Float

I went. I saw. I floated.

A few months ago my inbox was graced by the presence of a groupon for a 90 minute float at Float On. Admittedly,  I was hesitant at first towards the idea of floating in a sensory deprivation tank for 90 minutes. I had horrible visions of some sort of nightmarish monster waiting in the depths of this dark tank of water for me to enter, or of being trapped in the tank by some psycho who would then torture me, or of losing my mind . . . Luckily Float On has a fantastic website which answered all of my questions. Once I had read through their information, I told my husband to click “purchase.” We were on our way to our first float.

Of course, it took a few months for us to actually make the appointment, but this past Saturday we went for an 11a.m. float.

We arrived slightly sweaty and damp from riding our bikes, and entered the humid and warm float center. The people who work there were super friendly and encouraged us to sit and drink some water or tea while we waited to be checked in. Since it was the first time for both of us, this wonderful and super float enthusiast (who I assume is the owner), took us on a tour of the float rooms and tanks and gave us instructions on how the float would work. He showed us 2 different rooms, the Ocean Room and The Void. The Ocean Room has about 8 feet of clearance in the tank, and The Void has 4 feet. You don’t need anymore than 4 feet of clearance, but psychologically it worked better for me to choose The Ocean. Super Float Enthusiast was really kind and answered all of our questions and then told us to enter our rooms and get floating.

After using the facilities, I entered my room. The room was dimly lit by a lamp in the corner and a blue light from inside the tank. There was a shower and a bench with a robe and towel and wax ear plugs. (I chose to wear the earplugs, even though they aren’t necessary). I rinsed off in the shower and then turned off the lamp in the corner. The blue light inside the tank provided enough light to see in the room and to get in to the tank.

Rationally, I knew this was going to be great; however, I did a thorough examination of the entire tank to make sure said monsters weren’t lurking for me. After the inspection, I stepped in, shut the door, and laid down in the 10 inches of water. The water was warm and saturated with 800 pounds of magnesium epsom salt. I immediately bobbed to the top of the water. After getting comfortable floating on my back I did another inspection of my surroundings and then pushed the button on the side to turn off the light.

I could feel and hear my heart beating. I knew by the sound of my heart in my head, that I was nervous. I engaged in  a breathing meditation to try to relax and remember that this was going to be great . . . that is when the inner dialog took over. This was not a new experience for me, as during mediation I often work to calm my mind from the thoughts that are battling inside. However, it was amplified now since there was nothing to distract me but the occasional bump of my foot on a wall as I floated slowly around the tank.

The feeling of movement was really interesting. Even though I wasn’t physically moving my arms or legs, I was still breathing, which propelled me ever so slightly to one side of the tank. If felt like I was traveling miles, when in reality I only traveled a few inches. This made me notice the physiology of floating. I became mindful of my neck and reached through the crown of my head. It felt like my spine had extended by feet.

Then the mind kicked in again as I heard some sort of noise. I thought to myself, “Isn’t this thing supposed to be sound proof?” It was a faint noise but I could tell that it was someone walking or bouncing or skipping. It didn’t last long, but I did hear it several times during the float.

I then kept dwelling on what the experience was “supposed to be like.” I kept trying not to have expectations, but I did. Eventually my mind started to slip in to a lucid dream state. I kept thinking I was going to fall asleep, but I never did. I then was waiting to have some sort of transcendent experience . . . which didn’t happen for me.

After some time, I realized that I had to pee and then I moved my head and got some salt in my eye. This sounds like it would ruin the experience, but it didn’t. I was so fantastically relaxed. I thought to myself, I bet I am about 45 minutes in. In no less than 2 minutes from that thought, music started playing inside the tank indicating that it had been 90 minutes. It was so faint that after I sat up and took my ear plugs out, I had to really contemplate whether or not I was actually hearing it.

I stood up sluggishly, because gravity is a surprise after 90 minutes of not totally experiencing it, wiped the salt off of my body and then opened the door to exit the tank with my eyes closed  to stop the salt from pouring in them. I grabbed around for my towel and got the salt out and then took a shower.

