and we’ll all float on ok

by iren monkey

if you’ve been catching the last few episodes of #GD1030, KaylaAnt, and i have been steady talking about our Floatation Therapy encounters.  it was a suggestion from one of our podcast viewers because Joe Rogan is such an advocate for it.

for those of you who aren’t aware, Floatation Therapy, also known as Sensory Deprivation Therapy, utilizes an isolation tank filled with saltwater that is heated to body temperature. research and reports have claimed that it’s pretty beneficial because floating in the water is supposed to achieve a state of relaxation and meditation.

i would call it “New Age”, but that term has the tendency towards less-than-pleasant connotations.

i prefer an objective tone when i give out information.

Ant was the first to do it and he discussed in Episode #12 how he felt like the experience allowed him to have complete thoughts and it helped him creatively (timeframe: 18:18 – 28:28).  He attributed it to the fact that there were no distractions or women to deter him from his main goal.

oh that kid is such a character…

Kayla discussed her experience in Episode #13 (timeframe: 6:32 – 19:55).  she mentioned that it made her aware of things she already knew, but the knowledge was even more significant because she wasn’t paying attention to anything specific.  she found her discoveries to be extraordinary because it just came to her while she was in a semi-meditative state.

she looked at it as opening herself up to different sources of energy.

although i was eager and pleased to hear about their positive experiences, i honestly wasn’t planning on undergoing the therapy at any point.  but shortly after airing Episode #13, i received a text from Kayla that i was being sponsored by Float Clinic to partake in the experience as well. i’m not gonna lie, i felt a sudden rush of uneasiness at the idea of being alone with my thoughts in a more elaborate scale.  i’m very well aware of the vastness of my imagination — and just like i feel when i read mystery books or watch movies that are just way too intense?

the suspense was making me pretty antsy.

but i was being sponsored…
so what the hell, right?
$FREE.99 = yolo.

i touched on it in Episode #15 (“Part 1” timeframe:  04.41 – end & “Part 2” timeframe: start – 11.24).  although i was given a 20 minute time slot to discuss it, i wanted to give a more detailed account because i never explain significant events very well when i have others who are also sharing their respective input  —

blame it on my ADHD lol.

consider this my attempt.

that is, if you’re interested, friends 🙂

DISCLAIMER:  i go off track on purpose to give an accurate depiction of what was going through my mind from the moment i stepped out of the car until after i left the clinic.  the memories and thoughts i describe are a perfect representation of what my mind does on a consistent basis unless i am medicated.  i did not take my ADHD medication prior to the float and went to it completely natural with no mind-altering substance in my system.  if you’re only interested in the actual float itself, disregard the anecdotes that are in the same font and style as this paragraph.

we went on a Monday during after-hours for VIPs, therefore Kayla and our friend Taylor had to pick me up around 9pm so that we could make our 10pm appointment.  the location was in Torrance and so we needed to give ourselves ample time to get there, relax, and bullshit for a bit before the mindfuck session.

my thought processes began when Kayla parked the car.

she had just veered right into a street and pulled up to a parking spot along a building with businesses surrounded by buildings with businesses — including, but not limited to, a pet grooming salon and a liquor store.  we stepped out and almost immediately, my friends dug in their purses for cigarettes and lighters.  after my usual remark about how they should quit smoking, i looked around to scope out the scene.

it was only my second time in Torrance,
and my first time visiting the city at nighttime.

the city has an oldtown feel that reminded me of Passed-the-Tracks Pearland (from Central Texas BBQ to Green Tee), Alvin, and Friendswood back home…

i couldn’t help but reminisce about my high school years when i used to explore around with Laura Brenner during “study period” in our beat up second hand cars.

we didn’t have a teacher that oversaw our study time, so we would just leave campus to shop, eat, and discover as much as we could with 20 dollars on the pump…that’s how much my parents would give me every week for gas to make sure i didn’t go anywhere too far.  they didn’t feel comfortable with my driving so they did whatever they could to keep me from hitting that 288 Northbound and heading into The H.  

