A Tale of a Mermaid with Anxiety

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A Sensory Deprivation Tank at Float Robins

“I forgot who I was before the (space) suit,
before gravity was ripped from my vocabulary
and I mastered the art of drifting”
― Casey Renee Kiser, Way Out

I did a thing. Or… perhaps I un-did a thing.

Let’s start from the beginning, shall we?

This past July, a few friends and I made our way down to Mexico Beach to our family beach house. Four of my closest (at the time) female friends and I spent a few days sunning, swimming, and having a few cocktails. As you can imagine, we spent a lot of time talking about where we were in life, where we hoped to be, and all of the trials and speed bumps we needed to cross-over to get there. One friend was hoping her long-time boyfriend would propose. Great news: He did. They are married and are expecting their first child. The other friend was hoping to find some peace about some future transitions and that, too, has worked out in her favor. Another one needed to make some changes since her parents were aging and she was slowly turning into a caretaker, and I believe the universe provided a solution to some of her speed bumps, and finally, my oldest and dearest friend was trying to decide whether she should make a major career change. Which, let’s be honest, is not an easy task at 46.

This story is about the latter.

My friend of over 34-years was a teacher. Not just a teacher, but a really great teacher. One of those that took a lesson plan to the next level. She had been doing this for (I believe) almost over a decade and had reached that point in her life where she felt unfulfilled. She was juggling kids and husband and work and health and I could go on and on and on…. that’s really not my story to tell. Needless to say, she was at a cross roads. And just like the song, “Closer to Fine” by the Indigo Girls, she had been to the mountains and the fountain, and everywhere else in between, looking for a little peace.

Nothing was working.

Until one day, she stumbled upon a sensory deprivation float tank. Just what is that, you may ask? According to Wikipedia, it is an isolation tank, usually called a sensory deprivation tank, and is a lightless, soundproof tank filled with salt water at skin temperature, in which individuals float. They were first used in 1954 to test the effects of sensory deprivation.

She gave it a try and was a convert. It was better than the deep tissue massage and even better than any medicine she could take for anxiety. I listened to her as she went on and on about how amazing she felt, how clearer she was able to think… and most importantly, how she made a major life decision: To leave education.

WHOA! Leave education? Leave her safety net and steady income and all that comes with that? Yep. She knew she needed to try something else.

I have to say, I was skeptical. But I know Telisa and I know that when she makes her mind up, no matter how ridiculous the idea might seem, she IS going to do it – like a bull in a china shop.  (I say that with affection.)

I did a little research and chatted with my husband about what this sensory deprivation stuff was. He lit up and began to tell me all about the stories he had read about characters using sensory deprivation. (He is a huge sci-fi geek.) I got a little curious and watched a few videos, like this one:

Okay, now I was curious.

Fast forward several months and after dozens of conversations about loans, floor plans, and retail & promotional swag – she does it. She decides to open a Float Spa.

Float Robins became a reality! Telisa is now the proud owner of Middle Georgia’s first and only flotation therapy spa also offering infrared sauna and massage therapy! 

Lucky me, I got a sneak peek and FINALLY took my first float this past Tuesday. It was nothing short of AMAZING.

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Float Robins is located at 225 Smithville Church Road Suite 100 Warner Robins, GA 31088

My intern Haley and I were doing a tourism research trip of various small communities in Middle Georgia. We decided to drop by and see Telisa’s new facility in Warner Robins. We were thrilled to find out that, yes, we could indeed take our very first float!

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Float Robins offers luxurious spa products! I opted for the car essential oil diffuser!

As soon as we walked in the door, you felt the vibe of the place: soothing blues and gray tones, the smell of essential oils, and zen-like music. Telisa greeted us and decided to give us a quick tour of the place.

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Candles glowing at the end of the hallway at Float Robins.

We were guided behind dark blue velvet curtains and entered what felt like another world. Candles were glowing at the end of the hall, beckoning you to just follow the light to relaxation! (This may sound dramatic, but seriously… I got the message loud and clear!)

