Adventure is not my middle name. Not even close. I still do my share of new things. Plenty. Floating is one of those new things. I decided to try something new and purchased a series of floats at Float Madison. My adventure began as I left an icy, dreary, and drizzly January day behind for a womblike world of peaceful comfort, safe and soft.
Floating has many merits. Professional athletes use it as part of training programs to let their bodies rest and recover. The Epsom salts used during floatation therapy give your body magnesium which supports muscle recovery and relaxation. Pressure is taken off your spine and joints which will help reduce inflammation. Creative thinkers and artists enjoy floating and feel it can help them reach their highest potential and expression. No one learns or performs well when in a stressed state. I can’t help but draw upon lessons learned from past students from my life as a teacher. Children can’t learn well who come to school tired, hungry, worried about friends, or afraid of looking stupid or embarrassed about something. We are all alike that way. Being relaxed opens up possibilities whoever you are and whatever you’ve chosen to do.
Being relaxed opens up more possibilities for me as a metastatic breast cancer patient. Space is created for emotional healing. I believe other toxic medication may work better if I’m not stressed out about treatments, tests, and the other challenges living with this disease throws at me.
The biggest draw for me is the time to just BE. It truly is the gift of nothing. You can’t get up and do that thing you forgot to finish (or start) earlier. You can’t quickly go online and then discover you’ve lost an hour you’ll never get back. No one will interrupt you. There is no one right way to float, so whatever happens is meant to be and is absolutely perfect. Perfect moments in my life are few and far between. I’d be happy with nearly perfect.
Here is a list of verbs used to describe a floating experience:
Reread them. All are positive. All are affirming. There is no room for fear, doubt, or negativity.
I did far too much thinking during the float. Giving my body over to floating was much easier than I thought. I knew immediately I was not going to be the only person ever to sink. I was comfortable and safe. I focused on the sensation of the water gently meeting skin still exposed above water. It lapped unobtrusively and was barely detectable. A feeling of oneness with the water prevailed. With my arms resting above my head, my fingers pushed off from the top edge of the tank. I thought I was cognizant of when my body stopped moving, however, all motion was slow and delayed. A few seconds after I thought I stopped moving, my toes would bump into the bottom edge of the tank. Back and forth I went for some time at this because I was fascinated and like repetition. I also did a lot of experimentation with twisting and stretching, each time proving it was impossible to sink. Not being encumbered by any floor while doing all this was magical.
A deep bluish hue was the mood lighting in the tank. Pinpricks in the ceiling created a star effect. Calming music lulled my soul. A preset timer would eventually fade the music. Knobs inside the tank were my responsibility to push to turn off the bottom and ceiling lights. Then I would be immersed in the stillness of no sound and no light.
I can be claustrophobic in the right settings (MRI tubes). It’s why I signed up for the ocean room rather than a floating pod. I wanted a little more room.
Woman of adventure that I am, I turned out all the lights.
I was okay, more than okay. I knew where I was. My spatial awareness is quite strong and I could still feel where the buttons were for the tub and ceiling lights, as well as the dry washcloth if I needed to wipe salt away from my face. I splashed with my fingertips that made sounds of lonely drops echoing like they were dripping from a long distance. It was water music.
Floating is called the gift of nothing. I understood the concept of nothing while I floated. The point is to let go of all the inner chatter, not think, and have a meditative experience. Meditation would be a goal for another float.
I may have mentioned in an earlier post that living with metastatic breast cancer is stressful. The floating environment is not stressful. I entertained thoughts of how floating could be used to remove some of the stress I experience with the ongoing stressors in my life.
Could science, in all its exacting facts and structured design, turn the MRI scanner filled with all its anxiety and pounding sounds into a floating experience? No deafening noises. No breath holds. Freedom to make small movements. It would still provide precise and accurate results. Try as I might to imagine the current medical technology as a comforting cocoon, it is ineffective in many ways. Chances are if the floating tank was ever associated with a scan as part of cancer testing it would inherently turn into something stressful. Still, a girl can dream. Scheduling a float session after a stressful scan is a more realistic way to deal with the stress of scans and not associate it with scanxiety.
Floating can still be effective in reducing some of the emotional issues cancer creates like stress, anxiety, sadness, as well physical issues because it can relax muscles and ease tensions on joints. Less stress opens up the possibility of more healing.
Any moments I can get away and relax are important to me.
Many write posts of life after treatment ends. I’m always in a state of ongoing. The best I have are in between times. It is hard to find times of sustained peace, balance, and happiness.
I have become better at living in the NOW.
Now is all I have. Now is all any of us have.
Meditation has been only so-so effective for me. I do well when I meditate on a walk, through prayer, through writing. Sitting quietly works for me. Focusing on my breath often doesn’t. The next time I float I may try doing more of a guided imagery practice. Imagining and envisioning scenarios and outcomes have been successful. Visualization is a proven way to plan steps to reach a goal.
Floating was the first of several adventures I have planned. Stay tuned as more unfold. Maybe adventure could be my middle name. Just maybe.
- What is a gift of nothing you give yourself?