This is my experience of a flotation pod at Calm Water Flotation, Nottingham who (despite how you’ll see my thought flowed) were very helpful at explaining how everything worked and how we might feel in the pod. Giving floating a try was for our Aligning Teams Christmas Do and on the back of Mark Gilroy’s experience – we decided that the usual meal and drinks wasn’t for us and instead we plan to try a different therapy or experience each year……
I step into the warm, thick water….
Oh it’s not as thick as I expected.
[Closes the lid]
Lie back. Oo I’m floating!
The blue light and sounds of the ocean on the shore are calming.
Is my ear plug in right? I’ll just adjust that.
[Sits up, with difficulty! This water’s floaty! Lies back down.]
I’m breathing. But it feels hard. there’s a tightness in my throat. Is that anxiety?? Even with the light on??
Just breathe. In and out. Calm down. You’re just in a tank. Floating.
Rest your head right back. Test out this buoyancy thing. Oh yes, that works.
[Lies there for a bit, still thinking about breathing quite alot]
Wow my neck really hurts!
I wonder what it’s going to be like when it goes dark. If I close my eyes I won’t notice when the light goes out and it’ll just be the same.
They do turn the light off for me…don’t they? Maybe not…. Maybe I have to do that for myself….
I’ll just turn it off.
Wow it’s dark. I swear I’m moving. Spinning. Oh, there’s the side. Am I on the opposite side? I think I am. It’s hard to tell. I’ll put my hands out to see what I can feel.
I can feel the wall on one side. And one of the struts from the lid. Where’s the other side? That’s where the light switch is. I want to be near the light switch.
Slight panic sets in. [I’ve since realised there’s a light switch on both sides!!]
[Fumbles for the other side]
Just open the lid. See where you are. Then you can get back to being near the light switch and relax.
[Opens the lid]
Wow I’ve turned 90 degrees and yes, I’m on the opposite side! This thing is so big!
Right, back to where I want to be.
[Closes the lid]
Now there’s a gap where the lid meets the pod! Have I not closed it properly? I’ll just open and close it again. No, the gap’s still there. Oh well. I’ll just close my eyes, it’ll make no difference. It’s still darkness. Oh but the man said to replicate the REM state you need total darkness. This will affect my experience. I could go and tell them. Ask to move pod. But that means getting out, using a towel to walk to reception. I don’t think I want to walk to reception like this!! It’s fine. I’ll just keep my eyes shut.
Just relax and make the most of the time.
But I’ve paid for this. Am I being silly not going to ask about this? Should I press the alarm button? But is that just for real emergencies? I can’t remember what they said.
Maybe if I open the lid fully like I did to start with then it’ll close fully.
[Opens lid fully and closes it again]
No. that’s not worked. Oh and now I’ve got a splash of salt in my eye. Ow that hurts.
[Blink, blink, blink]
Why do I have no tears! Has the salt dried my eye up?? There’s the spray bottle out there on the seat to wash eyes out with. Oh it’s fine. It’ll pass. I can’t be bothered to get it.
Close your eyes again. Rest your head back. Relax.
My eye still hurts. Just keep them closed. It’ll pass. My neck really aches. It’s always the left side. I needed a massage before I got in here.
I can feel a tiny breeze coming through that crack from the lid. Quite soothing on my eye actually.
Relax. Look at your knees. They’re so tense. Relax them.
[After a short while]
Shall I open my eyes?
Oh! It’s properly dark! The lid’s closed fully by itself!!
And my eye’s stopped hurting! I did have some tears afterall. But don’t wipe them away. You might get more salt in your eye!
Lie back. Relax……
I’ve no idea how long I spent with all this faffing! It might have only been 10 minutes! Felt like ages!! But after this was all done I was able to lie still. I was able to meditate, with my mind drifting off to work, kids, back to breath, more work, how I was feeling, what I was noticing, back to breath. Sometimes with my eyes open, sometimes they naturally closed. I didn’t sleep but I can see how you could. Towards the end I felt like I was just a head, neck and shoulders floating in the water. If my neck hadn’t kept aching I might have just been a head. My arms, body and legs seemed like they’d disappeared and I didn’t have the inclination to move them to check if they were still there. It was nice!
When the music came back on it seemed so loud, although I’m pretty sure it won’t really have been. And the light was so bright. Sitting up I felt really heavy but once I was up and showering I felt so refreshed and alert. This was followed by relaxing with a herbal tea in their quiet space which was the perfect way to absorb the experience before heading home.
So would I recommend? Yes. Definitely! I could never lie in a bath that long to switch off – the managed temperature of the water and the air make it perfect. And I don’t think I could ever meditate that long on dry land. In future I’d seriously consider a shoulder massage first so my neck aches less and, although the relaxation wasn’t as deep as I’ve experienced in acupuncture, I did spend a VERY long time faffing about so it’s not altogether surprising! Next time I’d have it down!