I recently read about the benefits of sensory deprivation tanks – aka float tanks. It sounded so odd to me, to deliberately be in a state where what I could see or hear – or even feel would be limited. But it also intrigued me. So when I saw that there were lot’s of places near me where I could try out a Flotation tank – I just had to do it. I needed to know what it would be like! A float tank experience is different for everyone, but I’d like to pass on a few tips and observations from my first float.
Spoiler Alert: Yes, you do feel a little ‘Eleven’ on Stranger Things. So, let’s just get that question out of the way. That said, I did not pass into an upside down portal. And it was way more comfortable than a baby pool. So no worries there!
Upon arriving at the Float Spa, I was greeted by a very friendly employee with the most amazing wavy hair ever. She ushered me over to an area where I was first shown a video about floating with some basic instructions. Next I was put into a zero gravity massage chair for 30 minutes. I don’t think that happens at most float locations – but if you’re given the option – do it. So relaxing.
Why do people Float?
My interest was piqued after reading an article about floating in Time Magazine. It seemed to posit, that floating can temporarily shut off your amygdala. The part of your brain that deals with fight or flight responses. Floating has also been shown to create theta waves in your brain that mimic those of deep meditation. So a deep relaxation response seems a fairly dependable benefit, with many other benefits not yet scientifically proven. But as Float Pods take off, more research is sure to be done. And in the meantime – I decided to do my own research!
Getting into the Float Pod:
I was finally brought to the room with my float pod. It had a shower, and a bench with a container for loose jewelry, and a small pouch of petroleum jelly for cuts. It also had disposable ear plugs. The employee who brought me in warned me to use them and said once she forgot, and could feel salt crystals in her ear for a few days after. Duly noted, I thought.
I climbed in. The water is kept at skin temperature, so you barely feel it. And the shallow water is filled with salt, so your buoyancy is super heightened. There was a pool noodle to rest your head on – but it was completely un-needed. The salt kept my head above the surface no problem.
The Stages of Floating – from my point of view:
- Spend a lot of time floating in different positions, amazed that your head is fully supported.
- The dark starts to play tricks on your eyes. At one point I was trying REALLY hard to open my eyes and couldn’t. Then I realized why. My eyes were already open. Whoops.
- Went to to cross my arms over my chest and exclaimed ‘I have breasts!” I couldn’t feel them for so long I literally forgot. I’m a chesty gal – I do not often forget that fact.
- I feel like I am seeing small star like pinpoints of light around me. I’m floating into the cosmos. I make my body into the shape of the big dipper. Hope my float wasn’t videotaped. I probably look really dumb floating in constellation shapes.
- I squeeze my eyes shut tight and realize a little salty sweat from my face is now on my lashes. I blindly fumble for the dry towel stowed in my pod to wipe my face – get there in time. No stinging. Phew!
- I start to fall asleep while floating. I dream, then wake up – then fall asleep again. It’s an odd lucid kind of dreaming. I’m playing bingo with my 8 year old. I’m talking to my mother in heaven. I’m giving myself advice in 3rd person.
- The speaker in the pod comes on, and announces my float is over. And I shower off.
- I legit walk out of the float spa feeling like I’ve taken a sedative. In a good way. Car cuts me off on the way home – I just smile.
7 Tips for Visiting a Float Tank for the first Time:
- Don’t Shave before you go… or for like 2 days. Any tiny cut will sting like the dickens in the intensely salty water. So schedule your float for a day or so after you’ve last shaved.
- Apply a small amount of petroleum jelly to any recent cuts you may have. You can also use waterproof band-aids. Dip your hands and feet in the water before entering completely – if you feel a sting, you can rinse it off and put some Vaseline on before floating.
- Put your ear plugs in before you shower. The roll and squeeze earplugs fill up your ear most securely when put in dry. If you wait until after you shower off, your ear canal may be wet and the earplug may not work as well.
- Floating with your arms at your side will collapse your chest. Floating with your arms above your head – will open you up to a more comfortable stretch. Nothing wrong with floating in lots of different ways – but over your head is a great basic float position to go to.
- Try not to itch your face. And if you must, be aware of where a towel is to wipe your eyes. Because ya know whats worse than water in your eye during a relaxing soak? Salt water, in your eye that burns like fire. That’s whats worse.
- Be Naked. Seriously. If you really can’t do it, go for a swimsuit. But if you can – you really get the most out of floating when it feels like nothing is touching you. The water is warmed to the same temperature as your skin, so if you go naked it really does feel like nothing is touching you. If you’re a mom – that alone may feel like bliss.
- Don’t Worry about the Time. Or, get out Early. It’s an odd sensation not to have a watch or phone to tell you how much time is left in your float, but try not to obsess about it. And if you get bored… good! Embrace it and let your mind go deeper. But whatever you do, don’t get out early. Your are very likely to miss the part of the experience that will be most beneficial. Let your mind let go of time and just be.
Where to find a Float Tank:
I bought my Float Tank pass on Groupon, because I wanted to try it out first before paying full price. I live in the DFW area of TX, and I found bunches of float tank options near me! But if you live in another part of the country, you may need to look closer to a big city to find a place to float.
- Groupon is a great place to start. Just search “Float.” I visited Mukhti Float Spa in Southlake TX.
- Have you floated before? I’d love to hear your tips…