So, under the heading of “doing something new”, I went for a “float”.
No, not the ice cream and soda variety, but rather the sensory deprivation kind, where you get to step away from your physical body and really let go. This involves being inside a pod with 11 inches of highly-salinated water (buoyancy guaranteed, folks) that is warmed to body temperature. Whatever happens in there, is up to you. Some people rest, some people meditate, some people restore their body from physical pain, and others just let the journey take them–I didn’t have an agenda, I just wanted to see what it was like, so off I went to the newly opened Floatlife in Calgary.
I did all necessary pre-pod things, and climbed in. I became aware of needing to trust the water to hold me up, trust the earplugs to stay in my ears, trust the dark space to be a safe one, and trust through a few irrational fears (which I truly can’t remember). After that, I became aware of my body. Where was I tensing, guarding, holding? Could I let go? Yes, and then there was more letting go after that.
So there I was, after some time—mind quiet, body soft and floating–now what? oh, there’s that damn mind again, “go away please, I do not need to think about groceries right now. I am allowed to have empty space“. so I focused on my breath, and allowed that there was nothing else that I needed to do, but be present to this quiet space. Really, do I deserve to do only this, just this?
In hindsight, I am aware of waves of consciousness, and then waves of being very far away from my body. Then I was gone. No worries of water in my mouth (which wouldn’t happen anyway), no worries of “jeez will I slip away and stay gone all day (which also wouldn’t happen). No thoughts at all, just images, “dreams” and a feeling of expansion which had me forget that I was inside a pod, about the size of a double bed (but taller). there was only expansion—and at times, the sensation of being a human gyro and cartwheeling through infinity. Yes, all the while I am inside the pod.
As I came back to my body, I couldn’t feel it, it was like I had become the water in the pod and beyond, like I had no definition–I was one with everything. Then my brain kicks in “where are your legs? Did you leave them somewhere? Why is one leg longer than the other and sticking out of the tank? (nope, that wasn’t real either). “Mind, you are not helping me here, there is nothing wrong. The body is fine. Relax.”
So, my mind trundles off to see what other kind of trouble it can get into, and I am aware that this pod is like a womb. I am a full grown person, who is weightless inside a womb. I find this quite cool, and sit with that. “What if…I were to be reborn, fresh and pure, what would I do?” I never answered this question, as my mind had clearly gone snorkeling, or was trying to squeeze it’s way through the pod door “since it wasn’t needed here anyway”.
Slowly I become aware that I have a body and it’s boundaries are recombobulating. I became familiar to myself again, and while I had a delicious vacation from my physical existence, I was acutely struck by how much gremlin dialogue is woven into my thinking. Not until I removed my brain from the equation (the place the gremlins hide), were their thought streams and distracting behavior so glaringly obvious.
I look forward to my next float, and can see a value both (restorative and emotional), from getting out of my skin body as much as possible.
PS: I learned that float selfies should be taken beforehand. The camera and the room are damp afterwards!