My birthday was last week. It was one of those ones where people say "Oh, that's a BIG ONE" and then look at your face to see how well you are dealing with adding another year to your Life Resume. For the most part I am embracing the opportunities that adding another year brings (Anxiety and I did A LOT of work around this aging thing about a decade ago...) and decided to do something new and unique, so on the 50th Anniversay of the Day of my Birth I spent an hour floating in a Salt Float! I guess you could say that I Floated into Fifty....literally!
When I heard about plans for Salt Float business opening in my hometown, I was intrigued. I did some research about what Salt Floats are (picture yourself laying in a big bathtub in a water/epsom salt mixture that is just short of being a gel....you definitely float!) and their benefits (great for sinus issues, detoxing, stress relief) including "anxiety relief". Hmmm....this sounded interesting. So, I decided that I would book a session as a present to myself. Disclaimer: one of the main reasons that I was interested was that, as an introvert (does that surprise you that I tend to be more introverted? I consider myself a "social introvert"....more on that another time!) the thought of spending an hour in a dark and quiet room with no one saying "MOMMY", no ringing phones or pings from devices, and no one asking me anything from me....yep, sounded like a little bit of paradise!
Now, I would imagine that some of you already have Anxiety's annoying little voice in your head, the one that brings up what could go wrong, the "what ifs", and is just a great big scaredy cat when it comes to anything new or outside of your comfort zone. Yeah, my Anxiety does that too!
Fortunately for me I have done a lot of work to get my Anxiety to work more as an Ally than an Enemy, so I pretty quickly moved past the typical “anxiety provoking” thoughts like “it will be dark and dark is scary” or “will the salt hurt if it gets in my ears (nose, throat, eyes, other sensitive parts)?” or my favorites (those pesky “what ifs”) “What if something goes wrong?” or “What if I don’t like it?”. I thought this was going to be a breeze….silly me!
My Anxiety will still take opportunities (often when I am doing something “new” or “unknown”) to attempt to at least unnerve me and, if it gets it’s way, cause me to Panic. So here is how it went down…
I arrive on time and fill out the paperwork. You sign this waiver that says, among other things, that they are not liable if you get hurt or die and that if you don’t follow their rules (shower with their soap and get all of your “contaminants” off of you before entering the float tub) and they find your tub contaminated you owe them a hefty fine. OK, so my Anxiety tries to freak me out, but it’s not working…yet…
A very nice young woman comes out and invites me back and I get the tour of the facility. All good so far. She shows me the room and gives me instructions and then I am on my own. Still excited (have you ever noticed that anxious and excited feel about the same, so I tend to label any similar feelings as “excited”) and now I start to prepare to enter the tub. Now is when it gets a little bit…shall we say…interesting? Just before I take my shower I put in the wax earplugs as per the instructions. Guess what? Plugging my ears does not go over well with my sinuses and my sense of balance! Oh, wow, Anxiety has a foot in the door. I literally feel unbalanced and Anxiety starts whispering (actually louder than a whisper) “this is not going to end well” and “this is uncomfortable”. When I “hear” the word “uncomfortable” it triggers my memory and I remind myself that the goal is not to be comfortable. The goal is to continue the experience. Being uncomfortable for a moment or two is just part of the experience (and part of life). This is not a life or death situation! So I breathe and keep moving forward.
Now I am in the tank and the temperature is comfortable and I get myself situated and am ready to turn off the light. So far so good. I have the option of having music playing (you know that awesome meditation type music you hear when you get a massage….the kind you do not play in the car while driving because you will fall asleep!) and decide to play the music. And then I lay there (OK, float there, because you literally cannot make yourself sink….I tried!) and my senses start attempting to make sense of this new situation. At first it is mostly curious. Then I start thinking…”my feet are kind of cold”…so I dip them under the water….”my arms are getting uncomfortable”….so I put them over my head (side note: I found this to be the most comfortable position….like a starfish!)…still so far so good.
And then Anxiety jumped in and pulled out these doozies….😳
Apparently three attempts were enough for my Anxiety and she backed off, and we both relaxed and enjoyed the rest of the Float! I was able to clear my mind (or at least mostly think about what I wanted to think about rather then what Anxiety wanted me to focus on) and simply "be" without having to "do" anything. When asked about my experience by the nice young woman, I shared that there was simply a learning curve (which she shared that she related to as she recalled her first float) and that I would be up for the adventure again since I had learned so much!
So what did I learn? First and foremost that no matter how much work I do to keep a working relationship with my Anxiety, there may always be situations where she will go back to her old tricks and I will be given an Opportunity to practice my skills (walk my talk you might say!).
Here are my top three takeaways:
P.S.- I did notice benefits from the salt float. My sinuses were clearer (for about a day) then they had been in quite some time, my skin felt somehow "renewed" (I don't know if I can explain that any better), and let's just say that my body eliminated some serious toxins later that day 😊. If anyone is intested, here is the link for Float Frederick’s website:
The voice behind Auntie Anxiety is Lynn Dutrow, Courage Coach and Counselor