for the most part, they were pretty successful with that plan and kept me in The South/SouthEast, but gas dropped down to 97 cents one winter, and Laura and i drove all the way to The Galleria and back and barely used a quarter tank…

i gassed back up and my parents didn’t suspect a thing.

i took a couple of quick SnapChat stories to update my friends/followers and to calm the nerves prior to walking into the clinic.  once you walk in, the lobby looks very clean and modern.  their choice of white furniture against white walls with pops of teal and green accents made the room feel very serene as they played relaxing meditative music overhead.

the guy behind the desk came forward to shake our hands and introduce himself — his name was Albert.  after we gave our salutations, he passed over a waiver for Taylor and me to read and sign.

it came with a pamphlet.

you could see the excitement in Kayla’s face that she could finally share this adventure with us.  we chatted it up with Albert for a few minutes about Kayla’s first float, Albert’s own multiple records, as well as other people’s chronicles to explore the advantages.  i don’t know if we did it to pacify the anxiety building up, or if it was just smalltalk — regardless, i decided to tune everyone out.

i was starting to feel the eeriness that i felt when i watched “A Clockwork Orange” for the first time with my homies Tan and Sam

we had just shot fireworks in the neighborhood for my goddaughter Lilian‘s first 4th of July.  she ironically had passed out before the festivities happened so we resorted to watching the movie since none of us had seen it before.

we took some Chinese herbal pills that night to stay focused on the movie and to stay awake.  i had a 6:30am clinical rotation training in a hospital all the way in Galveston and i couldn’t miss it.  mind you, that’s an hour drive….and i had to make it to my carpool group by 5:30am.

all it did was make me feel super anxious.

i later found out the pills were meant for racehorses………

i took a couple of deep breaths and cleared my head.  i wanted to make sure i had a completely open vessel so i was ready to receive an unbiased experience.  Albert did say something that stood out right before i got in the zone, though.  he said —

“…this is your place; i’m just here to clean up…”

Albert then took us to the back to see the rooms.

he took us to the farthest room away from the entrance…Room #3.  it was all gray and made me think that it could possibly be what the inside of a submarine looks like.  i knew right away that it wasn’t the room i wanted to be in.  it was too industrial and didn’t make me feel relaxed at all.

i thought about Denzel Washington in “Crimson Tide”.and every other submarine or battleship scene i’ve seen in a movie or television show…

the image of Rihanna in the trailer for “Battleship” popped in my head too…i never saw the movie…it didn’t really appeal to me.

but i did i wonder if my friend Timmy’s ship in the navy looked like it…

i worried about Korea.

after that, he led us into the next room…Room #2.  it was also gray, but it had more texture since the walls were laid out like a granite and stone backsplash.  it made me think of the insides of the modern town homes in The Museum District back home.

i saw a backsplash similar to that in a townhome i looked at online with my ex that was available right next to our friends Ramzi & Janelle…those were the days when things were good with us.  

we stayed at a loft in East Downtown during that time and spent our days together just watching documentaries, “Sons of Anarchy”, and reading CNN stories out loud.  i recall that we were pretty fucking content with that.  we were making plans.

we moved out a few months after the city initiated the construction of the Dynamo stadium next-door.  while the city was constructing something memorable, we were being torn down to nothing but a memory.

a year after the stadium broke ground, we broke up.  we never saw the backsplash in the townhome in person…

we stood in the room for a little bit while he gave us some instructions on what to do to prep for the float.  he showed us where the towels and earplugs were, demoed the water bottle just in case saltwater splashed into our eyes, and offered a neck pillow for comfort.  he warned us that music would cut on once the 90 minutes were up.

Taylor left us to see what Room #1 looked like.

she yelled from the other room “i want this one!” which prompted me to say “ok then i’ll take #2.”  thankfully, Kayla didn’t really care and said she was cool with #3.

she and Albert walked out and i closed the door behind them.

i didn’t know if it was good or bad thing for me to have a connection with the backsplash, but at least it didn’t feel like i was in a vessel meant for underwater battle…

i sat on the bench for a little bit to collect my thoughts.

after another quick Snapchat story, i put my phone on silent, took my clothes off, and took a deep breath.

