Today I tried floating. This is a method of sensory deprivation.
A friend and I each bought $40 Groupons to go to Float Sense for a 90 minute float in a tank.
You go into a private room, strip down, shower off, put in your ear plugs and then climb into the sensory deprivation tank (or isolation tank) and shut the door behind you.
The tank is about 4x4x8 and filled with a foot of body temperature water. So it’s not too small, hot, cold, or terrifying once you are inside.
Before I got inside I was sure I was going to be murdered in the tank (but my newfound belief I am going to be murdered is another topic entirely).
Poiler alert: I was not murdered in the tank.
Here is a pic of the room and tank:
The temperature of the water is very pleasant and meant to mimic your body temperature so you have a feeling of weightless suspension, instead of focusing on the feel of the water.
The purpose of the float depends on the person. Here is a breakdown of the most common:
Relaxation: A gentle float in a quiet, dark room so you can really relax, or even fall asleep.
Mental: A calming float is a great way to ease your emotional state and get away from every day stress. It has been shown to help with stress, anxiety, and depression. It can be a calming experience that works to slow your mind down as you relax in the warm cocoon of water. It is an alternative option to what many use medication or alcohol to achieve.
Pain management: The weightless float can aid with physical injury or pain management as it takes pressure off the neck, back, and joints. The 800 lbs of epsom salts help ensure a weightless float, even for those who have a hard time floating in the pool or ocean.
Mediation: This is the main purpose. The sensory deprivation tank (or pod) lets your mind be free from every day stress and distraction. You cannot see, hear, smell, taste or feel anything (as long as you are still and not splashing about).
Since all 5 senses are without stimulation, you can focus on your breathing and relaxation. Unlike at home, where you will be tempted by your phone, television, irritated by noisy neighbours or any other number of potential distractions.
The goal with this is to clear your mind and fully relax.
Of course, that is the issue I struggled with. With no stimulation, as with my attempts at meditation, I was almost immediately bored.
A good method is to either constantly think of nothing. This is an activity in itself, when your mind starts to wander or other thoughts start creeping in, take it back to nothing.
I’m thinking of nothing.
Or you can try a counting exercise. Such as counting backwards from 100. While you do this, focus on your breathing. If you lose track, just start over again.
However, I forgot all these methods (I generally do better with guided mediation). So I floated with the following thought process:
“This is so boring”
“How long have I been in here?”
“How much longer”
“Did my foot just touch the edge of the tank?”
After a while I was just thinking about how nice it would be to get out and have a looooong hot shower.
So, 30 minutes into my 90 minute float, that’s what I did.
My shower was lovely.
Unfortunately, the experience wasn’t really a good fit for me. However, I was super sore from working out so much earlier this week and I was less sore after the float. My skin is now the softest and smoothest ever. I was experiencing mild physical PMS pains earlier in the day which have now magically vanished. And I was feeling pretty good when I got back home, so I immediately fell asleep for a rad 2 hr nap. So that’s something.
But it was still neat and I would be willing to try it again with better mental preparation of what it will be like.
There are also lots of places that offer a 60 minute float, so that would probably be a better option for me.
My friend really enjoyed the whole experience. Afterwards she said she felt completely relaxed to the point of feeling high.
She also though the stress lines in her face were reduced after just one float!
I definitely recommend you go try it out. It wasn’t scary at all as you can just pop open the door and get out of the tank at any time. And the possible benefits of the floating experience are very much worth the time and cost of trying it out.
Overall for my time and money, I think I’m better suited to a massage, but it’s always great to try something new.
If you are into meditation, I fully recommend giving this a try!
So search Groupon for a deal on a float house near you.
Other helpful tips:
-Eat before you go, I did not and I spent a lot of time thinking about where I would eat afterwards.
-Do it naked, so you are not distracted by a restrictive suit.
-Many places have pods with dim lighting, others are pitch black. Choose wisely.
-There are tanks and pods, don’t worry about the minimal differences between the two.
-Do not touch your face. The ultra salty water will really sting! You’ll have to get out, rinse your face and start all over.
-Same goes for cuts and scrapes. Don’t float with a cut. It’ll be impossible to ignore the stinging!
-The guy told me no one has ever drowned at his float facility (but as if he would tell me if a bunch of people had!)…. though it does seem pretty impossible to drown.
-If you are poor, you can try to recreate the experience on the cheap at home. Just make a really warm salty bath turn down the lights and relax.