My Stress Floats Away

I married an amazing man. He has supported every step of this Master’s journey, including my Learning Project about meditation. Shortly after my birthday in January he told me that he had a gift idea that went hand in hand with my Mindfulness project. He wouldn’t tell me what it was until I cleared a date in this crazy schedule.

My gift was a session at the Float House: a sensory deprivation and floatation center in downtown Victoria!

I had several friends reference the Simpsons episode prior to my visit to the Float House. The Simpsons did get one thing right: you will feel better after your floating session. I found far more helpful information online and from visiting the Float House websites. Essentially, floating involves just that: floating. You enter a private tank that has about 10 inches of water with about 800 pounds of dissolved Epsom salts in it! Your body is buoyant, and there are no pressure points. The tank is light proof and sound-dampening. The research indicates that there are benefits for both mind and body by participating in this practice.

I was excited to try floating. Most people worry about claustrophobia when floating for the first time. My worry was about being warm enough. I am always cold, and the water is only heated to body temperature. I followed a link through the Floathouse’s Twitter stream. It suggested to have a cool initial shower, dry your face and chest completely and not to move too much once you are in the water. All of those things worked for me!

My experience was great at the Float House. I was welcomed in, invited to have some tea or lemon water, and to chat with the other guests. They only host floats on the odd hours so that the pods can be filtered between guests. After everyone arrived, the experienced floaters were sent to their rooms. There was only one other person who had not floated before, so we were given a tour.

Once you are in your private room you are asked to shower and use their special unscented soap on your hair and body before entering the pod. The pod has a light inside that softly changes colours. The pod is quite large inside. You are given foam earplugs and the advice is to use them if you can, as they keep the salt water out of your ear canals. Once in the pod, you lower the dome and lie back. At first I found myself straining to keep my head up and then I remembered that I would float and relaxed back into the water. There are controls in the pod to keep the light on or off and to add music or not. I turned out the lights and kept the music off and prepared to relax.

My pod at the Float House. Picture taken with permission of staff.

My pod at the Float House. Picture taken with permission of staff.

At first I was totally aware of being in water. Every inhalation and exhalation had the water level changing on my body. I had a brief sensation of movement, as if I was travelling upwards (the direction my head was) and a little to the right. In reality it was the exact opposite, as eventually I drifted into the wall on the lower left part of the pod.

The time flew by. I attempted to follow some of the guided meditation techniques I had been learning. I don’t think that I actually meditated, but I never became lost in thoughts as I often do while trying to meditate. My only thoughts were about things immediately inside the pod. I was aware of my breathing, my increasing sense of calm, how comfortable I felt, the silky smoothness of the water and what it felt like to be buoyant. I was very calm and relaxed and felt quite soothed by the experience.

Music signals that the session is about to end. After the music plays for a bit, the lights in your pod are turned on to indicate that it is time to leave. When you leave the pod, you shower again to remove the salt from your body. There are different products to use post-float. You return to the lobby to enjoy some tea or water with the other guests.

My calm state and relaxed body lasted all day. I was tired early and went to bed for one of the best nights of sleep I have had all term!

I would highly recommend this experience to everyone. I intend to go back as soon as I can.