What is floating?
For those who don’t know, you are literally laying down floating in a tub of water infused with large amounts of Epson salt. The water is heated to your body temperature and after a few minutes the lights turn off and you are laying in complete silence and darkness for an hour. While this might sound scary for some, it was actually quite calming to disconnect.
Many people use floating for meditative purposes, but you can also float for reducing pain, increasing creativity, boosting visualization techniques, reducing chronic fatigue and more. During pregnancy, I used floating to reduce some of the weight/pressure on the body, unplug and have some “me-time.” Any benefits of creativity, relaxation or better sleep would be a bonus for me.
Floating during pregnancy
I tried the larger cabin while I was 7 months pregnant. The Ocean Cabin at Float Valley is large. You can sit up in the tub and there are lights and music inside the cabin. Having the additional space while pregnant was great. Easier to get in and out, had space to sit up if I needed to. The lights and music inside were very calming and after everything went dark it was an interesting experience. For my first float I found I was successful at calming the body and mind. I would come in and out of relaxation. Some moments I would just be staring into darkness and other moments I found my mind wandering.
My meditative state?
There was a moment where in the darkness I thought I could see images. There was no color, just maybe light and movement in my visual field. But you know when you’re in the dark and you try to look at something and then it goes away? – this was the same feeling, if I moved my eyes to try to “look” at the light/image it would disappear. Has anyone else experienced this?
At first, I felt a little scared, but I let go of the fear and just allowed my mind to just express itself. It was actually pretty fun observing this reaction. To be honest, it felt a bit psychedelic – was this the “meditative” state I was looking for?
The scientific side of my brain
For those who don’t know, I have a PhD in speech acoustics research. So naturally, my inquiring mind starts wondering “Is this my occipital lobe firing and creating these images due to the lack of stimuli?” “Are there studies to show this happens when we completely deprive our senses and we trick the visual system to fire in absence of any stimuli?” It’s like those visual imagery tasks where you stare intensely at a dot of a black and white image and when you look away at a white wall you see the opposite/contrasting images as a result of the over firing of the neurons.
There were moments of course where I wondered: How much time has passed? It feels a little hot in here, Is that the sound of my heartbeat? am I sleeping through the music that wakes you…
This was all probably counter productive, as the float experience was supposed to help me stop thinking. So when I caught myself wondering, each time I would bring my awareness back to my breath, let go and start over again from “nothingness.”
Best feeling at the end
Although I went through so many bouts of relaxation and thinking during my float, the best feeling was the end where the music and lights gently came back on to awaken me. Opening my eyes and opening the door felt like such a rush of relaxation. Odd, that I’d feel like that at the END of the float. But I felt it no doubt.
I didn’t have too much pain during pregnancy, so I didn’t notice any immediate changes in physical aches and pains. However, I did notice while floating the weight of baby and pregnancy was lifted. I completely forgot that I had the extra pressure and weight of baby during my float.
Would I do it again?
Life got busy and I didn’t get a chance to go before I had the baby. But stay tuned because I do plan to go again during motherhood…