“it’s all good.  it’s worth a try,” i told myself,
“who knows? maybe i’ll see Roy.”

the clinic supplied organic shampoo and conditioner to use.

i try not to buy into the excessive use of “organic” nowadays, but i silently wished to myself that it was at least sulfate-free.  i have color-treated hair and i had a hair appointment to change the color completely the next day so i hoped for the best that laying in epsom salt and water for an hour and a half didn’t set me up for fried hair.

i dried off and opened the door to the tank.

it was surprisingly smaller than i imagined.  it was about half the size of Anne Frank’s room, i gather — the size of a walk-in closet, maybe?

my mom and i visited Anne Frank Huis when we were in Amsterdam 5 years ago.  that was the year we did our Euro Trip with Dad.  

i turned 25, she turned 50, Daddy turned 55.

Amsterdam was the city that only she and i visited.  Daddy had to go home and go back to work so she and i spent our first extended time together alone in Venice of the North.

we checked out the House, Van Gogh’s Museum, Rijks Museum, The Hague, and other touristy spots in a span of 3 days.  i call to mind how i got a kick out of how they separated the girls in the Red Light District

we walked by the Asian Alley and felt bad for their moms….

when you step inside, water was filled up about a foot or so high.  i grabbed the water bottle, stepped into the tank, and shut the door.  i sat down for a bit and realized that i forgot my ear plugs.  the last thing i want is water in my ears so i stood back up and walked out to get them.

i used to get ear infections all the time when i was a child when i still knew how to swim. 

i’d swim every chance i had during summer vacations and it never failed, i’d get an ear infection every time after having days-on-days of swimmer’s ear.

one summer in the Philippines, i tried to learn how to surf in the ocean and almost drowned — i’d forgotten how to swim ever since.  

that was the last time i had an ear infection…

i rinsed off, inserted my earplugs, and walked back in the tank to try again.  i sat down and made sure that the water bottle was tied securely around my wrist so it was easy to get to.  the water didn’t feel as warm as i thought it would be so i sat for a bit to acclimate my body to the temperature before i put the neck pillow around my neck.  i think it was a good few minutes of submerging a little bit a time before i laid down completely.

legs…

stomach…

shoulders…

then head…

i remembered the line i read on the pamphlet:  “it’s like relaxing in outer space”……..so i laid there and tried to imagine myself doing just that.  i’m pretty good at meditating on command:  i practice yoga and used to be obsessed with closing my eyes while listening to Enya.

Ms. Comer, my 10th grade English teacher introduced it all.  she was the first teacher to tell me i could really write — that it wasn’t just assignments and term papers when i turned them in, it was art.  she was such a great soul.

she used to make us do it at the end of class so we could relax for 10 minutes before the bell rang.  she’d play Enya, turn the lights off, and make us lay our heads down, and close our eyes.

she would say things like “imagine yourself in a happy place….” and i would literally imagine myself running through a field like that little girl in the Blind Melon video for “No Rain”…the whole class was gutted when she was gone for months because she got diagnosed with cancer and needed to get treatment.  

we all cried at the end of the year when she came back just to bid us a great summer.  

the first thing i noticed was my breathing…just like in the savasana.  for all you non-yogis, it’s like in the movies when they have the breathing background noise that plays overhead to emulate someone who is scuba diving, or an astronaut breathing oxygen through a suit….it was that same filling up and hissy sound…except this time, i felt my body fill up and float me higher with each breath.

i laid there for a while just listening to myself.

i don’t have any idea of how long i laid there just listening, but just as my mind started to wander and produce scenarios and situations that bring me anxiety, i felt myself sinking downwards and into the water.

shall i reiterate that i can’t swim?

 and granted, i could really just stand up to save myself, but i didn’t want to interrupt my float session just because i was afraid.  i was concerned that i was gonna sink/turn over and drown, but i pushed through anyway just in case it was all a part of the trip.

i forced my mind to only think of myself.

