I was in a funk. The perpetual “Groundhog Day” way of living and the February weather had me down. My friend Tina suggested a float in a sensory deprivation tank with 1,000 pounds of Epsom salt. “Water is good for transitions,” she said. “Twenty minutes in Epsom salt detoxes and balances you.” I regularly take Epsom salt baths at home, so I booked a 90 minute float.
The industry suggests that floating can help with a wide-range of issues. I do not have the training to fully analyze their claims, so I approached this as an opportunity to explore a new form of relaxation and self-care. The pricing is about the same as a one-hour massage.
The tank was in a private room. The room was clean and I could smell that bleach had been used between clients. A nice robe and towels were provided. I was asked to shower before getting into the tank. Earplugs and a donut like thing to support my head were provided for the float. I chose to be in the tank without a swimsuit. The lights in the room were motion activated. While I was in the tank, there was a small amount of blue light that prevented the room from being completely dark.
I started in the tank with the door open. My body floated on the top of skin temperature, shallow water. I took the time to allow my mind and body to ground and gain a sense of where I was in the tank. I could touch each end, the sides and the bottom easily. As I became accustomed to the tank, I closed the door, but left the edge of a hand towel in the door to allow for a small sliver of dark blue light.
I quickly fell into a relaxed state which I credited to my regular meditation practice. In the summer I love to float laying on my paddle board in the lake or in the pool with a noodle supporting me. The tank was a new level of relaxation and spaciousness as I did not have to worry about boats or drifting into another person. I entered a state where I was dreaming but I was not asleep. I was completely aware as Technicolor movie fragments came in flashes. I was an observer watching each fragment or color kaleidoscope without judgement. I am not sure how to explain the experience. It was not scary; I was calm and very relaxed. This may be as close to an out-of-body experience as I have ever been.
At some point I reenter consciousness because I was feeling nauseous. I opened the door of the tank and then sat up in the water with my back against the tank’s wall. The nausea eased, but returning to the deep, relaxed state was now out of my reach. After I got home I did a little research and discovered that nausea is not unusual for first time floaters. I realized that the nausea happened after an hour in the tank.
I got out and took a long, hot shower. The music to let me know that my time had ended came on as I finished dressing.
I will float again, but I would like to try a different studio to see how the experience is different. I can see myself doing this during the months when I cannot be in a body of water or if I do something that makes me really sore. Next time I will keep it to 60 minutes. Several times during my float I thought about how nice it would be have some quiet background music, so I may bring my iPod and a speaker if I return to this studio. Setting up a guided meditation and a music playlist that covers the hour timeframe would be nice. I understand that some studios play background music. My other wish was for warmer water. The body temperature water began to feel really cool after a while. I found myself longing for a facet so I could make the tank more like how I like my bath water.
Overall it was a good experience. Being able to leave the tank door open or using a towel to allow in some light combined with a tank size that allows for grounding should be comforting for most people. The floater controls the experience.