Stacy Sullivan is a frequent floater and wellness enthusiast. A few years back, she left the wine and spirits industry to open an infrared sauna studio, called Sol Sweat, which is located in Kirkwood, MO. Inspired by her desire to efficiently share solutions for optimal health, she is currently launching a STL wellness directory, Sol Seeks. Read on to learn more about Stacy, her floating practice, and her perspective about integrating wellness experiences into your life.
Stacy, thanks so much for your time. Let’s jump in. I’m curious to know how you first learned about floating.
The first time I learned about floating was from Brian Harasha, a chiropractor/acupuncturist in STL. At the time, my job was very stressful. I hate feeling unhealthy. I wanted to move towards wellness and bring in anything that would help me feel healthier. I was trying all sorts of different forms of self-care. Brian knew I was open to trying new things, so he encouraged me to check out floating. When you opened in February of 2015, I got the first appointment I could get, which was in March.
Do you remember your very first float?
I do. I’m almost positive it was 7pm on St. Patrick’s Day. During that period, I was doing all of my floats at 7pm because I was working so much that it was the only time I could get in.
I remember that during my first float, I envisioned myself on the lake with a friend, just floating and hanging out. I had a strong vision and feeling of that. With my eyes shut, I felt myself there, and I really felt the presence of that specific friend. That friend had passed away. And, I didn’t feel like it was a precious ‘being there with a past loved one’ type of thing, I just literally felt like I was on vacation with her, and we were hanging out together.
I think it was that moment that I realized how much I love floating in water. So, the fact that I can take myself there in a float tank means a lot to me. And, at the time, I was going to Tulum, Mexico, for Yoga retreats. Floating reminds me of being in the cenotes. So, when I float, I feel like I am revisiting that too.
After my float, I remember thinking, “I need to keep doing this.” I sat in your space and listened to other people talk about their experience. Something I thought was so cool was hearing other people say that they had never done any sort of self-care at all. I sat back and listened to them talk about their nerves and their stress, and how helpful floating was for them. I expected myself to like it because I’ve done self-care before, but it was cool to hear people who had never done self-care enjoy it.
It sounds like your first floating experience was powerful. Often, it takes people a couple of floats to work out any kinks. Did you experience anything like that during your first few floats?
I think so. I know that every float is different and I try not to have expectations, and remembering that helps. But, I remember one occasion. I was going on vacation the very next day. I was in the float tank, and my mind continued to go over my to-do list. I was sort of mad at myself, you know, thinking “stop thinking about that! Stop thinking about everything that you have to do before you leave.” But, I still felt so relaxed after. And that’s what I always tell people about floating. Even if you don’t feel totally relaxed in there for whatever reason, you will feel relaxed afterwards.
Yes! Thank you for sharing that. That’s actually a stereotype that we are trying to address. There is an assumption that a person’s mind has to be quiet in order to have a good float. But even if your mind is active, you get out, and you’re surprised by how relaxed your body feels.
Right. I originally thought of my floats more as an escape or mini-vacation to get away from life stressors. But, I’ve experienced so many physical benefits. In the past few years, I learned that I have a lot of inflammation, and I can see that floating has done wonders for that and for other pain I experience. I don’t know whether it has to do with the salt, the floating itself, or just my body releasing for 90 minutes. But, floating has really helped with my pain and inflammation.
I understand that you’ve had many positive floating experience. But I’m still curious, was there anything specific that really caused you to make floating a practice?
At first, I floated because it felt good, it felt like an escape, and I knew it was good for me. And then I got away from it for a while when I opened Sol Sweat because I was so focused on experiencing the saunas and concentrating on the ins and outs of my new business.
And then in April, I attended your RISE float gathering. Being around everyone there reminded me of how much I love and miss floating. It helped remind me that floating is a practice. So since then, I’ve been doing it every two weeks or so.
My floats help me find an inner clarity, and this supports me in making my decisions for the day. As a business owner, this is really valuable because I’m constantly trying to evolve what I do. It’s fine to float every once and a while. That’s what I tell people about the sauna too, because I don’t want people to feel like they have to do it often in order to get the benefits. But for me, I want to experience the benefits of floating regularly.
