“Water does not resist. Water flows. When you plunge your hand into it, all you feel is a caress. Water is not a solid wall, it will not stop you. But water always goes where it wants to go, and nothing in the end can stand against it. Water is patient. Dripping water wears away a stone. Remember that, my child. Remember you are half water. If you can't go through an obstacle, go around it. Water does.” - Margaret Atwood
I am following the magical thread.
This is a term that my friend Marisa uses. She may have come up with this language on her own. Or she may have borrowed the term. I'm not sure. Visually, I imagine this magical thread to be golden, delicate and weblike.
Back in the fall, I was scrolling through Facebook. I see that one of my medical mama friends [let's call her Mary] is talking about her diagnosis of Post Traumatic Stress Disorder. This is a label that many of us who parent medically exceptional children have - myself included. Mary has two medically involved teens, who are also diagnosed with major mental health challenges. I am grateful to have her as a mentor in my life, as she has modeled fierce advocacy, resilience, honesty and willingness to tell her story to help create change.
Mary references this article about floating and shares that she has been floating for six months now. I read the article and I'm intrigued. I'm especially intrigued because Jules says she feels less anxious, has fewer symptoms of hyper-vigilance and feels more overall calm since beginning to float.
Thinking about my own symptoms, treatment and experience of living with ongoing stress and trauma, I wonder if I would like floating. Thinking about my recent love of ocean swimming, this feels like following the magical thread. I want to learn more.
I turn to google to read more about this thing called floating and discover that the nearest float center is half an hour away in Portland.
It takes me six weeks, but eventually I schedule a float. When the day finally arrives, I am so anxious.I consider canceling, but don't because I've already paid for the session. I text my friend who has floated before and tell her I'm freaking out. She reminds me that I've got this and to "have fun and actively relax. Try to bring attention to the parts of you not relaxed, and ask them to soften." Thanks to this pep talk, I'm convinced I can do this.
I walk into the center and can immediately feel that I've made the right decision.The owner tells me what I need to do before I float and then I am taken to my float room. I put in ear plugs, shower and remove my contact lenses. Once the ear plugs are in, I can hear how rapidly my heart is racing. I take some deep breaths and remind myself [again] that I can do this.
I get into the float pod. It's just me and my naked self, 1000 pounds of epsom salt and silence.I decide to leave the lid open because I'm worried about feeling claustrophobic. I have chosen a dark blue light on in the pod for this first time. As I get into the water, I'm immediately surprised at how thick it feels. It's viscous, but not jelly like. As I lay down, I am convinced that this 10 inches of water will not hold my body up like it's supposed to.
But it does. I am laying there suspended and it's both strange and amazing. Earplugs in, I can only hear the sounds of my own heartbeat and breathing.
There are moments of panic for me at the beginning of this experience. But the panic resolves quickly as I remind myself to breathe and relax. I find several comfortable positions while being suspended, but my favorite is with my hands over my head. This helps my neck and shoulders to lengthen.
My mantra while I am in the pod is, "trust the water, trust the water, trust the water."
This repetition helps me to become fully immersed in the experience.I had images and thoughts come into my brain as I was floating, similar to what I experience while meditating. Some felt pre-cognitive. Some felt like memory or had more of a dream-like quality. I experienced so much that is impossible to put into words. The silence and solace that I experienced in the float pod was glorious.
The ninety minutes went by in a flash. I wonder what my next float will be like, now that I have this first experience behind me.
Afterwards, I sat down with a cup of tea in the lobby while wearing a huge smile on my face. I talked to the owner about my experience. I feel cleansed, giddy and energized and peaceful.
I pick up a book on the table in the lobby. It is written by a local author who also floats there. I notice her name and see that she is a friend of a friend. I start to thumb through it. She has written a book about loss and transformation. Finding that magical thread again, I message my friend about this author.
And the magical thread continues on.