I can hear the question: "What is Qigong?"

We have some really special qigong events on the horizon! You also may have noticed Thrive hosting more consistent offerings in our classroom and around the Southeast. Qigong is the perfect antidote for the busy lives, chaotic and sensational news cycles, and constant overstimulation that we face today. Yet qigong is still somewhat new in the West and many people that could get profound benefit from this ancient art still have no idea what it is. After all, it wasn’t that long ago when nobody knew what yoga was…! While the best way to understand qigong is to participate in a class, I will try and give you a sense here of what you could expect.

Lets start with the word. Qi (pronounced ‘chee’) translates into something like ‘life-force’ or ‘energy’. Gong means ‘cultivation’ or ‘skill’. So Qigong means something like: “to cultivate the life-force”. Well, thats all well and good, but to cultivate it for what?!? There are qigong exercises for the cultivation of lots of different things, but in the classes we offer, the intent is to cultivate abundant health and vitality at every level of our being. In fact, as a health practice, qigong is so effective it is one of the ‘five branches’ of Chinese medicine.

So, what does the practice look like? What can I expect in class? Great questions! Imagine the balance and grace of Tai Chi, without all the complex choreography! Movements in qigong may be seated, or even lying down, but most often we are standing. We use relaxed, flowing movement along with some gentle shifting of weight from leg to leg in order to create simple, repetitive movement patterns that are easy to practice. We often coordinate the breath with our movement (“inhale as the arms float up to the shoulders, exhale as they drop back down to the waist”). We may also use visualizations to add another layer of significance and aid in our intended focus. All this together makes qigong a very powerful moving meditation that has profound benefit for body, mind and spirit!

Most people leaving a qigong class report feeling calm, grounded, and yet invigorated. The benefits of qigong go much deeper than that. But its fun to practice a healing art when practicing is so, well, fun! Our classes emphasize having fun. After all, a smile itself is medicine!

In our public offerings we try to make sure we have something for everyone. If you are brand new to the practice, we assure you, this will be extremely approachable and easy settle into. If you already have some experience with qigong, rest assured you will add new layers to your practice that will only improve what you’re already doing. Look forward to seeing you at our next event!!

Pins and Needles

Acupuncture for neuropathy

Neuropathy refers to dysfunction of one or more peripheral nerves, typically causing pain, numbness, or weakness in the affected area. Acupuncture can be used to improve the circulation, decrease inflammation and 'wake up' the nerves, decreasing pain and/or improving function in the area.     

Peripheral Neuropathy: Many patients report improvement of peripheral neuropathy associated with diabetes or chemotherapy. In these cases, as well as a few other systemic conditions, the pins and needles feeling, numbness, or even burning pain can appear in a sock and glove presentation. A series of acupuncture treatments may be used to reduce these unpleasant symptoms.

Carpal Tunnel: Did you know that acupuncture treatment has been shown to be as effective as oral steroids for Carpal Tunnel? If you or someone you know is suffering from this condition, acupuncture can help to mitigate the symptoms as well as prevent nerve dysfunction from progressing into a more serious condition.  In any case, suspected Carpal Tunnel should be examined by your health care practitioner. Pubmed Article

Thrive Integrative Medicine acupuncturists now offer free phone consultations to answer any questions you may have about acupuncture treatment.

Ashley Kissinger, L.Ac., FABORM is a member of the Society for Integrative Oncology and an acupuncturist at Thrive.

Self Care During the Holidays

Self Care During the Holidays

Y’all, lets face it. The Holidays can be hard! There are many reasons that is true. And while no healthcare provider can change what comes out of your mother-in-law’s mouth as you’re sitting around the table for your Holiday meal, we can offer some guidance that may help you deal with those stressors with as much grace as possible.

Acupuncture and IVF

Whole Systems Traditional Chinese Medicine Can Improve In Vitro Fertilization Outcomes, a Research Summary

In a 2015 study of 1,231 fresh cycles, live birth rates were evaluated in three different groups. The group receiving customized treatments leading up to the embryo transfer as well as protocol acupuncture on the day of had a 61.3% live birth rate. Those women who received protocol acupuncture the day of transfer showed a 50.8% live birth rate and in those receiving IVF alone it was 48.2%. This research suggests that regular acupuncture treatments using individualized treatments along with protocol acupuncture on the day of IVF have the greatest effect.

