Last week I “floated” for the first time.
If you’re not familiar with the idea of “floating” let me tell you a little bit more about it, as it was an incredible experience.
It’s called a sensory deprivation tank, and it’s something that is used to help you relax, meditate, and it can be helpful in treating anxiety, depression, can provide pain relief, stress relief, and mental clarity as well.
The container—sometimes referred to as a “pod,” “tank” or “chamber”—is soundproof and pitch black, creating an environment for our bodies to be free from gravity and other external forces...or as much as it can be here on Earth.
The temperature is “skin receptor neutral,” meaning the water is virtually undetectable by the sense of touch. And Epsom salts add density of the water making your body buoyant while floating on your back in the container. From the darkness, to the sound-proofing, to the buoyant nature of the water, it all works to create a very rejuvenating effect on the human body. It’s about as close to outer space as one can get! While floating, our bodies and minds can sink away from the world that is built up around us and instead turn our focus internally. This truly helps deal with and address some of those anxiety issues or claustrophobia or other problems which may make your mind race.
You see, over the last five or 10 years I’ve had some serious bouts of bad anxiety. It has been especially noted when camping in a tent with the kids or sometimes even just by myself. I actually started sleeping in a hammock when camping because the claustrophobia and anxiety in the tent would get so bad that I couldn’t handle it. I had heard about the “float tanks” for several years but was truly terrified at the idea and never thought I could actually go through with a session. It’s not a fun feeling to get that anxious feeling and not be able to know what to do with it. So, after worrying about the experience a lot and for a long time, I decided to go through with it and give it a try.
As soon as I got in to the tank, I began to panic almost immediately. I did not know how to process the idea of complete darkness and no sound, and the sensation of floating. Within about five minutes, I was sitting up and trying to find the door. I thought for sure I would need to get out of it take a deep breath and relax and then get back in—or maybe just not get back in and get the heck out of there! Just like when camping in a tent, I couldn’t turn my thoughts off and relax. I couldn’t let go. But this time, by knowing and accepting that this is a problem that I had to work through and accomplish, I stuck with it and then, surprisingly, something was different. I was able to just calm down, take deep breaths, and listen to that voice inside my head that I was OK. I can honestly say I had never experienced that kind of calm sensation.
A couple more deep breaths and—despite the fact it was still pitch black in there and I was pretty disoriented to my position inside the room—I had the confidence to continue with my float.
I laid back down on my back, kept taking deep breaths, and reciting the mantra “it’s OK,” and before long I even managed to fall asleep a time or two! Can you believe that? Falling asleep while floating in salt water? It truly was relaxing. Before I knew it, my 60-minute session was over. To overcome that anxiety and panic that I felt at the beginning of my float was incredible. It truly worked wonders and ended up being one of the most relaxing experiences I’ve ever had in my life—once I actually allowed myself to relax. If you’d like to know more about it, feel free to ask. It was an incredible memory and one about which I could share so much more. I truly think everyone could benefit from some time in a sensory deprivation tank, just floating away and relaxing and calming your mind down—one deep breath at a time.