Sunday, September 25, 2016

Unaltered States

OK. I tried it. I spent 90 minutes in a dark room floating in gallons of epsom salted-water in an effort to flush my brain. A friend suggested I try it after her experience in the tank had helped her after a recent accident. I've found myself increasingly stressed and angry of late and am looking for any kind of relief that doesn't involve hours in talk-therapy, something I've never had any success with (it would require another blog-post to explain). Sensory deprivation sounded like it might be useful to someone like me, who is in constant sensory overload. I could use a really cathartic sob session or a chance to listen to my brain create its own sounds.

I went into my floating experience with high hopes, positive and excited. Just let go, see what left, what remained, what was born anew inside my head. Perhaps adding float-therapy to my monthly massage sessions might be just the ticket for getting me back in balance. It was not to be.

On the positive side my pool cave was roomy, not the least bit claustrophobic. The water was fine. And, yeah, I floated. There was a line of little blue lights that I could leave on, or turn off. It's suggested you turn them off to, you know, deprive yourself of light, and that's what I did once I felt comfortable being suspended in water in total darkness. And I was given earplugs - the gummy kind that work fabulously well - to keep water out of my ears and provide more sound-proofing. OK. All fine.

Here's where it didn't work for me. First, I have an overly developed sense of smell, and the little room smelled like dirty feet - like a steam room at a gym (not the spa kind). My nose was not sensory deprived. Second, I'm hot-natured, and the space was uncomfortably warm and close. My internal thermometer was not sensory deprived. And third, well, my brain just never shuts down. Take away people, work, books, a slew of electronic devices, food, and light, and my brain just fills in the spaces. Seems my head cannot be sensory deprived.

How did I spend my 90 minutes? Something like this: listening to my breathing, prayer, worrying about work, wondering how long I'd been in the pool, listening to my breathing, wishing it were cooler, worrying about money, going to my happy place - a cabin porch on a rainy day with a good book and tea, wishing it smelled better, listening to my breathing, doing a little (shallow) water aerobics, wondering how long I had been in the pool, a lttle more prayer, going to my other happy place - a snowed in cabin with a roaring fire in the fireplace with a good book and tea, listening to my breathing, wishing it were cooler, worrying about everything else in the world, and wondering how long I'd been in the pool. In short, sensory overload. For 90 minutes. In a dark, quiet pool. Sigh.

I know you're all thinking - wow, this girl is in deep need of a psychiatrist. But I guess for now I'll stick to my massages. And books, old movies, grandkids, autumn (if it ever comes), and food. If I'm going to be in sensory overload, it may as well be with the sensory experiences I love. But at least I gave it a go. And I did learn something about myself: there's no such thing as sensory deprivation where my head is concerned.

Of course, there's always hypnosis . . .