Wherever you are on the journey, now is a good time to start. Ashley Kissinger, L.Ac. is a fellow of the American Board of Oriental Reproductive Medicine and has been providing onsite protocol acupuncture since 2010. Complimentary phone consultations available at Thrive.

Lee E. Hullender Rubin, Michael S. Opsahl, Klaus Wiemer, Scott D. Mist, Aaron B. Caughey, Impact of whole systems traditional Chinese medicine on in vitro fertilization outcomes, Reproductive BioMedicine Online (2015)


Back to School. Stay Healthy! (Plus, a discounted product!)

Back to School.  Stay Healthy! (Plus, a discounted product!)

Welcome back!  Summer with kids is so much fun.  But let's be real, its hectic too.  Finding the right balance of summer day camps, activities, childcare, family travels, and trying to keep our rhythms going at work at the same time can be massively challenging.  The return to school feels like the return to normalcy.  

Yet the return to school is also the return to the petri dish of infectious pathology!  Colds and flus are gonna start coming home with your kids along with the homework assignments.

Self Care

“Practice self care as if everything depends on it.”

-Rolf Gates


What is ‘self care?’

Does it mean eating healthy food? Taking care of your body by exercising? Cultivating a sense of peace and well-being by meditating, praying, or simply allowing yourself times of stillness?

And what about relationships? How can we care for ourselves when we’re so busy taking care of others?

We have a saying in my family that sometimes we need to “fill the well.” This metaphor implies that our energy, our vitality, our joy and creativity are like the water in a well that we can draw from to sustain ourselves and others.

As we draw down from the source, our reserves can start to become depleted.

Self care is the practice of replenishing those reserves.

It’s also a gift we give ourselves simply for the sake of giving it, not just so we can tap into greater reserves in order to use them.

Here’s what I know from my own life about self care…

  • It starts with moving my body, every day, especially in my yoga practice…

  • Being in an uplifted environment matters: my home, the places I choose to practice yoga, even where I shop…

  • Mindful eating (of healthy food!) transforms sustenance for the body into sustenance for the whole self…

  • Spending time apart from goal-driven activities by walking in the woods, meditating, or simply retreating to my bedroom to read quietly in the midst of a busy family weekend can restore my sense of balance…

When I practice self care, the world seems to brighten, and I become a gentler, softer version of myself. Self care allows me to better ride the waves of parenting two teenagers, running a household and a business, and participating wholeheartedly in relationships.

When I fill the well by practicing self care, I’m available for my life, my people, and my work.

I encourage you to gift yourself with a full day of self care at Habersham Mills on Saturday, November 4th, as we gather to do yoga, breathe, walk mindfully through the woods, eat wonderful food together, and re-connect with our source.

You can register at www.quietgroundretreats.com

STUDIO.BNA architects
675 Pulaski St.  Suite 200
Athens, GA  30601

o.  706-850-4224
c.  706-308-8339


The Healthy Gut

Herb Girls here,

If you didn't already know, we're hosting a fermentation workshop at Thrive this Saturday! In prelude to that, we thought we'd introduce you to your gut. Eileen wrote a little snippet to help you get acquainted. Enjoy!



The Healthy Gut

The gut is the jungle of the body- it is a biodiverse region teaming with trillions of microbes (bacteria and yeasts). Even germaphobes who eat no fermented food or veggies are still internally crawling with bacteria. It’s a complex environment that we are only beginning to understand. But we do know one thing: chronic inflammatory conditions, degenerative diseases, and neurological imbalances like autism and depression are all linked to insufficient probiotics in the gut.

