I’ve finally discovered the one thing that lets me relax: floating. I’ve gone to Levity, a float studio in Squirrel Hill that I learned about a few months ago, twice now, and both times have left feeling like my mind is finally unwound a little bit from everything I have to think about in normal life.
At the core of it, floating is simple: you get shut in a completely dark “pod” filled with 10 inches of water that’s loaded with Epsom salt for an hour (or more…). Because of how much salt is in the water, you are completely buoyant and you can’t help but float. It’s completely silent. At the same time, your muscles all get a chance to relax and your mind does as well. The only sound is your breathing- which is disconcerting at first, but peaceful afterwards. Everything else is missing. Sights and sounds have gone away, as has your sense of touch: the water is approximately the same temperature as your body, so that you don’t notice it around you. It’s complete sensory deprivation.
I’ve tried other means of relaxation over the years through college and grad school. Some of them help temporarily (going a day without TV; writing); some minimally or not at all (yoga, for me, takes too much physical energy to actually be relaxing). Floating, for an hour, takes the best of all of those things, the pieces that are supposed to lead to relaxation (no sound, no movement, the ability to process your thoughts) and gets rid of the rest (namely, the possibility of doing any of a million other things with your body and mind), leading to the ultimate opportunity to relax.
For me, at least, this relaxation also lasts well beyond the hour in the pod. The day after the first time I floated, I had more energy than I can ever recall having throughout the entire day. I was happier and more upbeat, and better able to handle stressful situations (and believe me, they hit in full force that day!). It’s now the day after my second float, and even though I didn’t sleep all that well, I woke up feeling more focused and with more energy than I would have otherwise expected. According to Dave, the owner of Levity, the effects of floating are more pronounced the more often you float…here’s to hoping!
It’s amazing- and disconcerting- how much we have to think and worry about in our lives. I can honestly say that while I know when I am stressed and when I am not, it wasn’t until I floated and was able to completely relax that I became able to identify smaller anxieties in my every day life. Initially this was, as you can imagine, not a good thing, considering how many times stressful things present themselves every day. But I began accepting that it is good to be able to notice these small stresses that compound themselves, because it allows me to identify them and process or dismiss them as they arise, instead of waiting until they have all piled on. The benefits of floating have certainly spilled into the rest of my life, and that’s a good thing for me and my mind.