Owning one’s introversion has become trendy these days yet this is not an introvert-friendly world. Noise and busyness abound with countless smartphone notifications, phone calls, emails, and the ever-increasing, ever-present audio and visual drone from our 24-hour society. Add in multiple open browser windows (on the screen and in our head) and the pressure of being many things to many people, and you have the perfect recipe for exhaustion.
We need an “off” switch.
With my lifelong affinity for water and innate need for introversion “cave time,” I was immediately intrigued when I heard about float therapy: effortlessly floating in salt water, cut off from noise and people. Introvert heaven. When I heard that Float-Sixty was opening in Schererville, I was determined to float.
I finally had my chance yesterday – Sunday, when I could go to the appointment relaxed, kids with dad, no keeping track of the clock, happy belated birthday splurge to me. I’m a coffee-holic but I heeded the spa’s advice to lay off the coffee a few hours beforehand so I didn’t ruin the experience with caffeine-induced jitteriness. Still, I was giddy walking in for feel-good me-time.
Float-Sixty has a relaxing, charming, and unpretentious zennish vibe. A guide walked me through a brief tour before I went into my individual pool room. No swimsuit needed; you disrobe and shower first before entering the pool. After putting in ear plugs to keep the salt water out (the salt is great for keeping one buoyant but not so great in the ear canals), I entered directly from the shower into a pool roomy enough for just one.
Pure bliss. All that salt means you float effortlessly in body-temperature water. I exhaled and repeatedly thanked Jesus for an experience of happiness. Then, the lights went off and absolute darkness triggered my claustrophobia. The lights are timed to go off after ten minutes. My heart racing, I reached over for the little switch to turn the muted, soft overhead lights back on (something the guide helpfully pointed out, along with an intercom to page them if needed). Once the lights were on, I inhaled and exhaled slowly to slow my heart rate down.
If you’re going for total sensory deprivation, floating in total darkness will take you to another level. In addition to the lights-optional pool rooms, Float-Sixty has a tank tailor-made for those who want to go “all in” for sensory deprivation. But, if you’re claustrophobic like me, I advise keeping the soft lights on.
I can’t remember my time in my mother’s womb but I imagine it was similar to that sensation of effortless floating.
I used to meditate but have fallen out of the discipline. Since my kids were born, I’ve either been too busy – or too busy feeling guilty about things I should be doing – to be still enough to meditate. Though I pray daily, spend time in the Word, and listen to and sing songs in and of worship, there are times…more times than I’d like to admit…where I feel disconnected. I’ve grown enough in Christ to recognize that the disconnection issue lies with the receiver and not the sender.
For many of us – women and mothers in particular – our workload and mental load often leaves no space to pause. When I was at the park with my kids a couple of weeks ago, I put my phone away and felt joy in my heart as I was reminded of the solid, glorious truth of who He is and who we are because of Him as I felt the breeze and the sun on my face.
The peace we feel in the pause reminds us that God meets us and delights in our downtime.
And yet I continually immerse myself in busyness and wonder why I feel an undercurrent of anxiety and fatigue I can’t quite shake.
We’ve been deceived into thinking we’re selfish for hitting the pause button and taking a breather.
Free floating, free from distractions of the outside world and of my own design, I meditated more deeply than I have in years. Many Christians are leery of meditation, but they shouldn’t be. There’s nothing weird or voodoo-hooey about it, especially if you intentionally center it in and around Christ; it’s prayer as a process of letting go of the inner noise. It was precisely that phrase – let go – that I chose as my mantra to quiet my inner monologue of to-do lists; could-have, should-have, and need-to nags; and the other thoughts that serve as both means of productivity and self-defeat. Soon I was in a state where I barely felt my body – a nice little break from an aching back and that morning’s headache – and the typical undercurrent of stress. I felt peace.
Peace transcends description but those who’ve found it know it for what, and Who, it is.
After sixty minutes, an additional light and the water jets go on to let you know your time is up. I showered once again to get all the salt off, and was offered tea or water and invited to sit on a couch to reflect on my experience before leaving.
I haven’t felt that relaxed in years. Unlike most times when I get into my vehicle, I didn’t check my social media accounts on my phone or turn on my radio. I was content to drive home in silence.
It’s impossible, and irresponsible, to be still all the time. And, for all but the wealthiest among us, attaining inner peace via frequent spa appointments isn’t feasible. But, if you’re stubbornly busy and it takes a spa experience to “make” yourself take the first step in incorporating times to pause…then it’s worth it. You’re worth it. Your relationships with your loved ones, and God, are worth it.
So, yes, I highly recommend float therapy. It is, absolutely, splurge-worthy; like the best nap you’ve ever had…but, so much better. But, even if float therapy’s not your thing – and even if you’re an all-out,all-the-people-all-the-time extrovert – find your own way to hit the “off” button and be still.