Floating…The Road Less Traveled
“I was just thoughts, just air. There was nothingness all around me. I still sensed everything going on around me, only it was happening so far away that I didn’t care about it. I was floating through space and time, and nothing that happened mattered because nothing really could happen to me because I didn’t exist.” – Melissa Kantor
A Sensory Deprivation Therapy, Restricted Environmental Stimulus Therapy, or it’s street name Floating, came to me by chance. Two years ago a sufficiently gnarly longboarding accident left my best friend with a destroyed ACL and temporarily crippled. A year later and he was getting his ACL rebuilt, followed by a long eight-month stint of recovery that was starring him in the face.
Being the proactive dude that he is, he started his research for any and all alternative forms of physiotherapy and rehabilitation. His search took him to a podcast by the one and only Joe Rogan, who was touting the gospel of sensory deprivation therapy or floatation therapy for both the physical and the meditative properties.
Kale followed the rabbit hole down through the land of sports medicine studies, meditative states, drug-induced pilgrimages of the mind, and wouldn’t ya know it? Physical rehabilitation. The internet led to many videos and studies, one of them being the infamously shocking VICE GUIDE. Now, I have a very soft spot in my heart for the universe of VICE, and immediately I tuned into the documentary “Tanks for The Memories”. Within minutes of watching the documentaries guide, Hamilton, journey through multiple levels of his mind and body, suspended as if he was weightless in eleven inches of water, I started to feel the tingles of wonder and excitement. “HOW DO I DO THIS? WHERE CAN I DO THIS? WHEN CAN I DO THIS?” At the time, I didn’t have any clue that those tingles of wonder and excitement were really my mind and body seeking release from the grips of my ego.
Luckily, the first floatation therapy center was soon to open in Vancouver, and I made sure I was one of their first customers. I am so grateful that I was able to ride those waves of excitement and momentum from those first exciting moments of floatation therapy exposure, all the way to purchasing an intro pack online, or I may have talked myself out of it. Why? Because I am a walking jukebox, with an overactive brain. Sensory deprivation, in theory, was my worst nightmare but little did I know, it was the thing that I needed most. I had no way of knowing then, that it would change my life.
I grew up in a household brimming with stimuli, my environment was a buoyant cacophony of active noise. I started to embark on my life long relationship with music at a very young age, finding myself praying to the lords of noise, and the gods of sound. The deities of harmonious rhythms and downturned inflections filled my shrines with sonatas and symphony. For as long as I could remember, my life has been dominated by an uproar of audial stimulus, and my brain constantly active with lyrics, melodies, harmonies, and time signatures.
At that time I had no way of knowing that the anxiety attacks I had started to suffer from, were directly linked to the non-existent allowance of space for silence. I found myself riling against any found absence of noise, only for the need to fill my mind with music. I had started to suffer from anxiety attacks at the tender age of eight because my brain was overrun with noise and it simply didn’t have any more available room to process and store the valuable coping skills I would need to deal with any and all external stressors.
I continued into my adult life with these habitual music happenings, because I had not yet made the connection between silence and serenity. If silence was golden, I wanted no part in the game of precious metals. Had someone told me during my high school years, that silence would help me to understand myself, the busy world around me, AND to help me establish a connection with something bigger than myself, I would have laughed in their face, and danced away, skipping and singing, whirling and whistling all the while.
I spent my whole life constructing a force to surround myself with, to blanket myself in the attention I received from others. I wasn’t able to discern whether that attention was born from the love I gave, or space my personality had always demanded. I had no grasp on the concept of self-love that is only born from internal stillness. I found myself seeking validation from outside sources, from the joy I accumulated through external stimulus, whether it was music, nature, or connecting with others. So naturally, the idea of sensory deprivation, of becoming a part of that infinite escape of nothingness, terrified me in the most deafening of ways. I had come to a point where I found my ego swelling to sizes large enough to fill the seven seas, yet in tandem with collapsing into itself, shrinking like a violet. It craved the spotlight, while desperate for the opportunity to suspend, weightless, left alone to drift through its own inky abyss.
I longed to find a hyperlink to a place where none of it mattered anymore, to know that in the ultimate ways of truth, the only thing that ever really mattered was the connection we have with ourselves. I was desperate to explore the depth of my relationship with my souls flickering pilot light, those luminous bits of celestial remnants that lingered within me, from past lives spent surfing the cosmos. I believe that we all intrinsically know that these bits and snags of subconsciousness are true, but the ego demands that we pay attention to all the things happening around us. It bribes us with the voice of self to listen to all the noise, and to submit to the loudest of clamors in our lives. If you have ever spent time in solitude, you will know that unfortunately, that which rings the loudest, usually does not ring truest. The largest A-HA! moments come tapping quietly at our doorsteps. The vibrations of self-love hum so softly, sometimes we fail to notice how far our journey into the center of it all has come.
Floating has become my solace, my infinite abyss. It is my own private superhighway connection to that inner stillness which is strengthened by the submissive silence of my consciousness, and the limitless wanderings of my subconscious.