Monday, October 6, 2014

A pause for a shout out: Float Toronto

Today was weird but good.

I did a float in a sensory deprivation chamber in a place called Float Toronto. I will answer the question as to why first: I promised I would. For those who don't know, I work at an Alternative School in Oakville. Kids in my school say they "Did nothing" over the weekend, and as a teacher, I would ask them if they sat in a chamber like this:

Then, of course I'd have to explain what it was. Meh, I decided it was time to go and check it out for myself. As I am a newbie at this, I bought a pack of three floating sessions and booked my first session for Friday night, starting at 11pm.

Why so late? Kids. I have three kids and I needed them in bed along with my wife before I could get out of the house and get this done.

I got to 1159 Queen St W and the lights were off, but there was a guy behind the counter and another sitting inside the glass. I went in. Whispered welcomes and a sign "Please keep your voice down and turn off the ringer to your phone." What can I say, I turned off the ringer and checked in on Facebook.

A few whispered conversations with one or two other customers just finishing off their experience let me know I was in for a cool night. I got into the room and got a few last minute instructions from the attendant. I'm sorry but I didn't get the young man's name. He knew his stuff and was a good fit for the job.

The tank itself was about three meters long, almost two meters high and almost two meters wide. I know that doesn't mean much, but let me explain it another way. While floating, I stretched out my arms and legs and couldn't touch the ends. I put my arms to the side and reached and couldn't touch either side while in the middle. While I was standing beside it, the tank was almost as tall as I was.

The lights in the room were controlled by a dimmer switch and I could control how dim the light was with a single touch. While getting ready, I turned them up high, showered and then turned them down for after I was done. Who likes waking up to bright lights, right?

In any case, I got in and put my head into the water ... and remembered I hadn't put in any ear plugs. I got out and put them in, and got back in and closed the door.

The first few minutes were a little weird. I opened my eyes and saw nothing. I closed my eyes and saw nothing. It was weird not sinking to the bottom of the tank. It was weird that I couldn't hear anything nor really smell anything. Then I kinda went back to my childhood for a few minutes, pushing off of the top of the tank with my hands, floating down to the far end of the tank, then pushing off of that side with my feet. I didn't want to go fast, as I didn't want splashed water in my eyes or mouth. That would come later.

A first I just kind of lay there, thinking about issues in my life. I started taking notes for a to do list and started noticing fish, lit in a faint dark green light approaching me from in front of me and heading above me and to my right. Nice fish, whose mouths opened and closed. I saw a sports car's front driver's side wheel turn right and away from me. After that, a shark, then a T-Rex type of face. All lit with the same faint but dark green light. Then it cleared up and in full colour I thought I saw Dori from the film Finding Nemo.

That was weird. And that was about as weird as it got. I also thought about some of the private issues in my life and spent some time experiencing them again from another perspective.

As time went on, I think I fell asleep, but really I couldn't tell. The warmth of the water was comfortable and the semi-chronic pains in my neck and back started to ease up. My legs, my hip and my shoulders all started to relax and become pain free. In another weird moment, I could feel my stomach growl and then felt the water ripple a little as a result.

At the end of the float, there was some nice music come on in the tank. I was ready to go. I had gotten in at 11pm, and since this was the last float of the day, it was two hours long. With my right hand, I reached over my head to open the door, and promptly got a mouth full and two eyes full of the saltiest water I've ever tasted.

Yeah, that wasn't good. Don't do that.

I knelt down for a second, reaching the door with my left and and opened the door to the tank. The soft light let me see what was where, but the salt in my eyes prevented me from keeping them open. I turned on the shower and started to rinse the water out of my eyes and mouth. It took a few minutes. I felt all salty and so used some good all natural shampoo and kept going with the shower.

As I was in the shower, I became more aware about how good and pain free my legs and especially my calves were. My gastroc muscles haven't felt that good in a while. I dried off and got ready to go. I was indeed starting to feel "Floaty".

The drive home was pretty uneventful, as the traffic was so light. As I drove I reflected on how good my injuries felt and how hungry I was. Can't say I was ever really scared about what I would see when I was in the dark tank, as some people I've shared my experience with have mentioned. The fish and the car's wheel were weird, but that wasn't really what I noticed the most.

I focus my comments on how my body reacted to the float: it felt awesome. When I lay down after a light meal at 2am, I was already quite well rested. I slept quite well and when I woke up, my legs were pain free and ready for a training session instead of a session of stretching and rolling.

I have two more floating sessions to go. I'm looking forward to them and possibly into the next few months. I would recommend floating to anyone who might ask me about it if only for the physical health benefits. Helping me develop a bit more clarity was a nice added bonus.


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