Nina Ha

Columnist Nina Ha experienced her first sensory deprivation float recently, a weightless, zero-gravity water experience that eliminates all the distractions of civilization for an hour of complete relaxation.

It’s dark and I’m flying through space armed with nothing but my mind and my birthday suit. All I can hear is the distant rhythmic thumping of my heartbeat echoing through the salt water enveloping me.

It was my first sensory deprivation float, a weightless, zero-gravity water experience that eliminates all the distractions of civilization for an hour of complete relaxation.

Since every second of every day is accounted for in my chaotic life, I was intrigued by float therapy ever since its emergence. They’re hipster staples in major cities but a relatively nouveau concept in Kern County.

Arctic Wellness Cryo & Float, which opened its doors in December 2018, has two state-of-the-art float pods. They’re essentially supersized bathtubs with lids. Filled with 1,000 pounds of Epsom salt, these body temperature immersion pods provide an innovative method for self-care.

The salt granules allow for complete buoyancy in the water without even the need for you to lift your neck.

Float enthusiasts say the benefits include reduced stress, improved sleep, better concentration, conditioned joints and even revitalized libidos.

After taking a hot shower, smoothing some petroleum jelly over a paper cut and inserting silicone plugs in my ears, I stepped in, lied down and closed the lid.

At 5 feet, 9 inches, I’m tall enough to touch each corner of the float pod with my arms and legs outstretched.

I could feel the slightly filmy nature of the salt water on my skin as I explored my new environment.

Some people immediately shift into a fight or flight panic inside the chamber filled with only 11 inches of water. I was relieved that the small enclosure made me feel protected and safe.

Once I settled in, I started to feel my body completely relax. I leaned into the importance of what I was doing: pulling the emergency brake on a life lived with good intentions but severely lacking in respite or introspection.

I was finally taking an intentional breath. And it felt exhilarating.

I searched my mind asking God where I needed to make life changes and how I could learn from those around me. I sought to connect with the part of me that gets pushed to the to-do lists of tomorrow by the pickups, drop-offs and chores of today.

Inside the chamber, completely devoid of time, I luxuriated in the practice of gratitude. I thanked the Lord for all the family, friends, triumphs, heartaches and blessings in my life. I thanked Jesus for the body, which has served me so well and nourished two babies.

As I prayed and meditated, I was brought to tears by an overwhelming sense of joy, love, and peace.

I could feel my brain shifting into a theta state where endorphins flowed and stress ebbed away.

After some more internal evaluative work, I thought to myself, “I’m ready.” In that instant, I heard an instrumental version of The Little Mermaid’s “Part of Your World,” signaling the end of my float.

My mental vacation left me thoroughly refreshed and ready to embrace my chaotic life once again.

Opinions expressed in this column are those of Nina Ha.

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