Treat Yourself: Resting on Water
By Alissa Klugh, MS, LPC
If you're anything like me, you're in constant pursuit for new, inventive ways to find a sense of balance through self-care. As a therapist, I oftentimes preach the importance of how to incorporate self-care into the lives of my clients. Sadly, many people look to the use of self-care as a last resort. We take up so much of our daily lives living them for other people and our careers, that we forget how taking care of ourselves can play a role in our overall mental health and functioning.
I have tried and suggested numerous types of self-care for my clients, family, and friends. Anytime I find something new and inventive, I make sure to try it out and pass along the information to whomever is wiling to listen, like you, right now, for instance. So, I want you to pay close attention to this upcoming method of self-care:
Come with me while I take you on a journey of this magical spa experience.
When you walk into a float studio, there is one thing that those who run the studio want you to know: You're there to relax. From the moment you enter the warmth of the welcoming atmosphere, you are transported into a world of calm. A friendly staff provides you a tour to ensure your comfort and leaves you to peacefully take your time to get started in a relaxing, private room.
Picture this: an opportunity to use a luxurious rainfall shower (I need one of these in my home, for sure) to wash away the outside world before submerging yourself into the motionless and dark float pod. Light meditation music fills the air as you enter the float pod, enhancing the relaxation that is all around you. Although you have to briefly adjust to how your body feels in the ten inches of water (where over a thousand pounds of Epsom salt has been dissolved, greatly increasing density), it allows you to have the experience of floating. And I truly mean this - floating. You know, like you're in the Dead Sea? Yeah, that's what I'm talking about. As soon as you lie on your back and lift your legs, there you are - weightless. There aren't many times that we get to say that we truly felt weightless.
I'll be honest with you - it took me a minute or two to get adjusted. It was kind of strange, at first. I noticed myself trying to beat the system; to try to not float. If you asked those closest to me, they would probably laugh and say that they weren't surprised that I'd try to fight the change. (Although it is inevitable, and must be embraced, I, too, struggle with it sometimes!)
Back to the float: with an entirely relaxed body, I continued to float in this perfectly dark pod. I have never been in a space where I felt so free to just let it all go. I found myself having to readjust a few times because it was like I could barely perceive my extremities. I mean, I knew they were there, but they were weightless. We don't realize how much weight we carry around with us, on a daily basis - no matter how much space we take up, our bodies as bound to the ground with the pull of gravity. In this situation: I was no longer subject to the rules of gravity. (Take that, Sir Isaac Newton!)
Somehow, this small floaty space has eliminated the external stimuli in my environment. It's warm. it's peaceful. It's quiet. It's dark. And I.AM.FLOATING. I was told that floating transitions your mind to a restful state known as theta. This comes from the science behind sleep. Theta is considered as sleep stage one, which is the twilight state of sleep. It's considered this because of the characteristics that happen during this transitional time: "clarity, inspiration, flashes of dreamlike imagery, and feelings of inner peace" (Levity, 2019).
Toward the end of your session, the gentle music begins to bring you back to your reality. Upon the music returning, you are able to exit the pod, get another glorious rainfall shower (did I mention, before, how much I liked that?), dry off, and step back into your real world, once again.
...and another great little tidbit: they had a cold bottle of water waiting for me in the waiting room, once I was done! It's the little things.
If you are someone who is looking to improve your sense of calm, enhance your mediative skills, and know what it would be like to have a full 60 minutes to relax and be completely cut off from the outside world, then floating is for you. I would suggest this to anyone who wants and/or needs to have specific time set out to relax. It's so hard for most of us to shut out our daily lives, and floating forces you to do that. Guess what you can't do? Check emails, look at your phone, text, etc. This is a great way to remember what it was like before we were tied to our electronics. I was comfortable and enjoyed being disconnected so much that I didn't want to leave and reconnect!
Floating is meant to be beneficial in decreasing stress levels, enhancing your ability to sleep, and increasing your endorphins (you now, those feel-good hormones that we're always talking about). It helps us do these things in a natural way. I have worked with numerous people who want to stay away from any type of supplements and/or medications to assist in these areas. Floating a wonderful option to reach a sense of balance and relaxation that many of us are seeking.
You may want to try it out. You just might like it.
Although there are many reputable float studios and spas, if you are looking for a place to float in the Pittsburgh Area, I encourage you to check out Levity Float Studio in Squirrel Hill. I was able to enjoy this experience with their generosity and support.