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The first hour started with a practice of affirmations and some tapping of my skull, breastbone and other acupressure points on my body. I watched myself dissolve into the water and then woke up when I “arrived” in sensation and consciousness of specific areas of the body.
Sacrum – gut – chest – head – hips and eventually a bright FULL BODY awareness that lasted a fraction of a second… but felt like a large bell ringing from the center of me outward.
then thinking – then watching – repeat.
This first hour was probably the most effortless and full of joy floating I’ve had yet. My trusty companion neck pillow and I deep sea dived into the darkness
“and I exhaled into the darkness as he exhaled into me”
I woke up or came to convinced I was transformed into a woman’s body – I was convinced I had long blonde hair, lady hips and a graceful soft version of me. I ran my hands and the illusion was altered when I noticed my involuntary arousal. This didn’t change my altered sense of gender, just reminded me what body I was born into.
– And what is a body? What is gender while you’re floating? What is masculine and feminine while swimming in the void? When you’re close to zero does it matter what is between your legs? Or even what you have installed in your head? Our bodies are not just the meat we dance in, the skin we work in, the bones we walk on. Our bodies extend, they exist in the memory and perception of others. Our image exists on the internet replicated on social media and in photo albums. Our bodies exist in the faces of our mothers and fathers, our children our brothers and sisters. Our DNA is swirling amongst a whole human family reflected in unique and complex ways… a billion times over. Where does ego, the sense of I and the large sense of self AWARENESS intersect in the body? Is that what we call or sense as energy? Is that what we arrive at when we float? Our bodies exist over time, we are born, we live, we die. The float tank is very WOMB like. It… if looked at with a sense of humor is also tomb like. wombtomb. A place where we are created and destroyed.
someone stop me before I write a thesis-
I stepped out of the tank for a bit. grabbed some water and came back into the room.
I stood in front of the little mirror and stared into my eyes in the dimly lit room. I’ve done this self-staring practice for years. After a moment my eyes relax and I start to lose the image in front of me. Other faces, morphologies and guises emerge from the structure of my face.
Again, what is a body? My body is a reflection- I see myself seeing me lalala
I get frustrated that my eyes involuntarily twitch right before I feel I’ll fall into myself on the other side of the mirror. Eventually, I breathe deep enough and the sense of separation between images disappears and I could reach out and shake hands with myself. This state of looking isn’t just in my eyes, it is full body and in my gut. The natural buzz from the float helps this intensify.
I break the spell of staring and do a really nice deep sun salutation next to the tank. My left hip is screaming at me for some love, so I give it the tough love of a deep lunge.
I climb back into my wombtomb and get comfy.
I’m in a Julie Taymore movie. Titus – a brief dipping into cinematic float space. Maxilla bone vibrates, I make love to my neck pillow friend (with my mind) and it’s been 30 seconds of rapid fire hi-saturation color blocking photoshoot superstar music video and I hear the wake up music –
It had been a half hour and it went by in hyper speed.
This was the first time I stayed all the way in til the music came up.
And not a drop of salt in my mouth!
FLOAT 4, 5/22/13:
Fight the urge to contract out of the unspinning
reflex – spasm wake up as I tip over on the edge
neck neck neck cradle head in biceps – it’s cute
level the sacrum and sitz in the water
fight by not fighting – resist by accepting
accept the woman voice in the lobby, accept you will itch dreadfully on the nose, accept it might be boring, accept the wormhole, accept the descent falling accept the breath, the heartbeat the only sounds you will know intimately – accept the breath of the darkness
accept the breath of the darkness and the darkness breathes into me.
shadow requires light. we are pitched into void
fartbox- familiar human smell – bringing it back to an animal condition. I’m addicted to my phone. Tethered like little sappy strings- did my ringtone just go off? I gotta check it immediately – it’s a furthering of the spell “I’m GONNA MISS OUT ON SOMETHING” i’ts a nasty spell that the tank is healing.
when I loosen the tether it has on my ears I fall gracefully into the dark
a pile of salt- cell phone drama – darkness as a figure – reach above the neck to the space below me
FLOAT 3, 5/15/13:
Skimming on back the smallest contralateral movements adjust me.
reaching up my spine twists and sacrum follows – my bottom turns and now I’m doing the river beaver/otter twist.
Today I played with being still and just floating. Then that got boring so I played with moving incredibly slowly. My left nostril was plugged up even while I used one of those breathe right strips. My head was tilted back to the can’t breathe easily position. sometimes that helps me have wild crazy visions…sometimes it just feels like I’m going to die amidst the indigo shades and the sense memories of trauma, release and self-accepting physical tics.
tap the chest tap the forehead, tap the nasal cavities tap the top of the head tap the chin tap tap tap tap tap
a flood of sensation : Being HERE. 100% in my body
and then the heartbeat loud and clear
and then the thinking
it’s amazing how loud thoughts can be.
and it is surprising that they can block the sound of a heartbeat.
but isn’t there a physiological response to our heart beat that acts to suppress us hearing it? I mean… it would drive some people batty.
but I come back to the heart beat in this little water chamber. I comeback to the heart beat to remind me of here. body. breath.
small tuck of the pelvis – I’m having fantasy of being a synchronized swimmer – now I’m having fantasy of being a hairless prescient triplet ala Minority Report.
