There I was, about to embark on a small adventure, and what was running through my head? A line from Stephen King’s IT.
“We all float down here…”
Fortunately, there were no red balloons or clowns to be had. What I did end up with was a euphoric feeling that gave me a brighter outlook on things happening in my life, a reduction of pain, and seventy-minutes of being totally left alone: no phone, Facebook, Twitter, laptop, or any other distractions.
What was my adventure? Floating!
For seventy-minutes I found myself in a float tank, or sensory-deprivation tank. It was blissful.
When I first heard about The Float Spa and their float take my mind took me back to the movie Altered States. I had visions of me regressing to some lesser form of life. I thought that I might just come out of there either a slug or with some supernatural powers beyond
anything known to man. But that wasn’t it at all!
“A sensory-deprivation tank is a combination of elements,” says Roberto.
In this case, it is a chamber filled with water, heated to body temperature, and a lot of pharmaceutical Epsom salt. The salt allows you to float. The temperature of the water allows you to forget just where you are.
“It’s a unique experience to help the mind and body reset, in a way,” he said. “Essentially what it does, it allows the brain to shut down the regions that are normally responsible for interpreting external data, such as auditory, visual, and sensory.”
What it does then is allow other parts of the brain to work more fully. You may not notice it right away because you’ll still be thinking about your next appointment, what text messages you might be missing, or what you may want to make for dinner. However, those thoughts begin to drift away.
“All day we are bombarded with stress, kids, bills, just life in general,” says Roberto, a registered nurse. “Even when you go to lay to rest at night, your body is still processing a lot of information.”
What the float tank does is shut all those things out.
There is no sound, other than your breathing and heartbeat. Even those, after the first few moments, begin to fade away. There is no light, though you may imagine some leaking through the edges of the door or coming from the top of the tank. That’s just your mind playing tricks on you, trying to hold on to what’s outside that door I think.
So just how does a session in a float tank work?
The first thing you do, Roberto told me, is you take a shower, to rinse off the day. You don’t want to go in with conditioner in your hair, or the muck from outside that has managed to cling to you. You rinse that all off.
Then, you get into the tank.
“Straight from the shower you go right to the tank,” he says. That tank, which they’ve named Nova, is so amazing!
I’ve always been able to shut my mind and the outside world out. That’s something I’ve been able to do since I was in Middle School. For me, it was a way to get away from the teasing I was subjected to at Charles Middle School.
Nova, the float tank, takes this to a whole other level.
You are there, first getting into the water, as the lights start to fade. You wonder, you worry that you might sink under the water, but it quickly holds you in its embrace, and you are floating.
As you settle, the next thing you may have to contend with is your mind. You will more than likely have thoughts, as I already mentioned, about the day, what’s left to do, or what must be done tomorrow. But as you let go, as you focus on your breath, even those thoughts will begin to fade away.
They slip away, and you are suddenly left with nothing and nowhere.
For me, that nothing and nowhere has always been hard to achieve. It’s not easy forgetting everything, no matter how good you are at meditation, or shutting the world out; it eventually finds its way back in.
Floating shuts that out entirely.
I did ask Roberto what others said about their experience in the tank. In the end, I think I will tell you my experience while in the tank, and when I stepped out.
After I settled, after I stopped moving up and down with the water I suddenly felt as if I were in a womb. I know, stop rolling your eyes, that’s just how I felt. Even that was only a passing thought. As my heartbeat began to fade, I suddenly felt nothing. I was in the most peaceful of places one could imagine.
After only G-d knows I suddenly heard a bunch of cracking sounds, popping. If you’ve been to a chiropractor, then you know what I am talking about with the popping sound. Simply put, that popping sound is called cavitation; the release of gas that makes the popping sound.
Then, as suddenly as it happened, it was quiet again. I could hear my breathing. My heartbeat could be heard again. Then, even those faded away for a second time.
The peace I felt, the solitude, the absolute quiet was amazing. I couldn’t hear or feel anything. Yep, even the feeling of the water began to fade away. It was amazing.
Near the end of the session, I could hear Nova start speaking to me again, telling me that the session was over. The lights slowly came bake up, and I didn’t want to move or leave. I was ready to fight that machine tooth and the circuit board to stay there.
I slowly stood up.
(Author’s note: I did have a GoPro with me the whole time. In the video of Roberto telling us what a float tank and sauna they have is and our conversation after my float, I was going to share me coming out of the tank. After seeing the GoPro video, I thought I would spare you)
Standing up was a whole other affair altogether. I felt as if I had never used my legs before. I thought that this is what it must have been like, when I was just a little guy, standing up for the first time. I felt as if I weighed nothing. It was amazing.
Something else that hit me was the lack of pain. There was zero pain for the first time in a very long time. For me, that was something I’ve not experienced in years!
By way of explanation, for the pain, I have been undergoing one medical test after another for the last couple of years. I have this unending pain, and ever progressing stiffness from the feet to my waist. This seventy-minute session in the float take put a momentary end to my pain.
Then there was the big one. When I stepped out of Nova, I felt drunk, high and elated all at the same time. I felt brand new. I wonder if I was capable of such thoughts when I was born if this is what it felt like, coming into the world for the first time. Still, that is exactly how I felt.
I plan to go back, to float again and again. To have that pain dissipate, and it didn’t come back, full force, until the next day. To be able to shut to shut the world out. It’s amazing!
They also have a UV sauna. I’ve not tried it, but Roberto says it’s a workout! I plan to try that next week. Maybe I’ll share that with you as well.
Oh, wow! I just noticed I am almost fourteen-hundred words into this and I’ve given very little time to Roberto! But the float tank, Nova! I don’t know what you are doing, or what your plans are, but you need to get down there and try this out! Really.
If you want to try it, the Float Spa is offering readers of the El Paso Herald-Post ten percent (10%) off their first session. Hey, why not, go and give it a try, and let me know about your experience.