Wednesday, 30 September 2009

Wash Your Mind Clean

Last week I finally used up my Christmas vouchers from my lovely in-laws. (Yes, I'm one of those lucky people who married a really great family.) They were for Floatworks, the Southwark centre where you'll find small rooms full of Bond-like pods where you can float for an hour at a time and feel... different.
On a daily basis, I feel as if I start too many things and never end them. I always carry a notebook and a pen with me for when I have ideas and I'm afraid I might forget them. I draw clothes I want to sew or knit, jewellery to make, list chapters for books, ideas for blogs, places to visit and all the normal chores that really ought to get them done at some point in between the interesting stuff. All these ideas are stuffed in, popping up constantly shouting for attention and in need of an outlet. I could do with an office full of assistants. I've got a laptop and a small cat. Unless I keep up the yoga, and particularly the pranayama practise (controlled yoga breath) my head feels like fireworks exploding over a race track on saloon car afternoon, complete with crashes.
So how lovely it is to slow everything down, rinse out the ideas and feel as though I've wiped the slate, giving myself space for new, clean, clear thoughts.
You float in 10" of water, at body temperature, that's full of Epsom salts. It supports your body so you feel as if you're in space. Press one button and the lid closes. Press the next and the light goes off. The music fades out after a few minutes and you've got sensory deprivation. There was one thing I could feel; the cat had scratched my hand and left a tiny graze, enough for the Epsom salts to drive me bonkers with irritation. I flapped about a little while I found the buttons to put the lights back on and open the lid so I could find the packet of petroleum jelly to cover the scratch and protect it. Back in the box I let myself go. I once tried pranayama breathing in a pod but it didn't work. Concentrating on controlling my breath held me back from the deep relaxation you feel if you give in entirely to whatever thoughts fill your head, and then gradually roll away into nothingness.
The music starts again to remind you that it's time to get out. Only 10 minutes! I was robbed. Except that it had been an hour.
I remember a few things. Ideas for a set of short stories. A song about working in an office. A design for wrapping paper. All these things floated into my head. Many others floated off again without distracting me at all. If you don't fancy being shut in a pod the shape of a huge egg, you can keep the lid open. If you're afraid of the dark, you can leave the light on. They'll play music for you if you prefer a bit of background noise. In generally the world divides into those who can't wait to give it a crack and others who hyperventilate just thinking about 1) being naked in salty water 2) being shut in a pod 3) doing nothing for an hour. If you don't fancy it, sod off and stay away and don't make it difficult for the rest of us to get a slot. You just go for a walk in the nice sunshine while we shut ourselves off from the world and its noisesmelllightweightpainwork.

Will I do it again? I just booked myself three-for-the-price-of-two and I can't wait. OK, I'll tell you:

1 comment:

  1. So glad you've been to floatworks! I love floatation therapy, it makes my problems disappear and leaves me full of cheer! :-)