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About fifteen years ago, when I was living in Madison, Wisconsin, a flotation tank center opened, right in my neighborhood. I had heard of flotation tanks, but had never actually experienced one. So, feeling curious, I walked over to check it out, one spring afternoon.
It was a very small place: just a reception area and then a back room with two (or perhaps three) tanks, and a couple of showers. The tanks looked ominously like large metal coffins, which gave me a queasy feeling in my stomach. Still, I was up for trying it, at least once.
I received instructions on how to apply a Vaseline-like gel to my lips and any scratches or sores that might be irritated by the high-density salt-water; how to open and close the tank doors; and how to choose the "silence" or the "music" setting for my particular tank. So far, so good.
The attendant then left, I made myself naked as the day I was born, showered and put gel on my lips, chose the "silence" setting, opened the heavy tank door, slid into the warm water, and closed the door behind me.
The warm, moist air rises from the door that is held at arms length. A brief pause to set my intention, "I will let go of all cares and allow myself to simply be." The water reaches to just below my knee as I take my first step into the viscous solution that will become my bed for the next sixty minutes. My washcloth is in reach…check. My earplugs are in snug…check. My list is complete before darkness envelopes me upon closing the door of the Samadhi Classic Floatation Tank.
Thirty minutes has now passed. "Has it been thirty minutes, I can't tell" I dreamily think to myself. Straining to focus a single thought is quite humorous when compulsive thinking is a way of life. Determined to grasp the sequence of events I note, "Adjusted for about five minutes, breathed for another five. Was itchy for a bit after that and then…?" Unable to conjure up the next event, and too relaxed to care, I settle back into my breath.
The salty solution peels back from my sides on my in breath as my chest rises ever so slightly out of the water and then creeps back as the air leaves and the weight of my body pulls me back in. Slowly I rise and fall to the rhythm of my breath. My breathing is all I can hear except for the occasional pulse of blood from my heart pushing past my ears. It reminds me of lying in bed as a child. I could hear the faint marching of people… or so I thought it was the marching of many until it was later revealed to me that I was hearing my own circulation. Now that made a lot more sense. Sense, what an ironic thought in an environment as empty as the space between here and nowhere.
And now back to the emptiness of the float pod. The kind of emptiness that is the undivided me. Only empty when peering from the outside, as on the inside, it is I that fills the emptiness. I want to let go again, but know it is this very want that keeps me presently here. If I just let go of that want, I will surrender to the state of being that simply is… nothing. Nothing is what it is. Nothing is where I came from and nothing is where I will go. And this is beautiful....