Adam Ketchum
Senior Amelia Fineberg floats in an epsom salt bath at Capitol Floats.

Epsom salt bath revives cynical, stressed senior

When I walked into Capitol Floats (3513 Broadway), I was greeted by a man wheeling his bicycle out of the tiny entry into the street and another sporting  a man-bun.

There was also a pile of 20-pound bags of epsom salt, lying on the floor near the door.

The atmosphere could be described in a word as “hippie.”

On the walls hung abstract art pieces and glass planters with delicate succulents.

I signed a waiver and the man with the bun led me on a brief tour – through the room where I could relax and readjust post-float(stocked with tea, art supplies and books) and into the room where I would float.

To float, as the Capitol Floats website states, means “to rest or to move on or near the surface of a liquid without sinking. To move or to hover slowly and lightly in a liquid or the air; drift.”

I would spend the next hour  in a pool of water with a thousand pounds of epsom salt dissolved therein, allowing me to float on the surface with ease.

Epsom salt baths are a common folk remedy for aches and pains. And according to the Capitol Floats website, floating carries a whole range of benefits, both physical and mental.

The float tanks also act as sensory deprivation tanks, cutting external stimuli, such as sounds and images, to minimal levels.

The tanks feature about 10 inches of water in a rectangular pool that’s big enough for a normal human to stretch out.

And the glowing blue light in my tank gave the whole room a very sci-fi feeling. I felt prepared to hibernate for interstellar travel.

After taking a quick shower to rinse oils off my skin and hair, I stepped into the pool. It was comfortably warm, though the whole room had a slightly chemical scent.

Overall, it was a pleasant, though strange, experience.

The buoyancy of my body was the best part – I could easily drift around, reclining on a bed of water that supported my weight.

However, I made the mistake of getting water in my eyes and mouth within a few minutes of entering the pool. So my eyes stung fiercely, and I had to rinse them with a bottle of unsalted water provided for that purpose. And the taste in my mouth was horribly bitter.

The light in the tank could be switched off, so I tried floating in pitch-blackness for a while. Then I got water in my eyes again and had to fumble around, disoriented, until I could find the light switch.

Floating in the darkness was a bizarre experience, but in a good way. Separated from the sensory information, visual and otherwise, that usually informed me about my position relative to other things, I was adrift.

I couldn’t tell how much time was passing, and after a while I got a little anxious and bored, and considered getting out early.

But I stayed there, in my fluorescent blue space pod (or so it felt like).

I can’t say I had any dramatic revelations or shifts in perspective, but it was still relaxing to just…float.

I found myself thinking a lot; with my noisy mind free of distractions, I could follow a train of thought for longer than usual.

Capitol Floats recommends that first-time clients float at least three times before passing judgment.

I had time for only one, and I feel like I would appreciate it more if I tried it again.

At $65 for an hour-long session, it’s pricey, but definitely a novel experience.

It’s a way to escape the noise and stimulation of the outside world and spend some time focusing inward.

Amelia Fineberg

(Photo used by permission of Kathryn LaComb)
Junior Quin LaComb lies on a table at Adina Robinson’s Acupuncture and Wellness Center with a two-inch acupuncture needle between his eyes.

Junior lets stranger prick him with needles

No one in their right mind is comfortable around needles. They’re slivers of metal that go into and under your skin.

So maybe it was a lapse of judgment, or more likely a temporary loss of sanity, that had me volunteer to get acupuncture.

“It’ll be exciting – a new experience,” I thought to myself. “People say you can’t even feel it.”

Well, they’re right.

But I didn’t know that when I walked into Adina Robinson’s Acupuncture and Wellness Center (1190 Suncast Lane, No. 9) for my appointment during Spring Break.

I was scheduled for a “stress buster” treatment, which was supposed to relieve stress and help with mental clarity.

I had looked around at many different acupuncture clinics, and the stress buster treatment was not only the cheapest, it also didn’t require 10-15 follow-up appointments.

Shortly after my mother (the volunteer photographer) and I arrived, acupuncturist Adina Robinson greeted us. She gave us a quick briefing about what would happen, and showed us into a room.

One can instantly recognize that the atmosphere’s sole purpose is to induce relaxation. There were windows, but they let in only enough sunlight to see. There were zen paintings lining the wall, and in the middle of the room there was a piece of furniture that I can best describe as a cushioned examination table.

Taking off my shoes and socks, I lay down on the table with two support pillows, one under my head and one under my back.

Robinson told me to relax, and I tried my hardest.

“Come on, you’ve had tons of shots,” I reassured myself. “This will be like them, but even less painful!”

Then she said that she was going to put only five needles in me (fewer than I thought), and proceeded to unwrap them. They had been sterilized to prevent any chance of infection.

The needles themselves were about two inches long but so thin that I could barely see them. Only a little piece of green plastic at the blunt end of each needle helped me make them out.

She proceeded to stick the needles into the fleshy part of my hands between my thumb and pointer finger, between my big toe and pointer toe, and right between my eyes. I couldn’t feel the needles in my hands or head, but the ones in my feet stung a little.

Then she turned on a CD with ocean noises and left me to my thoughts.

I lay on the table in a paralyzed state, worried that if I moved, the needles would get messed up. So I stayed still, looking like someone who’s been prepped for an autopsy.

My mom walked around the room taking pictures, making it seem all the more like a crime scene.

Robinson had told me that many patients fall asleep during their appointments. I wasn’t surprised – it was a sleep-inducing room – but my thoughts warded off my need for sleep.

I thought about everything from the ACT that I would take in two days to how many dots were on the ceiling (a lot, by my count).

Half an hour later, Robinson came back in and removed my needles. Just like their entrance, they made a swift and painless exit.

She bid me farewell, and I was on my way.

Did it work? Kind of. I didn’t feel any significant drop of stress, but then again, it was Spring Break.

However, I did feel clear for the rest of the day – and for a day or two afterwards. My mind was active and I felt refreshed.

Whether or not that was due to my treatment is uncertain, but I like to think that it worked. Maybe I just need to try it again.

—Quin LaComb

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