Not since I posted, “Am I too old for braces?” has a Facebook status generated so much commentary: “Finally going to try this Driftaway Float place!”
“Ooh tell me how it is!”
“Oh uh uh, I’m claustrophobic.”
“Let me know what you think – I kinda thought it was weird.”
Though perhaps not as far outside my comfort zone as it might be for others, lying in a water-filled pod for a full hour was still not something I ever anticipated doing. I mean, I saw Stranger Things! I know what those sensory deprivation tanks can do!
Flotation tanks have been around since the 1950s and were first studied for the effects of sensory deprivation on the human brain. In the 1970s, they began being used as a means to a more meditative, relaxed state and touted by celebrities such as John Lennon & Kris Kristofferson. (Pfft – celebrities amiright? With their unearned political opinions and their fringey living practices!*)
According to Northwestfloatcenter.com:
“By super-saturating the water with Epsom salts and heating the water to skin temperature, the user, who typically enters the sound- and light-proof tank nude, is cut off from all normal sensory input, including the pressures of gravity.
Second, this lack of input allows the brain to slow down, re-synchronizing itself, and entering a deeply relaxed state. From the perspective of the original researchers, it is this state of brain relaxation which is the most interesting effect of flotation therapy. The brain shifts from beta state to alpha state and releases waves with a slower frequency. This state of deep relaxation is paralleled to deep meditation.”
WELL, since I’ve dedicated this as the #YearofSelfCare and had just completed #Dreamport’s third ever Happiness Program, this sounded straight up my alley! Why not be adventurous and try something new? I’m bold! I’m brave! And most importantly, I made my husband go try it out first!
(Let he who floats in the first tank cast the first hot stone massage.)
(That was supposed to be a clever way of saying, “Don’t judge!” but I don’t think it translated well.)
ANYWAY! I booked my first float at driftawayfloat.com and made it alllllllllllll theeeeeeeeee wayyyyyyyyyyyyyyyyy toooooooo Bossier! (You see the lengths I go to for you, dear Helio readers?)
The booking process was easy, and the staff couldn’t be nicer, although I do wish I had gotten slightly more instruction on what to expect and the recommended position in which to float – like my husband did on his first float. However, I’m sure the instructor/receptionist was in a rush as I took my time in a pre-float emergency bathroom sesh… (I’m on a CLEANSE OKAY.)
I disrobed, showered (like my least favorite thing, you just have to do it again the next day! Ugh!), and got in the pod. For those who think you might be claustrophobic, you can leave the lid open – you do not have to close the pod!
The pod is YUUUGE, not like a water coffin of death, and when floating your body doesn’t touch the sides at all. You are also in complete control of the light and music situation – on and off as you please.
You then enter 10 inches (giggity) of salt-filled water that is so dense it is impossible to drown, unless you turn yourself over and force yourself not to come up for air. If you can take a bath and not kill yourself, you can float!
Once you start floating, and especially if it’s your first time, I imagine you’ll have a bevy of thoughts. For example:
This is weird, right? I think it’s a little weird. Is my buttcheek itching? Is this irritating my rectal mucosa? OH MY GOD STOP THINKING ABOUT RECTAL MUCOSA YOU GROSS NERD.
Later in the session, I imagine it’s totally normal to surmise:
I don’t think this is working. Why isn’t it working? I totally meditated and am supposed to be like super fucking zen now**. What does it say about me if this doesn’t work? Am I broken? CLASSIC. I’m gonna have to talk to Claudia about this. GREAT NOW YOU’RE THINKING ABOUT WHAT TO TALK TO YOUR THERAPIST ABOUT WHILE YOU ARE SUPPOSED TO BE RELAXING! Could you mess this up anymore?
I decided to take some deep Ujjayi breaths to simmer myself down so I could take advantage of the time I had left.
5 minutes later:
ERMAGEHRD ALL MY HAIR IS WET. I am NOT one of those girls who can look cute with wet hair like Halle Berry out of a James Bond ocean FML. I bet Lauren Vizza doesn’t look like Voldemort with wet hair. JEALZ. It’s okay though cause she’s nice. Has it been more than an hour? Did they forget about me? How long have I been in here? I think this might be dumb. That bath soap they have smelled really good though.
Then right when I started to drift into a more relaxed state, it was time to get out. A gentle coaxing voice alerted me that my time was up, and off to the post-pod shower I went (in the same room).
Convinced it didn’t work, I hopped out and went automatically to towel off and check my phone like a true social media crack addict. I decided to forego getting back to the fake/real world and shower. That’s when I realized that even though I was awake the entire time and seemed to have constant thoughts, that that hour of stillness – like meditation – had significantly eased my mind.
My brain usually feels like a ball of barbed wire mixed in with dumb social media comments wrapped up in self-conscious destructive behavior and a sense of hopelessness toward all human injustice. But for a few moments, it felt like it had been rolled out like dough and kneaded into silence. I wasn’t even aware that it was occurring until it was over.
Afterwards, I inhaled lavender-infused oxygen while perusing the “Float Lounge Journal” in which other people chronicled their experiences and noted this to be a common theme.
My husband, for whom it was his third float, just said, “It gets better every time.”
My advice to you if it’s something you’ve thought about: just try it! Trust me – I’m a doctor!***
Like sushi, or pho, or sex, or meditation (#theseareafewofmyfavoritethings) it’s going to be weird at first, but if you’re open to the experience, it could be something that brings you joy, relaxation, and with it significant health benefits! (The salt water also acts as a relaxant for stressed muscles and joints, much like an Epsom salt bath.)
My conclusion? I’m not sure what exactly just happened, but I know I want to try it again! (Like sushi, or pho, or…..)
1. Read the about section on their website
2. Bring a loose-fitting change of clothes for after your float
3. If you have a meeting or work after, bring your toiletries & getting-ready paraphernalia just like you would for the gym (They do provide towels, shampoo, conditioner, and soap.)
4. Keep an open mind – otherwise, you’re wasting your money!
5. If you can, let the lights and music turn off. But remember, you are in control of your experience!
6. Tell them I sent you! No seriously. #referralcred #stillmyhonestopinion
*This was sarcasm.
**Sorry I cussed, Ma
***Take this with a grain of Epsom salt.