Kerri Ough - a work in progress...

I Floated

And now it’s all I want to talk about.

It happened on Monday in the late afternoon after a great weekend at home and after a brief period of self-induced anxiety. I’m not sure where the anxiety came from: I have been running regularly and eating well and getting enough sleep. My work is under control and my home life is happy. Still, I was buzzing. Maybe I overdid it on the caffeine front? Maybe it was something else.

I have been feeling an increasing sense of restlessness and inability to sit still recently. After being hyper-productive for seven consecutive days, I found I couldn’t get a handle on myself, my thoughts and my focus. My morning meditations were sloppy (or non-existent) and my morning writing practise (usually a beautiful hour of peaceful quiet time for me) had become fractured as I would stand and leave my desk mid-sentence or the minute a new thought flickered through my brain. I was overwrought and wanted, maybe even needed something to draw me back in.

Enter Float Session #1
The first time I’d heard about the growing love of float tanks was in January 2015 from my friend Jack. Over dinner with friends this carefree spirit explained that he had just come from a mind-blowing first float session. It sounded great from his account but I never looked into it, or felt the need for it. The second time this came up was in 2016 while listening to a Tim Ferriss podcast discussing  floating/sensory deprivation as a way to reduce anxiety, improve sleep, and increase creativity. I was intrigued, but still no research beyond that interview and it was pushed out of my mind. Then, last year, my friend Ali sent a short text after their first experience: “Kerri, you need to try this. Next time you’re in Toronto, I’m sending you for a float.”

Finally intrigued, finally interested, I watched a documentary about it, listened to countless strangers’ experiences of floating and finally looked into it. I discovered that not only was there a Float Pod in St. John’s, NL, where I live, but that it was only a block and a half away from my house.

My First Float: Monday February 12th:
I am told not to shave my legs that day because the salt water will burn. Once there, I’m taken down to the pod room. I am run through what feels like a thousand instructions, don’t touch your eyes once you’re in the pod, if you do there’s a spray bottle with fresh water just outside the pod to spray in your face. If you have trouble relaxing your neck, there are foam neck rings over there. The music will stay on for a few minutes while you’re getting in and getting used to the pod. The pod lid closes easily and you just push to open. Put these earplugs in, then shower, then rub vaseline on any nicks or cuts on your body, because they will sting otherwise.  Then get in. If you need anything there’s a call button on the right.  You can leave the lights on, but they are meant to be off. You can turn them off by pressing that rubber button twice. Enjoy. See you in an hour.

Following her instructions, I entered the pod swiftly, knowing the hour would pass all too quickly. I found my resting position easily, arms at my side, palms down, legs slightly open, neck relaxed (I found this easy in the 800 pounds of Epsom salts, apparently some people don’t.)

The music dimmed, I turned off the lights and pulled the pod lid closed. My body still and in position.

This is perfect, I thought. This is what perfect feels like. Dark, quiet, warm. No smells, no sounds, no sights. Just me, my breath and my heartbeat. I am exhilarated but calm.

My mind goes everywhere:

How can I take this perfection everywhere I go? 

How can I find this when I’m overheating in a crowded airport?

Brian would love this. This is like camping. Dark, silent, still. Except safer. No bears. I am safe here. This is perfect. 

I breathed deeply, listening to my heart beating. I turned my arms over, palms now facing up, legs a little further apart – this feels even better than before. My body is weightless and I can’t feel the difference between the water and the air – it is designed this way. I am comfortable, more comfortable than I’ve ever been. I am floating. I have no aches, I feel no pain, in fact,  I feel nothing and I move my toes just to feel something move.

More thoughts rushed over me:

Is this why Dad had a waterbed for 25 years? Did he feel like he was floating? I have to get Dad to try this. Would Dad try this?

Then, I am in outer space. It is dark and there are stars everywhere around me. Then, I am underground but I am not sad nor am I happy. I feel safe, and comforted. I feel light and solitary.  I think of my mother too. Floating. Everyone floating.

The rest isn’t a blur, but it was exciting and personal. I was somewhere between meditation and boundless creativity. I didn’t wish for a pen and paper in there, but I did wish I could be recording my thoughts outside somehow, telepathically, so when I got home I could read them all, scattered and wild, in my journal. It turns out it didn’t matter because I remembered everything I needed to remember, and whatever left my mind doesn’t matter now.

I moved my arms above my head. Wow, this is even better than the first two positions. I want to float like this forev—

The music started, the signal for me that there were just five minutes left. Where did that hour go? How is it over? Can I jump back in for another hour? I’m not done yet.

I get out and I wipe my face with a dry towel (part of the earlier list of instructions.) I step into the shower and feel my heavily salted hair. I am careful not to let it fall forward into my eyes. I touch the base of my nostril, the salt from my hands stings the sensitive nostril skin. I barely touched it, I think to myself. I let the water run over me. I dress, climb the stairs, go to check out. She asks me how it went? I told her it was incredible, that I would be back.


I pay and pull on my boots that I’ve left upstairs during all of this. My body feels different, but it’s my mind that I can’t stop thinking about. I feel relaxed but energized. I could go for a three mile hike. I could do anything. I have to keep this feeling. I have to be able to find this feeling when I am the furthest from a warm, safe, private float pod. I have to talk about this. I have to go back. I want to go for longer.

That night I sleep like I’ve never slept before. Easy and without interruption. I can’t wait to go back.

I am a convert.

I floated and I want you to float too.

©2018 Kerri Ough. All Rights Reserved. Design by Janine Stoll Media.