Float On: A Claustrophobic Tries Float Tanks

I work in the wellness industry, so naturally, I like to stay on top of the trends. Clients have questions and I like to be able to give them an informed opinion, or be able to make recommendations if I think there’s something else out there that might help. So what’s the new game in town? The new hot thing?

Floatation Therapy.

Motherforker.

What Is It Though?

Floatation Therapy involves laying in a personal-sized tank filled with body-temperature water (only about a foot deep) and 1200 pounds (!) of Epsom salts. It makes you essentially weightless, which is pretty cool, and relieves all the pressure from your body and joints. Ideally, you should have no sound and no light, which leaves you with very little sensory input. This, supposedly, allows your brain to relax, puts you in a meditative state, and lets your thoughts sort out. This old Simpson’s episode sums it up nicely:

 

But here’s the thing: I’m hella clausterphobic. When I was a kid, one of my neighbors and I were playing hide and seek. I hid in a closet. She tied the door handles together with a bandanna and went home. I don’t think I was in there that long before my sister got me out, but I never wanted to be trapped in a confined space again. I hate enclosed water slides. Windowless rooms. Narrow stairwells. Tiny houses. The movie “The Descent” is terrifying without ever even needing the cave creatures. So the idea of willingly sitting in a dark coffin filled with water for an hour sounded about zero percent appealing…. but I had to admit I was curious.

I mean, I love the ocean, and I like naps, and having nothing to do for an hour but lay down. I talked to a few people who had done it, and read all the FAQs about floating, and felt like I could be brave enough to book an appointment. It helped that my husband wanted to go, too, and we found a Groupon. Woo!

Expectations Going In

Obviously, I was worried about entering the Upside Down, or going into an alternate reality like in Fringe. Mostly, though I was worried that I would get bored and/or antsy. Like…. what do you do for an hour? Just blob?? Quietly?? Can I listen to a podcast?? No no no… let’s try to do it right. I decided I would let myself listen to music, but not a podcast. I was also very happy to learn that I could keep the tank open, and had control of the light. I was still feeling nervous, but like I could work through it.

The Experience

The float place (?? salon? shop? area??) had us watch a mildly funny video prior to our session to explain the process, which helped to ease my nerves a bit. The overall vibe of the place was nice- sort of like a part yoga studio, part salon, part salt-lamp retailer. We were given a choice of music (we both picked “ocean”), led to the back where the individual suites were, and given a quick tour of the amenities- a relaxation room with tea, a space with a mirror, hair dryers, and styling products, and an infrared sauna.

Each pod is in it’s own private room (not gonna lie- felt a little like a utility closet hiding a spaceship) that includes a shower, which you are to use before and after the float. They provide towels, body wash, shampoo and conditioner, and even ear plugs. You don’t have to, but I totally wore my swimsuit- it just made me feel less weird. Also, I was delighted to see that the pods don’t actually close all the way- when completely lowered, there’s still a good inch gap around the perimeter- so that eased any “Final Destination” concerns I had.

The water is nice- it’s warm, but not too warm. There is so much salt that you are freaky buoyant, which was actually really cool! You know how you float in a pool, but parts of you are always sinking? Not so in the pod. For comfort, there was a little floaty ring for behind your head, which helps your head be more level.

I tried having the lid all the way down, but felt better having it ajar about 8 inches. The room light goes off automatically after a bit (it’s motion controlled) , and for the sake of science, I turned the pod light off… for exactly one second. Nope!! Too dark!! I never did hear the ocean- there was some white noise which I thought was an exhaust fan, but I was able to turn it on and off with the volume button, sooooooo… that was the “ocean” I guess.

Side note: there was an aux-in for your own music, and later I read on the website that you just have to ask to use your own. I wish I would have asked!! For some people music might be a distraction, but for me, it anchors me and lets me settle in.

For the first 10 minutes, I was just getting familiar with the space. I was slowly bouncing myself from the head to toe ends of the tank, which was kind of soothing. I tried counting, but my brain got bored with that quick. I tried sleeping, and drifted toward it a few times…….

And then my motion sensor light went on and I just about had a heart attack!! I jumped out of the tank, thinking that either a) my session had ended or b) there was a murder ghost in my room. Neither were true. Once my heart rate came down, I climbed back in, and tried to relax.

Being vertical, some of the salt water rolled into my mouth. IT WAS TERRIBLE!! NOT AT ALL LIKE LICKING THE OCEAN!!!

We had seen Thor: Ragnarok* prior to our appointment, so I had Led Zeppelin’s Immigrant Song looping around in my head.

I realized I was experiencing both sides of the age-old question “which is scarier: space or ocean?”

Finally, a magical lady robot voice told me my session had ended. Hooray!! I climbed out and hit the shower, then realized I forgot something vital: a comb.

Closing Thoughts

Would I do it again? …..maybe. I think a second visit would be easier, now that I know what to expect. I definitely felt relaxed afterward, and I got some good stretches in the water that you can’t get on land. I didn’t notice any profound effects afterward or the next day, but maybe I slept ok? I could see it being appealing on days when you are crazy stressed, or need to sort out some thoughts. Plus, the salt makes your skin soft, so there’s that.

As we left, my husband said “you know what sounds good? A bloody mary”. Yes. Yes it does.

The secret to a good bloody mary is pickle juice! We made them at home after floating on our own dime. Thor: Ragnarok was the best Marvel film to date- highly recommend. My phone still has salty spots on it from touching it before rinsing off in the shower.

What do you want us to try next?? Tell us in the comments!!

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