My First Float Tank Experience

My First Float Tank Experience

Photo credit:  Kzenon/

Flotation therapy is a growing trend in health, relaxation and mindfulness.  You lie effortlessly in a float pod which contains 10 inches of water and approximately 850 lbs of Epsom salt to create buoyancy similar to the dead sea.  The water temperature is set to 93.5 degrees which is the same temperature as the skin, so you can't feel it.  And you immerse yourself in a quiet, solitary space.  It's also known as sensory deprivation, losing all sense of touch, sight and sound, and leaving nothing but the mind.

"Calm mind brings inner strength and self-confidence, so that's very important for good health." ~ Dalai Lama

 I first heard of flotation therapy through my co-worker. After hearing Joe Rogan advocate floating in his podcast (57:40), my co-worker tried it out and raved about it. He claimed to feel stress-free weeks after his first float.  He spoke of it with excitement & seemed high on life.  So naturally, I had to try it

Let's Talk Sanitation

Floating in your birthday suit is completely acceptable.  So I was concerned about cleanliness. My first question was, how do you sanitize the tank?  And do you change the water with every use?  The answer to the latter is no, they do not change the water after every use.  Here's how sanitation works.

  • Each customer is required to take a shower before using the tank.
  • The high concentration of salt plus a small amount of chlorine prevents the tank from harmful bacteria.
  • 35% hydrogen peroxide is added to the water as a disinfectant.
  • There is a blue ultraviolet light for sterilization.
  • The water is filtered for 15 minutes after each use.
  • Water filters are changed weekly.

The sanitation process varies between facilities, so I would double check with your spa for peace of mind.

Understanding the Risks

Before the float I signed a 3-page waiver, stating that I understand the rules and risks involved and agree they are not liable for any loss, damage or injury.  Since I have a pacemaker, the waiver warned me not to float without speaking to my cardiologist.  But I've had enough discussions with my cardiologist to know my limits and that I would be fine.  So please be sure to check with your doctor if you have epilepsy, diabetes, a heart condition, high blood pressure, or are pregnant.

You should also know that you cannot float if you have...

  • a communicable or infectious disease or illness
  • a skin disorder
  • large cuts, open sores or wounds
  • an ear infection or any other type of infection
  • a tattoo applied within 7 days.
  • your hair chemically treated with dye or keratin within 48 hours.

Now Lets Get To It!

They provided me ear plugs and Vaseline to put on any minor cuts.  Then they explained that for my first time, I would hear 10 minutes of ocean and birds at the start, followed by silence, and 5 minutes of the same beach sounds at the end of the hour to indicate my time was up.  So after my shower I stepped into the tank.  And for the sake of this post, I snapped a pic.  

Moments later I dropped my phone in the water!  It fully submerged to the bottom.  What a way to start my time for R&R.  Luckily, it managed to survive and I thought this might be a good test to see if my float can help me relax.  

I played with the light controls and decided to keep them on to feel less claustrophobic. And so, for the first 10 minutes I laid there with my eyes closed. I found myself worrying that my earbuds weren't tight enough and I was afraid the water was seeping into my ears.  It wasn't until the soothing sounds of the ocean had stopped, that I gave up adjusting my earbuds and tried to move on.

I felt weightless...  I thought this must be how it feels like in space with zero gravity.  Soon after my worries left, I felt pain... on the back of my neck and right shoulder.  I didn't expect this, but I know this pain. It's a stiffness that I've tried to remove previously with a massage and was unsuccessful. I found that laying with my hands behind my head was the most comfortable position.  It helped me alleviate the tension on my neck.  What must have felt like 20 minutes of pain, eventually subsided. Finally, I felt nothing.

"Serenity Now!" ~ Frank Costanza

I hoped to have profound thoughts but nothing came.  I often felt like I was floating to the right or left, only to open my eyes and find I was in the same spot. The pod got humid and I slightly felt the rim of the water on my skin.

Toward the end of the hour, I felt ready to come out.  I began to worry about the time.  Did I doze off?  Did I miss the music?  Stop... Just enjoy it and relax.  Then I heard waves and seagulls.  I soaked in the final moments and stepped out to shower.

At check out, I was told I would have the best sleep of my life that night and I would feel calm and serene all week.  Those people clearly do not have two small tantrum-throwing children. So I'd say I was pretty zen for a few days. Two weeks have past and the two things I loved the most from my float was that my sore, stiff neck was healed and it provided the best full body exfoliation I've ever had.

Three Time's a Charm

According to Shane Scott in his bestselling book The Float Tank Cure, try floating at least 3 times. The first time you're familiarizing yourself with the space and experience. The second time you'll feel more relaxed. By the third time, you'll know what to expect and can truly let go.  So I intend to float again & highly recommend it for anyone who's interested in a natural way of finding peace and balance in their life.

"Meditation is a long journey, not a single insight or even several insights.  It gets more and more profound as the days, months, and years pass.  Keep reading and thinking and meditating." ~ Dalai Lama

Resources is an awesome resource on floating.  Check it out to learn how it all began and how it helps you scientifically.  There's also a float center register so you can locate a float center all over the world.

You may also find some good deals on Groupon & Living Social.  I didn't even know this was an option, but my float center mentioned the deal and honored it.  

I hope you get to try this. If you have, leave a comment!  I'd love to hear how it benefited you.  Happy floating!


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