Sunday, July 12, 2015

My First Float

A few months ago I saw an Instagram post of a friend who went to a"float spa."  Being the curious person that I am, I goggled the spa, Flotation Philly and read the info on their websight. Immediately I knew I needed to try it.  It took me a little while to get around to booking the appointment, but this past Thursday I "floated" for the first time. The experience was so profound, that I feel compelled to share my take a ways with you.

I didn't have a ton of expectations going into the experience. I hadn't done any other research other then reading the website and did not talk to anyone who had done it before. All I really knew is that I would be spending time in a sensory deprivation tank… with out light or sound, floating in a tank full of salt water.

When I first saw the tank I feel a little intimidated. I have had claustrophobic episodes in my past and was slightly concerned it might be a problem. However when I realized I was in control of closing the door to the tank and that if I opened it a light outside would come on I was able to relax.

I locked the door to the room and showered as instructed, put in my ear plugs and stepped into the tank.   I closed the door and all light and sound were gone.  I lied down in the water and effortlessly floated at the top.  The water is filled with 1000 lbs of salt water, so ones body is completely buoyant. The water is also the same temperature as your body, so I was neither hot or cold.

So my first thoughts were anxious in nature, realizing how vulnerable I was.  However quickly I was able to push that away.  My next observation was that the muscles in my neck were tense.  They quickly relaxed though and I began to experience  100% physical comfort.  I noticed that the only thing I could hear was my heart beat and my breath.  I began noticing how slow my respirations were becoming. It was very strange to breath so little, and a few times my mind worried that I wasn't. But eventually the breath become comfortable.

The boundaries between my body and the water slowly dissolved.  I slowly felt my "self" slipping away. And I had the thought that being in the tank was like a temporary death.  That sounds scary, but it wasn't, not at all.

Prior to going in, I though that I might struggle with turning my thinking mind off laying in a tank for 45 minutes, but it wasn't difficult at all.  I've practiced meditation in the past and the tank was like taking a zip line to the best meditation experiences I've ever had. It took hardly anything to become present in away I've only had glimpses of before.

It seems to me that my ego and my thinking mind had left me.  There was still a "me" but It wasn't the same.  When I thought about things, like my family or lifting there as an abstract quality to it.  I 'felt' about them, rather than thought. 

And then the visualizations started.  I wouldn't call them hallucinations they were more like dreams, except they were dreams I had control over.  And I wasn't asleep.  I could also describe the feeling as an out of body experience, as it seemed I had left my body to play in my mind.  It was like  my brain became a playground of infinite possibilities.

Suddenly the soft music began to play signaling the end of the float. I got out of the tank I came back to reality.

I've been thinking about the experience since I got out of that tank and have some definite take a ways to share.

First of all, the sheer level of relaxation was phenomenal.  I'd 110% take the tank over a relaxation massage any day. Second of all if the tank has zero outside benefits (there are claims that there are many), the trip of it was totally worth it.  I've done my share of drugs in the past and this was better than most of my experiences.  Considering it requires no drug and there's no risks or side effects, how can it get any better than that. 

The biggest take away however lives with me now, after I have gotten out of the tank.  I am blown away by the power and mystery of the human brain. There is so much we don't know or understand.  I believe in the power of creation, how we create our own reality, but after this experience I believe even more strongly in the power of our mind to create our perceived reality.

I am also renewed in my beliefs that our egos, our thinking minds are an illusion.  That what is real, our authentic self, lives in the present moment.  From that place we are our most powerful selves.  All the feelings of not being good enough, all the little dramas of life, all the things we have or think we know have nothing to do with essence of who we are.

People ask me all the time, how I was able to make changes in my life.  Sometimes specifically in regards to losing weight and also in regards to the ability to love and accept myself.  The answer to those questions are multifaceted, but they all boil down to the fact that I was able to pull apart the thinking part of my brain, from the part of myself that is whole and connected.  With practice, I learned to live more from my authentic self, and as I did the other parts seemed to loose their power. 

