Updated: Feb 5, 2018
The experienced learned from my first sensory-reduction salt water float prepared me for yet another venture into a new form of meditation.
November 23, 2017
Prior to the float I spent forty minutes at the house going through various stretches to get my muscles into a loosened and relaxed state. I had some neck and shoulder pain initially in the first float and wanted to make sure I addressed those key areas.
I sort of wondered if I would become connected to a particular tank over another, despite seeming to be exactly the same.
I arrived on time and noticed the doors were open and dust piles had been swept into different areas of the studio. I asked what was up and she said they had a breath-work get together the night before. Someone's blanket had been covered with leaves apparently. I laughed as I imagined this person getting that much usage out of a blanket. The owner walked me back to the room, which wasn't the one I had gone into the first time. I sort of wondered if I would become connected to a particular tank over another, despite seeming to be exactly the same. It did have a purple light instead of a blue one. That much I could tell right away. She went and set the timer and quickly left me to it, now being familiar with the procedure.
Showering first, of course, to remove all the oils from the skin and hair. I felt myself rushing through the motions and I needed to slow things down. I was anxious, but had to make an effort to go towards a meditative state. Another learning from the initial experience was to not take a super hot shower, but instead a rather cool one since I tend to run hot. The last time I had little bits of condensation on my face and it wasn't uncomfortable, but I did notice my temperature being elevated for most of it.
I kept racing to get done and into the tank and would catch myself to breathe and slow things down. The open hatch on the white, jacuzzi-shaped pod with its glowing pink/purple waters was enticing me to surrender to its enclosed confines. During my rushing around, I made the mistake of forgetting to dry my face off before getting in. You don't want touch or wipe your face after any of the densely salted water has come in contact with your hands. I still had the backs of my hands dry so I carefully dabbed my face a little and then reached up to pull down the hatch door.
I start out seated gathering myself in this space and allowing my mind and physical senses to come to this reality. When I am comfortable, I bump the light off and slide down towards the far edge of the tank, leaving about 6-8 inches above and below. It starts off like anything else, assuming you have tried a meditative type practice. It's a certain level of work to slow and direct the mind, but its generally achievable by focusing on the body, the breath and investigating the different thoughts in a simple but pleasurable way. Never making it a point to dwell on or allow any discomfort.
Speaking of discomforts, I had little to none in the upper areas of my body, so I was off to a good start rectifying that. I also felt much cooler, almost to a great degree less. I think the weather had some affect on this.
The water supports you quite a lot and upon each breath you feel yourself rising up to about mid-rib cage and then upon your exhale submerging down a few inches. Of course this is all dependent upon one's body type. I like to save the muscle stretching for the end and instead allowed the body to become still and lose myself to the void.
There is a slight crack in the pod's hatch, which is over your head and allows for enough air to get in that it doesn't feel stagnant or hard to breath, but still warm. From the slight disturbances of your breath it will cause slight shifts to your position and you may feel a toe or elbow bump the edge. In the early minutes this is of no harm and you just nudge yourself carefully back into the middle. These sensations tend to subside and offer little distraction the deeper into the meditation you go.
When fully engaged in the meditative state its usual for me to indulge an out of body experience, sometimes referred to as astral projections. What this means is, you have shed your physical form, allowing consciousness to enter into a higher plane of existence. The sensation can be very jarring and its easily reversed with the sudden shudder of panic realizing it is happening. The movement brings awareness that the physical form is still present and then zapped back into the body within a millisecond.
It's this process of leaving and returning that amazes me. I find it impressive that I can venture out and away from the body, experience the great void of the Universe and somehow find my way back into this same form, upon the same planet, within the same time and back in the same space as when I left it.
When fully engaged in the meditative state its usual for me to indulge an out of body experience, sometimes referred to as astral projections.
Before stepping into the tank, I had asked that I be shown my addiction in a way that could help me to understand it better. What I was shown was that of the hidden observer, which has been done for me in the past with other obstacles. Such as showing me what a particular stressor or worry looks like when it is devoid of the emotion and vested personal attachments. It becomes quite small, insignificant and then the challenge of moving past it is lightened if not immediately eradicated.
