Written by Megan Henry
I had heard of floating while I was out training in Park City, Utah preparing for a skeleton race during USA Skeleton Team Trials as an athlete for the Army. Skeleton, it’s that crazy winter sport where you go head first down an icy chute on a lunch tray…a really expensive lunch tray. A massage therapist was telling me about a sensory deprivation chamber in Orem, UT. It was a bit far for me to go during the races, but I made a mental note to look it up when I returned home in the off-season to see what I could find. I was elated to find iFloat and read the benefits on the site and spent months eager to try floating and add it to compliment my growing repertoire of healing and recovery methods. Plus, who doesn’t like giant Epsom salt baths? Bonus points for muscle recovery, right?
As you can imagine, going headfirst at speeds up to 80mph and traveling every week for 6 months can get a little crazy. I love it, don’t get me wrong, but it can get hectic. I have been an athlete most of my life, but skeleton is by far the most mentally demanding and challenging sport I have ever taken part in. I had started to use meditation as part of my mental routine to help me relax. I wouldn’t consider myself an overly stressed person, but I think relaxation is necessary for everyone regardless of what you do. Skeleton, in particular, requires you to be in what some call “relaxed chaos.” If you want to be successful, you have to be capable of being relaxed while going up to 80mph in curves up to 5G’s of pressure. Any sort of outside stress, anxiety, self-doubt or tension will creep into your sliding and show up on the time sheets. Maybe you won’t see it physically, but believe me, it shows in your times – even if you have a stellar run.
Floating for the first time was the ultimate meditation session. It allowed me to feel like I was floating in space (gee, wonder why it’s called floating?) and it was the first time I have ever felt like I left the planet. You know when you want some me time, but someone always comes to your thinking-spot-of-solitude? It’s not happening here. Floating allowed me to have moments of self-reflection and come to epiphanies I may not have come to without all the other external distractions we sometimes let take our focus. Even during meditation, there is still the sense of touch or external noises. This session allowed me to take leaps of personal growth – like my brain was my own personal psychiatrist…it just needed to be given the opportunity to uncover some mental gems. This part for me was truly rewarding.
I came out of the session feeling very renewed, refreshed, intensely alert; very appreciative of my surroundings, my senses, everything. It is my most memorable time of feeling genuinely happy and at ease. Truly, it is an enlightening experience. I have since floated numerous times and the benefits just compound on the experience beforehand, no matter how far apart the sessions. (Sometimes it will be months in between sessions since I travel so frequently). Floating has allowed me to slow down and reassess or confirm my current plans to succeed in athletics, and has allowed me to recognize to not get caught up in past or future events, but to really stay in the present moment. I vividly recall a conversation my brain had made up during a float session with David, where he said to me: “Why are you moving so fast? You’ve got to stay still.”
These feelings lead me to believe that the general population that is constantly in “go-go-go!” mode, would benefit from this time of slowing down while floating. I will continue to use floating throughout the remainder of my athletic career and whatever lies after. I encourage others to float and find their own “relaxed chaos”.