I think I first heard about floating through the Tim Ferriss podcast – I can’t remember which guest it might have been but after hearing about it, I decided to do a bit of research to understand what it was about.
Essentially, you get into a tub of water that has been filed with salt (the place that I went to was at 30% but not sure if this is standard or not). If you’ve been to the dead sea, you know that water that gets a certain % of salt means that you are super buoyant – you can just lie in the water and not have to do anything to float. The tub is inside a sensory deprivation tank – that is, an enclosed space where there is no outside sound and you are able to close the lights if you wish. To me, it felt like it was a great combo way to do a few things: meditate, de-stress, unplug from your device, relax your muscles and to get in lots of deep breathing. With so many great benefits (and with a gift card from a close friend), I went with my girlfriend to a float place called Modern Gravity.
This isn’t a post to review the float place, but I will say that Modern Gravity has top reviews from others and our experience was certainly the same. You go in, take off your shoes, and then you watch a short video that walks through the float experience from before the float, during and then after (if it is your first time). You are brought into your float room by the attendant and the attendant gives you a visual walkthrough of the float room (again, if it is your first time). There’s towels, hangers for your clothing, a shower, ear plugs for your float, a vinegar pipette (for after your float to wash out your ears), soap, shampoo and conditioner and even a small packet of vaseline for you to cover any wounds or hang nails you have (so that the salt does not get in and sting you).
Inside the tank, the water is heated to 34 degrees celsius and there are two big buttons for the lights. The lights aren’t very bright but one button is for the lights around the tub and the other button is for a night light – you can turn both off if you wish. There’s a small towel hanging on one of the handles (they call it the game changer and it’s for getting any salt out of your face if it gets on there), there’s a small circle to rest your head on while you float and then there’s a panic button in case anything happens (it’s there to give you a peace of mind as nothing will happen if you are careful). Of course, the only thing that could happen is if you float facing down which the founders tell you not to do in the video.
First, you go into the float room, take off all your clothes (you don’t need to bring anything with you which is great) and then take a quick shower to wash off your body but also to acclimatize your body to the float water temperature. You do not use the conditioner (otherwise you introduce oils into the float water) but you can use the shampoo and wash. After washing, you get into a separate chamber to float.
After the float (there’s music to tell you when your time is up – in my case, its an hour), you get out, shower, use the vinegar pipette in your ears to get rid of any excess salt and then change. You go outside, go into the vanity area to blow dry your hair and then you can sit in the lounge area to drink tea before heading out. The experience itself was very great and all the little things were thought of as you probably have read.
Okay, now that the whole experience has been laid out, let me share some thoughts on my end of the experience:
An hour seems like a long time
I’ll be honest, when I was faced with the idea of floating for an hour, I thought that it would be a long time. Would I go insane just waiting around for the music to play? Would I get into a deep relaxation?
Well, I didn’t get into any sort of deep relaxation but it was certainly very good practice to get my monkey mind from racing all the time. And at the same time, after the music started playing, I thought to myself: that was an hour? So I suppose it was a combination of both – I wasn’t sure how I was going to last the hour and then after the hour went, I thought that it came and went quite quickly.
My body felt quite relaxed after
It’s a strange experience to float in the water. It’s different than just lying in bed or on the floor and although this was only my first float, I felt like my body felt quite relaxed not trying to support itself outside of the float room. I’ve had some nagging pain in a few parts of my body (some sports-related injuries I think) and it did feel a bit better after getting out of the room and the morning after.
Clarity of mind
I decided to turn off the lights and go deep into the experience. Having no lights, no sound and no sense of how much time has passed made me think a lot of thoughts and it made me realize how crazy my mind can be when it’s not distracted with a device or a book. As much as possible, I tried to focus on my breath – breathing deeply in and breathing deeply out. Every once in a while, I also switched positions, laying my hands by my side, then on my stomach then out as if I was a four-point star. For me, I tried to focus on my breath and on relaxing as much as possible.
After getting out of the sensory deprivation float tank, there were a few times where I felt a rush of blood go to my head. I’m not sure if that was a sign that I was very relaxed but I suppose it could be a sign. I felt like I had mental clarity on the present moment. And I think that’s what meditation is really about – focusing on the moment rather than focusing on the past or the future.
Overall, I thought it was a good float. The attendant told me before that the first float would be the worst and the best float. It’s the worst because you do not really know what to expect and it’s the best because it will never be your first float again. Would I go back? Definitely.