A little bit of live ferments goes a long way. Just as too many “bad” bacteria wreck havoc, too many “good” bacteria can also turn into a negative situation, or dysbiosis. For example, someone who eats bowls of kimchi, liters of kombucha, sourdough bread, and nutritional yeast with every meal might be feeding his bacteria rather than his own cells, causing him belly distension and discomfort. It’s all about the balance. “Good” bacteria in wild ferments keep the bad guys like Candida and E. Coli at bay, but healthy guts need these “bad” guys in small numbers to maintain the balance. It’s only when they invade areas they aren’t supposed to be or proliferate extensively that issues arise. By eating a little bit of fermented food each day, washing your hands, meat, and vegetables, and keeping simple sugar ingestion to a minimum (Candida and cancer cells need simple sugar to thrive), you are ensuring that you have a well balanced microbial community with the right ratio of good versus bad guys.

The gut is the source of life! Foster a healthy one by eating wild ferments every day.


A Very Abbreviated List of What Gut Bacteria Do


  • Create B vitamins- essential vitamin complex that provide cellular energy and support nervous and immune system function

  • Create Vitamin K2- essential vitamin that deserves more attention. K2 is needed to deliver Calcium to the bone matrix, keeping it out of arteries and joints. Doctors are now connecting K2 deficiency with atherosclerosis, coronary artery disease, stroke, bone spurs, and stones; fermented foods are one of the greatest sources of K2.  

  • Assimilate minerals- many minerals, like iron and copper, can’t be properly utilized without sufficient stomach acid to unlock enzymes and good bacteria to process them. With mineral-rich soil quality depleting (this is largely the reason how Americans are well-fed but undernourished; just like our guts, our soils lack the microbial life responsible for making critical vitamins and minerals available to us), it is more important than ever to optimize mineral absorption.

  • Remove toxins- healthy populations of good bacteria keep bad bacteria at bay. If left unchecked, bad bacteria produce endotoxins. Our body responds by initiating its alarm state, which is inflammation. Long-term inflammation causes our gut walls to become highly permeable (“Leaky Gut Syndrome”), allowing those toxins to escape into our bloodstream and circulate throughout our body, furthering inflammation in other parts of the body.

(You can remove toxins by reducing your consumption of “junk foods”- i.e. processed foods, sugars, and trans fats. Bad bacteria and yeast love sugary, processed foods. When we eat these foods regularly, we are feeding bad bacteria rather than our own cells.)

  • Prevent obesity and diabetes- gut bacteria moderate fat absorption and glucose processing- central for proper insulin signaling and metabolism. Furthermore, the hypothalamus is the appetite control center of the body. Studies have shown inflamed and damaged hypothalamic in obese individuals. When inflammation affects your brain- especially the control center- the entire way we metabolize morphs to a suboptimal state.

  • Improves immune system and antioxidant defense- 80% of immune system cells are made in our gut. Why? If you consider how our immune system is our body’s defense and that we are constantly ingesting foreign elements from the outside world through our gastrointestinal tract, this design makes perfect sense.

  • Glutathione, aka The Mother of All Antioxidants, is more powerful than any antioxidant we could ever ingest, but it has to be produced endogenously- that is, we can’t supplement with it. A very smart microbiologist, Marika Mikelsaar, was the first one to identify and isolate a bacterial strain, Lactobacillus fermentum ME-3- especially efficient at boosting immunity by producing glutathione. When we have ample glutathione, oxidative damage is greatly reduced, antioxidants like Vitamin C and E are recycled, and cells have more energy. Glutathione production wanes with age and when we don’t supply the right raw materials to create it (Dr. Ohhira products contain ME-3).

  • Improve mental health- in utero, the same tissue that becomes our brain also becomes our gastrointestinal track. This is why the Central Nervous System (CNS) is so entangled with our Enteric Nervous System (ENS)- enteric means “intestines”. Producing 70% of serotonin and interacting with our brain in profound ways, gut microflora significantly influence brain signaling and neurotransmitter manufacturing.

  • Improve liver function- When our bacterial populations are functioning, the breakdown and assimilation of food is relatively complete. When our populations are jeopardized, the liver has an added burden to its already incredible task of breaking down every single thing we ingest, from the unforeseeable pollutants in the air to the food we eat. An overburdened liver can’t eliminate toxins efficiently, leading to systemic dysregulation.

