3 Things I Have Tried In An Effort To Achieve ZenBlog » 3 Things I Have Tried In An Effort To Achieve Zen
By Brandi Neal
These days, it feels like we’re all trying to balance our inner chi. Aside from being trendy, in today’s over-connected world it’s also necessary. As a result, there are a number of weird things I have tried to achieve zen, aka a total state of focus that incorporates a total togetherness of body and mind — including floating in a sensory deprivation tank, walking barefoot over hot coals, and sweating it out in an urban sweat lodge.
Ancient practices are beginning to gain momentum in the modern world as we search for more and more ways to calm the hell down, find inspiration, and harness our creative energy. I went searching for ways to clear my head after a particularly stressful stretch of years that included getting married (and then divorced), pursuing my MFA, moving to two different states within six months, my brother spiraling into drug addiction, and the death of my father.
During this time I likened my head as a snow globe that had been shaken up over and over again and wouldn’t settle down. My thoughts were scattered, and I had lost my ability to focus on anything for an extended period of time.
I will try anything once, and here are a few of the things I sought out in an attempt to get my groove back.
Floating In A Sensory Deprivation Tank
Source: Elevation Floatation and Yoga on YouTube
Floating is the new yoga. John Lennon and Michael Jackson were both devotées of floating in sensory deprivation tanks, and now these float tanks are popping up all over the country. Many floaters even have their own tanks at home. When my friend called me and asked if I wanted to try this I have to admit I was skeptical.
“You mean I have to float naked in the dark in a tank like a fish?” I asked. It sounded a little creepy, but since she had found a place in Pasadena, Calif. called Just Float that offered first-time floaters half off the regular price, and she promised to buy me lunch first, I agreed to try it.
The benefits of floating are well documented anecdotally in the wellness community, and Time magazine reports that neuropsychologist Justin Feinstein believes floating could be a shortcut for many people to reach a meditative state.
“Floating has given me hope that a whole chunk of our population that normally would never be able to meditate could now achieve those sorts of deep meditative states,” Feinstein, who dedicated his career to uncovering the benefits of floating, told Time.
When we arrived at the floating center we were given a waver to sign as well as an iPad to watch an introductory video about what we could expect from our first float. Some float tanks are small and claustrophobic, like a coffin. This was not the case at Just Float, which felt like a nice spa. We were led down a long hallway that had float rooms on each side. Inside each room was a small changing area, a shower to rinse off before and after your float, and a door to the float tank, which to me looked like an enclosed hot tub.
Even if you can’t swim, or even float, don’t worry. The water contains more than 800 pounds of epsom salt, which buoys your body to the surface where you easily float on top of the water like a duck. After showering, I climbed into my tank, laid down in the water, and turned off the light, which is supposed to recreate the experience you had in your mother’s womb. My float was scheduled for an hour, and during this time I was instructed to lie in the water, and try to shut off my brain. Remember what I said about the snow globe? Yeah, I wasn’t able stop my racing thoughts — but if I became a repeat floater maybe that would change.
To try to steady my mind I began reciting lyrics from Stevie Nicks songs over and over again in my head. Also, lying in warm water for an hour really makes you have to pee! Between my racing mind and deciding whether I should get out of the tank to pee, it wasn’t totally relaxing mentally, but I did feel somewhat calmer after my hour was up, and my body felt great. If you want to try it for yourself, check out this directory to float tanks in the U.S. area. …continue reading