The Element of Water and Sensory Deprivation
I was given a most amazing gift from the attendees of the Kai Water Immersion training that was held this past summer. It was a one hour "float" in a sensory deprivation tank. This is a summary of that amazing experience and what I learned.
At first I wasn't sure why it was taking me so long to organize and enjoy this really cool gift. Perhaps it is the name "sensory deprivation" that was scary. My life revolves around guiding people to sense MORE, to feel MORE....using the senses as a way to "get into the body". The idea of going into a tank of water purposely designed to diminish the senses seemed peculiar. It finally occured to me one day that I needed to move thru the personal tensions and experience something new....I am so very glad that I did! It was an experience like Ive never had and my senses came ALIVE thru it. First lesson: That which we put off, ignore, put on the bottom of the list, or simply don't pay attention too could very likely be the thing we need the most to grow AND GROWING FEELS AMAZING!
When I arrived at the "Mind-Spa" I have to admit, I was nervous. I had no idea what to expect. I was greeted and the secretary said, " oh, you are the one that 's the movement "teacher" . A water Immersion thing? Your students bought this for you, correct?" Inwardly I heard this and my heart began to pump. Did I hear a tone in her voice that sounded like this was going to be my "rights of passage" into WATER IMMERSION for myself? I took note of my thoughts and chuckled at my paranoia. After signing the waiver, she led me down a very plain hallway. Lesson number two: Don't always believe your thoughts and yet at the same time a sense of humor and rites of passage are good things.
We opened into a non-descript room with an oblong tan colored metal machine that had a door on the front similar to an old fashioned washing machine. There was a platter on the floor and everything had a powdery salt covering it. She explained the timer to me ( which i had her repeat 3 times so i made sure I understood) and said that I shower in the adjoining room, and then open that door and get in. GULP! I opened the door and peered into a pure black space with 18 inches of salt water heated to exact body temperature. My heart started pounding.....It didn't look all that relaxing at the moment. Lesson number three: Don't judge a book by it's cover. Or in this situation an immersion tank.
She left and I did as she said. After I got in I thought, "there is NO WAY I am going to be able to handle this.". The darkness was the most challenging thing at first. I found myself shutting my eyes as if to block out what I wasn't seeing!! I next felt my heart beat as the loudest sound I've ever heard, it sounded like one of those fetal monitors they put on you when your pregnant. As I became calmer, I noticed next that the spots in my body that have been "trigger" areas of pain or tension began to trust the water....trusting that i was truly floating. It took more energy to resist that to relax. As I stayed with those areas in my right shoulder, right side of hip, the sensation of the muscle tensions releasing was ecstatic. I had to breath thru changes I was experiencing in my body and kept notice of the panic that would every one in awhile come back. Lesson number three: It took more energy to resist than to relax.
I stayed and felt my emotions flow from pure panic, to curiousity, to calm, to bliss. I suddenly had a thought, "what if I can't open that little door to get out?". My heart beat pound came back and my breath shortened......so I did sit up and tried the door out. It easily opened. I layed back down and dissolved into a really surreal place of space and time. The machine I was in that initially felt so confining and small began to feel expansive and I began imagining space. I watched my self shift in my mind from a perception of fear to one of curiosity mixed with boredom and wondering "can I do this for ONE WHOLE HOUR?" I started to wonder, "well, what's next?" Curiosity and boredom led me to explore more. I pushed my body down the think slimly salt water to feel the bottom of the tank and felt my deep core muscles, I dropped head back and moved side to side to see how far i could trust the float on my head ( which was amazing on my neck). I started to bounce from the top to the bottom of the tank and felt how long it would take to reach either end. I had no idea how long i was in the tank at this time, it was so disorienting to both my body and mind. Lesson number four: Boredom leads to curiosity leads to discovery leads to ecstasy.
My emotions where swirling in new places and then I got salt water in my eye. Damn! What was I thinking moving all around? This hurt BAD! Burning.....burning...heart pumping....What's in this stuff, is it really salt water??? Will I be the first person to go blind in a salt water immersion tank?? Panic returned, and then as the pain subsided I felt calm again. Lesson number five: Shit happens and you deal with it.
I started to wonder what I was like in the womb to my mother? Did I kick alot like my son did to me? Did I sleep alot? Did I dance? I sensed this must be what it's like to feel and sense your mothers emotions, hear the heart beat, and move around in a floating world of "I don't know anything". With this stream of thought I began to undulate my spine like we do in dance. It was fun, felt really fish like. I swam this way up and down and had the scary idea of swimming around so my feet and head where opposite ends. I wondered if it was even possible in this tiny space and I worried that everything was so disorienting that I'd not be able to find that little door when my time was up and i'd trigger a panic big time. Yet....I thought " you've got to explore like a baby moves around." I had the distinct feeling of how a baby turns around so there head is facing down right before birth. I was able to maneuver thru my emotions and the salt water easily and felt very successful......and just as I did, the timer went on and I turned myself around and found the door. Lesson number five: perceptions shift and everything shifts. Be fluid, be like a embryo, and allow life to open for you.