  • Prevent acne- signals from our gut microorganisms interact with organisms on our skin. Grain and sugar carbohydrates cause a surge of insulin and IGF-1 (Insulin-like growth factor) secretion, stimulating excessive male hormone production. Excessive male hormones cause overproduction of sebum and the keratinocyte skin cells- both associated with acne. Carb-rich foods, especially refined carbohydrates, also increase inflammation in the body, triggering acne and wreaking havoc on your good gut microbes.

An Introduction to Mindfulness

From time to time, Rebecca Shisler Marshall, PhD will be bringing us helpful tips on self-care, happiness, and how to be less stressed. Rebecca is a certified life coach, yoga and mindfulness instructor, Reiki Master, and shamanic practitioner in training. She brings 12 years experience in mindfulness research to her own meditation practice. You can find out more about Rebecca on her website www.CenteredYou.com, or attend her workshop, Everyday Mindfulness on September 10th.

As an associate professor at UGA, business owner, and mother of two, things can get pretty busy in my life. As the summer comes to an end and the school year is getting ready to start again, I know the best way to help reduce my stress is to meditate. And yet, even I have so much resistance to meditating more! What do I mean by resistance? Anytime I decide I want to add more mindfulness (or really any self-care practice) to my schedule, the lizard (basically the inner critic, or reptilian part of the brain) starts its familiar conversation:

“You don’t have time! You can barely get everything done as it is! It’s not possible!”

Yep, that’s resistance, and we all have it! Instead of listening to that voice, I choose to use a practice I learned when my kids were first born. Adding in more mindfulness into everyday activities. When my children were babies I would mindfully change the diapers, nurse, or fold laundry; now I mindfully wash dishes or brush my teeth, or even mindfully work. It’s not what task I chose, but how I do it. It means that I’m going to be as present as possible while I’m doing a task as mundane as washing the dishes. Being present in the now.

This is been an amazing help for me. When I practice more mindfulness, I feel lighter, happier, and more connected. Life’s challenges don’t seem so difficult and I’m able to respond instead of react. I just feel better. 

What is mindfulness?

I’ve been reading and conducting mindfulness meditation research for the last 12 years and there’s a growing stack of scientific evidence. Mindfulness is helpful for everything from lowering stress, anxiety, depression, and can even help your immune system function better (to name a few). Mindfulness has even been found to increase the thickness of the brain. Isn’t that amazing?! I think mindfulness is so great, I teach it to all of my clients.

How do you practice mindfulness?

To practice mindfulness, it is simple but not necessarily easy. Think of it as building a new muscle and practice is the key to learning any new skill. First find something to pay attention to in the present moment- the breath, sounds, or your body. With each breath, bring your attention back to what is present right now- the sound of the fan running in your room, an ache in your body, or even your stomach grumbling. If your mind wanders, simply bring it back to whatever your focus is and let go of any thoughts of future (What am I going to eat?) or past (repeating a conversation from earlier in the day).

I hope you give mindfulness a try- and let me know how it goes. 

Peace and Meditation,


                                                  Learn more about mindfulness!

                                           Everyday Mindfulness Workshop at Thrive

                                                         September 10th, 1pm


Rebecca helps people who are stressed and overwhelmed, and ready to feel better. You can schedule your complimentary appointment with her, or connect with her on Facebook and Instagram


Well, the Abrams family has been busy lately!  Y'all saw our recent post about Doug's new book, The Book of Joy, which he wrote with the Dalai Lama and Archbishop Desmond Tutu.  This one's written by Doug's wife, Rachel.  Rachel and I worked together in Santa Cruz and developed Santa Cruz Integrative Medicine, which was the model for Thrive.  She's an amazing woman, and an excellent practitioner.  I can't say enough great things about her.  You won't wanna miss this book!  Follow link on title of book to Rachel's website for more info.


