Hey y’all. I’ve got a bit of things to catch you up on, and will do that soon! For now, I think it’s my civic duty to tell you about the time that I paid good money to take a bath in a bunch of salt.
Ok, that’s not totally fair to say, but at the end of the day, that’s exactly what it was.
Let me take a step back.
Given my bad experience with multiple doctors over the past few months and their inability to diagnose what’s been wreaking havoc on my mind and body, I made the decision to seek out more natural ways to heal and become whole. Again, more on that journey later.
I had happened upon an article espousing the benefits of floatation therapy, a process by which you lay in 1,200 pounds of epsom salt that’s been dissolved in 10 inches of water adjusted to your body temperature. For an hour, you’re floating in a pod that’s designed for sensory deprivation in order to allow your brain to enter into what’s known as the theta state. Theta brain waves are the ones involved in daydreaming, sleep and deep relaxation. I’m getting sleepy even typing this.
In case you’re wondering, this is the guy who founded the practice. ‘Scuse me while I get used to the fact that he is not, in fact, Davy Crockett.
While I love the sensation of water – though I’m a Leo*, I very much identify with the water sign – I found it hard to believe that trying to stay afloat in a pool of salt water was going to be anything close to relaxing.
*For the record, I do not buy into the idea that astrology dictates anything about our present or future, but I very much believe that we each identify with one of the elements, regardless of how or why.
A few weeks after I read about the therapy, I saw a Groupon for True Rest Float Spa in Powell, OH and decided to give it a shot.
I’ll say this – while the core is the floating session, it’s truly all about the holistic experience from the minute you walk in the door until the minute you leave.
You’re welcomed in a small waiting room, and, like most spas, offered tea, coffee or water to get you comfortable while you wait and listen to the familiar sounds of the pan flute. Once you get the administrative stuff out of the way, you slip into flip flops (they have them for you, but I recommend bringing your own because who knows there those things have been!) and get ushered into a dark room with a wall-mounted TV and chaise lounges so you can start to relax.
After watching a brief video about what to expect and how to make the most of your experience, the video switches over to a loop of colorful, geometric shapes that go in and out of focus and change size and color. The point is to prepare your brain for the theta state that will come with the float.
Now that you’re mentally prepared, a floating consultant guides you to your floating room that includes both the pod and a small and open shower area to wash your body and hair of the day’s griminess before you step into the pod.
Once cleaned off, you step into your pod and the floating consultant – now in another room – starts 10 minutes of music that’s supposed to relax and prepare you for the next hour of floating. When she walked me through the instructions – of which there were MANY, so listen up – she said that once the music ends at the end of the session, that’s when you know your time is up.
Unfortunately, I didn’t quite hear her say the music plays only the first and last 10 minutes of your session. So when it stopped the first time and suddenly I was floating in complete silence, I panicked. Did my sound work? Did I actually click off the music button? How will I know when to get out if there’s no music to cue me when to do so?
WILL I DIE IN HERE? Probably.
While of course I was being dramatic, it’s indicative of what is probably everyone’s first time in a floating pod. What’s going on with the music? Should I keep the pod lights on or off (if the latter, you’d be floating in literal darkness)? Should I keep the pod open or closed (if the latter, it becomes nearly suffocating)?
Until you know what combination of variables and choices works for you, it’s difficult to relax. They tell you to focus on your breathing – much like in yoga – but you’re so worried about whether or not you’re going to suffocate to death that breathing is the last thing on your mind.
In the last 15 minutes, I finally figured out what combination worked for me – lights off, pod open – and it was heavenly, albeit short.
Once your session is done, you’re asked to shower once again to remove the salt that’s stuck to your body. At True Rest, you have access to lots of products to make that experience like home – Aveda lotions, make up remover, hair dryer, straightening iron. The works.
Once you’re ready to go, you have to first step through an intermediary room that the staff encourages you to spend at least 10 minutes in after your float in order to make an easier transition back into the real world. In that room, you get fresh hot tea (from Tekhu, the best!), lemon water to rebalance the pH in your body, and access to an Oxygen bar – I tried the lavendar, but like a child my nose started running 7 minutes in and I had to stop. And finally, you’re encouraged to journal your experience – or whatever is on your mind – in a journal shared by all patrons of the spa. Pretty interesting to see what other’s experiences have been.
I’m still entirely undecided about the experience, but I did leave feeling almost eerily relaxed. So relaxed that I wondered if I was ok to drive! Alas, I was. It’s a feeling that’s stayed with me throughout most of the weekend, though the shit of the day always finds a way to seep back in.
Would I go back? Absolutely. Pod up, lights off. And…sleep.