I respected their no cellphone policy and refrained from taking any pictures during my float. This image was taken from the Mindful Elevation Float Space facebook page.
I'm just going to come right out and say it; I have anxiety. I've had anxiety for as long as I can remember. As a child, I would obsess why my mom was five minutes late coming home from work. I would imagine all the horrible things that could have happened to her and every single time she would come home and have a much more sensible reason, she stopped at the grocery store, her meeting ran late etc.
Now as a married mother of four, I do the same thing to my husband and children. I struggle to rationalize my thoughts when it comes to their safety. I obsess about all the bad things that could possibly happen to the point of making my self sick with worry. I find it incredibly hard to relax and the idea of being alone with my thoughts is actually pretty stressful.
Two years ago I took a mindfulness course in an attempt to learn how to quite my mind. I learned a lot in this course but one of the things that really stuck out to me was meditation and quieting my mind. As I previously stated this is a scary idea for me but I figured you need to get to the root of an injury to fix it and anxiety is my injury.
I tried everything they suggested; a quiet walk alone in the woods, meditation classes, nothing seemed to work because I couldn't stop thinking. In the woods, I would imagine a bear sneaking up on me, in a classroom setting I thought about all the people around me and how there was only one exit. So I gave up the idea that I could learn to turn my anxiety off or even just get a break from it.
Then I met Steve & Jessica Dubeck owners of Mindful Elevation Float Space. I heard about float tanks a couple of times before, but it was always in reference to working out and recovery. Until I spoke with Steve and Jessica I wouldn't have connected the dots to use a float tank for meditation and stress relief. I was blown away with the knowledge they provided me during our conversation. But I was still a little cautious about taking the leap and actually getting into a tank.
I had many fears - hello anxiety. My biggest fear though was an hour alone in a dark room with my thoughts and no distractions. So I put off going.
Then a couple of weeks after our initial meeting Jessica reached out to me and presented me the opportunity to go for a float. I was actually in the truck with my husband coming home from a morning of fishing and bird watching and feeling pretty good about things. So I said yes, actually I said heck yes!
I got home and full on panic set in, I wanted to bail, I was making up excuses to tell her I had to pass up this opportunity. Then a little voice inside my head said: "Get over it and just do it!"
My appointment time was 8:30 am but they request you show up about half an hour early. I know this because I read and re-read the instruction email you get after booking thirteen times. Not because it was hard to understand but because I thought I would miss something and look like an idiot.
When I showed up for my appointment I was greeted, checked in and guided into their lounge area where I waited for the other people booked for 8:30 to show up. We all had orientation together and then were brought to our individual rooms.
They provide everything you need, towels, shampoo, soap, a bathrobe and a few things I didn't know I would need; like vaseline for any cuts (theirs a lot of Epson salts in the water which can sting) they also provide earplugs which helped block out some noise but also keep some of the salt out of your ear canal. Not to worry about that either because they provide a vinegar solution to rinse out any salt that may have got in your ear after your float.
You can control the music and lights once you're in the tank, I decided to turn off the music and float in complete quiet. This was definitely the wrong decision for me, I quickly started to get panicky and had to open the tank door to let some cool air in and regroup. I turned the music back on and closed the door then something pretty amazing happened; I had no thoughts. I didn't notice at first, that tends to happen when you're not thinking. But near the end of my float, I realized I didn't think or worry about anything for at least half an hour it's hard to tell the time in there so I'm not entirely sure about the accuracy. This is a huge deal for me, I meditated, I shut the world out and my brain had a second to recharge.
When I sensed my time was almost up I panicked a little bit because I completely forgot what I was told during orientation and couldn't remember what they said would happen when my time was up. I was pretty fearful that I would miss the "Q" and they'd have to come in and get me naked starfishing in the middle of the tank. Turns out its pretty obvious when your time is up a voice comes on the speakers and instructs you on the next step.
I was pretty thirsty after my float and was offered bottled water, tea or kombucha, I drank my water in a couple of gulps and floated out to book my husband in, so he could have the same experience.
After I got in my car I called my husband and he asked how it was and the only thing I could think to say was "I feel like a baby!" I didn't at the time know how to verbalize what I felt after some reflection I felt weightless and carefree that little bit of quiet meditation stripped my stress and worry away. I can't wait to go back for my next float; floating is definitely becoming a regular part of my self-care routine.