Free Falling

2 Apr

When I turned 50, my father got me a gift certificate for a floatation at Flo2s, a sensory-deprivation, floatation-therapy spa in Atlanta which bills their floatation experience as being “like outer space on earth.” I intended to use it right away, but, as so often happens, other demands on my life took priority.

Finally, this past March, I turned the necessity of driving my daughter down to the Atlanta airport into an opportunity to redeem my gift certificate. The experience was so energizing, that I plan on repeating it, but closer to home at Lucidity Spa in downtown Chattanooga.

Because parking in Atlanta can be problematic, I arrived early. Flo2s’ owners were in the middle of remodeling their facility, so the lobby was a little cluttered with paint cans, tiles and tesserae, brushes, and other common renovation ingredients. I think the end result will be very relaxing since the lobby restroom had been retiled in a very calming brown pattern. The building Flo2s is leasing is an older building with odd architectural quirks and almost alien piping, but the tiler somehow brought all those elements together in an organic way.

I had to sign a number of releases and go through a short training, and then the attendant took me to my tank area and showed me how everything worked. He gave me special earplugs for my ears, both to keep the water out and to deaden any sounds. He showed me how the chamber door worked and where the light switch was located. Then he gave me a cloth – in case I needed to scratch my nose. For hygiene reasons, I was not supposed to scratch my nose with wet fingers and place them right back in the water. I thought that was a little odd.

After he left, I showered off, changed into my swimsuit, and got into the tank. I felt odd at first because the tank was so shallow. I wasn’t sure how to hold my head and shoulders. I closed the door, turned off the light, lay back, and tried to relax. It took me a few minutes to get the hang of relaxing into a float because it really does not feel the same as floating in a swimming pool. Even with the extra floatation I carry naturally, I sink much lower in both fresh and salt water than I did in that concentrated bath of Epsom salts.

I closed my eyes and waited. Eventually my body relaxed. After a while I started to feel like I was gently spinning or tumbling through space. When I opened my eyes, I half expected to see stars in the night sky – but the blackness of the chamber was absolute. I used the cloth a few times, and when I reached for it once, I discovered that I had spun somewhat, because it was no longer in reach. Exploration revealed that my head was now where my feet had been, so I readjusted myself, scratched my nose in the approved manner and lay back down.

After a while, I began to wonder if signing up for a full 90-minute float had been a good idea. The air was just a tiny bit cooler than what I preferred, as was the water. I wasn’t chilly, but almost. And absolutely nothing was going on. Aside from a very faint whiff of mold. When I drive with the music off, to be alone with my thoughts, I still have the scenery. No sensory input began to bore me.

I estimated that I’d been in there between 20 and 25 minutes and started considering whether to just get out and stand in a hot shower. Then the music came on: the signal that my 90 minutes was up! Surely not! It couldn’t have been 90 minutes already!

I got out and checked the time on my phone: an hour and a half. Where had the time gone? I didn’t have any recollection of falling asleep or waking up, yet I must have. As I drove back up I-75 to Ringgold, I felt surprisingly energetic for someone who’d only gotten four hours of sleep the night before. The burst of energy lasted until almost 9pm.

In doing more research on floatation therapy, I came across this claim: One hour of rest in the floating theta state is equivalent to approximately four hours of R.E.M. sleep. I’m not sure what a floating theta state is, but I consider that float to be the best maybe-nap of my life.

Thanks, Dad!

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

%d bloggers like this: