My First Float

If you've engaged me on topics outside the world of Drupal, it becomes apparent pretty quickly that I have some rather esoteric interests. Everything from molten salt reactors to Star Wars is pretty much on the table. Unfortunately, working either for clients or on Drupal itself take up the majority of my time that's not already dedicated to my family, so it is rare that I go out and actually participate in things in which I have an interest. For my 30th birthday, my amazing wife got me my first Skydiving jump. I'd wanted to do that for a LONG LONG time, but never really found the time or chance to do so. It was a blast and while I won't (and haven't) made a habit of jumping out of small planes, it was a life experience I really wanted to have. Similarly, I've been wanting to do a "float" for a really long time.

If you're not familiar with "floating", it's a pretty simple concept. You dissolve a crap-ton of salt into warm (body-temperature) water, to the point that floating in it takes no effort. Then you make sure the water and air are both roughly body temperature, climb in and turn off all the lights and sounds. This deprives the body of most of its senses and leaves you alone with your mind for a time. It's a fascinating concept, and one I'd wanted to try out for a very long time. Unfortunately, here in Oklahoma City, whenever I've looked in the past, we didn't have a place that provided the service. Apparently, that has changed.

Ju knew I wanted to do this, by contrast, the description I gave up above is akin to her version of hell. Not in reality, but when you say all that stuff, it sounds like a claustrophobic nightmare. It wasn't, but it absolutely could be interpreted that way. I have no room to really judge that since my claustrophobia mechanism doesn't kick in until about the time I literally can't move. Despite her misgivings though, she scheduled a float for both of us. We had different experiences, and I'll let her give her story if she wants, but for me it was a pretty interesting experience.

If you go on the internet a read about floating, it sounds like people are having full blown hallucinations just from floating around in the dark. This definitely wasn't my experience. There were definitely some visual components to what I experienced, but in general it was much as you might imagine floating in warm water in the dark would be... peaceful. That was yesterday, and the sort of... "zen" I got from it is still in effect today. The experience itself was interesting. They supplied a small ring to help  your head float and told us some people used it and other dislike it. I opted for trying it out but probably 10 minutes or so in discarded it. I didn't have any trouble with my head floating, but it did have a tendency to arc backwards like some ancient raptor fossil. This was likely due to my muscles in my neck and shoulders being overly tight. Eventually I opted for putting my hands behind my head and this was more comfortable than it's EVER been out of the water. I stayed that was for the rest of the float quite happily.

They say you lose track of time while you float and while I certainly didn't have a precise measure of time, I can't say I lost track of it. I tried really really hard to just let go of everything in there. I wanted to get the most from my experience, and I suspect there's more to it if I were to do it regularly. There were also a couple of minor things that kept drawing my attention:

  1. Bubbles kept forming on my body. This was super super annoying and took an awful lot of my efforts to dismiss and ignore them. Funny how much effort ignoring a thing can take
  2. Despite the ear plugs in my ears and the fact that I couldn't hear anything early in the float, as the float continued I became aware of a low mechanical hum. I suspect it was something in the tank itself since they had a number of systems built in. Water's a good transmitter of sound and it's hard to dampen everything out. Ju reported the same hum.

All in all, I REALLY enjoyed doing this and I came out of it not only refreshed and calm but those same muscle groups I found problematic during the float in my neck and shoulders were markedly better afterward and even today. It was a really great experience and I'm looking forward to my next time. If you've never done it, I can't suggest it enough. If you're in the Oklahoma City/Edmond area I used http://www.floatokc.com/, they were great and explained everything to Ju and I and offer a first time discount.

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