Sensory Deprivation (Solsc) 3/31

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Recently I decided to try a float tank. These things are touted to be extremely relaxing, detoxifying, pain and stress relieving, blood flow increasing, endorphin releasing and probably more. The way it works is this: you go into a room with a shower and sink and a big trailer-like tank with a door and no windows. You take a shower and then climb into the tank. It is about four feet wide and maybe seven feet long, all the walls and ceiling are black plastic, and it has about ten inches of water in the bottom. The water contains about 175  over a thousand pounds of Epsom salts, so as soon as you sit down you begin to float. The water is about 96 degrees. I thought this sounded great, and  at $40 for an hour and a half, I decided I just had to try it.

I arrived a few minutes early and the owner offered me a glass of champagne while I waited for the filters to finish their job. I rarely drink any alcohol and the idea of drinking before entering this strange environment just didn’t sound right to me, so I declined. Finally it was ready and the gentleman led me into the room. He showed me the towels and shampoo and soap and said I could stay as long as I liked since I was the last floater of the day. He said he didn’t know if I’d brought a bathing suit, but if I did please don’t wear it. He asked if I prefer breathing warm or cool air, said he’d knock after 90 minutes, then closed the door and I was alone.

I took a shower and washed my hair and opened the door of the tank. It was all black inside. The walls and ceiling looked like they were lined with black plastic bags. (The picture above is as close as I could find to it. If you look at images of float tanks on the internet they either look like incinerators or romantic sea shells. This wasn’t like either of those things.) Gingerly I stepped in and sat down. I laid back, and sure enough, I bobbed right up to the surface of the water.The water was body temperature, as was the air. At first I searched for relaxation. I floated to one side and then turned a little and floated to the other. I was not at all relaxed in those moments. In fact it was a little icky. Despite the lovely shower and bath products, it seemed a little like something that someone just made up. Like, take an old trailer, line it with black plastic and put some water in the bottom of it with a lot of salt in it.

After the first while, I finally let go and just relaxed. I don’t know how long that part was. I seemed to go in and out of thinking and not thinking. When I was thinking I was noticing the walls of the thing, and the salt crystalizing on the edges of my  head. Then I’d kind of forget about it all and just bob around. Every so often I heard noises like a jackhammer out in the parking lot. That put a crimp in the relaxation, for sure. I had no idea how long I’d been in there. Twenty minutes or an hour can seem about the same when there’s no outside frame of reference. Finally I heard a knock and I got right out. I showered again, shook my hair out (because I forgot to bring a hairbrush) and left the room. The woman at the desk said I’d been in there for almost two hours, and she thought she should knock because she had to go home soon. I’m not sure how they think you’ll know it’s time to leave without knocking or otherwise calling your attention to the passage of time. I wish they’d consider a little music to warn you that it’s time to go. It would be so much more humane, a gentler return to regular life.

So, will I go back? I’m not sure. I will probably give it another chance, but I am not convinced it’s for me. All that lukewarmness and thick water, bumping into those black plastic walls and all that relaxing. Detoxifying. I think I expected some sort of spiritual revelation and that definitely didn’t happen, so I’m not sure. I’ll definitely choose a no coffee – no caffeine day the next time I try it. Or maybe I’ll just get a massage next time I need some relaxing.

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14 thoughts on “Sensory Deprivation (Solsc) 3/31

  1. Colleen says:

    Your description drew me right in. What an interesting subject! I don’t even think they have a float tank where I live, but that could be because I never inquired. If I were to try it, I think I’d prefer the romantic sea shell!

  2. Crystal says:

    What an experience. I haven’t heard of people doing this for relaxation. For me, I would probably stick with massage. 😉

  3. lynnjake says:

    I’m with you, Colleen. The pink seashell is infinitely more attractive than this thing. Apparently these are becoming a big deal. When I looked for this photo, I was surprised by how many different forms these things have, and that some people have them at home, on the patio. Weird. Thanks for reading and commenting!

  4. lynnjake says:

    Funny you say that. The whole time I was in there I was wishing I was in the Dead Sea in Israel! I wanted to be able to float where my body wanted to float without bumping against the walls.

  5. Katy Collins says:

    Such an interesting topic! I’ve wondered about these tanks…read how wonderful they are, and doubted just a little that it could be that amazing. Your frank, honest, and complete description really drew me in! What an experience. I’m not sure I’d be up for it either, but I am thankful to have gotten to “experience” it a little through your slice! 🙂

  6. Patricia Kaiser says:

    You are a brave explorer! Your story was very engaging and interesting to me. I experienced a type of sensory deprivation tank at Two Bunch Palms in Desert Hot Springs one year many moons ago, but I think for half an hour or so (maybe it was an hour, I can’t remember). I felt kind of claustrophobic (but not horribly, just uncomfortably) and it wasn’t relaxing. The most relaxing experience I ever had was there at Two Bunch Palms (I went back many times and love it) was a Watsu, a type of floating Shiatsu in their hot springs. Heaven! That’s the next one you should try :~} xoxo Patty

  7. Jeannine Gendar says:

    A friend of a friend, kind of a wild child, always used to say, “I’ll try anything twice.” If you can’t find the seashell, I vote for massage. The black plastic doesn’t sound right.

  8. lynnjake says:

    Twice, huh? I think I’ll try it again but at a different facility this time. Then my decision will be clearer I hope! I’ll keep you posted.

  9. lynnjake says:

    Thanks, Patty. I looked up TBP and it looks like a really special place. I love the idea of Watsu. I’ll definitely try it someday.It sounds divine!

  10. lynnjake says:

    Well, thanks for reading it. I am glad to provide a vicarious moment of floating! I think I’ll do it one more time and then form my firm opinion.

  11. Stacey Shubitz says:

    You drew me right in with your writing. I’ve always wondered what it was like to go inside of one of these things… now I know.

    Recently, I’ve heard people talk about salt rooms. I’m contemplating trying one. I’m not 100% sold yet. Perhaps a fellow Slicer can write about one of those. 🙂

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