I love being in water, especially if it is warm and clear and I can float in it. And I love being relaxed – well, who doesn’t, right?
(Actually, some people are addicted to drama, but that’s a different story).
So when I discovered flotation tanks, also known as sensory deprivation tanks, I was super intrigued and booked myself in straight away.
What is a flotation tank?
Flotation tanks are containers filled with warm, very salty water. So salty actually, that the water is dense enough for you to … you guessed it, float!
To filter out any noise, the containers close – they are super easy to open again, and the inside is also equipped with some light source that you can control from the water.
But if you want to be in complete darkness, keep the lights off – it makes the experience even better (for me it did at least).
These tanks come in all kinds of different shapes and sizes, from box shaped to whole little rooms that fit two people easily.
The one I went to at the Float Studio in Cairns, Australia is shaped like a giant pod:
What are the benefits of floating in a flotation tank?
Spending around 1 hour in a sensory deprivation tank has countless positive effects on your body and mind – or, your mind-body.
Mind-body, because everything is connected: your body cannot be truly relaxed if your mind is stressed, and your mind will not be fully calm if your body is tense.
Biofeedback and other experiments have shown that your immune system can be strengthened, your blood pressure can be lowered, pain can be alleviated, and hormones can be released or inhibited, just by focusing inward in a relaxed way.
Floating creates this state of mind, and helps additionally: your recovery time after sports training will be accelerated, your body will be remineralized and alkalized, the salts can help with skin issues and endorphins will be released, leaving you in an elated, natural “high” feeling of sweet bliss for up to 12 hours.
So if you have struggled calming your mind, if you have found a meditative state to be unreachable when practising classic meditation, floating could be incredibly helpful.
Things to consider before floating in a sensory deprivation tank
If you have any scratches, consider dabbing them with some vaseline to avoid a burning sensation from the salty water.
Even though the pods are being cleaned continuously, do go to the bathroom beforehand and take a quick shower to rinse off any perfume, after shave and sweat or dirt from your day.
Wash your hair while taking that shower, so the hair is already saturated with fresh water and won’t absorb the salt water which can make it dry.
If you are unsure how you feel about being surrounded by complete darkness, simply leave the lights on, but do close the lid of your tank. Otherwise the air won’t warm up and you might feel a bit chilly on the body parts that are not submerged.
If you tend to sink in water, use a neck pillow under your head and/or a noodle under your knees. Chances are that this won’t be necessary though – the water is very, very salty.
What is the floating session like?
After having a quick rinse under the shower, you will step into your tank, close the lid and lie down on your back. Your legs will pop up and your body will start to float. Your body might not trust the power of the salty water at first, but slowly, all your muscles will relax more and more.
Your body will soften into the water, your head will become a little heavier and your ears will be submerged so that only your face and parts of your torso will still be exposed to the air.
The tanks at The Float Studio have the option to leave a dim light on if you wish so, or to turn it off which is what I did.
There is no music; instead you might observe the sound of your breath, or sounds of your body – and sounds in your head, thoughts passing by, random memories flashing past, ideas popping up.
forgetting where the air begins and the water ends,
forgetting where there is up and down,
A feeling of being whole might arise,
and being completely secure,
Are there any effects after the floating session is over?
Before you know it, soft music will gently bring you back from space and your floating time will be up.
Have another quick shower to rinse off the salt and you will notice that your skin is supple, no prune-y fingers & toes and your completely relaxed state of mind reflects in your looks – younger, content – full of calm energy.
Most studios will have a resting area available, The Float Studio also offers books to browse and complimentary teas to enjoy.
This is where the second part of magic happens: after increasing your awareness inwardly while being in the tank, you will also notice a heightened awareness thereafter and it is just as profound, as if the world changed while you were away. Your senses will be heightened, with sounds you barely noticed before now being sharper, colours being more vivid and bright, and scents being stronger.
Your newfound stillness can easily make you see things from a new, calm and grounded perspective. You might the world once again with the fresh perceptions of a child, a “beginner’s mind” – and feel really, really good.
Next time i’ll stay longer 🙂