The last float I had was in January. It was my second float ever and I’m not gonna lie, it was wildly unpleasant. I went in confident about my ability to set an intention for this float. I knew exactly how I was going to use my own meditative practice to reign myself back in when I felt my mind start to wander.
But a funny thing happened when I hopped into the tank. That day I was confronted with hellish pains in my entire body. I had been working strenuously to close up shop for two weeks, and my body let me know that it was truly feeling the fruits of my physical labour.
I was set up in a different room which shouldn’t be a big deal, but I don’t like change and I liked my old room so I had already encountered my first mental roadblock.
Once in the tub, I experienced soreness, aching, and a radiating pain in my triceps, biceps and deltoids. If anyone reading remembers Mandrakes (those screaming plants in Harry Potter) it kind of felt like my muscles were doing that: penetrating my soul with their spiteful siren song. The pain was blinding and my ability to hold an intention was lessening by the second. As the float progressed I started to feel nauseous, which wasn’t better or worse than the pain, but it was a new sensation, and as such a new anxiety formed around it. The salt felt as though it was sticking to me, I wanted to roll over into the fetal position, but the whole laying in water situation made it difficult to manifest. I ended up leaving the float a full 15 minutes before it was over. I couldn’t stand the pain. I was uncomfortable. I held on as long as possible before I simply couldn’t take it anymore.
I was unsure how to write about that experience because it was unpleasant and I didn’t know how to express that without somehow diminishing the process. Liz suggested that we try Cranio-Sacral therapy before my next float to assist with the pain management aspect. I obliged and came back a few weeks later with an open mind.
Before my one hour float, Liz performed Craniosacral Therapy on me. Craniosacral Therapy is a form of bodywork that incorporates light touching of the head, spine and sacrum to manipulate and slowly work to restructure troubled areas in the body.
She started with my feet, evaluating the trouble areas and by the end, she had moved up to my head. Before we started the therapy she told me that she might put her hands in or around my mouth, since the bulk of my daily pain stems from chronic TMJ and jaw soreness from clenching and grinding my teeth. If we’re being completely honest I had just woken up and was pretty sure my mouth was still inherently gross, but she had gloves and it was her idea so I said “well that sounds weird, but I’m into it” and we got to it.
When my session ended it was weird because I felt as though I was groggy, as if just waking up from a deep sleep, but I was completely cognizant of her touch the entire time. I knew exactly what was happening, but yet I wasn’t FULLY present. For the last, I want to say 15 minutes, the music wasn’t even playing into my headphones. There was a transcendent quality to this practice which lifted me out of my head and my body. While my brain knew what was happening I was free to explore other plains and I went a lot of different places with my thoughts, in order to gain a deeper sense of relaxation. Normally, in massage and basically anything that involves human touch, I tend to lock up immediately, and it takes me half the session to work on relaxing my body enough to receive the treatment without tensing up. Cranio therapy started off the same in that I was tense and finally learned to relax, but I felt as though I was much more able to give myself to the process quicker because of how non invasive the touching was.
Following the CranioSacral session, today’s float was such a unique experience. I was already relaxed once I got into the water. It did not take me nearly as much time to adapt or calm down, I was able to turn off the light immediately, lay down and just float. My intention was to stay positive. Every time I felt a negative thought creeping in, I would process it with something like, “I’m safe. I’m happy. I’m warm,” and move back into a deeper state of relaxation. A big goal for me in meditations, but just generally in my life is to stay present. I left my phone at home before today’s sessions so that I wouldn’t be able to check the time, get distracted or use social media before or after the float, as I figured that it could potentially impact my mood. It appeared to be helpful because without a true sense of time I was able to really dig in and appreciate the hour I had to fully unplug, unwind and detach from the modern material world. I would highly recommend the combination of therapy and floating to anyone using their float for pain management, but also just for anyone who is naturally quite anxious, as going into a float session already relaxed can be invaluable in terms of making the most of your time in there.