It had been a week from hell. The quick onset of a mystery illness gave me quite a scare and had me in the hospital for four and a half days last week. I had to cancel a family picnic on Daniel Island and a much anticipated trip to Daufuskie on Friday. But, the following Saturday I was treated to four fabulous hours of pampering.
So what did I do? I floated. It was the most phenomenal recovery that I have ever experienced.
Yep, I went floating. Not the clubhouse or backyard pool type of floating where the sun is beating down on you and someone does a cannon ball that totally screws up your chi. No, I floated in a facility that offers floating as undisturbed ultimate relaxation. GlowSpa is Charleston's first and only float tank facility and it's in our very own East Cooper neighborhood.
I was apprehensive at first. It sounded kind of gimmicky, so I Googled it. Sensory deprivation floating tanks are actually not a new concept at all. The flotation tank was developed in 1954 by John C. Lilly, a medical practitioner and neuro-psychiatrist. During his training in psychoanalysis at the US National Institute of Mental Health, Lilly conducted experiments with sensory deprivation and neurophysiology.
The appeal to me was simple. I am a floater, part mermaid you see. My fascination with tub buoyancy started with my first bath by myself, without brother or sister. It was an old claw foot tub. I filled it to the rim and let it swallow me up. Floating. The only sound was my heartbeat and the occasional drip from the old faucet. Everything went away and I became semi-weightless. However, something always intervened, bringing this nirvana to a screeching halt. The water would get cold, the phone would ring, someone would beat on the door to get in....
So, the idea that someone could offer me a solid hour of tranquil nothingness was a no-brainer. I'm all in.
All of the services are á la carte. I chose to indulge in the combo of a half hour in the steam room, one hour in the float tank, and ended with a one-hour massage.
Here is what to expect from the float tank: nothing! And this nothing is wonderful. Your brain registers the 93.5 degree water temperature as skin receptor neutral. Combine this with darkness and lack of gravity, and you won't know where your body ends and the water begins.
The float tanks are designed to mimic sensory deprivation. With no clothes, no jewelry, and no hair clips, the expereince is nothing but you, the water and darkness — complete darkness. I could not see my hand in front of my face. I put in some ear plugs, laid back, and totally let go. So what do you do with yourself when nothing but the sound of your heartbeat is infiltrating your brain for an hour? I left myself drift out to sea, flitting back and forth with the awe of weightlessness, and then I created a new character for my novel and two new rabbit trails to run down in the adventures of the plot.
I am a restless creature and didn't imagine that I would stay the entire hour. I was surprised when the gentle music filled the chamber signaling that the time was over. I showered, dried off, and put on another warm robe to head to my massage. I have never (I repeat, never) had such a healing, therapeutic, and holistic rub-down. Kelci Eppel, my hat's off to you, that was truly a religious experience. I walked out of GlowSpa feeling like Gumby on Prozac and momentarily questioned my ability to drive.
Hours later I tried to think if there was anything that could have been improved upon. Zilch. My only disappointment was when I left the facility to find myself in a parking lot, instead of a balcony in tropical paradise with someone fanning me and feeding me grapes. The serenity and peace along with the holistic benefits of the steam, float, and massage were ethereal.
"Seeds of great discoveries are constantly floating around us, but they only take root in minds well prepared to receive them"—Joseph Henry