By Kristen Cervenak
The music of every student’s screams of finals time grew thick in the air. Ugh. I had lost so much motivation and ambition to do anything but study. My mind nagged me like a mother. I told myself to focus on my studies, but grew hostile with myself because my studies were the only thing on my mind. Where is my escape again? Is there any escape left?
I remembered my paper due the next week that was coming along so well with the single word of “some” pasted at the top. Every time I began, I would tell myself, “Hm. Maybe it’s ok to just wrap up in a blanket and lie down for a moment.” Then I would be motivated! I could get rest and finish my art projects right afterwards with all of the energy brimming through my body.
Bad idea… every single time. I realized after the third time of slumber that I lacked motivation. Not to mention the messed-up sleep schedule that went hand-in-hand. I glided into Metta with a foggy mind. Stephanie must have sensed my energy and suggested I float before I began working.
I worried that I would fall asleep. A strange worry because I hear so many people say that sleeping put them at total peace. Yet, for me personally, I love experiencing the variations of every float.
As I floated, I was attacked with thoughts. I began to remember that research paper that my subconscious tried so desperately to pull into it. The ideas were swimming by at the same speed as my fingertips in the water. Ideas for better sentence structure, ideas for better transitioning, it kept me mildly interested in a subject that (before I started) was so fascinating.
With too much on plate, I forgot why I chose my topic in the first place. The lack of distractions left me with encouragement. This didn’t surprise me because I had never had a bad experience floating. The effects of floating carried throughout the day. I felt myself wiggle out of my writer’s block with a soft relaxation that lasted for the next 12 hours.
As I went home, I erased all of my prior thoughts. Not to say that students should start an entirely new paper every time they are discouraged, but for me, my focus never waned until the final pound on my keyboard. I started to wonder, “Is there a link between silence and creativity?”
(P.s. Thank you, flotation. That shiny A made my worries disintegrate.)
by Kristen Cervenak
As finals time approaches me, I feel a bit more flustered than usual. The stress monster finally captured me and dug its sharp talons into my inner peace. Neither yoga or meditation throughout the week had freed me because there seemed to be a lack of time and ability to escape. That’s when my double session experience provided me with a brand-new journey to self-discovery.
As a student, I spend so much time hunched over my notebooks and laptop. With an occasional crack of my back and roll of my shoulders, I assumed that was the way to relax my muscles. I can honestly say I have never experienced a massage. I had previously learned that Metta’s masseuses customized each session to the needs of the visitor. I can’t begin to describe how nervous I was about it. I mean – how can you know what you need when you have never known anything different?
However, Jess quickly banished all of my nerves. Her voice was as gentle as the classical music playing in the room. She asked if I wanted peppermint in my oil and after my expressed excitement, the refreshing scent filled the air.
I never realized how tense I keep my body until I tried to relax it. Particularly, my shoulders. Her hands danced up my spine like my body was a piano, gracefully, but with purpose. Every move she had was soft, yet targeting. That’s when I noticed how sore my shoulder blades were all of the time. I actually never knew what relaxed muscles felt like.
The time flew by. I felt like a thousand pounds was lifted off my shoulders. I can’t forget to mention how much more gentle my steps felt, how relaxed my breathing was, and how fantastic the faint smell of peppermint on my skin was.
I felt an entirely new feeling to my mind and body. It was almost as if I was sent into a trance. Every word that came out of my mouth came out slow and soft. My eyes drifted around the room. So, this is what a massage feels like? I never wanted that feeling to disappear.
After an amazing massage, I felt all of my positive energies restoring. The stress monster loosened its clutch, but there was still more relaxation to be had. I prepared for flotation.
“I wonder if there will be a difference in my experience, now that my mind is calmed,” I thought to myself.
I walked into what feels like my toasty other home with a new goal. Jess managed to deplete my stress, but with flotation, I would face the remaining head-on.
As I felt the rest of my body’s tension leave, I prepared for concentration.
I focused all of my energy into perfectly centering myself. My body settled and it was if I was on a bed of air. My fingers locked into place, with my fingertips above the water. After one deep breath, I felt my body lose its place. I regained my focus and found myself still again.
I began to replay the conversations I had earlier in the day in my head. I went through the pages of my memory, searching for all of the information I have learned lately. It seemed easier to drift out of a fully-conscious state, but there was something so satisfying about being in touch with myself.
With dead silence and not a single thing to visually distract me, I was free to listen to my own thoughts and fixate on being entirely motionless. This 90-minute session provided me with solutions to my stress needs, including what my next step after work would be.
My attention was shifted from my stress to my relief. I knew that massage pairs well with flotation due to muscle soreness, but I never expected the healing effects on my mental state. During and after my massage, I felt my daily troubles melt out of my skin. I had not a single care in the world. Without that experience, I am not sure if I had the energy to practice my concentration and strengthening of my memory.
After my day of work, I was brimming with ambition. I was finally freed of my frustration shackles and had one of the best study sessions of my life. It’s amazing how we can become so used to the same perspective on what we expect our bodies and minds to feel like. Sometimes, it just takes some magic hands and silent reflection to turn off the stress response and discover that everything is going to be just fine.
By: Kristen Cervenak
When I was told that the second flotation session would be better, I couldn’t wrap myself around the thought. With my first experience being so life changing, how could I expect more? I thought to myself, “I would have to bathe in gold-infused water.” Surprisingly, no gold was needed.
I looked around my new float room, located on the lower floor.
“Ok. This is similar, but the energy is different,” I thought to myself.
I closed my eyes and took in the salty aroma. I climbed into the tank and floated straight to the top, as if I was a professional at being weightless.
The gentle vibrations of the music surrounded the tank came to a halt and silence fell to my eardrums.
I heard my nerves in every breath. Shaking breaths, but shallow. I closed my eyes for a moment and reopened them. The room felt cool and gentle.
My hands grew limp as I put my arms to my sides. A different approach than my former. I found my muscles shiver and listened once again to the shallowness of my breath.
I took one deep breath in and I held it. I feared that I would take a deep exhale and slide underwater, but no shift in weight came. Again, deep breath in, deep breath out. I was alarmed that my normal breath was suffocated by my own stressful worries. Is this how it always was? Am I this nervous all of the time? Has my anxiety fallen to the sounds of my own thoughts and surroundings?
I kept regulating my breathing. I began to realize how often I hold my breath hostage. How often my words were rushed and jumbled due to the lack of oxygen I would take in, in fears that I wouldn’t get the words out in time. Rush, rush, rush. We are always rushing.
When my breath no longer sputtered, I felt both the weight of my limbs and weight of my daily concerns drift away with the remaining waves of the water.
The time raced by much faster this time. I can only assume because I was finally at peace with myself. I felt nothing, I heard nothing, I saw nothing. I wish I could have lived in that moment of nothing.
As the music softly echoed through the room, I stood up and blindly laced my fingers to the wall. I reached for the titanium hands of the shower taps. With no lights on, I listened to the water drops bounce off the ground like rain.
I didn’t want to depart from my dreamy visions in the dark yet. Eventually, I knew, it was time to return to my previous world. With the flick of the lights, a shower, and a redress, I wandered to the door. I prepared myself for reality and with the quick jiggle of the handle… I thought to myself, “Oh. This isn’t so bad,” as my feelings of relaxation stayed piggybacked to me throughout the night.