Float Therapy – Getting My Zen On

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I‘ve seen a lot of Float Spas pop up recently around town and have always been curious of trying one out. Float Spas, also known as isolation tanks, or sensory deprivation tanks have actually been around since the 1950’s and were very popular amongst the New Age types looking to expand their minds and reach a higher level of being. The thought of floating in a tank with no sound and light with just your thoughts made it just weird enough that I wanted to try one out.

Float therapy claims to relieve a myriad of ailments, both physical and mental; easing of muscle, joint and back pain, relieves migraines, psoriasis and eczema relief to name just a few. Mentally it is supposed to reduce stress, anxiety and deepens meditation. Float therapy is not cheap and typically runs anywhere from $75 and up for a 1 hour session.

Some spas have float pods that correlate the idea that it looks like an alien pod and you are in fact, getting ready to take some mental trip to another dimension. I opted for the float spa suite, where instead of crawling into a pod, you are walking into what looks like an isolated spa like bath. Tom and I bought a couples Groupon at Allure Float Spa where the two of us would float together in the same spa.

When we got there we were warmly greeted by the owners Chris and Vianca where they gave us the run down on how to float. They walked us to our suite and instructed us to take a shower first and then how to control the lights and music. You step into the spa which is 10 inches of body temperature water that has so much Epsom salt in the water that once you lay down, your body begins to float at almost zero gravity-way cool. They offer ear plugs and neck pillows which we used; Tom elected to not use the ear plugs, but I’m glad I did as your ears are completely submerged under the water leaving only your sight and taste for senses for you to use- untouched if you completely turn off the lights.

For the first 5 minutes it was giggly fun, “Oh wow this feels so cool on how buoyant I am!” Then after the initial fun wore off it was time to get serious on getting my zen on.

Have you ever laid on a big medicine ball and stretched out your back? That’s what the initial float felt like. It felt like every vertebrae and bone in my body was now weightless and did not carry any pressure or tension. Namaste my pain away! It felt absolutely amazing and I was excited that I was going to feel this way for the next 60 minutes. As I was starting to relax, Tom and I stopped talking and I started thinking to myself, ” What if I keep bumping into Tom and I can’t relax ? What if the top part of my body that’s not in the water gets cold? What if I get sea sick? Is it safe to take a nap? I kind of want to take a nap but I don’t want to drown.” Then my neck and shoulders started to feel a weird tension, so I decided to float without the neck pillow and it melted away in time. Tom was a sport and didn’t want to ruin my experience for me, but within the first 15 minutes I heard him say through my ear plugs, “I’m already bored”. I told him to relax and try to take a nap, I wanted to experience and see this through.

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Time didn’t exist, I couldn’t tell if I had been floating for 10 minutes or 30, I couldn’t tell if I had fallen asleep or not, I barely moved my body and just surrendered. At times I felt like I was floating in space, completely gravity free, at other times I felt like I was stuck in a Jello mold. I must have fallen asleep because I had weird dreams of what looked like I was viewing the world through a Super 8 camera. I can’t explain it, was it a dream or a hallucination? I felt like I was present and still in the moment. Then after it felt like an eternity, I began to feel pure state of relaxation.

As I was floating a memory triggered of when I watched the movie, Immortal Beloved with Gary Oldman, which tells the story of the composer Beethoven. There was a scene where a young Beethoven ran away from his house in the middle of the night running away to avoid his drunken father. He ran and ran further from his village, into the woods, deeper and deeper until he came to a lake; he then proceeded to float in the lake. The camera pans out and all you see is Beethoven floating amongst the stars, being one with the universe, all while his magnum opus, “Ode to Joy” is playing. Purely magical. That is what I felt at that time. An escape and a relief that I had not a care in the world during this exact time and I was feeling pure relaxation.

Then the lights came on. The session was over. I stood up and walked back out of the spa and rinsed off all of the salt water. Some had gotten into my eye and mouth as I was getting out and boy did that sting and taste gross. My body felt completely relaxed and I felt like I, weirdly enough, just had a massage yet obviously that didn’t happen. I had zero tension in my body and mentally felt that I was in a great meditative state of calmness.

We walked out where Chris and Vianca were waiting for us with water and snacks and asked how our first float was. “Amazing. I feel really great!” Even Tom, who initially said he was bored said that he really began to feel relaxed towards the end; I guess the first time is different for everyone. I would be open to doing it again just for the amazing relief of pressure on my joints and the dissolve of muscle tension the weightless salt water has on your body. Maybe the next time in complete darkness and no spa music, to really get into the mental experience. Who knows, maybe the next time I’ll be able to take off and get to that next dimension of mental being. I guess I’m a New Ager now.

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