Finding Relaxation With Float Therapy

Chances are, hopping into an enclosed tank of water saturated with 800 pounds of Epsom salts isn’t the first thing you think of when you say relaxation. But perhaps you should.
Float Therapy is designed to induce total sensory deprivation and reaps some serious physical, mental and emotional benefits. Within a typical hour-long session, muscle tension is eased, cortisol levels are lowered, chronic pain is relieved and the spine gets the break it deserves. Tight joints and strained pressure points become softened. The mind moves into a theta state (which also occurs just before sleep and after waking) creating a dream-like feel. In a giant hot-tub sized tank, the water is heated to the same temperature as your skin and the salt water solution keeps you buoyed above water. Endorphins are released and your body begins a serious rejuvenation process in this zero gravity state. Floating is basically like savasana on steroids. It’s a fast pass to your happy place.
Admittedly, an isolation chamber didn’t initially strike me as something to consider for enjoyment. In fact, it sounded like an expensive anxiety attack. Eventually, the topic came up enough times for me to question my judgments. I became less scared and more intrigued.
I was curious about experiencing a float tank because sensory deprivation is such a uniquely foreign concept to our waking lives. When are our senses ever not stimulated? Our skin is the largest organ on our body and processes sensations delivered to us by our nervous system at a rapid rate. Screens are everywhere and our notifications are constantly popping off. Urban living is noisy as hell. To be alive is to be stimulated by our senses. So, what happens when we give that part of our mind a break?
I decided to give it a try despite my initial fears. Would I feel claustrophobic? Could I escape if I needed to? How likely am I to fall asleep and drown? Would my mind play tricks on me? There was plenty for me to obsess over beforehand, but upon entering the facility I knew I was in good hands. Just like my favorite boutique massage spa, the float spa takes excellent care of you. They provide all the essentials like herbal tea, earplugs and even a notepad in case of unexpected inspiration (it happens). The experience is made as comfortable as possible and everything you can expect is explained in detail, either by informative videos, signs or an eager receptionist. I watched people exit their sessions with a detectable glow and decided I wanted one too.
After my pre-float shower, I let myself into a pod that looks like a giant space egg from the future. Blue LED lights lined the inside of the tub, creating a calming ambiance. Stepping into the warm salt water made my skin feel like silk. I fastened a neck pillow under my head for some extra support and lowered the opening to the float pod. Seeing that it wasn’t an airtight container that I could open and close myself, eliminated the fear of closed spaces. As long as I had full control of my environment, I would be okay. And I did.
Once enclosed, soft zen music whispered in the background for a few minutes to help ease the transition into a meditative state. Focusing on the breath, I began to feel my body dissolve into the dense liquid solution. When the music faded away, I was pleasantly surprised by how safe I felt. Inhales and exhales get much longer and deeper as the float progresses.
I noticed that the mental chatter I am usually met with didn’t appear right away. For once, my mind was crystal clear. It was the kind of pure, unadulterated bliss you feel on a well-deserved vacation. I imagined myself lying lavishly somewhere in the Caribbean, transcending into an aquamarine fantasy. An overwhelming dose of euphoria slowly creeps in with every new breath. For a moment, I am limitless, unbound to the barriers of my body. I allowed that feeling to permeate every cell in my body and the effects have been apparent, even days after the float.
After my hour-long session, I exited the space pod feeling like I was walking on a cloud. Something shifted and the weight of my overactive mind was lifted. Though technically not an actual bath, it still felt like a substantial mental cleanse. The feeling stayed with me throughout the rest of the day and I was so glad that I didn’t let my fears of being alone inside a closed space win. Because if I can’t indulge in a tropical paradise every day, might as well give my brain the next best thing.

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