FLOATING IN PLACE
Written by Tobin Wait
Nothingness. Imagine nothingness. A complete sensory void – no sound, no smell, no taste, no sight, no touch. Imagine floating weightlessly, with nothing happening but your mind. Would you feel bliss…or fear…or something else?
Living half a block away, I had passed the Gastown Floathouse location almost daily. I peered through the windows, poked my head in the door, and read the brochure. The adventurous side of was intrigued, and curious: A relaxing “float” in a special water tank, giving me the sensation of floating in air, all the while alleviating my stress and my worries. Who wouldn't want that? The skeptical side of me was…well..skeptical: I am supposed to pay money to float in water? It sounded like a glorified bath.
But the intrigue and the curiosity nagged at me.
Then my birthday came, and along with it a Groupon for a 90 minute Float. I was about to find out what it was all about.
I got to my appointment just on time, tired and hot from a day of work, probably not the best physical state for someone who was about to enter 90 minutes of sensory deprived "bliss." After a viewing a short video on my own personal IPad about that was part instruction and part preparation, I was ready to give it a try. And like most things I try for the first time, I approached it with an open mind, lightly sprinkled with instinctive skepticism.
I was led down a hallway by a friendly dude who would not look out of place in a Tofino coffee shop or playing hacky sack on Kits Beach. We entered door #4. It was a smallish white room, with a curtained shower stall, a chair, and a large tank with a door hatch. Tofino dude gave me a towel, a robe, and some last minute instructions on how to maximize my experience: turn off my cellphone, shower properly, get into the tank through the door hatch, close the door, find my bearings in the dark, release my mind and…float. The only question I had, and one that I dare not ask for fear of looking the fool, was: do I go in naked? (We will not return do this topic).
I followed his instructions, showered the proper way, opened the door, and stepped into the tank, and closed the door behind me.
Once the water calmed, and I was able to achive balance and move my limbs away from the walls, I was floating! I put my head back, and it felt like it was resting on a pillow. It felt like I was suspended in air, not water. I just floated there, and soaked it all in.
Except there was nothing to soak in. There was only nothingness. Okay, this is pretty cool, I thought, but I have to lay here for 90 minutes…just alone with myself?
So I did what the Tofino dude told me to do: I let go. I stopped thinking, and just let my mind do its thing. I won't bore you with the details but my mind certainly did its thing. I am not a religious person, nor am I much into mysticism or spirituality or meditation, but totally got into my mind, man. I went places with that hunk of grey matter I have never been.
And then it was over: soft, ambient music began to play inside the tank, signalling the end of my float…and my return to reality. I didn't want to get out, didn't want to face the music that is life. I liked being in my mind.
I felt slightly altered when I left the building. I didn't experience Nirvana, or a life-altering epiphany, I didn't feel cleansed or rejuvenated. But I walked out of there happy I had done it, happy that I had spent some time with myself, and my mind.
Visit www.floathouse.ca to find out more and get your float on.