A few weeks ago I had been complaining to my husband that I was really starting to feel my lack of space and time for myself at home (and in general). Everything from the lack of space to the almost constant noise of traffic was starting to grate on me and I was having a bit of a meltdown (just a little one, but still). My husband being the amazing genius that he is, who knows what I need better than I know myself had the brilliant idea that I should go for a float.
I had been wanting to do it forever, he said and of course he was right. Plus how much more peace, quiet and privacy can you get than being in a sensory deprivation chamber.
I found one close to my work in the city (there are float spas popping up all over the place these days) and booked one for as soon as I was got back from a trip to visit family (it’s a great way to decompress after traveling). Now, the place I booked, Modern Gravity, is still setting up it’s commercial center, so I visited their demo tank which is in a renovated basement suite, but they’ll have what is sure to be an amazing set up by Kingsway Mall ready in January. Here are some pictures of the float suites they have on order:
Doesn’t that seem epic? The demo tank was a smaller version, a Samadhi tank like this:
Not quite as glamorous, but it still did the trick.
These float tanks, also known as sensory deprivation chambers, isolation tank, float chambers, REST chambers, etc, all have tons of epsom salts dissolved into the water (mine had 850 pounds), which makes it super buoyant, so you float right at the top of the water, with your ears underneath, but your face and the top of your body out of the water, as in the picture above.
They are dark, although there is a light in there you turn off when you are ready to help you get settled in. It’s also very quiet, especially with the ear plugs I used to keep water out of my ears. The temperature is supposed to be about the same as your skin so you feel the boundary between skin and water dissapear. I started to get cold, so I turned on the environmental comfort control, which warmed things up quickly.
Before I climbed in, I had showered and then put vaseline over any little cuts or nicks on my body to keep them from stinging in the salt. (There was a thorough orientation on what to expect before starting). Once I climbed in, naked as the day I was born, I lay down and immediately realized I had some skin irritation on the back of my legs I hadn’t known about. I tried to ignore it, since I didn’t want to get out, but it itched and burned to the point that I opened the hatch, sprayed my legs down with water, dried them and added more vaseline.
Climbing back in, all lubed up, I lay back and tried to center myself in the tank. If you don’t, you wind up drifting gently into the sides. Then you have to center yourself again, rather than just push away or you’ll just ping pong around in there.
It takes some getting used to, and the first third of the 90 minute session seemed like it was just getting it all figured out. My body kept relaxing to deeper and deeper states and my mind wandered.
I did some mantra work and sent out love and gratitude to every one in my life which relaxed me further. It was very pleasant, until I had to pee.
Grr. I popped my head out and saw that I still had 45 minutes left in the session, so I decided to towel off to head to the bathroom. Getting situated in the center of the tank was easier this time and I felt like I relaxed again far more quickly.
After awhile, I did lose all track of my body and it felt like I was floating in space. I was perfectly at peace, perfectly relaxed. This was the Theta brain wave state that I was going for (The pre-sleep/hypnosis/meditation state that feels so good). The only annoying part was having to breathe.
If I could have just stopped breathing and absorbed oxygen directly through my skin that would have been lovely, because it was just my breath that kept me from feeling like I was a disembodied entity. I let the pauses in between inhalations and exhalations extend as long as I could and it was in those brief breathless periods that I felt most relaxed.
It was incredible, but just as I was sinking even deeper, the music came on to let me know my time was up.
I had been prepared by a few people I spoke to that this would be the case. The first float is mostly spent figuring out the logistics and getting used to being in the tank, and you only get a taste of the real experience of floating.
That little taste got me hooked though. I felt amazing afterwards. Refreshed and renewed, like I had just had a great nap. After showering off my skin felt so soft and amazing and my body felt like I had just gotten a massage. All the minerals in the salts are so good for you. We’re usually deficient in most essential minerals like magnesium and this infuses it directly into your skin.
I was already planning my return visit before I left (I bought their awesome 3 float pack, where you basically get a free float). I can’t wait to dive in more deeply to see where my mind will take me! I still feel more relaxed and peaceful recalling the experience a week later. I highly recommend trying it out yourself, at Modern Gravity if you’re in Edmonton, or find a center near you!