I know this seems like the equivalent of performing your own funeral, but for some reason, I thought entering a casket like box, filled with salts in pure darkness was the key to relaxation. How naïve I was as I was looking forward to a session in a sensory deprivation tank. I had heard that it was a good opportunity to clear one’s mind. However, my anxious mind had other plans. For those of you who have not experienced “floating” as they call it, let me set the scene. You enter a spa like room with a gigantic tank full of a foot of body temperature water containing 800 pounds of Epsom salts. The tank has a door that when closed is completely dark is supposed to encourage deep relaxation. The Epsom salts help release toxins from the body and can help with muscle tension and other ailments. It is suppose to be a healing session for both your mind and body, unless of course you have anxious mind like mine.
I enter the tank with excitement and as soon as I close the door of the tank, my claustrophobia kicks in with abandon. My brain screams, “I’m trapped! Must get out immediately!!!!” I keep checking the door, which of course has no lock on it, but my brain does not register this simple fact. I put a small towel between the door and the tank to ensure that I wasn’t trapped. I take a deep breath and try to relax.
A few minutes in, I again focus on the thought that I am completely alone, in the dark, in an enclosed tank, with just me and my thoughts. My brain seizes again. My thoughts are buzzing all around telling me this is a terrible idea. Why would I pay money to be alone with my thoughts? I start to get out of the tank and check the timer, only 4 minutes have passed! Within those 4 minutes, I have gone from excitement to panic to relaxation and back again. I take a deep breath and tell myself to just OBSERVE. Don’t react, just observe. And for the first time since being a Life Coach I was able to observe my mind freak out without reacting to it.
I literally floated between these varying emotional states for the remaining hour. I didn’t run out even though my brain told me to. I didn’t check for the towel a 1,000 times like my mind told me to. I realized very deeply that my brain was just trying to protect me. It didn’t have time to consider I was in a spa, paying for this strange experience. Instead I accepted that it’s my brain’s job to protect me just in case. What a gift. It almost brought me to tears.
During that long hour, I felt really alone, but not lonely. I felt human. Vulnerable, scared, empowered, and silly. I realized that all these emotions truly were just vibrations in the body that I could experience, without jumping out of my skin. For the first time I was able to just sit with them.
When you seize up with negative emotion, even though intellectually you know you are safe, try to observe. Watch your brain freak out. Try not to react to it. Thank it, for reacting so quickly to keep you safe. If you are safe, then sit with the emotion. Watch it rise and fall and rise again and if you are silly like me, float with all of it. You are human and it is all perfect.
If any of my writing or experiences resonate with you, please don’t hesitate to reach out to schedule a complimentary mini-session by scheduling here.
Thank you, what an interesting story and a brave one at that.
It makes me think of time that I had to hide from an intruder. I wasn’t alone because my sister and one other friend were there with me – felt alone because we were little girls. Sometime between hearing the storm door break open and the three of us climbing out a bathroom window to get help, we sat completely still in our individualfear. We may have been 9 years old at the time and I can’t tell you who suggested we get out of the house. We were unharmed and the man was taken away, but how interesting.
Your story if provoking and a good way to understand that we can develope control over the unconscious reactions.