Sensory deprivation float tanks are becoming more popular and mainstream everyday. I’ve heard amazing testimonials from friends about the results of float sessions and being submerged in a weightless environment. Even my naturopath has recommended epsom salt baths to help ease chronic pain, sore muscles, increase magnesium levels, support restful sleep, and the list of benefits goes on and on.
A few months ago, I finally bit the bullet and purchased a Groupon to give it a try. And then I let the Groupon expire.
What was my resistance?
- Distance to the location was too far.
- Not wanting to go through the trouble of the pre-float and post-float showers.
- Nervousness about a new environment.
- Fear of not doing it “right.”
- Fear of claustrophobia and feeling trapped.
- Fear of falling asleep and drowning.
The resistance really falls in two categories… inconvenience and fear (albeit a bit irrational). So when a lovely friend continued to share her results and benefits, I was finally convinced that my fears were important to overcome. Then came the convenience of staying less than 5 minutes from a float location and a great introductory rate. It was time!
And then I floated… and sat in that pod feeling like a failure.
Here’s what happened. The first few minutes I was getting settled. The pod was much bigger and roomier inside than I had imagined, so no claustrophobia. There’s a light you can control inside, as well as a distress button to get attention or help if you need it. The room and pod were both well-sized and very clean. They filter the water multiple times between each session and with all the salt in the water, you don’t need to worry about bacteria or infection.
Once I was settled with ear plugs in, I easily laid back and let the water lift me for that weightless feeling. Floating without any effort. I felt my back relax and then my neck. The water is set for body temperature so it actually felt a little cool initially. Thoughts and snippets of songs competed for attention. I just kept coming back to “inhale”… “exhale” when my thoughts wandered and that helped.
Time doesn’t really exist when you’re weightless and sensory deprived so I’m not sure exactly how long that lasted, but then the flushing started. Like hot flashes from a menopausal woman, my entire body seemed to be emanating heat from every pore. I thought maybe they heated up the water after I got in, or that having the lid closed made the temperature increase. It’s likely a slight increase from the closed lid and humidity (which I do not do well in), but I did not feel well in the heat.
For a short time, I tried to stick it out in the heat then decided to just lift the lid and allow some of the cool air to drift in from outside the pod. That helped cool me down, but then the nausea kicked in. Gut wrenching, deep in my belly nausea that seemed to overcome me. I tried to stay still as possible and wait for it to pass. It didn’t. It just increased and the heat in my head was increasing. So I sat upright, turned the light on and tried to see if the feeling would pass. No such luck.
My next strategy was removing the ear plugs and spraying some fresh water on my face to cool down. Still nauseous. That’s when the feeling of failure kicked in. I love the water, I’d been wanting to try this out for years, it was supposed to be transformational. It wasn’t happening.
Finally I gave in and pressed the call button. I wanted to find out if the nausea would go away and if I should just keep trying in hopes that it would resolve.
NEWS FLASH: No one came to my rescue. I wasn’t sure if they were supposed to talk through an intercom or come to the door and knock, but the cavalry never showed up. I waited another 5 minutes or so just sitting and leaning over the edge of the pod. No one came. I gave up and got out (after I shot some video and photos for fun).
The nausea stayed with me, but subsided a bit as I showered and removed the salt. That’s when I was reminded of the IV magnesium I had before dental surgery last year… nausea, fatigue and flushing were the top symptoms I had during and after the IV infusion.
Apparently magnesium deficiency is the new vitamin D deficiency that everyone discovered years ago. Most people are magnesium deficient and have no idea and there is no easy test to really assess the levels of magnesium. (Red blood cell magnesium testing is a good option, but not without its limitations.)
Bottom line is that I’m thinking I must have some issues with processing large amounts of magnesium. Either I already have enough so a mega dose with IV or floating overload my system and ability to process it. Or my body just can’t handle the large amounts at one time. Or perhaps some other mechanism I’m unaware of causes that reaction.
Nonetheless, I left feeling like a failure at something as simple as floating.
Then I reframed it. Here I’d been thinking about and planning for and getting down on myself for not being willing to make the effort to go floating… for years! I’d been thinking about it that long and trying to get myself to go. So I finally went and was calling myself a failure. That didn’t seem right so I changed my tune and decided to say that it was a success… a success in finding that floating is not for me right now. Whether I understand why I had the reaction isn’t really as important as acknowledging that I made the effort, I did what I had intended and I successfully learned that it wasn’t a good therapy for me. That sounds like a win to me.
So that’s my floating story and I’m sticking to it. What’s your story?