As the owner of Sol Sweat, you use the sauna frequently. Do you feel as though there are any major similarities between the infrared sauna experience/benefits and the floating experience/benefits?
The first thing that comes to mind is just the “sitting still” component. Before I entered the wellness industry as an entrepreneur, I worked in the wine and spirits industry, and I was reaching a state of mental and physical burnout. At the time, I didn’t realize that I didn’t know how to sit still or reach that relaxation state. And I think that’s the biggest connection between the sauna and floating, they are both environments that help you to be still and allow your body how to feel a relaxation state.
I’m always looking for solutions for myself and others to help with stress. So, if you don’t like floating or the sauna, then maybe you’ll like a massage. And if you don’t like massages, you don’t like people touching you, then maybe you’ll like floating or the sauna. You don’t have to do everything or change who you are in order to enjoy these things.
These past few years I’ve dedicated myself to learning more about wellness. I want to continue to grow so I can continue to articulate and communicate the benefits of all of it. I’m constantly inspired to experience and talk about wellness experiences, like floating, the sauna, and other experiences that help you find calm and relaxation. This is why I am launching Sol Seeks.
Have you noticed any cumulative benefits to floating?
I think accessing that deeply calm and relaxed state is a cumulative benefit. When I think back to my experience with burnout, in which I was overcommitted and basically living in survivor mode, it was so hard for me to access a calm state. I know that for me and other people, if we want to be able to access that state of calm and relaxation, we have to practice bringing ourselves there. Floating helps me do that.
And, you know, I used to get sick all the time. I was getting pneumonia, and I had skin cancer, which happened to all show up when I was at my most stressed in life. Personally, I believe there is a connection. Now that I have consistently taken time for myself, I’ve not been sick for two years. Being in a healthy state makes me want to maintain being in a healthy state. If I go floating, I know I’m going to make healthier choices. There’s a ripple effect.
I love that, the ripple effect. It sounds like you live and breathe wellness. I’m curious to know how you describe floating to people? What are your words?
I keep it simple. I say, imagine yourself floating in a pool or a lake, but you have your own private space, and you have an hour to 90 minutes of just carefree-ness and time to yourself. If you have body pain, being in anti-gravity environment really helps. My back-pain goes away. I tell people that you sort of slip into a meditative state. Really, I often relate it back to that time I floated and felt that I was actually on the lake with my friend.
Thank you for sharing so much. I had a few short silly type of questions. Do you mind if I run through those? Do you like the Room or Pod?
Gosh, I don’t even know. Because, I like them both. I’ve always been that person who can’t seem to have a favorite. I recently did the smaller Samadhi tank when I visited FLOAT 60 in Chicago. That really feels like a tank. And I enjoyed it. So, I have enjoyed all sorts of floating experiences. They’re all just a little bit different.
Earplugs or no earplugs?
Yes, I use the earplugs.
Have you ever floated with the music or light on the whole time?
I did float once with the light on the whole time. The lights were changing colors, and I kept noticing the pink light. And I remember thinking, I’ve never had this before. I do like the dark, but it felt very captivating to experience color in that way.
Is there anything I haven’t asked you about your floating experience that you would like to share?
My skin feels softer and my hair feels thicker on the days I float, like they do when I go to the beach. But other than that, no, I’ve shared almost everything. Except, I do want to emphasize that floating for me is a must do. I love the water. I love floating, getting out of my float, just letting my hair air dry, and running around for the rest of the day. It makes me feel free.
Stacy, thank you for taking time out of your schedule to hang with us and answer our questions. We had such a wonderful time getting to know you better and learning more about your passion for wellness. Floaters, if you’ve never tried one of Stacy’s infrared saunas, you have to give them a try. Check out *Sol Sweat’s feature* in St. Louis Magazine and visit www.solseeks.com to see her progress on sharing optimal living with all.
Thank you for reading!