New Year's Re-Start

New Year's Re-Start

Are you tired of Resolutions that don't stick? Join us at Thrive for a New Year's Re-Start in 2017!  Come and learn how to make long term sustainable changes for optimum health, without giving up everything you love forever!

The basic program is $75, or add on comprehensive blood work with functional analysis for an addition $224.  Read all the FAQ below and let us know if you have further questions or concerns.

If you are ready to register, you can call 706.850.2000, email office@thrivespace.net, or register online by clicking HERE to create a free Mindbody account, and following the instructions.

Book Of Joy

My good friend Doug Abrams co-wrote this book with the Dalai Lama and Archbishop Desmond Tutu.  I haven't tucked into it yet, but I heard some sections of the audio when Doug was recording this summer.  What little I heard touched me profoundly.  Check it out!!!  Follow the link on title below.



The Ten-Series of Rolfing by Leah McKellop

 To start at the very beginning, what is Rolfing and what are it’s goals?  

 Rolfing is a form a Manual Therapy that aims to relieve pain and stress on our bodies by balancing posture.  To do this, Rolfers focus on releasing strain patterns in our soft tissue, especially the very sculptable fascial system.  Though your Rolfer may work on a specific area where you are having symptoms, in the back of their minds Rolfers are looking for the root cause of that symptom.  Was that painful area already compromised due to postural strain? If muscles and joints can’t move through their full range of motion that area is easy to strain.  It’s with this way of looking at our bodies that the Ten-Series was developed.

 Rolfing has a reputation of creating changes that hold,  greatly due to this "whole body" process known as the Ten-Series.  Rolfers are not looking for a change that will last 24 hours,  but for a long lasting shift.  For a shift like that to hold, it may require a person’s whole body to change.  


The series is roadmap that journeys through the body, adjusting posture in a way that the body can integrate without backtracking.  The sessions build on each other, laying a foundation of support for more challenging areas to balance.    Everyone’s series follow a general set of guidelines, that are customized based on each person’s unique needs.   If you are plagued with chronic hip pain, we might touch in on that area for a bit every session.  If there is an emotional component to your physical needs, that may be an important part of our sessions.  If you are an active person, we may have a very participatory movement filled session.  


For me, the Ten-Series has always felt like a journey to get to know yourself, whether that be on physical level or another.


The Surface Sessions

Session One: The Breathe

-Free up restrictions of the breath.

-Work to get the breath to move not just the ribs, but the full body.  Eb and flow with breathing.

-Use the breathe as a catalyst for movement, working from the inside.  This is a tool for future sessions.

*As with all future sessions, this is also a time to begin addressing your specific issues/interests.


Session Two: Grounding

-Building your foundation.

-Grounding, dropping into gravity.

-Feet, lower legs and the action of pressing/sinking down.


Session Three: Beginning to Find Your Balance

-Starting to perceive where you are in space

-How you are balanced front and back over your midline?

-Working along the side-body and first accessing the deeper parts of your body that hold your body in space.


The Deep Sessions

Session 4: Beginning to Find your Center (“core”)

-The first true core session

-Working from the feet to the pelvic floor along the inner line of your legs.


Session 5: Continuing to Find your Core (it takes a little while)

-A continuation of session 4, working the core muscles

-This time we work from above down to the pelvis on the “upper core”.


Session 6: Finding your “Back” and noticing your surroundings

-All the way up the back, from the soles of your feet to the top of your scalp.

-Bringing awareness to what’s behind you, what you can’t see.  Feeling your back and whats behind your back.


Session 7: Cranial Opening

-“Putting on the Head” and decompressing the cranium.

-This involves neck and head work as well as potential intra-oral (inside the mouth) and intra-nasal (into the sinuses) work.  The later two areas are based on need and involve very gentle work with gloved hands.  


Integrative Sessions

The final three sessions are about integrating all of the work that we have done up to now.  An integrated body with stay supported and fluid when you get up off the table and stand or move.  An integrated body works as one interconnected whole. A movement in one area will set off a chain of supportive movements across the whole body.  To be integrated you are both fluid and strong.

