Feeling nervous before my first time
When I arrived I didn’t know what to expect from my first time floating. I felt trepidation, but also excitement.
The guy behind the counter spoke in a soft calm voice, and I felt my whirling mind spin down to engage with this placid individual. Wow, even just talking with the staff is a relaxing experience! This bodes well.
I took a comfy seat and looked around. It was beautiful, with the vibe of a luxury spa, the lighting low and indirect.
I read the short guide I had been given, and filled in a form. I knew enough about the physics of the situation to be sure I wouldn’t sink or drown if I fell asleep, but as I completed the form some anxiety began to return. Would I feel claustrophobic? Was this safe? What was going to happen to me in there?
I was given a towel, and led through to my own private float room. A clean, lockable room all to myself, with a shower in the corner and the floatation pod at the centre.
The pod was like something from a science-fiction film. It was shaped like a egg sliced down the middle and laid on the flat side. The top was half open like the hatch of a UFO, glowing with a soft light. When I saw it my excitement began to outstrip my first time nerves – this thing was a spaceship for inner space!
The float commences
The guy talked me through everything in his gentle voice, and the anxiety ebbed away. He left me to it with a smile and bade me good floating. I was alone. I used the toilet, put in the earplugs, got undressed and took a shower. Naked and dripping, I stepped into the pod.
The buoyancy of the shallow water was surprising. I sat down, and lay back gingerly. The Epsom salt made the warm water feel thick and silky against the skin. Music was playing softly. I really was floating!
It took a little while to relax my neck and allow the buoyancy to take it. My body didn’t quite trust it would support the weight of my head. But of course, it did. The water lapped gently against the sides of my body. I pressed the button and the door lowered down to close with a gentle bump.
The inside of the pod curved up over me, the top about a metre above my head. A brief pulse of alarm went through me. Hang on a second, I’ll just make sure… I pressed the button again, and the door rose in a reassuringly prompt way.
The pod once again closed, I floated amid the distant lowing of whales, until it faded away and I was ready to turn off the light.
Complete absence of stimuli
The darkness was complete. I couldn’t tell any difference between open and closed eyes. Listening, I suddenly noticed the sound of my breathing, the beat of my heart. I stretched and wriggled. The clicks of my joints seemed loud in the silence. I took a deep breath. All at once was aware of the tension I was holding in my muscles. Noticing it, I realised I could let go of it, and relaxed into the sensation of being supported by the water.
My breathing slowed, and as a result my heartbeat slowed. My belly gurgled. I kept noticing little tensions around my body. Just bringing my awareness to them seemed to melt them away.
Whoa, what was that against my fingers? Oh, just the side of the pod. I must have drifted…
The relaxation of my body grew deeper. Soon all was still, I forgot about my body, and was alone with my thoughts. They just kept going on! How long have I been in here? Things I was concerned about went around and around and around…
but eventually… they just kind of… ran out of steam…
There was peace
This was new to me. It’s hard to render the experience into language. There was nothing. Then a gentle reverie. A delicate dream. A calm, confident quietude. Boundless, placid contentment…
There was peace. Then there was something. What’s that? Music? Ah yes, here I am. In a floatation pod. Was I asleep? I don’t know. How long ago was that last thought? I don’t know.
Slowly sitting up, I opened the pod and stood. I had sea-legs. Gravity felt squidgy as I crossed to the shower. Everything seemed to be in high-definition. I heard every individual drop of water hitting the floor. It was the first shower I was truly present for. Hot water pattering on the skin… had I ever actually felt it before? The wondrous scent of the essential oils in the body wash was almost overwhelming.
I dressed slowly. The few thoughts I had ambled through my mind like affable friends. I drank some water. Such sweet nectar! Every sensory input was a delicious new morsel crafted just for me by a Michelin starred chef. I felt refreshed, my body supple and comfortable. I strolled out onto the street, and into a different world. It felt good to be alive.