During my shower I realized that the float was nothing like my expectations for it. I was even slightly disappointed. It didn’t take me long to realize that I need to go again. Now that I am past all of the nervousness of not knowing what it was going to be like, I think the experience will be different the next time.

I got dressed and went out to the lobby and made myself some tea. The staff was genuinely interested in my experience, and validated my feelings of needing to come in again.

They had books laying on the table for people to draw or write in. I didn’t feel motivated to draw or write, but I wanted to see what other people had to say. There were lots of trippy drawings and dramatic poems with words like: mortals, just be, go to the other side, goddesses, etc. etc. The one writing that I particularly appreciated said something on the lines of, “Now I am hungry and ready for a nap.” My experience was much closer to that.

The longer I sat, I realized how super incredibly relaxed I was. If for no other reason, I will go and float again to feel that amazingly relaxed afterwards.

I highly recommend floating in a sensory deprivation tank. While I fought with my inner-diaolog, the relaxation of floating for 90 minutes was amazing. As the day went on, I was mindful of my mood and how my body felt . . . relaxed and positive. I think we all could use a little of both of those things.

As days have now passed, I find myself frequently thinking about floating. I’m looking forward to going again.

So I heard y’all wanna float . . .

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Hooked

I’ve done some fun adventuring recently, and intend to blog about it; however, in the meantime here are 2 things that make me smile:

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Home is where the _______ is?

Today I had a lengthy discussion about some of my recent grumblings. After sorting through said grumblings, it came to my attention that maybe I don’t see Portland as my home. I’m still trying to work out what that might mean.

I love Portland and I don’t see myself moving to any other place, yet I still don’t consider myself settled here. I find myself yearning to belong to some sort of community, yet I don’t feel like I fit in to the ones I have explored. Part of the issue for me may be that I haven’t lived here long enough (continuously) to develop many deep relationships with people? That I haven’t put myself out there enough to meet new people?  Am I shy? What’s the deal, self?

This got me thinking about what “home” is.

I will always consider Pennsylvania my home, because it is where I grew up. My family is there. The friends I have known the longest live there. It is just naturally home.

While northern Virginia never felt completely like home, it holds so much nostalgia that it feels like a home. Some of my closest and dearest friends live there. I also went to university there, and experienced big changes in my identity through my education.

Taipei, Taiwan was amazing, but I was only there for 1.5 years, and it was never intended to be permanent, so never was considered home.

Portland, Oregon is the place where I live. My husband and I choose to live here because it’s beautiful, the city is progressive, and we hope to have our own little urban farm one day. We’ve both started our careers here, and have invested in education here. Yet still not quite home for me yet.

Will it just take time? Do I have too much attachment to my “old” lives in other places? Is it just a general lack of contentment?

What about place makes people feel settled or content?

By no means am I unhappy living in good old Punkytown, Oregano. I just am searching for a deeper connection to this place I choose to live.

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Giving

Yesterday I donated a pint of my high iron, well hydrated, dark red healthy blood. I’ve been trying to donate for years, but haven’t qualified because I had been tattooed too recently, I didn’t weigh enough, I had been to a country that is malaria ridden, etc. etc. Well, I finally weigh enough, I haven’t been tattooed in almost 10 years, and I haven’t been to a high-risk country in the past year, so donate I did.

When I was sitting in the waiting area, I felt really excited. It felt like I was doing something tangible that will help someone. Even though I almost passed out at the very end of the process (when you only weigh 110 pounds, your body notices when a pint of blood goes missing), I plan on donating blood when I am able to.

*It’s also ironic that I almost passed out, as a synonym for “giving” is “pass out.” I suppose it was only appropriate.*

I found the following information on the Red Cross’s website:

“Only 38% of Americans are eligible to donate blood and of those only 8% do. That amounts to only 3 out of every 100 people.”

If you are able, GIVE!

