I went. I saw. I floated.
A few months ago my inbox was graced by the presence of a groupon for a 90 minute float at Float On. Admittedly, I was hesitant at first towards the idea of floating in a sensory deprivation tank for 90 minutes. I had horrible visions of some sort of nightmarish monster waiting in the depths of this dark tank of water for me to enter, or of being trapped in the tank by some psycho who would then torture me, or of losing my mind . . . Luckily Float On has a fantastic website which answered all of my questions. Once I had read through their information, I told my husband to click “purchase.” We were on our way to our first float.
Of course, it took a few months for us to actually make the appointment, but this past Saturday we went for an 11a.m. float.
We arrived slightly sweaty and damp from riding our bikes, and entered the humid and warm float center. The people who work there were super friendly and encouraged us to sit and drink some water or tea while we waited to be checked in. Since it was the first time for both of us, this wonderful and super float enthusiast (who I assume is the owner), took us on a tour of the float rooms and tanks and gave us instructions on how the float would work. He showed us 2 different rooms, the Ocean Room and The Void. The Ocean Room has about 8 feet of clearance in the tank, and The Void has 4 feet. You don’t need anymore than 4 feet of clearance, but psychologically it worked better for me to choose The Ocean. Super Float Enthusiast was really kind and answered all of our questions and then told us to enter our rooms and get floating.
After using the facilities, I entered my room. The room was dimly lit by a lamp in the corner and a blue light from inside the tank. There was a shower and a bench with a robe and towel and wax ear plugs. (I chose to wear the earplugs, even though they aren’t necessary). I rinsed off in the shower and then turned off the lamp in the corner. The blue light inside the tank provided enough light to see in the room and to get in to the tank.
Rationally, I knew this was going to be great; however, I did a thorough examination of the entire tank to make sure said monsters weren’t lurking for me. After the inspection, I stepped in, shut the door, and laid down in the 10 inches of water. The water was warm and saturated with 800 pounds of magnesium epsom salt. I immediately bobbed to the top of the water. After getting comfortable floating on my back I did another inspection of my surroundings and then pushed the button on the side to turn off the light.
I could feel and hear my heart beating. I knew by the sound of my heart in my head, that I was nervous. I engaged in a breathing meditation to try to relax and remember that this was going to be great . . . that is when the inner dialog took over. This was not a new experience for me, as during mediation I often work to calm my mind from the thoughts that are battling inside. However, it was amplified now since there was nothing to distract me but the occasional bump of my foot on a wall as I floated slowly around the tank.
The feeling of movement was really interesting. Even though I wasn’t physically moving my arms or legs, I was still breathing, which propelled me ever so slightly to one side of the tank. If felt like I was traveling miles, when in reality I only traveled a few inches. This made me notice the physiology of floating. I became mindful of my neck and reached through the crown of my head. It felt like my spine had extended by feet.
Then the mind kicked in again as I heard some sort of noise. I thought to myself, “Isn’t this thing supposed to be sound proof?” It was a faint noise but I could tell that it was someone walking or bouncing or skipping. It didn’t last long, but I did hear it several times during the float.
I then kept dwelling on what the experience was “supposed to be like.” I kept trying not to have expectations, but I did. Eventually my mind started to slip in to a lucid dream state. I kept thinking I was going to fall asleep, but I never did. I then was waiting to have some sort of transcendent experience . . . which didn’t happen for me.
After some time, I realized that I had to pee and then I moved my head and got some salt in my eye. This sounds like it would ruin the experience, but it didn’t. I was so fantastically relaxed. I thought to myself, I bet I am about 45 minutes in. In no less than 2 minutes from that thought, music started playing inside the tank indicating that it had been 90 minutes. It was so faint that after I sat up and took my ear plugs out, I had to really contemplate whether or not I was actually hearing it.
I stood up sluggishly, because gravity is a surprise after 90 minutes of not totally experiencing it, wiped the salt off of my body and then opened the door to exit the tank with my eyes closed to stop the salt from pouring in them. I grabbed around for my towel and got the salt out and then took a shower.
During my shower I realized that the float was nothing like my expectations for it. I was even slightly disappointed. It didn’t take me long to realize that I need to go again. Now that I am past all of the nervousness of not knowing what it was going to be like, I think the experience will be different the next time.
I got dressed and went out to the lobby and made myself some tea. The staff was genuinely interested in my experience, and validated my feelings of needing to come in again.
They had books laying on the table for people to draw or write in. I didn’t feel motivated to draw or write, but I wanted to see what other people had to say. There were lots of trippy drawings and dramatic poems with words like: mortals, just be, go to the other side, goddesses, etc. etc. The one writing that I particularly appreciated said something on the lines of, “Now I am hungry and ready for a nap.” My experience was much closer to that.
The longer I sat, I realized how super incredibly relaxed I was. If for no other reason, I will go and float again to feel that amazingly relaxed afterwards.
I highly recommend floating in a sensory deprivation tank. While I fought with my inner-diaolog, the relaxation of floating for 90 minutes was amazing. As the day went on, I was mindful of my mood and how my body felt . . . relaxed and positive. I think we all could use a little of both of those things.
As days have now passed, I find myself frequently thinking about floating. I’m looking forward to going again.
So I heard y’all wanna float . . .