While some—if not most—are struggling to keep up with the health trends constantly emerging (think: CBD oil, alternative fats, and plant-based diets), there are debatably much better ways to improve your physical well-being — and it starts with your mind.
What you feel is just as important as how you feel, which is why conversations surrounding mental health are finally taking center stage. Between digital detoxes and getting rid of things that don’t ‘spark joy,’ the underlying theme is that our society needs to simplify.
In a city centered around food, beverage, art, and entertainment, there are more and more businesses emerging that are encouraging GR residents to S-L-O-W D-O-W-N, such as Sacred Springs Kombucha and Phlot.
Sacred Springs Kombucha
If you’ve journeyed down Wealthy Street recently, you may have noticed a few new shops showing up between Diamond and Fuller — with Sacred Springs Kombucha being one of them.
While there are no other kombucha taprooms within Grand Rapids, Sacred Springs, offering their own organic, sound-infused kombucha made in Jenison, started their business with the desire of opening a taproom. “We wanted to offer a place for the public to gather, connect, and slow life down a bit — instead of speed it it up,” mentions part-owner Geoff Lamden.
After stepping through the front doors of Sacred Springs, many have wondered: “What do we do here?” It’s not the typical brewery or coffee shop experience that we have become accustomed to. The space is aesthetically pleasing and intentionally set up for introspection. Geoff encourages customers to nook up, get comfy, and observe life rather than make something happen. “We were interested in allowing the community create what they are looking for. We’re not coming in with an agenda. We’re coming in with the perspective of ‘we’re looking to connect; how do you want to connect?’”
Just stone’s throw away from Sacred Springs is another business that is encouraging their patrons to do some soul-searching. Just on the edge of East Town is Phlot—a locally owned business that specializes in the practice of ‘floating.'
Floating is considered to be a ‘practice’ — quite similar to yoga. It requires patience and intentionality to get the most out of your experience. “You don’t realize how busy your little monkey brain actually is,” Phlot owner Tyler Phaneuf points out. “I encourage people to observe their thoughts. Don’t see them as good or bad; just acknowledge that they exist.”
Floating takes place in a sensory-reduced environment, with no light, sound, reduced tactile sensations, and the disappearing feeling of gravity. The suggested mental health benefits of floating include: stress relief, reduced anxiety, accelerated mindfulness/meditation, enhanced creativity, mental clarity, release of endorphins, and improved learning and memory retention. The physical benefits are encompassed by the relief of tension within your body that you didn’t know you had, such as decreased muscle tension and enhanced athletic performance.
Post-float you are encouraged to sit down, relax, and take some time for yourself and enjoy the post-float glow. Tea is provided, as well as a journal to document your experience. “First float. Always had problems relaxing my neck and shoulders,” one guest wrote. “I had a hard time shutting off my brain, but I did hear parts of myself that I hadn’t heard from in a long time.”
Repeated patrons reported even more enlightening experiences. “Today was my second time floating and it was a very different experience than my first. Knowing what to expect let me free to explore my thoughts deeper and slip into a deeper meditative state,” another guest wrote—highlighting the learning curve.
What can you expect from your first float? Nothing, hopefully—because no two floats are ever alike. It’s important to release yourself of all expectations; this is a time for self-observation.
Whether you're sipping locally fermented kombucha or floating in a deprivation tank, local businesses are proving that it's important to find your own pace for self-care. With the growing incidence of anxiety disorders and depression within the U.S., the importance of slowing down within a culture that glorifies stress is increasingly evident. Be kind to your mind, relax, and remove yourself from life’s distractions as often as you can; your body will thank you for it later.
You’re in the driver’s seat now.