Inside Float North County
They say in traveling it is all about the journey. What if the journey is inside. What if I told you that you can travel across the Earth in minutes to mythical lands without leaving your hometown. Would you believe me? We had a chance to explore floating at Float North County in Solana Beach California to find out. It was recommended to us that one should float at least 3 times to truly get a feel for it. Over the next week and a half we embarked on an exploration of mind, body, and spirit.
The lobby glowed in a radiant blue light from the wave mural behind the desk. Everything looks fresh, new and ultramodern. We met with Bryan, the night watchman, who led us back to our sensory deprivation tanks. Ed and I selected the Ocean Tanks for our first float since they had 7’ ceilings (re: no chance of claustrophobia). My tank had LED stars on the ceiling, while Ed’s ceiling was quasi-reflective so he could watch his body floating. For the next 90 minutes, we practiced letting go.
The Art of Letting Go
The first thing we noticed was that the water was really salty. In fact, over 1100 lbs of pharmaceutical grade epsom salt is added to each tank which allowed us to float in only 11’’ of water. Floating weightless allowed our spines to decompress, toxins to flow from our bodies and copious amounts of magnesium to be absorbed through our skin. It also was the perfect backdrop for deep meditation and introspection.
Ed and I found our first experience to be quite similar. At first, we were very conscious of lungs expanding and contracting. With each inhale, we rose out of the water and the slid back in with our exhale. It was rhythmic and mesmerizing. So too was the omnipresent beating of our heart in an otherwise silent world. We waited patiently for the magic to happen, reviewing the events of our day and writing articles in our head.
The Hallways of Our Minds
In the quiet of the dark, something did happen. Breath somehow became less necessary. The deep cycles were replaced by something less demanding and more serene; as if our bodies were no longer craving oxygen. Our hearts started beating a slower and deliberate thud, thud thud. I don’t know if this was nirvana but I wish I could find this place diving. I image that I could get a two-hour scuba dive from my 80mm tank if I could only keep this breathing.
Glenn Stokes, owner and mastermind behind Float North County, says “each time you float, you’ll be able to relax your body and mind faster to reach a higher state of meditation because your brain and body will be accustomed to being in the float tank.” On our second visit, we switched rooms and started another exploration. Again, we felt our breath mellow and our heart beat soften. We were alone with our thoughts again.
The Doorway to Your Demons
Sometimes, when you go to meet your inner demons, they are more powerful than you feared. We carried negative energy into the session and emerged with full blown malaise. If nothing else, this experience can serve as a warning and as encouragement. Our first float released the toxins in our bodies. Our second released the toxins in our mind.
We entered our third float with the conscious desire to bring into our focus and session positivity. After setting our affirmation and clearing our mind. I worked hard preparing mentally and physically and for the experience. I focused my years of yoga training on two intentions- “I intend to respond first and then react” and “I intend to be open to success and abundance”. I also had another weapon in my arsenal – Lucia lights.
Our Mind’s Eye
Lucia lights are a powerful LED strobe that flashes nothing but white light. Even through closed eyes, you perceive shapes, patterns, and even colors. The theory is that this stimulates the pineal gland, which is a small endocrine gland at the base of your brain.
Existential interest in this gland can be traced back to 1637 when Rene Descartes stated it was the seat of the human soul. In the late 1900’s, the renowned spiritualist Madame Blavatsky emphatically supported the pineal gland as the physical location of the Hindu third eye. In contemporary times, HP Lovecraft wrote about a machine that could stimulate the pineal gland to produce psychotropic effects in his book From Beyond.
For me, it worked wonders but it took a bit to get used to the intensity. I probably spent the first five minutes shielding my face with my hands at different angles until I was comfortable with the brightness. Once I settled into it, though, I had very clear and creative thoughts that extended through the end of my float session. I also reached my meditative state quicker. As they say, third time’s the charm. For Ed, the lights could have been sent straight from Cthulhu. In other words, not a fan.
It was almost the opposite for the infrared sauna. Ed enjoyed basking in the radiance and intense heat while I felt a little overwhelmed. Ed’s third float didn’t reach nirvana. Perhaps it was the late day coffee or increased metabolism from the IR sauna because Ed reported back post-float that he was literally bouncing off the walls, both physically and mentally. No matter what he tried, he couldn’t center himself in the tank, or his mind.
There is a saying YMMV – Your Mileage May Vary – that we believe sums up our floating experience. The float tanks, fancy lights, and IR sauna are all tools to help you reach deeper into yourself through meditation. It is all about participation, and it is all about the journey. You need to be open and willing to make the trip. There isn’t a magic device that will take you there but removing all distractions seems like a pretty good place to start. It is at that point you have to be willing to let go. Let go of expectations, let go of worries, let it all go…..and just float.
If you’re interested, Float North County has a clean and modern facility to help you on your way and we have a few parting tip we learned along our way:
- Hydrate before and after your float. Floating in water that is saltier than the Dead Sea will tend to dry you out.
- Avoid caffeine. This is a relaxation exercise and that go juice isn’t doing you any favors.
- Trust the tank. Feel your body floating and know you’re not going to sink. Also, know that Float North County as the only 7’ tall float rooms in Southern California and industry leading tank filtration technology.
- Let go. Floating is an exercise in absence. The absence of weight, light, sound and sensation can’t force their way through a cluttered mind.
- Enjoy the experience. Don’t go in trying to prove or disprove modern science or ancient spiritualism. Just go to try something new and see where the journey leads you.
- Cuts and shaving. Don’t go rubbing salt in your wounds. Avoid shaving before going in but don’t worry about the little cuts either. Vaseline is provided that will keep the salt water out.
- Getting an earful. Ear plugs and vinegar solution is provided to help keep/get the water out of your ears and they worked pretty well for us.
Have you ever tried floating or want to? Let us know about it in the comments below.
Disclaimer: Although our experience was provided for us courtsey of Float North County, the views and opinions expressed are entirely our own.