Anyone remember “sensory deprivation” tanks? Well, I don’t, thankfully. But I am fortunate enough to live in a city that has some floatation tanks at SpaceTime Tanks. I meant to write about this when I first tried it, but never got around to it. Last week was pretty stressful, so I went to float again today, so here you go…
Last year, my friend Ken and I (on the advice of BEB) decided to give floating a try. We were both expecting a really “trippy” experience, since I (mistakenly) thought the whole idea was to be in an environment completely devoid of sensation. In actuality, there is a whole lot o’ sensin’ goin’ on.
The tanks themselves are just large enough for a person to float in the center, not touching the sides. You are suspended in a solution of water which has about 800-1000lbs of Epsom salts in it, so you are hyper-buoyant. It’s actually an effort to make yourself not float. The water is also warmed to skin temperature, so it’s hard to tell where the water ends and your skin begins.
When I first got into the tank, it was a little claustrophobic. It’s actually about the same size as a capsule hotel room in Japan. Once you close the door, it is completely dark, which combined with the warm water and air does induce a slight claustrophobic feeling, but in all honesty, it subsides pretty quickly. You do float in the nude, just in case you might be wondering. The “water” in the tanks, in addition to being salty enough to sterilize any cuts you might have, is also purified with Ozone in-between customers.
Once you lay down though, the experience is totally awesome. You float, like you’ve never floated before. If you’re floating in a pool, sometimes you have to regulate your breathing to stay hovering at the surface… not in a tank. You have to make an effort to push your arms and legs down into the water. And it’s warm, and soothing. But it’s not devoid of sensation. You still have a sense of touch, and you still have smell (although the salt doesn’t smell bad or anything) and definitely taste (the salt does taste awful if you get a bit in your mouth). You can also hear. I use ear plugs when I float, to keep the water out of my ears, but with or without them, you can very faintly hear the buzz of the ventilation fans, and you can still hear your own breathing and heartbeat.
There isn’t any “tripping” happening in the tank, it’s just pure relaxation. After a few minutes (time does seem to be completely arbitrary in the tank) I start to crack parts of my body I never knew cracked… there’s no pressure of gravity weighting down any parts of your body, so you feel, well weightless. It’s incredibly relaxing, and I think that’s the value of it. It’s not really depriving you of your senses at all, thank god! Instead, it’s depriving you of your cell phone, the television, the radio, the report you have to finish for work, or school, the kids, the spouse, the boss, traffic, and any number of other things that can add to the stress of day-to-day life.
Honestly, it’s worth doing if for no other reason than you know that when you close the door to the tank, no one is going to interrupt your thoughts for another hour, except you. When you couple that with the relaxation of just floating and being warm, well, when you get out you just feel so relaxed and renewed. I would highly recommend the experience to anyone. If I had a basement, I would build my own so I could do it once a week. It’s a great way to recharge, even if it seems like it might be a bit “new age”. In reality, it’s just a trip to a pampering day-spa with a massage condensed into an hour and for a lot less money.