Wellness on Water

Float therapy proves therapeutic in a world that spins too fast
Illustration by Lindsey Masterson

In an age of anxiety, I succumb to my own stresses. I am a YES gal. While saying YES allows my freelance work to flourish, my free time and sanity slowly shrivel up.

Much of my stress is self-made, and the physical manifestations are back pain and stress eating. But over the past year, the stress began to affect my mental stamina.

Early last year, I started a new job … and on Day 2, my 1-year-old kitty died in my arms. His diagnosis: a bad heart. This broke mine.

There were other mental stressors. My grandmother moved to assisted living. I had been her caregiver for two years, and this was difficult to witness. The uncertain state of our planet causes me concern. Political bickering is everywhere. Vivid nightmares became the norm. I needed a positive change.

I tracked my nightmares in a dream journal, but alas, my killer clown and apocalyptic dreams revealed no hidden meaning.

I practiced yoga, but I couldn’t stop my mind from racing, even in “corpse pose.” I thought corpses weren’t supposed to stress!

I downloaded an app that guilted me with low-key couch-potato accusations; it also urged me to run more — all fine until my knees felt in dire need of some WD-40.

Frustrated and failing at self-care, I wanted to try something different.

Float therapy.

Just a few days after my birthday, standing in my birthday suit, I faced a luminous pod with what felt like 20 pounds of stress on my shoulders. I stepped into the pod while my mind raced with the possibility that this piece of machinery may actually be a sentient computer called Hal who would later refuse to open the pod bay doors.

My irrational thoughts and stresses subsided as I slipped into the pod. The water was body temperature and slightly salty. I found it difficult to stop rubbing my arms — they felt slippery and surprisingly smooth.

In the pod, I had the option of keeping the glowing light or switching to complete darkness. I chose darkness.

Soft instrumental music filled the space not occupied by water. I focused on the music and my heartbeat. Time, like the water, was fluid, and after what I can only imagine was 10 minutes, all noise receded from my consciousness. I was completely relaxed. I had no back pain. I felt like I could breathe fully and deeply for the first time in months. Anxiety … what anxiety?!

Every thought and worry that tried to re-enter my mind was immediately muted. I felt as if my body were floating in space. The minutes began to blur. I had no thoughts, no desires,
no pressures.

After my hour, the music helped bring me back from my trance-like state. I wiggled my toes, stretched my arms and felt no tension in my back. I was relieved when I was able to open the door with ease — no sci-fi, human-to-robot struggle to open the pod bay.

Once I rinsed off, I re-entered this world and presented my credit card. The owner informed me that my best friends had called ahead and paid for my session. My heart filled with gratitude and my eyes flooded with happy tears.

I stepped out into the sun, inspired and energized. Maybe I would float again next week. Or, maybe I would sign up for kickboxing or pottery class!

I wasn’t sure what life would throw at me next. I just knew that I could accept whatever came my way, and I would keep floating on. 


Lindsey Masterson is a publication designer for Rowland Publishing, owner of Tallahassee Magazine.

Categories: Wellness