Just won’t float

When I say I’m not the woman I was at 25, usually it’s because today’s 50-year old version of me feels freer, more confident and happier than I could imagine in my twenties. But recently, I freaked out in a spa’s floatation tank. It’s made me think about what personal growth really means.

Unsinkable in a mere foot of water

The spa promised an hour free of gravity’s shackles. I’d float like a cork in womb-like darkness in 300 gallons of water, saturated with more than a thousand pounds of Epsom salts, in a human-sized tank. The tank was soundproof and utterly dark. No distractions. Thanks to the body-temperature water, I’d soon lose track of where my skin ended and the water began.

Some might quail at the prospect, but I couldn’t wait. Back in the 80s, float tanks provided me a rare escape from my busy, busy brain.

When history fails to repeat

I had anticipated a spiritual experience, appropriate of the many ways I’ve evolved in the decades since my last float. Instead, I panicked before I’d even turned out the light.

Lying in the dark tank was out of the question, but I decided I’d use my hour in this warm, quiet place to enjoy some private meditation. Upright, I gained sufficient density to touch my bottom to the tank’s floor. I switched off the light, listened to my breath and released the need to wonder why 50-year-old me rejected something my nervous 25-year-old self had embraced so easily.

Sometimes it’s okay to be left in the dark

Why is a question I still haven’t answered. Perhaps it happened that way because I’m currently learning to recognize energetic boundaries, and so losing sense of my body would confuse me. Perhaps I was simply having a touchy day.

Perhaps why it happened that way matters less than that it did.

Turns out, growth isn’t linear

Fifty-year-old me went into the tank expecting to pick up where 25-year-old me left off. But if 25-year-old me had freaked in the tank, harsh self-criticism would have followed. Only with the perspective of age was I able to adapt to what was happening with presence and a new set of responses, rather than cling to my expectations and judge myself accordingly.

When I look at it that way, I reckon I had my spiritual experience after all.


Photo credit: From the official i-sopod website

2 Replies to “Just won’t float”

  1. The last time I went into a tank, I wondered about my ability to remain calm and not let my claustrophobia flare. It turned out okay…I found myself contemplating “trust” – not people in this case, but technology.

    “What if this door won’t open? What if the light won’t come on?” Erg. ‘Breathe’ x 102!

    Like how you perceived the whole experience into a positive, Sally.

    1. Heh. I’m not surprised to hear you’ve floated (more than once). Weirdly, those weren’t my concerns this time. I’ve had some hip/back stuff for about ten years now and my freakout was over whether it would hurt. Intellectually, I knew it was foolish, but there ya go. Also, as I contemplated floating in warm fluid in the dark, I heard a voice telling me this was not the time to go back to the womb. Whether it was my fear talking, who knows. Very interesting experience all around.

      Thank you for coming by and sharing. I appreciate you!

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