i gave a mental pep talk about putting my well being first over everything, except for some odd reason, the voice in my head didn’t sound like my own…it alternated sounding like Kayla’s and our friend Krystal‘s.  i don’t know if it’s because they always encourage me to do what my heart tells me, but i found myself tuning the voice out too and chose to listen to the natural sounds of my body after a while…it was the only thing that helped.

my lungs filling with air…

my heartbeats…

my stomach growling…

i felt myself floating back up off the bottom…

there was a sense of peace listening to my body work properly…

but as i settled in and got comfortable laying there, i felt a burning sensation in my nether regions.  the burning felt like how it would if i had a cut and i poured salt on it.  i hadn’t waxed or had relations recently, so i knew i couldn’t possibly have any sort of abrasion there.  what’s more, the burning was growing and spreading up towards my heart.

i mused over the idea that it was a panic attack.

i tried to ignore it and focus on my breath again.

i suddenly saw lights coming from above me — as if i was dead in the middle of the ocean and helicopters were looking for my body.

then i heard a knocking sound in my ear.

i speculated if Kayla was knocking at my door, but the knocking felt like it was much closer than the door that she could be knocking from…almost as if my body was stuck in a coffin or crate and someone was trying to open it to get me out.

i pursed my lips as i began to tense up.

i tasted a bitterness in my mouth, but i didn’t feel like it was the water seeping in because my mouth was above the water whole time.  but just in case it was the water, i grabbed for the water bottle to splash the bitterness away…i squeezed hard and found out it was empty.

at that time, i felt fingers touching my arms, legs, and feet over and over.

i toyed with the thought that Roy’s spirit was there playing tricks on me, but the prodding picked up momentum and pressure and it felt more like vibrations on my body.

my nose then stopped up and it was getting much harder to breathe…

i realized i was sinking again.

but this time, all the senses were so overwhelming that the scary tingling sensation i felt only twice in my life emerged.  once when i tried ecstasy for the first time and damn near overdosed, and once when i got heat exhaustion and dehydration from bikram yoga.

i recollected that i couldn’t move from the couch…

my body wouldn’t let me get up and i laid there in temporary paralysis until the drug passed through my body or i rehydrated enough to make my body work again.  

both experiences were such strong memories that it deters me from ever wanting to put myself in situations to experience the tingling again…

but there i was at that moment…tingling — and fearful of the possibility that my body would stop working and i wouldn’t be able to help myself up anymore.

foremost, i worried that Albert would have to go in there and get me out.  i was naked and wasn’t ready for a man i had just met to see me completely unclothed.  my mother raised me to have shame.

furthermore, i worried that i would embarrass Kayla and Taylor and they’ll never want to do anything with me again.  the last thing i want is to start shaving off people from my small group of friends in this city.

last, but not least, i worried that the guys at Float Clinic would get bad publicity just because it would get out that my body couldn’t handle a float…

i sat up and felt for the door.

i kept my eyes closed to keep the saltwater in my hair from dripping in and burning my eyes.  i finally grabbed on to the door and struggled to push it open.  it was much harder to push than when i started the float so i definitely felt like my body weakened in the process.  i saw through my lids that lights turned on automatically when i stepped out of the tank…i was stepping out into the light, literally and metaphorically.

it gave me solace.

i turned on the shower and washed the worries away.

after i dried off, put lotion on that they provided, and got in my clothes, i noticed that my fingers were still shaking from the experience.  i walked out towards the front and apologized to Albert for not finishing the entire 90 minutes.

he reassured me and said there were only 10 minutes left anyway and i stayed much longer than he expected. i laughed at his underestimation of me and talked about my float.

i informed him that i was utterly confused because i thought it was supposed to help me think more with no distractions caused by human senses.  on the contrary, i felt every sense and was forced to think of nothing to make sure that i didn’t drown…

i joked that i was divergent.