In the tank I was losing sense of my body and was then granted my request. I was able to become the hidden observer and could watch myself going through the motions, witnessing the triggers, the lead up, the occurrence of me succumbing to the addiction and being lead astray. I was even able to externally observe the addiction itself. Seeing what outlets it prefers. How it is able to manifest itself through various mediums. And its within these screens the addiction courses itself down the neurological pathways to create the firing of synapses and then the release of endorphins. Creating an emotional response that FEELS as though it were given by a person. It feels as though I am getting some sensory encounter, but in fact I am very clearly only experiencing the ILLUSION of such connectivity.
I personally know very well what those feelings feel like, but the observer is only there to watch. So they see it in that way, unbiased and devoid of the entanglement it has on my entire system and I can then understand it. I can sympathize with this person, who is there struggling to break free. Through research into my addiction I have known about these neurological concepts, but connecting the concepts to the perspective of the hidden observer allows me to gain access to a much more complete and balanced understanding. I cant say its the instantaneous reversal of decades of neurological conditioning, but its little steps towards advancing my awareness and helping me to gain the level of decision making I desire.
I had also asked that the light of life be shown to me so I can remember what it looks and feels like. I first had to encounter what was covering up this light and as I went deep into the forest, I could see a brown slug-like thing that had attached itself to my heart. Beneath it, I could see and feel the fire of life. It was still existing, but I had allowed this parasitic vector to attach itself and siphon from me the seeds of life. Clear this intrusion and life's full magnitude would return to me.
Entering a Flow State..
The beauty of floating is the lack of resistance to your body, so you can stretch and align yourself in ways that maximizes the channeling of consciousness. Similar to a chakra cleansing exercise its a transfer of energy, but done with a great deal of ease and yielding a powerful experience. As I did this, instead of imaging the colors of the chakras, my body was transforming into different elements of the cosmos. My feet and shins became the stars and gasses of the universe. My thighs became the clouds of our atmosphere. My hips and pelvis became the heightened mountains beneath these clouds. Upon my solar plexus was fittingly the sun, beaming from behind that range of mountains. My heart, beating from deep within the cloud forests and as the elevation progressively declined I found my throat and mouth becoming the blue waters of our oceans. My skull, the last of the body, without its fleshy exterior became the limestone structure of the ocean floor. Finally reaching the crown, I was suddenly connected entirely. The cosmos shot through this series of imagined realms my body had been transformed into. My entire being had become consciousness and began to vibrate to a beautiful rhythm. This state is so relaxing and at the same time so invigorating as you are soaring fast and free. Completely unhinged.
And lastly, as this flow state had 'me' in a warm, gooey state of tranquility, I was able to connect yet another concept to an experienced sensation. The notion that our bodies are primarily composed of water is a concept we know, but to experience it as a reality is a different undertaking. My body dissolved into the liquid around me. I saw my form still identifiable, but it had melded with the waters and I felt as liquid as the tank water itself. And I basically remained in this formless state until the filters turned on signaling it was time to climb out and return back to solid form.
I was much slower to shower and appreciate the journey I undertook. The room has lots of amenities which is very nice, but I am thinking of items to bring with me, like a wide-toothed comb as the dense salt doesn't really wash out that easy and the hair can be quite unmanageable.
I was eager to discuss with the owner about my second experience. She was thrilled by my first and I was glad to have more good things to say about the experience. I am sure they get it, but every person can certainly shed new and different light onto the service they are providing. I spoke a little about the temperature differences and seemed to think the shower did it. She thought the cool front we had might of done something for it as well. Her concern is more to the side of people getting cold and as I explained from experiences in sweat lodges, hotter is more therapeutic anyways. So no issue there. It's always a little fun to see peoples reactions as you discuss the traveling aspect of the practice. I could tell it was of no surprise for the owner, but I think she enjoys my enjoyment. I said I would like to process the two sessions a little bit and wait for my schedule to calm down before getting back in.
I am always returning to simple, free, seated meditation being the optimal way to practice, but I think the tank really offers a very safe and conducive space to achieving the states I hope to enter into. The studio provides all of this.