Session 8: Integration of Structure

-Session 8 is highly customized to each person’s needs, but in general it looks to free up any lasting structural restrictions that effect movement across joints(more full body).  Clients may be asked to move more or assume more challenging positions on the table.


Session 9: Integration of Function

This is a continuation of session 8, with similar goals.  In general session 9 looks to address more functional restrictions.  Do your initial movement in a way that uses your new found support?  Can you move with fluidity and strength?


Session 10: Smoothing the Sheet

-Once we have meticulously gone through the whole body and released everything that was hiding deep down in there, now we go back over and make sure everything is nice and neat and in place.  

-We are looking for “uniform brilliance”

After the 10-Series

The goal of the ten series is to help your body come to a balanced place.

-Often people complete the 10-Series, feel balanced and don’t need any more sessions

-Plenty of others use Rolfing as “maintenance” for their body and come in on a continued basis, to keep things balanced. This is especially true for people who do repetitive movement like desk work, running, biking, parenting...

-Some people use Rolfing for more general relaxation.

-And finally, some people come in when they have an injury or something feels out-of-wack.

All are great options, so do what feels good to you.



“What it was to not Fear Movement” by John Albright

I woke this morning, like most mornings of late, to my newborn son’s beckoning for a diaper change and feeding. My pets stirred like leaves in the wake of passing vehicles, circling my feet, also wanting food and affection, opened doors for AM adventures in the rising sun. The birds outside sang to gain territory, the earliestexuberance claiming stakes to shares of worms, but also calling house-cats to challenge that hard-earned right.

When I entered the bathroom to get ready for the day ahead, my cat, Shrimp,hollered for acknowledgement. My dog, Gingo, thwapped her tail and curled her body like koi in pond at feeding time. I leaned down to quell their rebellion aimed to break the previous night’s stillness. But, something was different.

Years of cumulative stress had taught me to bend my knees, even when not lifting heavy objects. Just to greet my animal friends, to pat their heads and gesture good greetings, I needed to heed lower back pain. Not today. Returning upright from hands on fuzzy ears below, I noticed precisely nothing. The twinge of unchecked movement, to which I’d grown accustomed, never tightened it's grip. The cat still crooned for water fresh in his bowl. The dog’s tail still threatened to re-awaken our just-fed and fully satisfied son by drumming back-and- forth between walls and cabinet doors.

But, the pain in the hinge above my tailbone no longer spoke.

I leaned again, just in case I’d missed its all-too- familiar protestations. Nope. Nothing. At that point I remembered… What it was to not fear movement. What it had felt like before so many traumas. Just like the sun’s rise after evening’s occlusion, light revealed no longer hidden. I remembered what it was like to feel light, unburdened by the density of past injuries’ propensities to stay stuck in webs of fascia wound around joints meant to bend.

One session of Rolfing with Leah McKellop the day before... That made all the difference.

Seasonal Allergies and Chinese medicine

Hey y'all,

'Tis the season...

The weather is perfect.  The sun.  The colors. The birdsong.  The magic of Spring.  The, um, pollen...

Rain is washing yellow rivers down the street as I write. And lots of folks are suffering from the effects of the magic of Spring.  

Chinese medicine has lots to offer in terms of mitigating symptoms of seasonal allergies.  We also love to help folks toward a state of balanced health such that allergies play a smaller and smaller role in their lives, period.  I'll talk a bit about our strategies for treating seasonal allergies, and as always, please get in touch with us here if you have any questions.

Acute Phase

The acute phase is all about managing symptoms.  Acupuncture and herbs are wonderful for treating sinus congestion, fatigue, itchy eyes, cough, etc.   Chinese medicine views an allergen as a "external pathogenic influence".  This is the same way we refer to viral and bacterial infections, however in this case we are talking about an environmental irritant.  

Preventative Care

People are often upset when they come in during allergy season and find out that I wanted to see them two months ago!!  In order to build the body's natural defenses and avoid the affects of seasonal allergies (or at least lessen them) we really need to begin our work ahead of time.  Patients that are diligent will begin scheduling appointments just BEFORE Spring begins so that we can give the body time to prepare.