“Are you relaxed?” he asked.
when i said no, he went to my room to inspect it.

he checked the temperature of the water to make sure that it wasn’t due to the clinic’s preparation of it; yet it checked out perfectly.  he also inspected the room for holes and listened for sounds it could be making; there was absolute silence except for the sounds of our breathing.

we walked back out to the lobby to wait for the girls.

as expected, their escapades were very relaxed with nothing remotely close to delirium.  i was pretty upset that maybe my experience was completely inaccurate, but Taylor said she heard somewhere that there isn’t a “right way to float” and that my way was probably the right way for me.

we thanked Albert and made our way out the front door.

i stepped out into the old town that reminded me of high school again.  i, almost immediately, felt the same newness that i felt when i first started driving on my own without my dad nagging at every stop sign.

i felt so untouchable while carelessly riding around and blasting whatever was in my Sony DiscMan at the time.  

like everyone else in the late 90’s/early 2000’s, my most prized possession was my DiscMan and my CD wallet.  albums from 112, Tupac, The Cure, Dashboard Confessional, Nirvana, and *NSYNC were always in rotation.  

even though i had to use a car cassette tape adaptor because my car didn’t have a CD player, i still felt like i was the shit and rolled my windows down so everyone could hear me driving by.

i’d get lost in the music…and until i reached my destination, i was free…

i was relieved to get back to normalcy.

while we drove down the 110, Kayla interjected that i may not know the significance of my experience right then, but i’ll know in a couple of days because that’s how it was for her.

well looks like the girls were both right.

it took me much longer to post this because i wanted to give the experience the justice it deserves.  just as every experience i’ve ever gone through in my life that i choose to showcase on my blog, i wanted this post to give floating all the praises that it deserves.

the float pointed out four notable things in the way i live my life:

  • i tend to worry or let others who give me anxiety pull me down.  
    overly considering issues that aren’t mine or directly affecting me is only keeping me from moving forward.  it’s best to keep calm, solve what i can solve, and let shit go so i can “float”.  if it isn’t beneficial to my life, i need to communicate that and accept my own limitations…otherwise, i will “sink”.
  • i haven’t fully gotten over the heartache of my body’s failure to bear children.  
    it is definitely a driving factor in my choice to live my life the way that i do and in the choices that i make for my future.  i’m choosing not to go into detail as to why or how i’ve come to this conclusion because i don’t feel 100 percent comfortable divulging that information on the interwebs, but nonetheless, it is something that i have been going through for some time now and i am still dealing with to this day.  the float definitely clarified that through the burning sensation i was feeling and how it concentrated in my reproductive organs and traveled only up to my heart.  i’ll write another blogpost about this when i feel it’s appropriate.
  • i do entirely too much thinking in my daily life and not enough feeling.  
    correction:  i do more explaining than i do emoting.  i don’t allow myself to feel therefore i have unresolved problems that keep resurfacing and reincarnating itself.  whether it involves the same or different individuals in my life, the situations are still the same because of my tendency to suppress my feelings with overthinking and overanalyzing.  i need to open myself up to these emotions and resolve them properly.  not with definitions or reasoning, but through letting the emotion pass naturally and accepting what i cannot change and moving on.
  • i go into fight-or-flight mode when my issues are pointed out.
    and that is why the familiar sensations of my two “near-death” experiences were surfacing in the end and i had to get out.  running away from issues isn’t gonna make them go away…it’s just going to haunt me every time i hit a dead end.  the only way is up.

Floatation Therapy does not give the same experience to everyone but it does give the same result —

e p i p h a n i e s .

and sometimes, that’s all we need.

so for the number one asked question:  would i do it again?

the answer:  probably not, haha.

but i’m definitely glad i did it.

it gave me so many answers through my emotions and my senses that i could never find through conversation or research.  the answers were found not in others, but in myself.  in my opinion, there is no better validation than in discovering how beautiful you still are in all your imperfections.  at least, that’s the feeling i got from it.

i physically felt the beauty in my life’s struggles.

so if you’re like me, and nervous about how detailed and imaginative your mind can be…i hope this account of my experience helps you overcome your aversion from floating.  you never know, your experience just might be what you need to get to know yourself better.  what better gift can you give to yourself?

they don’t call it therapy for nothing.

so if you’re in the Los Angeles Area and want to give it a shot, hit up Float Clinic and say i sent you.  they were more than accommodating and i couldn’t have asked for a more appropriate place to pop my float cherry.

so until the next post, float on, my friends…and be free.

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