I’ve never been known to turn down a new experience. I’m essentially the female version of Jim Carrey’s character in Yes Man. I’m always open to participate in new opportunities, in hopes of uncovering a part of myself that I didn’t know existed. This has allowed me to hike the tallest peak of the Rocky Mountains, to swimming in Iceland’s Blue Lagoon, and hitch hiking my way from Tennessee to New York City. You get the point, I’m down for anything. But contrary to some belief I suffer from anxiety and much like the rest of the world I’m not sure how to manage those unwanted feelings. To be specific social anxiety is the purple monster that lives under my bed. Anytime I’m invited to a party, or social gathering where I’m surrounded by people I don’t know very well I start to panic. My fear is that I will be judged by my appearance, a long time insecurity of mine. Of course, I can seek counseling and ask for a mild anti-anxiety prescription. But being the carefree hippie that I ‘am I wanted to explore alternative anxiety coping methods. I was also bored and needed to satisfy my craving for adventure.
My boyfriend, Seamus, mentioned that his friend recently completed a one hour session in a floating self-deprivation tank. He said the experience was “wild” and asked if I would be willing to give it a try. Not even considering the health benefits associated with floatation therapy my inner adrenaline junkie was all for this idea. So what is floatation therapy? Let me break it down for you. It’s essentially a tub that is filled with ten inches of Epsom salt water. 1,000 pounds of salt to be exact, this ensures that your body stays perfectly afloat during the session. The room is soundproof and you have the option of floating in complete darkness or switching on a small nightlight. Floatation therapy is being marketed as one of the most effective forms of stress relief as well as aiding migraines, depression, asthma, high blood pressure and so much more. Being sold on the idea Seamus booked our sessions at PuREST Float Center in Trumbull, CT.
I arrived before Seamus and was promptly greeted by the front desk associate. She asked me to remove my shoes and to watch a short introductory video about floating in the chamber. It was a perfect day for floating since I had a torturous day at the office and my stress level was at capacity. The pre floating instructions are pretty straight forward; I would shower and wash my hair with the provided shampoo, but omit conditioner, that goes on later. Remove all of my jewelry and adorn ear plugs to prevent any water clogging. The Epsom salt can burn if you have any cuts or scrapes so it’s advisable to rub on some petroleum jelly before the session to eliminate the burning sensation. I of course forgot that I shaved my legs that morning and had a small cut on my knee. I was too lazy to get out of the tank and grab the petroleum jelly, but the pain subsided soon afterwards. Seamus arrived shortly after I finished watching the video, he was just as stressed out as I was and we were both ready to float. The front desk associate lead us back to our separate rooms and gave us a run down about the chamber. At PuREST there is a door that leads into the floating room, the ceilings are high and I could stand up comfortably when entering the water. Float centers vary by location, some have free standing pods with a lid where you can close the cover completely. I’m not a claustrophobic person but I could understand how the PuREST chambers could be more appealing to some people.
I followed all of the pre-float instructions and entered the water. It was warm and comfortable and I switched off the light to be submerged in darkness. Soft music played for the first five minutes to let me know my session has started, then the silence took over. Like I said, I had a rough day so when I was finally left alone with my thoughts I started to cry. So here I ‘am floating naked and alone in the dark crying, such a great visual. This soon ended and I pulled myself together. I treated the rest of my session like an hour long restorative savasana. I focused on my breathing and allowed each breath to sink me deeper and deeper into a meditative state. An hour is a very long time when you are left to nothing but your own thoughts. I broke my meditation and tried floating on my stomach, on my side, and finally I found the perfect position around the 40 minute mark. I allowed my body to float and crossed one ankle over the other and had my arms wrapped around myself. It was the most comforting and peaceful feeling I have ever experienced. I then cursed myself for not finding this position earlier in the session. The music started once again telling me that five minutes remained. I hopped out of the chamber, took my shower, conditioned my hair and waited for Seamus in the meditation room. It was designed with huge windows that over looked a group of trees, it was dusk and I felt more at peace after the session then when I was actually floating. I also dabble in crystal healing, I thought this was the perfect time to take my collection from my daily pouch and arrange them in front of me. I took a few moments continuing my breathing exercises with my citrine resting on my third eye chakra. I felt completely blissful and at ease, a sensation that I wouldn’t think I would get to experience that day. So was it worth it? For sure, I had a great time I would try it again, especially on days when my stress level has reached a boiling point. As for my social anxiety, that is something that can’t be cured with a one hour float session. That’s on me to continue to love myself and be at peace with who I am.
Sam Alder is a vegan, green tea junkie, and weight lifting enthusiast. She holds degrees in History and International Affairs and is pursuing her MBA. She currently works in marketing and design.