thoughts before floating
I heard about this nearby Float Tank last night. Already I have an appointment. I'm all for complete relaxation, increasing the levels of dopamine and endorphins in my brain and reducing stress (and zapping the dreaded Cortisol). All of this leads to greater well-being. I'm sure I'll sleep well tonight!
Why float? I love swimming in water, especially floating in the warm ocean. I grew up in Florida and floated most of my childhood in the ocean or my pool. This cooler time of year draws me to my hot tub each evening. But the water is not buoyant. Sounds like true bliss to float with music, dim lights and a completely private and surreal setting. It may be like amniotic fluid.
The float tank is filled with epsom salt (magnesium). I'm a big fan of epsom salt baths because it soothes my aching muscles from yoga. Why does magnesium help?
Here's how it works. Building muscle causes fatigue. Healthy muscles (called "red muscles”) have a reserve oxygen supply, permitting them to contract and relax repeatedly while maintaining cellular respiration which resists muscle fatigue. The myosin protein in muscles causes contraction and relaxation acting as enzymes, which break down ATP molecules (adenosine triphosphate). ATP provides energy so we want to keep an ample supply in our muscles. When ATP is used up too quickly without the oxygen to support it, muscles (called "white muscles") become quickly fatigued with the build-up of lactic acid—an indication that muscle cell oxygen has been depleted.
Magnesium in epsom salts helps by flushing lactic acid build-up in the muscles. Magnesium is an abundant mineral in our bodies and its role in our overall health is important. It can be found in over 300 different enzymes in our body and is vital for activating muscles and nerves, creating energy in the body and efficiently digesting proteins, carbohydrates and fats. Other ways to replenish magnesium are eating organic foods, lowering sugar intake and lowering stress.
(Read more here from my healing series on muscle fatigue)
about the float tank
I went to Float North County. The water is 93.5 degrees and filled with 1,100 pounds of epsom salt which means you float effortlessly. People float to relieve stress, recover from injuries, fight addiction, eliminate chronic pain, etc.
It is said that after 30-45 minutes of floating, your mind starts producing theta brainwaves, which are responsible for that state between waking and sleeping.
reflections after floating
At first I wondered how I'd keep myself company for 90 minutes. I wasn't tired. I began by playing with the lighting and moving around, bouncing lightly off the walls. I found it difficult to relax the back of my neck at first even though I completely trusted that I didn't need to hold it up. The water was only like 1-2 feet deep. The attendant told me that I don't want to get the epsom salt in my eyes, but that wasn't making me tense as I had my towel nearby.
I realized in there that you are faced with yourself, but in a different way than a yoga practice where you get to move the energy around. I felt the tension that I carry around with me in the world. It was highlighted as I put all of my focus on it. Coincidentally, the back of my neck is my latest tense spot in my yoga practice that is holding me back so it's my new focus. Who knew I'd end up in this float tank to fulfill my destiny...
I began to do pranayama breathing—the simple 1:4:2 ratio through my nose. I could hear my breathing. It was soothing. I did this for about 30 minutes. I watched my reflection on the ceiling which was very faint but clear enough. Eventually I felt the need to do some yoga-like poses from side to side, feel some bones crack, etc. Felt great.
I flipped my body around to the other side and was then noticing my hair flowing in the blue light. The next thing I knew I was making mermaid shapes on the ceiling, different swaying motions to see which hairdo I could make in my reflection.
Next time I checked in with myself I realized the tension in the back of my neck was gone. Everything was in slow motion. I was like a blue avatar (from the movie Avatar) floating in the tank. My fingers seemed really long. I could see them on the ceiling. I spent about 5 minutes moving them slowly, checking them out. I was almost motionless.
At this point I realized that I was distracted. I was entertaining myself. I wanted to try to be extra still. I knew I needed to grab my phone for a photo first. I'd relax better after that...
It wasn't until later that I turned the lights out so that it was completely dark. When I tried this at the beginning I didn't like it. The music was only playing for the first 8 minutes. In the dark I stopped breathing through my nose as if I were in a yoga class trying to stay present. I breathed through my mouth. I wasn't sleeping but I was in heaven.
I finally knew what it was like to completely relax while floating. I didn't want the moment to end.
I'll be back and expand upon my journey.
reactions next day
I woke with a headache. I've known epsom salt baths to be detoxifying, but this concentrated amount and for a long period of time really amplified the process.
Magnesium increases circulatory functions, improving toxin release. Today I will using my juicer often to flush the toxins that are being released, replenish with good electrolytes and minerals, assisting my immune system, hormones and more! I'll start with celery, cucumber, cilantro, lemon, microgreens. And a shot of apple cider vinegar.
My skin feels awesome! I was surprisingly awake later than normal last night, feeling vibrant, but had a deep sleep. I remembered very detailed dreams.
-Robin Ellen Lucas, MA