This past weekend, my boyfriend and I flew to San Diego to visit some of our friends. One of the main things my boyfriend wanted to do was go to FLOAT Spa San Diego. He raved about the benefits of the spa including deep relaxation, mineral cleansing, pain relief, and access to theta brain waves which is known to activate our creativity and imagination (our brains are thought to be in theta when we are dreaming). He explained that we would be in a “float tank” or “sensory deprivation tank.” The float tank is filled with approximately 800-900 pounds of salt water, which creates a gravity-free environment where our bodies can float effortlessly. He also added that the tank is closed, creating a sensory deprived environment, where it’s completely dark and soundless. The sensory deprivation aspect of it elicited some anxiety within me but as the days progressed and I researched more about it, my anxiety lessened.
We went to the spa a few days early to make sure we could find the location. To our surprise, the spa was still open (it was about 9 pm) and one of the staff members offered to show us the tanks. Upon seeing the tank, anxiety hit me like a ton of bricks. I was terrified. I don’t even know what it was about the tank that elicited so much anxiety but I was truly frightened. The tank was about 9 feet long and it looked like a pod filled about a 1/4 of the way up with water. I believe I was expecting the tank itself to be clear (which wouldn’t matter since the lights are completely off) but whatever it was I was scared. I didn’t tell my boyfriend how scared I was because he was so excited about it and I knew that I would be able to overcome my fear. We booked our appointment for Monday evening and left the spa.
In the car, my mind produced a stream of anxious questions “how do they maintain the hygiene?” “what if the door gets jammed?” “what if…etc” I didn’t share them because I knew it was all just mind chatter. The answers were on the website, which eased my anxiety. Additionally, having a few days in between seeing the tank and our appointment was helpful.
We arrived for our appointment and the anxiety was minimal. A woman with a huge smile on her face and lots of energy talked to us about how wonderful her experience was, which created a nice calming effect for me. We brought our towels and drank some tea before being escorted into our separate rooms by the staff member. I must commend how wonderful the staff was, they were all professional, kind, and comforting. They answered all of our questions and spoke about the benefits of floating.
I took a shower before getting into the tank and set my intention to meditate on love and gratitude the whole time. I took several deep breaths, got into the tank, and laid on my back allowing the warm water to surround my body. My instant thought was “this is incredibly relaxing” and a smile was planted on my face. I thought to myself “this must be what babies feel like in their mother’s womb.” Gentle music helped me settle into the environment. Gradually, the water seemed to become a bit chilly (my boyfriend attributes this to the fact that I didn’t close my tank door all the way) which was slightly distracting. The music gradually stopped, cueing me that 10 minutes had passed and the motion sensor made the blue light in the room turn off, leaving the tank completely pitch black. My anxiety heightened but I was able to breathe through it. I closed my eyes and attempted to meditate.
As soon as I closed my eyes, I started to hear a gentle thumping sound and realized it’s my heartbeat. Hearing my heartbeat was incredibly calming. I had some difficulty finding a comfortable position for my arms (at first they were over my head, then I put them on my abdomen, then under my body, then back over my head). I also found myself trying to go into a deeper meditation and a calming female voice said “just relax, Candace, just relax.” After I heard the voice, I heeded its message not at all startled by hearing a voice. After I allowed myself to completely relax, the water seemed warm again. I did not dream but I felt complete peace. I felt consciously “beyond my body” while in the tank during the last 30 minutes. The music came on again, indicating that I only had ten minutes left. I got out and showered, taking a moment to reorient myself to my body. I remember looking at my arms strangely for a moment as if I had never seen them before. I was welcomed by my boyfriend and the staff and felt such a sense of peace and calm.
My conclusion from my first float experience is that everyone should try it! There’s no other environment like it (that I’m aware of) and it really does provide a unique experience. Once you’re able to work through your anxiety and/or mind chatter, the relaxation you feel is unparalleled. I recommend doing it for 90 minutes like we did because it may take a significant amount of time to acclimate to the environment. Have any of you floated before? What was your experience like?
Mahalo for reading! May you experience infinite peace and blessings!
With deep love and appreciation,
*image of a float tank, courtesy of gravityspa.com