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