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Float Robins offers a dressing area to primp before you re-enter the real world.

I dropped my items off at the vanity area at the other end of the building. This is the perfect place to reapply makeup and fix your hair before heading back to work!

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A massage room at Float Robins.

What would be a perfect way to start off your float experience is to begin with a massage with one of two massage therapists on staff at Float Robins.  There are two different massages I am interested in: Deep Tissue and Myofascial Massage. Deep tissue massage can relieve chronic muscle tension, reduce inflammation, and eliminate scar tissue, while myofascial release is an alternative medicine therapy that treats skeletal muscle immobility and pain by relaxing contracted muscles, improving blood and lymphatic circulation, and stimulating the stretch reflex in muscles.

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Peyton Cunningham’s Massage Therapy Room at Float Robins.

After all of those years of dance and let’s be honest here, entirely too much stress, I need someone to not be afraid to really tackle the cement that is masquerading as muscle tissue. The hour massage is $90, while the 90 minute is $120.

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Waiting area of the sauna room at Float Robins

Another added benefit prior to floating is the Infrared sauna. The benefits of using an infrared sauna are similar to those experienced with a traditional sauna including:

better sleep
relaxation
detoxification
weight loss
relief from sore muscles
relief from joint pain such as arthritis
clear and tighter skin
improved circulation
help for people with chronic fatigue syndrome

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Haley was trying on the sauna for size at Float Robins. It smells of Eucalytpus!

The experience is made even more powerful because it is spacious enough to stretch out and features chromotherapy lights and music options. You can bring your phone or other device to connect to the sauna’s speakers or listen to the soothing sounds Float Robins provides. Or you can choose no music if you’d prefer to read or sleep. Soft towels, soft body wraps with velcro for all sizes are available, as well as cooling cloths and cucumber water. A single session with the sauna will run $45.

Finally, the time had come to take the “plunge.”

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Inside of the Float Room at Float Robins

I entered a small-ish room (one of three) that holds the float pods. The first thing you will notice is how tidy and serene the room looks and feels. Green plants, soft white spa towels, and teak bathmat gives off a complete zen feel.

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Telisa explaining to Haley the rules on showering before and after your float at Float Robins.

I was given a quick demonstration of how to use the pod and the proper protocol for showering and then I was left to my own devices.

I felt both apprehensive and super excited at the same time.

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Shower is in the corner of the float room at Float Robins. This is the last float room, closest to the sauna.

I stripped down to my birthday suit and made my way to the shower. Basically, you are to shower off any excess oils your hair and skin may have, as well as dirt. I took a bath the night before and arrived with no makeup or lotions. However, our body does what it does and it is recommended you shampoo your hair before entering the tanks, as well as use their body soap.

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The shower at Float Robins

After you lower the lights to your float room, you heat the water up. The shower will show you a blue light, a green light, and a red light. You want the shower head to glow green – which is not too hot and not too cold. Why? Because the temperature of the float tank is the temp of your skin. If you take a hot shower, the tank will feel cold.

After a quick rinsing off, I made my way to the Pièce de résistance :

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A Sensory Deprivation Tank at Float Robins

I stepped in and realized immediately that I forgot to put my ear plugs in, so I crawled back out and put them in. Remember – this is SENSORY DEPRIVATION. No sound.

After I sat down, I immediately felt the effects of the 900 pounds of epsom salts. (Note to self: don’t shave the night before.) I took a deep breath and closed the pod. Only to immediately re-open it, because, well… I’m a chicken and a little claustrophobic.

After opening and closing about 3 times, I decided to lay down to see what that much epsom salt would do. WOW! You automatically float! It didn’t require any muscle use, except for my heart and lungs to do what they do. I decided to lay back and just get adjusted to being in an enclosed space with the pretty blue light on. It felt marvelous.

After about 3 minutes or so, I got brave and turned the light out. Only to turn it right back on. I thought to myself, “I’m not sure I can do this.” I  decided to just breathe and lay with the light on. Then I got mad at myself for being such a little chicken.

