I have started to open up and share more about my struggles with anxiety and panic attacks. One of the best things I have done for myself is to open up and be vulnerable about those things I saw as weaknesses. It has been such a wonderful conversation to open up to you all about my struggle and how I have learned to cope with it – if you missed that post you can read it here! I promised that I would continue to offer up ways I cope with anxiety, panic attacks, stress, etc., so today I want to dive deeper into one of my very favorite ways to calm my mind, body, and soul – floating!
I have only floated three times in my life, and all three times were nothing short of magical experiences. Floating was a technique developed in the 1950’s by a neuroscientist named John C. Lilly who was researching the consciousness and one of his research tools was isolation tanks. Now, I don’t know about you, but an isolation tank sounds more like a form of punishment or torture chamber than a relaxation method. Somewhere between now and the 1950’s, it was given a few new names like sensory deprivation tank and is now more commonly referred to as a float tank.
Floating was gaining momentum and became pretty popular back in the 70’s, but was not marketed in the same way that it is today. Unfortunately, upon the outbreak of HIV and AIDS back in the 70’s, climbing naked into a dark tank of salt water to soak for an hour, had many people in fear they could catch either of the diseases. Fast forward a few years, and as a society we now know that you can’t catch life-threatening diseases in the tanks, so floating has begun to resurface as a popular relaxation method.
I was so happy when Insight Float offered me the opportunity to try out one of their float tanks in their new renovated space. From the moment I walked in, Mike, the owner, made me feel so welcome and comfortable. I was offered a chilled coconut water and sat down in the waiting space to enjoy the smell of the essential oils diffusing into the air. Mike took the time to explain to me what floating was, how it can positively impact my body and mind, and gave me a tour of the newly renovated establishment.
First stop on your float journey will be a trip to the bathroom. They have everything you might need to shower and thoroughly cleanse your hair and skin, in order to remove all makeup and hair products from your body. You should treat the tank the way you would want the same person before you to treat it, right?
After a hot and quick shower, it was time to slide into my robe and head to my float room. My robe was so fluffy and comfy, and definitely was a spa-like upgrade from my prior floats, where I walked to my float room with a towel wrapped around me.
I was thrilled for the opportunity to float in the larger float room, which can actually hold two people! Obviously, you would never float with a stranger, but, I suppose it could be romantic to float with a significant other and experience it together. Because I was in a large float room essentially, it looks a bit different than normal float tanks. Here is my inviting room below with the wood and white door.
Here is what you might see at your float experiences, and what I had floated in prior to the large float room.
Most floats last anywhere from one hour to one hour and thirty minutes. I opened the door to the pitch-black room filled with a large, shallow pool of salt water. They provide you with ear plugs to plug your ears to block out both saltwater and sound. I should mention that there is a TON of salt in this water, hence you truly float and its impossible to not float in the water. The temperature of the room and water is kept very close to our normal body temperature, so that after you are in the tank a while, the water and air doesn’t feel any warmer or colder than your body.
This was a pretty large room (imagine a small sauna), so I never became claustrophobic and even in the smaller tanks, I roll up a small towel and put it in the crack of the door if I feel closed in. By doing this, I lost the ability to see pitch black darkness, but it only lets a bit of light through and I keep my eyes shut the entire time anyways. You haven’t experienced salt water in your eyes on this level, so try and keep the water out of your eyes by avoiding touching your face with your hands. If you do happen to itch your face and get any of the water in your eyes, simply reach for the towel in the crack of the door and wipe your eyes off.
The first 15-30 minutes you might feel odd sensations because our bodies aren’t accustomed to feeling weightless, but that is the beauty of it all! After you bump around the tank and stop moving for a bit, you will start to truly enter a deep state of relaxation. Sometimes I go into a super deep meditative state, sometimes I somewhat hallucinate (similar to when you dream vivid dreams), and sometimes I just sit there with my eyes closed trying not to focus on the sound of my heart beat, breath, or the sounds any filtration pumps might be making.
The worker will come knock on the tank door or play soft music to wake you, in order to tell you that time is up. They will then leave, and you can climb out of the tank, slip into your robe, and head back to the shower to wash, shampoo and condition all the soap off of you!
Because I love you all and want to show you that you absolutely come out of the tank 100% alive and feeling better than when you stepped in, I will share the photo below after my float.
Make sure to drink plenty of water to stay hydrated after you float because the salt water you floated in is super high in magnesium and as American’s we are mostly deficient in this. Magnesium is a supplement you can even purchase over-the-counter at any drugstore to help promote sleeping through the night. I guarantee you will have one of the best nights sleep after you float. Any tension, muscle soreness, or pain completely diminishes in this tank and will make you very sleepy – I always suggest an afternoon or evening float!
Floating is a powerful and healing practice that most anyone can try. I highly recommend searching for a float place near you! Most of the time, you will get a great deal on your first float and Insight Float is now offering a special price for your first three floats. Floating prices can be anywhere from $50-$100 for an hour and a half float, so it can easily take the place of your monthly massage. Sometimes on Groupon, you can find float specials for $25, so be on the lookout for new float places popping up in your area.
Thank you again to Insight Float for sponsoring this post and inviting me to try out your beautifully renovated float space in San Carlos!