Written by Robert: Float SNJ guest sharing about his experience with Parkinson's and float therapy. This is the first of four posts.
I grew up in the 70's and floats were pop culture and in movies. It had always been something I had wanted to experience. A little bit to satisfy a childhood curiosity and partly because of a progressive neural disease; the processor is failing, Parkinson's.
Symptoms started 15 years ago. Before I recognized what was happening to me I was drawn to good food, foraging medicinal mushrooms, and drawn to extreme sports for dopamine production. So a Float? Of course. Fits right in with my current path.
I don't drive much and gave myself time to be comfortable. Going in and greeted pleasantly at the door permission to sit anywhere is given. A comfortable lounge where the tension begins to get peeled away. I was tense going in and PD amplifies social stress. The staff kept directing the conversation gently back to the beginnings of the meditative process. Something they must see all the time. I allowed myself to be led.
After the paperwork is an introduction to the float room and hygiene protocol. The staff guides you with what to expect in the float pool and their personal preferences.
Shower. Close the door. Two buttons. Unusual meditation. Got it!
As soon as I locked the door I stripped and showered. I had scrub brush shower before coming so it was cursory. I slid the door to the salt saturation room. Music was calming. Lights were soothing. I was so excited to block out the sensory input. I climbed in and thought I would get right to it. Wrong. This new weightless medium has a slight learning curve and made a little more difficult with the PD. My symmetry of movement was affected and made it feel clumsy at first. The incredible buoyancy is very forgiving though. It was actually kinda fun.
After settling in I tapped the light button. It went dark. The music still on my goal became stretching and slowing breathing. That worked, so I turned off the music. After some more stretching the new goal was to clear the mind and see if I could turn off the tremors in my arm and hand which was still "pill rolling". I started with a candle flame in my mind. Didn't work. As I lay there weightless, my body began to relax more than I had never felt before. The second attempt at meditation I focused on a bonfire. I slipped into a meditative state and the tremors stopped in my arm. The head tremors took longer to control. I learned that forcing my head down and pushing down with my legs relaxed those muscles too.
Drifting in and out of deep meditation it began to be hard to know where my arms and legs ended and the water began. I even had a slight sensation of drifting on a current. The gong sounded. I had lost all sense of time. The soft lights came on. I was so relaxed you could pour me into a glass. I stepped out and washed off in the warm shower and slowly dressed drinking in the relief. Wow. That was something. Looking forward to the next session.