Sensory Deprivation Experience Leads to NIRVANA

This post is a break from writing about kids and sex; it’s about a personal journey of self-love and self-acceptance and how that translates to the messages I want to share with my daughters.

I had a really rough weekend emotionally. The 20-year anniversary with my now ex-husband was Friday and it had been over two months since my boyfriend and I broke up. I think the long weekend was adding to it: my daughters were going to be with their dad and all of my other girlfriends had plans away with their families. For some reason I felt tons of sadness, loneliness, fear, and doubt. I knew the ex-boyfriend was going to be around and there might be the possibility to hang out for part of the weekend so I felt a little less anxious but still sad nonetheless.

Friday morning my Yoga practice was dedicated to Peace… and I cried for a good 15 minutes after setting the intention. I wished my ex and all of my angry &/or hurting friends peace.  And I started to feel a little better.

Friday afternoon rolled around and I got a text from my ex-boyfriend that he needed to go to LA to visit family and a friend¦ in essence my lifeline was going away!  I decided I needed to shake things up for myself a bit.  I made a reservation to go to Harbin Hot Springs.

Harbin is a unique place.  It’s a retreat center located about an hour North of Calistoga in the rolling hills of Northern California.  There are soaking pools of various temperatures. They offer massages and other treatments. There are no cell phones allowed, no cameras, and it is clothing optional.

I went there to have a new experience.  I chose to have a Water Dance. According to their website “This is an advanced Watsu® technique ¦. Deep states of relaxation and meditation may occur.  You can say that again!


It was a beautiful, sunny day and I was outdoors naked as I climbed into the pool.  The water was the perfect temperature; I imagine it is what it feels like to be in amniotic fluid. I closed my eyes as I started off held cradled in the therapist’s arms like an infant. They gently placed a nose plug onto my nose and I breathed normally and deeply. Then, they do a series of moves that submerged me underwater, for seemingly LONG periods of time I must add. Just as soon as I was out of air and felt I couldn’t hold my breath one minute more I would realize I was gently being brought up to the surface. There was no gasping for air at the surface; I’d inevitably find I still had air to breathe out once at the surface.  I wasn’t afraid at all.  It was beautiful …and it was all about Trust.

(I realize this might sound like waterboarding but believe me, when a naked hippie does it to you, it’s completely different.)

I could not hear, smell, taste, see, or touch. And the only touch I felt was the therapist’s hands holding me pulling me this way and that through the water. But that was almost imperceptible as I went along.  As I submerged and came to the surface for nearly 90 minutes I had a TON of time to think.

Bible hymns from my childhood came to mind randomly, but yet relevant to what was happening to me in my life. It was the one that starts “Be not afraid”.  Did you know you can cry underwater?

I felt like a baby in the womb. I kept thinking, smiling to myself, “this must be what my babies felt”. And then the realization, “duh, this is what YOU felt”.  I cried again.

I did not open my eyes but when I was face up underwater I could “see” the sunlight coming through the trees and piercing the water just as I’m sure a baby can sense light in utero. It was beautiful.  Again, tears.

In being underwater and allowing myself to trust another person and feeling such a deep sense of relaxation, I realized I had strength I did not know I had.

I thought about how badly I’d wanted to be seen, treasured by someone but realized I must love MYSELF more.

I became aware that as long as I hold onto things that don’t suit me anymore I prevent myself from being open to finding those things that are truly mine.

I realized in this past relationship I’ve been on a morphine drip… my ex boyfriend administering only enough to keep me from feeling the real pain. Well, his leaving and my feeling that he “abandoned me this weekend was my cold turkey.

I used to think that another person would “complete me” (to use that cheesy line from Jerry Maguire) but I realize that’s not right: I am beautiful, complete, and wonderful –frankly? fucking awesome– all on my own. No one is my better half because I’m not missing a half.  I have to say, in terms of spiritual journeys?  I got more out of that 90 minutes than any hour in church. I was more in touch with the God that lives inside me, there where there were no outside influences or voices. I was complete in myself.

I was the one who chose the divorce.  I did not leave for anyone else, or have anyone on the back burner.  I left for me.  I have processed what went wrong in that relationship and my part in it and I’d like to think I’ve learned from those mistakes.

Rachel Rabbit Write recently tweeted “loving/ accepting your strengths also means accepting your flaws. It’s not about being perfect.  Amen to that.  I totally agree.  I know I’m not perfect; I have made plenty of mistakes in my life.  I am aware of my flaws and fears and I think after this experience, I am stronger and better equipped to accept them.  No, more than that.  I can embrace them.  I found strength I did not know I had.

I like this song but I’d reword it to Fucking Awesome.  😉

Pink released this video with a disclaimer and part of it reads: “I have a life inside of me, and I want her or him to know that I will accept him or her with open and loving and welcoming arms. And though I will prepare this little munchkin for a sometimes cruel world, I will also equip this kid to see all the beauty in it as well. There are good people in this world that are open-minded, and loving. There are those that accept us with all of our flaws. I do that with my fans/friends, and I will do that with my child, whoever they decide to be.”

This experience for me has me reflecting on my relationships with my daughters as well.  There are lots of messages I want to share.  I want my girls to know how strong they are, how they are complete and wonderful beings, how they do not need another person to make them whole (despite what Hollywood would have them believe), how they will make mistakes in their lives but I will love them nonetheless, how I value them for more than their looks, how they are talented and bright and in all of the different ways, how I want to be there to support them in any decisions they make, how I hope I can be the person they come to for advice, how I will listen more, and how I will do my best to do right by them and not just suit my own selfish, overly protective ways.

All of this is scary stuff for me as it may be for you parents as well.  My kids are growing up.  I’m not going to be able to protect them from everything out there in the world.  But this deep introspection comes from this experience at Harbin.  So I have to ask:  When is the last time you were truly alone?  Do you get time to be alone in your thoughts and examine your relationships, including the most important one with yourself?  What are the messages would you like to share?  How often do we take time like this for ourselves?

Peace.  🙂


The MamaSutra

Mother of two girls. Holds a Bachelor of Science (Psychology) and a Certificate in Women's Studies from UW-Madison. Graduate of IASHS as Master of Human Sexuality. The articles you read here have goals in two main areas. 1) I strive to normalize conversations about sex and sexuality between parents and their children. To me this means helping parents accept and nurture their daughters' budding sexuality so they grow and learn to respect their bodies and accept their whole selves as they grow into strong, beautiful, powerful and healthy women. 2) Female Sexual Empowerment. Women deserve to learn about and explore the pleasure that can be felt through a full sexual life - however each of us may define that - without guilt, shame, or embarrassment.

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