40 Firsts (highlight) :: sensory deprivation

Illumination in the Dark

Illumination in the Dark

My 40Firsts journey is unfolding in ways that I could not have imagined prior to starting out. It is highly personal and can be hard to share publicly--but this is my commitment. From time to time I get into conversations with curious people who offer me ideas for Firsts. I am grateful for their interest though struggle to explain my purpose. It is not a Fear Factor experiment as some folks think, when they invite me to eat bugs (there will be plenty of bug eating next year when we are out of the country). 40Firsts is about testing my edge of comfort with the purpose of expanding into the world a more whole person. 

For the people who know me very well, they might say I have a good handle on emotional intelligence, spirituality and intellect. In other words... I tend to be an internal world kind of person. For those of you who are familiar with chakras, I have the top four happily spinning and the lower three in need of attention. I may be outgoing in personality but I have been physically shy person much of my life. Since my teens, I have been a person dedicated to understanding what it means to BE and I haven't sought balance with the necessary aspects of DO. I haven't seen my body as a tool to experience the world until now. 

My 40Firsts journey is very much a journey of awakening into my ego and my body though with the mindfulness and intention that comes with a 40+ year old mind. It isn't about putting myself in harm's way or freaking myself out. It is about opening up in a more tangible and physically expressive way to what I feel, think and know in my heart and mind. It is about taking conscious risks (not calculated): "how will I expand from this experience?"

So this brings me to my 90 minutes in a sensory deprivation pool yesterday. I had anxiously anticipated I would be in a pod-like tank, but had a room with a pool instead which allowed me to float without bumping into walls. The pool is set at skin temperature, around 93 degrees, and the room stays perfectly aligned with that temperature so there is no difference between the parts of the body in the water and those out of water. The room is 100% pitch dark with no light breaches and there is no sound. I floated nude in a pool filled with 800 pounds of epsom salts which kept me buoyant. 

It is another experience that is hard to explain and I imagine unique for each person. My mind drifted from meditation to meditation, with breaks of enjoying the unusual sensations of weightlessness and flow. There was no difference with eyes open or closed and many times I lost myself, happily forgetting I was human with a body and its aches and rambling thoughts. There was no sound other than the splash of the water, the beat of my heart and the echo of my voice. Eventually I found myself in a thoughtless meditation, so deeply relaxed that I felt like I could fall asleep but remained in a state just on the edge of sleep. And after what felt like 10 minutes passing, subdued lights came on with dreamy music signaling that 90 minutes had passed. 

I was surprised to have such a brilliant and physical experience touch so deeply into that place of being that I love so much. I emerged unbelievably relaxed with relief from a week-long headache. This is something I highly recommend for everyone, especially folks who are under a lot of stress and/or have chronic pain. 

Portlanders: we recommend Float On for your relaxing pleasure.