Submitted by Kristine Strangis
Imagine lying on a cloud, going outside of yourself and just becoming one with the world around you. Imagine feeling a floating sensation beyond what you have ever felt before, one that leave you feeling as light as air and going beyond the limitations of human possibilities by simply just being.
This was the experience that I had when I went to my local massage place and tried their float tank for the first time. What is a float tank you ask? Well, it is actually a lightless, soundproof tank in which a person floats in 2 feet of salt water. These tanks are used for meditation and relaxation, but they also help in alleviating anxiety and depression, which are typically co-occurring disorders or symptoms that are all too common in those who suffer from eating disorders. Basically, what you do is just lie on top of the water in an enclosed, soundproof, pitch black box with a blue light—the light is optional, but I used it because it allowed me to experience the sensation of floating in the sky. My therapist suggested that doing something like this would help me cope with my anxiety and depression because it would literally turn off all of the noise of life and just allow me to be.
I actually went into this not knowing what to expect. I was nervous because I knew that I would be floating naked and alone inside of a dark box for ninety minutes and, being that I have been diagnosed with an eating disorder, anxiety/OCD, and depression/bi-polar disorder, I was not sure how I was going to handle this unfamiliar and seemingly uncomfortable experience. I was being completely vulnerable in every way, lying naked and alone with my body, not moving and just breathing, and allowing myself to relax. This was a challenge, but it was something that I felt I needed to do in order to move forward in my recovery, and therefore, I was going to do it. And, to my surprise, this was the most relaxing, rejuvenating, calming, and sensational experience of my life.
I remember stepping inside of the tank, feeling the warm water slowly forming around my bare skin. And, as I lie down, I could feel a slight tingling sensation as the salt cleansed the toxins from my body, and allowed me to float. I closed my eyes and just started to breathe in and out slowly, just like I had been practicing in yoga, which is another coping mechanism that I would highly recommend. I felt like I was flying, lying on top of the world in a blue sky, it was like I was floating on a cloud.
Now, not a lot of people can de-sensitize, or just lie in a dark box completely still, for ninety minutes straight. I was able to because, for the last few months in my recovery, I have been working on yoga, meditation, deep breathing, and just being. It takes patience, dedication, and focus to learn how to shut out the world around you and just be, but it is well worth it. This float tank was the one thing that I had not tried yet, and therefore, I thought that I would give it a shot.
That’s another thing about being in recovery, in order to recover, you cannot be afraid of exploring the world around you; it is all about finding yourself, and there are a lot of exciting, beautiful, and incredible things in this world that I would have missed out on if I had let my eating disorder be in control. Recovery is a life, and life is a journey, so don’t be afraid to take yours.
Allowing myself to experience this was a huge step in my recovery. I was literally floating in bliss, and this is something that I will never forget. This amazing time was an out-of-body experience going beyond the limitations of what it meant to be human and just letting go of all of the stresses, the anxiety, the depression, the eating disorder, everything that held me back from just existing, and just being at peace. I was one with the universe around me without being bound to the oppressive chains of socially constructed labels of who I am or who I have to be. I was just simply me, and that was enough.