Here are a few quotes on giving that I really appreciate:

“The value of a man resides in what he gives and not in what he is capable of receiving.”
-Albert Einstein

“Do not stand on a high pedestal and take 5 cents in your hand and say, “here, my poor man”, but be grateful that the poor man is there, so by making a gift to him you are able to help yourself.It is not the receiver that is blessed, but it is the giver.Be thankful that you are allowed to exercise your power of benevolence and mercy in the world, and thus become pure and perfect.”
-Swami Vivekananda

“As a mother would risk her life
to protect her child, her only child,
even so should one cultivate a limitless heart
with regard to all beings.
With good will for the entire cosmos,
cultivate a limitless heart:
Above, below, & all around,
unobstructed, without hostility or hate.
Whether standing, walking,
sitting, or lying down,
as long as one is alert,
one should be resolved on this mindfulness.
This is called a sublime abiding
here & now.”
-Buddha

Here is a list of organizations that my husband and I give to, that I would urge you to consider giving to as well:

http://www.redcrossblood.org/

http://www.buddhistgeeks.com/

http://www.lls.org/

http://www.pacificpower.net/bluesky

http://www.mercycorps.org/

http://www.newavenues.org/

http://www.heartforthenations.net/

While we do give, I know that I can give more and I hope to retain this joyful feeling after donating blood so that I am motivated to give when I can.

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Oh Happy Day

Recent things that I have come across that I think are awesome:
Shadow Art
The Book Surgeon

I am participating in this, and you should too! You are the Chosen One

Here are some things I have seen (and taken photos of) this week . . .
On Friday Wes and I played Race for the Galaxy. This is my favorite/best card.

On Saturday we went Tea Tasting at the fantastic Jasmine Pearl Tea Merchants.

On Sunday I met up with 2 lovely ladies and we knitted and chatted and sipped hot drinks.

On Monday I found out that I got a promotion! I also had dinner at The Original on a date with myself where I had cranberry thyme sode (delicious!). I then went to see Wes Moore speak. It was a super awesome day!

On Tuesday I signed my new contract and was officially promoted!

On Wednesday my husband came home from his meditation retreat.

Tonight, I roasted some of my favorite vegetables and worked on my graduate school application.

It’s been a week of things that make me smile.

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Martisor

On March 1st, my Romanian friend gave me a Martisor. She is an incredibly sweet and kind woman, and I appreciate that she is so proud of her culture and shares it with others often. I think I will wear my martisor for the entire month of March.

Surprise gifts are the best. I would like to remember to send surprises to my family and friends more often.

Surprises are just like this.  My husband will tell you that I might be a little “skittish,” even “squirrel-like,” as I am surprised/frightened easily. {If he wasn’t such a ninja walking around our apartment, it would help a matters quite a bit}. I’m glad that I get a little (too) excited at most things though. It is what I admire about my close friends and my family . . . their zeal for life. Happy Little-March!

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Who’s a rockstar?

I’ve decided that I am going to take a photo every day in March (sans the 1st since I didn’t take a photo yesterday), to document what I see.

March 2nd. Back Wheel Lovers.

I was making dinner (potato leek soup) and peered over at 2 of our bikes and thought about how much I like that our bikes look like they are getting cozy with one another. I sang to myself, “Back wheel lovers . . . ” stealing the tune from Dujour’s big hit of a similar nature. Who is Dujour do you ask? Well here they are of course:

I love the movie Josie and the Pussycats, and I’m not afraid to admit it. I too thought it was going to be lame, but thank goodness that Tim, Jason, Timmy, and Peyton made us watch it on that glorious night at George Mason University’s Patriot’s Village trailer park. (Yes, we actually had a trailer park as part of campus housing. Can you believe it?)

I have found myself poo-pooing much of popular culture recently. It’s good to remind myself that I needn’t take everything so seriously sometimes, while still holding to the ideals I strive for.

On a separate note, I have joined the crazies who show up at the gym at 5:15 a.m. It isn’t as bad as I thought, and dare I say I enjoy going to the gym in the morning? I’m hoping that I can make this routine stick. Here’s to early mornings and cheesy movies!

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