I’m having fantasy — tuck pelvis- come back to breathing
light on a pile of salt
light on my toes
light on my body
light on my face
hold still to hear the heat beat above the thinking
think about how to make a video about thinking
think about how to make a dance in a video about thinking and not thinking about thinking and heartbeats.
flood of anxiety– doesn’t last long cause I’m laughing at the White Petroleum jelly tubes.
stay still so the shadows become apparent. and yes, there can be a shadow in pitch black, even if they are still somewhat irrelevant.
soft light for soft ribs. the familiar pop of my right ankle
I’m gonna take some of that petroleum jelly home with me and use it as part of my costume
Planning an aesthetic vs embodying an experience. AmI a dancer, a body, a performance artist, or a free floating concept meat sack drag queen? I’m just hair and bone, muscle and glitter.
I do a drawing about what my body feels like – blind contour … it looks like twins or triplets smiling and playing together… they are conjoined…or about to eat each other up.
Makes me think about Wangechi Mutu and being ‘double headed’.
How much of this writing is going to be used? Do I have any control over it? It’s so personal. My precious little moments… as if I owned anything – ever. floating
like my wisdom teacher artist friend Maire Palme quotes “Emptyness if Form! Form is Emptyness” (finally)
FLOAT 2, 5/8/13:
Ritual. Sit breathe strip
Shower, let the day drip off- dry
Address the body- pat self down – do a round of sun salutation
“FLOAT BE EXPLORE ! TRAVEL NAVAL SOAR!”
Apply Petroleum Jelly to the gorgeous blister on my left foot.
rub my heart with palm clockwise 40times
– This time I was in the big tank where you could stand up. I thought this was nice… it made the room more spacious but less warm somehow.
I used ear plugs this time so I really was quite desensitized with hearing and sound… except I can hear when my teeth grind against each other in their relationship and it’s slow attrition.
I promptly fall asleep floating and wake myself up with dramatic involuntary jerks that splash salt water in my eyes.
I get up and rinse that off. and ask for the water to be heated up anther degree.
My nose is stuffy and I’m thinking— I should really get some breathe right nasal strips cause air flow has stopped in my left nostril.
I assume the “hands behind head congratulations pose” and gently “lift” my occipital atlas away from my shoulders and because I’m floating in a magic womb-tomb it stays and I can relax into it!
There are many involuntary jerks… I bounce around and I keep think I see faces of people I knew in a different time, era, life, experience. Floating portraits in the black sky of my water room. The womb-tomb is dark and warm and I invite the warm dark pitch black to meet the hidden dark in me. It’s a curious pouring effect a curious replacing of pitch black with metaphor. I’m trying to invite something that I cannot see or see within but I can see INTO, inside a space, a darkness I can only feel, and contain.
“We’re all pink on the inside”
Things get fun and interesting when I do tai-chi standing up in the float water. Things get even more interesting when I lay my head back in the water and fall into the stillness and immediately hear the most beautiful symphonies, the most demanding synth leads rising to a never ending crescendo – only to realize that is probably the sound of brain cells dying because I haven’t got enough oxygen to my brain – DAMN SLEEP APNEA !
“Is this sanctuary?”
The salt burns my left foot but I praise it and give gratitude for the pain which reminds me to stay awake amidst the temptation to sleep – while floating naked in a spaceship.
FLOAT 1, 4/28/13:
My first float was a “tester” float, the one to get our feet wet.
I avoided reading any of the literature to not taint my first “pure” (I find that word unclean) experience. I did the ritual of the neat Petroleum jelly over any scrapes and bruises – cause you don’t want to just dip a fresh wound in 800# dissolved salt water… I showered and sat in front of the white spaceship filled with water that reminded me of a Lady Gaga’s music video.
Inside the womb-tomb water carriage I played with balancing my neck on the floating neck pillow – a fun challenge – I stared up until I couldn’t tell if my eyes were closed or open. It is pitch black – it’s not horrific, it’s comforting and snug. I have space to stretch out, reach up, sit up and float.
Floating— I’ve never floated. Not just a sensory deprivation float… but ever. I’m too lean, not much if any fat to keep me buoyant on my annual swimming trips to the Rogue, Washougal, Columbia or on rarest of occasions Willamette. I usually just sink til I shapeshift into a german shepard and tred water… IF I get in past my knee caps that is.
Floating in the womb-tomb was curious – losing track of time is fun, losing track of direction without a blindfold is great. I found myself playing dolphin and making waves with my spine and surprising myself with the startle I’d give myself while my vertebrae re-adjusted themselves during my pretend zero-gravity training session.
And then IT happened. The thing that happens sometimes in meditation practices, or peculiar dreams… I stepped BACK. stepped back in my head and body the boundary between the dark and my inner dark becomes shaded. I keep stepping back and back while strange and silly thoughts process across my mind.
from my journal
“wave forms -spine sacrum fluid”
“head articulate spine to sacrum movement breath deep in cave”
I dress a lovely portrait of what my face looks like from a disembodied spirits point of view… and I could have sworn at one point I was cooking or holding hands with this sweet sassy older black southern woman in an apron.
– I guess I’m what you call a “sinker” cause I didn’t hear the wake up music and was in there a bit longer than I think was planned.
the tree’s were very alive on my bike ride home.