Deeper Healing

The bottom line in treatment of seasonal allergies, is that the healthier the person, the less likely they are to be influenced negatively by environmental irritants.   For instance, if a person is already experiencing higher than normal levels of inflammation in the body, the introduction of an irritant will cause far more significant symptoms than it would in a healthy person.  At the end of the day, we want to employ Chinese medicine to move us closer to a state of optimum health, such that we resist damage from any source.  Or that if we do experience damage, we are more quick to bounce back.  And for that, you can come in any time of year to get started!

Hope everyone is loving this gorgeous season!!  And if you're not, due to allergies, lets see if we can turn that around!


First Time in a Float Tank by: Leah McKellop

First Time in a Float Tank

 Flotation tanks go by a number of names, including isolation tanks, sensory deprivation tanks, sensory attenuation tanks.  I’ve known about these tanks since living in Colorado, where they are considered a fairly normal part of health routines.   At first impression floating seem as much like something out of a sci fi movie as out of a health center.  Essentially you get into a person sized pod filled with a carefully monitored saline solution.  It is warm, dark, and silent- essentially a man made womb or maybe a cryogenic sleep chamber for traveling through deep space.   I was a little apprehensive.

My main uneasiness surrounding the pods was claustrophobia, feeling trapped and not getting enough air.  Others I spoke to were concerned about being in total darkness, the panic of not being able to see your hand in front of your face.  These little relaxation space ships seem to bring up a lot of deep rooted fears for people.

Anyways, despite my nervousness,  I finally went floating with my boyfriend/fellow Rolfer, Michael, at a new place that opened up in Braselton, GA.  The center is on Braselton’s main street in an old law office, mostly filled by two pod-style float tanks, each in their own private room. I was still having visions of panicking in darkness on the drive over, but once inside I immediately started to relax.  The owner walked us through the orientation.  We could leave the lid open if we liked, or keep lights on in the tank.  There was an intercom inside the take if we needed anything from her.  She put a water bottle and a wet washcloth inside the pods for each of us in case we got salt in our eyes. Basically you could set yourself up to do full sensory deprivation or float tank-lite.  Michael went for the first option, while I was a little closer to the later. 

In our own rooms we showered, put ear plugs in and stepped into our tanks.  It was exactly 98.6 degrees and felt like a warm blanket.  I pulled down the lid, leaving a little crack open for light and air to come in.  I turned off the inner pod lights and reclined back, immediately floating.  The saline solution is made with Magnesium Sulfate, essentially an extremely concentrated Epsom Salt bath.  Immediately my muscles started twitching and relaxing.  At first I moved around, stretching, twisting and playing around with the feeling of weightlessness.  Then I splashed myself in the eye with that concentrated salt water and decided to try staying still.

I meditated, coming in and out of concentration as I drifted into the sides of the container.  I was expecting the weightlessness of floating to feel like nothing, but in fact I could feel the tensions and twists of my body much more acutely.  I observed as some of that tension released or changed throughout the float.  At times I felt physically uncomfortable. At other times I felt totally relaxed- floating in and out of mediation.  With the tiny bit of light and air I had coming in, I felt perfectly safe.

After an hour had passed the inner tank lights slowly came on and I sat up for the first time to find my body the consistency of jello.  I felt a little wobbly as I showered off the salt and made my way back to the lobby.  My eye lids were heavy, my limbs were weighted and when Michael and I spoke to each other, our voices had dropped an octave thanks to relaxed vocal chords.  It was wonderful.

Michael had a similar experience of floating in an out of deep relaxation and in an out of bodily discomfort.  He was in complete darkness and said he freaked himself out once opening his eyes to nothing, but ultimately he thought the full darkness was helpful to relax.  He had much less room in the tank than I did so he couldn’t move around much, but he also had no issues splashing water into his own eyes. 

There are many touted health benefits, but in my experience, floating was mostly a nice way to calm down my nervous system.  The feeling lasted for days.  If I feel like I need another “reset” I would definitely head back to the tank to unwind.