I wish that I always lived from my "authentic self"  but that  just isn't the case.  My mind, my ego they suck me in all time (sometimes years at a time it seems.)  However now that I KNOW that I am not my thoughts or my fears or the negative voice in my head who tells me I am less than- I can never really forget.  Getting in that tank was a profound reminder of how much joy there is to be had when I am present and connected to that part of myself. That particular benefit of floating for me is invaluable.

As you can imagine, I will be floating again.  I am very curious to see how it will be the second time around.  I am wondering what will happen when I consciously choose to look at different areas of my life while in the tank.

I totally recommend giving the experience a try and if you do please let me know how it goes!!

Curious? Watch this documentary:

Monday, July 6, 2015

The Evidence of my Scars

I just spent a few days with my in laws.  On the first night in their house, as I stripped to get into the shower I noticed my reflection in the mirror. The mirror in their bathroom was larger than any in my home and the lights much brighter. And in that mirror I could see everything.

Every fold of skin.  Every broken blood vessel. Every stretch mark. All of my Scars.

I stood there and really investigated my body from all angles, under the harsh lights.  I became overwhelmed with emotion but I didn't cry.

It was hours later, lying in bed with my husband that I told him about my experience. As I did tears of pure grief fell down my cheeks.

I told him how I loved and accepted my body, but I was feeling sad about what I had done to it.  That I was angry that I would never know what it could have looked like.

I don't remember his exact words but he basically reminded me that there was another way to look at the scars left on my body from years of being morbidly obese. I was looking at them as evidence of a battle I had lost.  He helped me remember that they are also evidence of a battle I have won.

The truth is my scars are evidence of both..

I'll never forget the years of pain and suffering my scars remind me of.  Part of me will always morn for that young energetic girl who will never know she was an athlete.  I will never get back the adolescence spent believing no boy would ever want to date  me. I can never see the body I would have had if I had never been 400 lbs. That sadness, it's a part of me.

And when I look at my body those scars also remind me of what I have achieved. I have created a differently reality for my own daughter.  I have figured out how to love and accept myself in a society where that is not the norm.  I have done things with my body that were once unimaginable, time and time again.  My pride...My joy, that's a part of me as well, 

I am  justified in my feelings of sadness for what was lost, as a I am for my joy in what I have found.  When I look at my scars, I reserve my right to feel both.

However, I don't choose to dwell in either. Rather than live in the emotions about my past, I strive to live in the present.  In this moment skin is just skin, scars are just scars, feelings are just feelings,  none of which has anything to do with who I am and who I choose to be in the world.

Wednesday, June 24, 2015

What are you practicing right now?

I've been thinking a lot about habits.

Without getting into all the boring details I recently I've changed my diet back (not exactly but close) to how I used to eat.  And it struck me how easy it was for me to fall back into the groove.  

I think most people know this but usually apply the idea exclusively to negative habits.  But the truth is a habit is a habit. A well worn path, whether it's to heaven or hell is pretty easy to find.

I guess we can look at this a couple of ways.  We can get frustrated that our bad habits are always there waiting for us or we can feel a sense of relief that even if we have fallen off the proverbial wagon, we can get back on.

Unfortunately we cannot erase the things we have done repeatedly in our pasts.  And we may not want to reach for some of the  so called good habits, as they may no longer serve us as they did before.

But there is something we can do.  We can choose what new habits we form.  Whether we are conscious or not ,what we do now is becoming the habit of tomorrow.  What if we really paid attention to what we are practicing in each moment, instead of finding out on the back end what we have established.

We can do this by being present.  We can do this by asking a simple question…"What am I practicing right now?"

Imagine what we can do when we decide where we invest our action , our time and our effort.  We can align what we practice with what we  love  and value in every single area of our lives.  We get to choose.

"What are you practicing right now?"