If you read my salt therapy blog recently, then you won’t be surprised to know I was also late to my first float session, I was feeling incredibly stressed, we had such a busy week, sick children, sick ourselves, I actually later found out I had pneumonia! It was the middle of tax season, and as a wife of an accountant that makes things very hectic, just one of those weeks that we all have as busy parents trying to walk the balance beam to the best of our abilities. Every part of me was screaming to cancel, but the health coach in me knew that going was what I needed to start feeling back on track.
As soon as I arrived, I immediately felt better, I was greeted by the lovely Erin at Buoyant Sea, she gave me a run down on what happens prior to the float. I walked into the float room and immediately felt relaxed by the lighting and beautiful music. Firstly I took a shower and washed my hair, the shower is at around body temperature, not too hot and not too cold. I dried off my face and ears, and popped my ear plugs in.
I made my way into the float tank, which felt nice and welcome as I stepped in, using the neck pillow I laid down, the feeling of weightlessness starts immediately as you move into a float position. I closed the capsule door and switched off the light inside the tank. This is where the magic truly happens. (I should add however you are able to leave the float tank door open, or the light on if you prefer.)
For the first few minutes the relaxation music continues, once it ends, you are in a silent, dark, and sensory free hour of bliss. Everyone I am sure uses this time a little differently, and its recommended to give floating at least 3 goes before deciding if it is for you or not. On my first float I found it a little difficult to switch off, I let my mind wander to what it felt it needed to deal with, and after a while I brought my attention back to the breath and did a body scan meditation.
Once the time is ending, the music will return, and a gentle chime will sound when its time to move out of the float tank and back into the shower. Post float I love a beautifully warm shower, or as my husband would say, scolding hot. Its 10 minutes of extra magic post float, a shower without distractions of children needing something, in a beautifully lit room. Only the best products are used too, my hair is always silky smooth!
There is even a beauty station to dry your hair and do your make-up if you wish after exiting the float room and then there is the post float room perfect for a cuppa until you are ready to move back into the day to day grind.
Clinical studies show that floating lowers brain wave states, reduces cortisol which is a stress hormone that sticks around mostly due to chronic stress. I will speak more thoroughly on cortisol later. It also increases endorphins and dopamine, which are the happy hormones. Plus, the high level of magnesium salts (this is what helps you float) helps to unwind tension in the body and can even help you relax for improved sleep.
Cortisol as I mentioned earlier, definitely has its place in our body, it is there to help us if we need to move into fight or flight mode, this is if we need to do something to protect ourselves, such as running away, or staying to put up a fight in a dangerous situation. The problem is, these days, we get ourselves into fight or flight mode for less life threatening reasons, such as a text message, a conversation with someone, or just general day to day life and not taking any time to unwind or take care of ourselves. Long term heighted cortisol levels can lead to significant health problems such as rapid weight gain, inability to lose weight, high blood pressure, muscle weakness, mood swings, anxiety and depression to name a few.
The ability to be present, to stop and slow down, to focus on breathing and to remind our brains that we are very safe are incredibly important in cortisol reduction and this is why floating is such a wonderful approach to dealing with stress.
After week 1 I was feeling much more comfortable in the tank and felt like I used my time a lot more wisely. It can be a little bit of trial and error in find what is best for you, and without a clock you also are going off feel, and not an actual clock.
- I allow my mind to wander for the first 5-10 minutes, often recounting my day to date, or what I need to do when I get home, this allows me to deal with these thoughts and not have them carry through my session.
- Breath work, 6 deep breaths in and out to get present. Approximately 5 minutes.
- Mantras & visualisations, an example of this may be “I am healthy, and I am safe”, these will always be very specific to you. 5-10 minutes.
- Gratitude’s, I remind myself of what I am grateful for, such as healthy children, living in a safe place, access to good food and water. 5-10 minutes.
- Body scan meditation. I start with my small toe on my left foot and breath into each muscle and relax on the way out, this brings focus to my body and allows me to be a lot more in tune with how I am feeling and where I am holding tension. Often it may take a couple of breaths to help feel the release. 30-40 minutes.
- Stretching, I use the last few minutes in the tank to do some gentle stretching.
After the first week of floating, my sleep quality improved, I imagine the quantity probably would too if my children would allow. My resting heart rate lowered by 6 base points of the program, which is a big difference, a lower resting heart rate means that our heart is not having to work as hard to pump blood around the body. As the weeks progressed even further, I found I was recovering better from exercise, able to feel more present and able to get to sleep more easily at night. The biggest change I noticed was that I constantly had a very sore neck and was often unable to look to the right, something I have struggled with for a very long time, after a float the pain reduced significantly, and the movement and range in my neck was greatly improved.
There is no feeling like a post float feeling, you leave feeling on top of the world, rejuvenated and like you have just received the biggest warmest hug ever. Thank you so much to @buoyantsea_warragul for the amazing opportunity.