Finally, I turned the light off, but kept my index finger touching the light. I also noticed that my other index finger could touch the little basket that holds the spray water bottle (in case you get salt in your eye.) That sort of gave me a sort of “source of orientation.” Then suddenly I felt a wave of panic and I sat up quickly and flipped the light back on.

I was getting really frustrated with myself.

I took a few minutes, a few breaths and finally turned the light back off and just floated. I let go of the light and basket… and I simply… let go.

My brain sort of pinged all over the place. I was berating myself for being such a silly goose. I bounced from thought to thought and to all of the things I should have been doing or haven’t been doing…. and it hit me: I have so much negative self talk that it is no wonder I cannot relax. You think the stress of critical parents/bosses/husbands/kids/friends/life causes anxiety? Well folks, it has nothing on Nicole causing herself anxiety.

Epiphany moment.

Girl… chill the eff out.

So I took a really big deep breath and let my arms float above my head and I breathed. I breathed deeper and calmer than I ever had. I let my arms float forward and back, like a mermaid. I prayed to God. I asked hard questions. All I heard was silence. I think that is what I needed. SILENCE. God was saying: Nicole, chill out.

And I did. Finally.

Probably 30 minutes in (which, BTW, you have no sense of time or space,) I completely merged with the water. I did not (at least I don’t think) I entered the theta state that many, including my intern, entered, but I did reach a point of clarity and focus that I have never experienced before. I tried a visual meditation that I remembered from years ago and followed it all of the way through. I noticed that my neck muscles seemed to completely release, as well as much back muscles.

I could breathe.

I even let a few happy tears flow. (WTH was that about, I have no idea! The brain is a trippy thing!) I touched my stomach and the sensation of any feeling was like a zing of chills sent through your body. Fascinating stuff.

Finally, I began to feel energized. I was ready to get out of the pod, when suddenly, the music came on.

Then the funniest thing happened….

I am so short, that somehow, I floated in a circle and sat up at the other end.

The end where you can’t open the pod.

Ha! Did I freak out? You bet.

I sat up and was like, “OMG – I can’t get out.” But that thought lasted 5 seconds, as I slowly felt my way along the wall until I found the basket…. with the other hand. Which told me I was backwards. So I turned myself around and felt for the light and opened the pod.

One final shower with the hot water and I was off to the Glow Room.

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The wall of the glow room at Float Robins

I made my way to one of the chaise lounges and was handed spa water and a weighted blanket.

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Meditation corner at Float Robins

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Glow Room at Float Robins.

Before, between, or after your time in the float tanks  you can feel free to bask in the candle light of the Glow Room for as long as you’d like. They give you time to re-renter the world while sipping on hot tea or refreshing cucumber water. We listened to the soothing sounds of running water and zen music on the chaise lounges, but you also have the option of using the meditation floor space. This is free with each float.

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Haley & I feeling refreshed after our float at Float Robins

If you are interested in floating, a 90-minute float is $75. There are tons of really awesome packages and I recommend you visit their website for more information: https://floatrobins.com/packages-and-pricing

Now the experience was legit. Truly amazing. But what surprised me the most were the after effects. I slept deeper than I believe I ever have. I’m talking uninterrupted sleep. (I suffer from insomnia and bouts of sleep apnea from time to time.) I felt completely clear and focused and my neck muscles were completely relaxed. It is Thursday and I am still clear and focused and I simply…. am without words on how life changing it was.

I mean that.

Mind-altering – as if someone went into my brain (where my amydala and circuits are all connected) and sort of did a tune-up. Imagine if I did this monthly? Or even weekly?

I suffer from chronic panic disorder – something I have dealt with since I was 8 years old. THIS could be a game changer.

I challenge you to give it a try. Float Robins should be officially open by July. I plan to gather 7 other friends for a private party (includes float, massage, meditation, and sauna) for $125. If you want to be one of the 8 of us to go and can swing the cash, let me know. I will make it happen.

Let me know about your float experience and if you do end up booking Float Robins, let them know I sent you.

I am happy to answer any questions you may have!

Until next time….

 

 

 

 

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