I leave the tank with a loss for words. I don’t know where I’ve just been, what I’ve seen, or what I’ve thought about. I feel as if I’ve just been born again, or died, or maybe something in between. Let me start from the beginning.
I walk into the building. First thoughts? There are plants. Everywhere. There is a woman sitting at the front desk, she welcomes me and asks if I’ve ever been here before. As I tell her no, she searches for my name in the system, and has me sign a few wavers. Like any other human being, I don’t read the wavers, but I assume I’ve just signed away my right to sue the company if I happen to die in here. Great. She directs me to an area to watch an introductory video that’s about 5 minutes long. It runs over all of what I’ve already learned from doing my own research; you’re going to feel very funny, you can stop at any time, wear the ear plugs, shower before and after the float, and most importantly, try to relax. Then, we walk down a hallway together to my room – room number 4. The room is small. It holds a shower with a curtain, two stools with various items on them, a folding screen to cover the workings behind the float tank, and most importantly, the float chamber. She once more gives me a run down and asks if I have any questions. “Nope.” I tell her confidently, and she leaves, shutting the door behind her. I’m now alone in the room, wondering where I start. My brain kicks in again and I remember that I must start with taking off my clothes. I place them on the ground, because I was not smart enough to bring an alternative bag for my dirty clothes. I take off my jewellery, unleash my hair from the tangle it’s in on top of my head, wedge some ear plugs into my ears and step into the shower. Rinsing off with what smells like olive oil, I think I’m now ready for my float.
I wrap my fingers around the handle of the chamber and begin to pull. It’s heavier than I expected. I’m wafted with fumes of salt and other unidentifiable chemicals. I can feel my heart being to beat faster and stronger. ‘I’m okay,’ I tell myself, ‘just breathe, and you’ll be okay.’ I lift one foot and step in. The water is warm, but just feels like normal water. I step in with my other foot and get ready to sit down. I immediately get nervous to shut the door as I realize that I’m about to be in solidarity for an hour and a half. Pure darkness. No sound, no feeling. Nothing. I lay back slowly. My feet are taken off the ground and I float to the surface. There’s what I think to be about a foot or two between my body and the surface of the tank. The temperature of the air and the water are perfectly heated, making me feel like I’m in the womb (or as close to a womb as one can imagine). I try to shut my eyes and relax. It’s harder than it sounds. I’m either really prepared have nothing in my mind, but I think something is starting to happen. I focus on my breath, on how it sounds, and on how my body is beginning to feel. It feels like nothing.
Time goes by, I’m not sure how fast. My only urge is to check the time, but I try to resist. I itch my nose. First mistake. I then itch my eyes. Second mistake. More breaths in and out. I begin to feel my lips dry and my nose itch more. I touch them again. Instantly I feel the sting of the saltwater getting into my body. I promptly sit up and open the door, reaching for a towel beside me and a bottle of water. I step fully out of the tank. Taking a breather, spitting out the saltwater, and fixing my earplugs again. I reach for my phone to check the time. 1:37. I’ve been in the bloody tank for only 37 minutes? It feels like hours have gone by. I begin to feel nervous about going back in. “Suck it up.” I tell myself. I head back in.
Round two. I breathe deeply. I try to get focus back to my body. Yeah, the body that I can’t feel. Listening to my breathing, I wonder what I should think about. My mind begins to wander, thinking about anything. I lose my concept of time and feeling again. I’m doing something right.
As the moments go on, music suddenly fades into my ears. This signals that my time is finished. I thank the heavens for helping me with what I’ve just done, and quickly scurry out of the chamber. I stand up, realizing what I’ve just done. The music continues to play and all I can think of is a shower. I see crystalized salt on my body and can feel my skin tightening. I’m in a state of shock. I don’t know where I just was for 90 minutes of my life. I move to the shower and turn the water on, hot. Letting it run over me, I try to think back to what thoughts were in my head. I can’t remember anything. I feel strange. I feel different, with a new perspective. Less thoughts are in my head now. Euphoria is a good word.
I shampoo and condition (with the most incredible minty shampoo and conditioner, may I add), wash my face, and step out of the shower. The water pump roars to life to purify the water that I just soaked in. I dry off, wrap myself in a robe, collect my belongings and open the door to the world. Then, I walk down the hall to a place I’ve called the recovery room (not sure what its actually called), that is filled with mirrors, hair products, warm towels, and a few chairs. I set my things down and begin to put myself back into human form. I pick my arms and legs up off of the ground and stick them in their respective holes, screw my head back on and take a deep breath. While drying my hair, I was greeted by another floater.
“Wasn’t that the most incredible experience in the world?” she asks me. I can see on her face that she is in the same state as me. Post float euphoria. “It was definitely something else,” I respond back to her. We have a brief conversation as she gushes to me about how much she loves the floating practice and how this visit won’t be my last. I thank her for her time as she leaves the recovery room.
Getting myself in order, I also leave the room. Taking my time to look around the space I’m in, I notice offices, a yoga room, and the hallway of other float rooms. Walking out to the front hall, I see the community room (again, my title, not theirs). A place filled with plants, books, tea, coffee, water, and more books. I sit down to try and listen to what my brain is saying, even though I still cannot pair words with my feelings. I briefly look at my phone. After such a blissful experience, it was like ripping my corneas out, so I put it down and reach for a book.
I pick up the first book that catches my eye. A hard, tie-dye cover, that it about 3 inches thick. After opening it, I realize that this book is special. As I flip through, I can see that many floaters use this space as a place to document their thoughts and experiences post float. Many drew pictures to represent what they were feeling. Kind words, thoughts, motivation and encouragement, the list goes on. It. Was. Fabulous. To read so many words that perfectly represented how I’m feeling, to see drawings of spirals and people with their head in the clouds and float tanks and demons and every single thought that I was having, was there? That feeling is something I wish everyone could feel. I feel so unified. I feel like I know everyone and like we’re all in a special club. I decide to make my contribution to this special club and write about how I’m feeling.
With that, my time is coming to an end. The real world is still happening outside these plant walls, and I have places to get to. I still feel dazed. I feel incredible, but strange. I walk out into the cold air and feel sunshine on my face. I get in my car and drive away. The only thought in my mind now? Wondering when I will meet the chamber again.