Yesterday, I floated for the first time. My Instagram post said I was nervous + excited, or nercited, and I definitely was.
What is floating, you ask? Well, basically, you float in a pod suspended by the density of 200 gallons salt water. For an hour.
There are many benefits associated with floating, but the big one is relaxation. Sensory deprivation and gravity reduction allow the body to release effort from both body and mind, reducing the typical "fight or flight" responses of our nervous system and allowing the body to do the work of resting, recuperating, and healing anything that needs attention.
I do (and teach) a lot of yoga, plus I meditate (occasionally, let's be honest) so you can see why I was excited about floating. It sounded like a wonderful enhancement to the mindfulness and wellness practices I already have in place. Also, Buoyant Float Spa just opened in Chesterfield Valley, and I love love love to support other locally-owned businesses, especially wellness businesses, so I was motivated. Oh, and the owner had given me a coupon, which didn't hurt.
But I was more nervous than excited and here's why. First, I'm a little bit claustrophobic, and the thought of being enclosed in a dark pod for an hour was more than a little scary. Second, being quiet and still for 60 whole minutes sounded pretty intimidating. Finally, I really really don't like to be naked. Except in very very specific circumstances (wink wink nudge nudge say no more), and this wasn't one of them. But yoga, meditation, local business, right? I had to try.
Buoyant is a gorgeous facility with a fantastic and helpful, encouraging staff. Highly recommend. I'm including some photos that show their beautiful lobby and changing rooms and the float rooms themselves, which include showers for before and after you float. They have literally thought of every detail to make your float enjoyable. I felt highly pampered.
Now, for the float itself. Just by way of background, as you shower, your pod fills up with warm salt water, and little lights come on in the pod. And nice relaxing music. Then you step in and close the pod a little or a lot (as we say in yoga class). You can keep it all the way open, but I was advised that you might get chilly (part of your body is floating above the water), so it's best to close it part/most of the way, leaving a little crack if, like me, you're claustrophobic or have previously been buried alive and have reasonable fears about this sort of thing. So that's what I did. I was floating away, getting comfortable (there are a couple of "props" for lack of a better term to support the neck and keep water from getting in your ears, that have to be adjusted), but still a little nervous about the next 60 minutes.
After 5 minutes, the music stops and all the lights go out; you are plunged into darkness and silence. This is the sensory deprivation part, right? This is what we're here for. Well, I'm not gonna lie, that threw me into a major panic. Not enough to push the panic button inside the pod (yes, they have one of those), but enough to lift the door of the pod so that it was most of the way open. The motion of which turned on all the lights in the room. Which was great because now I wasn't panicked about the darkness and being enclosed in a pod. But less great because I was definitely not relaxing with the bright lights and such.
(psst: I know this lady from the Buoyant website is wearing a bathing suit but that's not how it actually goes down)
I knew (they had told me all of this in my thorough pre-float talk) that it would take 5 minutes for the lights to go back off. At this point I thought it might be best if I just showered, dressed, and left; this didn't seem to be for me. But then a couple other aspects of my personality kicked in, including the fearless person who occasionally shows herself and the more frequently seen "pleaser" who kept thinking how embarrassing it would be to leave and how it might make the staff and owner feel bad. So I stayed.
I made a deal with myself. I decided that I would sit (not even float on my back) there with the door as wide open as I needed it until I felt calm enough to close the door more and (maybe, possibly) lie down and try floating again. I sat there for a few minutes with the lights on, then sat there for a few more with the lights off, then lowered the lid to the pod a little, then a little more (still sitting), then finally laid back and....floated! For pretty much the whole time!
I did get out like 3 minutes early, but I'm giving myself credit for the whole float. In the end, it was very relaxing, and I know it will be way more relaxing the next time I do it (yep, I'm going back). I don't know if I actually fell asleep, but if I didn't it was at least like that wonderful feeling you get at the end of a yoga class in savasana. And they didn't mention this in the brochure, but for me I had a very creative outcome. I exited the pod with 3 new (and exciting) ideas I hadn't even been thinking about before I went in. Kind of wild.
If you're into relaxation, self care, overcoming fears, being naked, or supporting a great new local business, I'm kind of thinking you should give Buoyant Float Spa a try. They have a nice Buy 2 Get 1 Free introductory offer, which I do recommend because I think you need to do it more than once to really reap all the benefits (and figure out how the earplugs work). When you're done, come see me and we'll compare notes.