Sunday, June 28, 2015

Floatation Therapy

I have not written for quite some time ... I have not taken a break from running; in fact, I ran the 2015 New Jersey Marathon in April.  I was quite happy with my overall feeling during the run...only stopping to walk at some mile markers and water stops, and keeping even pace throughout all 26.2 miles ... but more on that on a future post perhaps.  I want to write a little about my experience with FLOATATION therapy.

Floatation therapy, float therapy, also known as sensory deprivation or REST (reduced external stimulation therapy) has a multitude of documented beneficial physical, psychological, emotional, and spiritual effects... or so they say.  Even athletic and running improvement.

I have not gone into extensive research on the topic, so I do not claim any authority, but I want to document my own experience, even if briefly.

I tried floating last week at Tao Massage in Asbury Park, NJ (www.taomassage.com) What a wonderful, calm, and inviting place.  Everyone there was friendly and made me feel at ease.  My wife and I went for curiosity, and really for stress relief.

After a brief tour of the spa, and orientation of thr actual float ... i began my session.
 First, a shower, then I entered a tank filled with 10 inches of super saturated water, saturated with about 800 pounds of Epsom salts, enough to make you float easily.  the water was warmed to 98 degrees F, the idea being it would be the same temperature as your skin ... thus the border between you and the water and equally warm air would dissolve.  I closed the tank hatch, floated horizontally, and turned off the internal light.

Darkness.  complete darkness in this lightproof tank.

Silence, especially with wax earplugs, and ears were under the surface of the silky thick saltier than the Dead Sea water.

I wanted to relax, but of course this being my first Float experience, it had some getting used to.

I saw lights in my eyes.... through thr darkness, hallucinations? or just my rods and cones firing...

I felt spinning, I thought i was spinning so  much that my legs would hit the walls of the tank ... but they didn't.

I felt warm.  My face sweat to the point that I got up at least twice to open the hatch door for some cool air.  I even floated for some time with the door open...

I got up again to wipe the sting of the Epsom water out of my eyes ... the stinging of the unseen scratches in my skin went away quicker ...

I found the "beginner's" float neck pillow, helped me get more comfortable.

I slept.

then I relaxed.

I think.

I finished my hour session happy, with the thought that the bumps would just get better with time ...

but then, something extraordinary happened -- the aftermath:

Over the next few days, even the week, I felt my response to stress change.
Oh, the stress was still there, or rather, the Stressors -- work was extremely busy, (as you may know, I am a pulmomary and critical care physician), but for the first time in a long time, I didn't care as much, and it didn't bother me as much.

I was able to better work "in the present" without being too anxious about what was coming that night or even in the next 10 minutes.

This weekend work was extremely overwhelming and stressful -- well, at least on paper.  But I got through it calmly...and I didn't feel it in my chest as much.

And just now, I found a situation that normally would get me stressed and anxious (something about a vacation schedule no less!) ... but I just somehow shifted my focus to put aside for now ...

because I booked another Float session for this week.  And I'm looking forward to either letting it all melt away then... OR perhaps letting my sensory deprived mind deal with it better at that time, work out a solution, be creative, or just accept what experience comes ...

I have spent so much of my time plotting how to escape stress ... that perhaps dealing with the stress or at least not letting it bother me might be a better (and easier) solution.

definitely an aha moment.

I can't wait for my next Float session.

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