take some time in the lounge and have a cuppa while reading one of the many books – I haven’t napped as yet but I’m pretty sure I will sometime because the whole experience is so relaxing. Shari and Will have created the most peaceful and welcoming environment; it’s a lovely space to spend an hour or so.
My pain levels are much reduced after a float and stay that way for around twenty four hours before they slowly start creeping back up again. I’m also much more energised, but in a calm way, not in that buzzy way that makes you want to do everything all at once, so I always make sure I have the rest of the day free to enjoy that feeling.
So that’s what floating means to me.