I’m talking about floating in a sensory deprivation tank.
Unfortunately, when people hear that term, they tend to think of a water-filled coffin. Umm… deal breaker, right?
That may be what it looks like, but what it feels like is… heaven.
What is floating?
- Floating is a practice whereby you enter a specially designed and enclosed tub (aka sensory deprivation tank).
- It’s filled with approximately 10 inches of water that contain upwards of 800 pounds of Epsom salts.
- Because of the high salt concentration, you float effortlessly.
- The water is heated to the same temperature of your skin, so after a while, you don’t even feel it.
- The tank is light-proof, sound-proof and has a neutral smell.
What floating does:
Flotation therapy creates a very controlled environment, where you can achieve deep states of relaxation… allowing the body and mind to recover. When your mind is not distracted by the usual sensory overload, it has a chance to relax and reset. Blood flow is stimulated. Natural endorphins are released. Our brainwaves shift to a theta state (relaxed, but not asleep).
Reasons to try floating:
- relieve stress
- recover from injuries
- treat chronic pain
- decrease muscle tension
- improve sleep
- enhance creativity
- supplement magnesium deficiency
- promote deep relaxation
Finding your bliss:
When it’s over, and the lights and music come on, I always feel a sense of gratitude. There is bliss in gratitude.
Floating is an escape from all of life’s problems. It’s a chance to mentally, and physically, decompress. Spending time relaxing is something that we usually don’t give enough time or priority to.
I believe in a holistic approach to health. I also believe that our bodies are perfectly capable of healing themselves… if we give them the chance to do so.
Floating is so beneficial because it allows you to fix a plethora of issues… naturally, and simultaneously.
It also connects us with our sensuality by heightening our senses. Over-exposure makes us less sensitive, and even numb, to the subtle nuances of pleasure.
The goal is to heighten our sensitivity to pleasure, not become numb to it.
The fact that floating leaves you feeling relaxed, rejuvenated, and in a state of bliss, is the pleasure trifecta.
The first time I went in, it was difficult to relax. When you are deprived of all your senses, you have nothing to do but think… about being in a box!
But I hung in there… albeit frantically feeling for the walls… and pushed through the discomfort… until all I felt was calm. Blissfully calm.
It can take up to 3 visits in a float tank before you can relax deeply enough to get the benefits, but when you do, they are amazing.
In case you are wondering…
- you are naked (this helps with the sensory deprivation aspect because there is no clothing on your skin)
- the tanks are cleaned through various sanitizing methods unique to each tank and the salt water itself is highly sterile
- you can’t drown in there (since your body can’t help but float… and you can always sit upright because it isn’t deep)
- it’s okay if you have your period (just use a tampon)
- it’s best not to have a full, or completely empty, stomach before entering. Being too full will be uncomfortable, and your body’s efforts will be focused on digestion instead of repair and relaxation, and being hungry is no good either.
- Also, be sure not to drink too much beforehand. Having to go pee is a MAJOR distraction… one that is not helped by the fact that you’re surrounded by water!
I’ve had many floats, and they’ve all been different. Some of them have worked on my muscle tension, and others have allowed me to sort through my thoughts. They can also be a great place to connect with your creativity, and even to work on building and expanding your sexual energy.
Whatever my goal, or even when there isn’t a goal, it’s always a beneficial use of my time.
It is a practice, just like yoga, and it gets better with time.
Here are some floating tips:
- Float tanks come in different shapes and sizes and you should pick the one that you feel most comfortable with. In this case, size matters!
- There are usually handlebars inside of the unit, and I find it helpful to hang a small hand towel on it. This way you can feel around and easily find the door. And you can use the towel to wipe your face from the humidity and not get saltwater in your eyes.
- If you have any cuts or abrasions, it’s going to sting once you get in the water. For that reason, you don’t want to be shaving less than 12 hours before your float.
- For any cuts that you already do have, you will want to cover with a little bit of Vaseline, just before you enter the tank. You will thank me for this!
- Using earplugs is an individual preference. Either way, you’ll have saltwater in your ears after your float. It’s good to have a little squeeze bottle filled with equal parts water and vinegar. This will dissolve the salt in your ears.
- If the water/vinegar solution doesn’t remove the crystallized salt, then you may have some earwax build up. To fix that, simply pour a half capful of hydrogen peroxide into your ear (while you lay on your side with that ear facing upwards) and let it sit there until it stops bubbling. Then have a cloth to soak it up, once you are upright.
Just so you know…
The claustrophobia is only temporary. I am claustrophobic, and I was totally fine after the first float.
You can even leave the door open or have the lights on. Whatever helps. Just know that it will take away from the sensory deprivation aspect.
You are always in control of your environment. You can get out at any time.
I find that getting the larger tanks, at least to start, helps a great deal.
It has been a real Godsend for me and a great opportunity to step out of my comfort zone and try something new.
I hope that you will give it a try.
Photo Credit: depositphotos.com/photography33