I found a sweet spot.
And by sweet, I mean one of those secret places you go to – no – run to, in order to touch base with yourself and get centered. One of those places you grow to depend on because you can trust the experience to remind you that you can, in fact, handle anything. And that kind of place must be prioritized and protected. Especially during the Holidays. Hallmark Holidays are often challenging to navigate for a myriad of reasons, and require a level of sensitivity and restraint, as well as creativity and a good dose of energy drawn from the wellspring of one’s resources. May we channel it all in the most positive directions. Holidays, though there is plenty to celebrate, and plenty to honor – can be energy suckers, especially for women who are often burdened with the weight of unspoken expectations. We rush into the thick of creating, creating, creating – for others to have magical experiences with one another, gathering the perfect gifts and moments to treasure. Cooking, shopping, tasking, doing… and all the while we forget to feed ourselves first. We rush to serve the expectation (often self inflicted expectations!) and will conjure the energy when we are already exhausted. But without filling the well, how can we give to others what we don’t possess? No wonder why so many fall ill following the push to be everywhere with everyone and do “all the things.” When it’s all said and done, and everyone leaves, and the dirty dishes are in the sink, we fall flat on our faces. Pure. Exhaustion. And THEN! Then we get C-R-A-N-K-Y… We get sick. We get drunk. We detach. We shut down. We go numb.
It ain’t fun, and, it ain’t sexy.
Why not feed ourselves first, and give from the overflow? I am nursing a Baby. I know that if I don’t feed and hydrate myself, that she will fail to grow and have the nutrients she needs to develop and thrive. She depends on me as the foundation for how she is able to function in this world. Which means I need to function. I need to thrive. It is the same for our families and loved ones. It is not a selfish thing at all, to take exquisite care of oneself. It is because of my loved ones, that I put myself first. It means I’m not cranky after I give my time or energy, because I first took the time to fill my cup.
If you know me, you know I LOVE bathhouses. I love entering the womb like spaces where our physical bodies can unfold and be renewed. I love emerging from those spaces, glowing, and letting the Love flow from me from that spot. When we travel, I love going to Hot Springs, to the bathhouses, to the inner sanctuaries where God blesses our bodies by allowing us to feel them in new ways. It’s also why I teach Qoya as a movement practice and personal pilgrimage. It’s all about remembrance, really, but I digress…
So, when my amazing and thoughtful brother arranged for my family to go to a sensory deprivation tank (what an awful name) the day before Thanksgiving, it was an absolute YES for me. These tanks are also called float tanks, and are quickly gaining attention as more people are catching on and opening up these businesses across the country. They are called sensory deprivation tanks (or “pods”), because once inside and the lid is pulled down, they become soundproof, light proof vaults of stillness in which 1,000 pounds of dissolved epsom salts in 10 inches of warm water becomes your personal cocoon for an hour at a time. You are isolated from every external input berating your body and brain. You can’t hear a thing outside of your own thoughts. You can’t see your hand held up in front of your face. All you can do is be suspended, supported, and held by these healing waters. And ohhhh my, is it ever sweet. Scientific research shows the benefits of these float isolation pods for many different conditions: anxiety, depression, muscle tension, inflammation to name a few. Neuropsychologist Justin Feinstein has established the Laureate Institute for Brain Research dedicated to studying the float tank phenomenon on our bodies and psyches in Tulsa, Oklahoma. The epsom salts literally pull the toxins out of you. In addition to creating space to connect to our internal worlds, it is actually helping people with illnesses and conditions that have routinely plagued them. Isolation. Isolation in order to create a boundary that we might not otherwise be able to do for ourselves. Perhaps this is intimidating for some. Of course, you have options and total control of keeping the top open, or the lights on, and you can even play music if you wish. It is not so much of a deprivation as it is an amplification. It is a vehicle with a quickening effect for our natural, sensory intelligences to come alive, to wake up, fall back into alignment and nourish our bodies. I chose to close the lid, keep the lights on, and listen to a playlist I have for savasana. The temperature was equal to my own body temperature, so I neither got cold, nor did I get too hot like I sometimes do in a hot tub. Call me Goldilocks, because that porridge of a float tank was juuuuust riiiiiight! It was so quiet I could hear the sound of my breath bounce against the interior walls, and my own blood pulsing through my body. The mere ripple effect in the water from my lungs expanding and releasing, sent small waves to the walls and then back to my own body like lapping water upon a sailboat’s hull. I went into my music deeper, and into a meditative state that I have not yet been able to reach until that moment. I wasn’t sleeping, but I wasn’t there. An entire hour went by in the blink of an eye, and I did not want to leave when the time was up. I felt like I had just taken the most amazing nap of my life. When was the last time I had that kind of stillness, that kind of welcomed silence, or even that kind of privacy?
I was held. I could just be.
For the rest of the day and into the next, I was in a state of bliss, and I was no longer sore from my workout the day before. All of my senses were heightened: sight, taste, smell, sound, and touch. I wanted to be outside in the sunshine and feel its warmth on my face, and the breeze whip around me. I wanted to eat the most delicious foods – slowly – and dazzle my taste buds. I wanted to stroll from one place to another without a plan, or itinerary, or care in the world outside of that moment. I wanted connect with my friends and family and listen to them, enjoy them, laugh with them. I wanted to get lost in a song that came over the speaker and get lost in dancing. I wanted to give of myself to everything and everyone around me, as though they were love letters to my soul.
Because they are.
And, because I (and my brother) gave myself that time and space to connect with my internal world, I could participate in it in a way that took us all higher. My brother for the WIN! Thank you for filling my cup, so I could show up as my best self for others!
Our town of Roanoke, VA does not currently have a float tank, but I hear there are plans in the works for bringing one, and I hope to get a monthly membership. Until then, I will visit my brother more often! Wanna come with me?!
So, how do you fill your tank? Where do you go and what opportunities do you take to honor your body and soul in the midst of all the crazy? I would love to hear from you. Please comment below, and list your top 3 things to do in order to tap into that space of genius where soul meets body, where you connect in deeper ways, and find sanctuary within.
Always, and in All Ways,