What was I going to do for one hour of silence? I couldn’t read or write – its pitch-black inside. Would I be okay with this kind of isolation? My mind was racing with thoughts as I read over my confirmation email. When I was offered a free session, I signed up out of curiosity. That’s when the fear set in as to what that actually entails. People that know me, know I am claustrophobic and prefer social activities compared to isolated ones. However, I have been hearing more and more about these sensory deprivation spas but I have never tried them or known anyone that has done it before. With such a strong curiosity, I couldn’t resist.
What is Sensory Deprivation?
Sensory Deprivation, Floating, or Restricted Environmental Stimulation Therapy (REST) – they are all the same thing but different names. It is scientifically proven to have mental and physical benefits. The water in a sensory deprivation tank is heated to match the temperature of your skin and its loaded with Epsom salt, providing buoyancy so you float. Some of the benefits of doing a float tank include:
- Muscle relaxation
- Better sleep
- Decrease in pain
- Decreased stress and anxiety
- Lowers blood pressure and cortisol
- Improves concentration and imagination
- Aids in relief of PTSD symptoms
I had scheduled my float for Sunday after church at FloatEasy in San Juan Capistrano. As I arrived, I was greeted and given a quick rundown of what to expect and was given a video to watch that gave thorough instructions for my float. Once I completed my registration forms and watching that video, I was shown to the Quiet Room. The Quiet Room is a place to relax for about 10 minutes before your float. There is a nice variety of tea to pick from and some interesting books you can read through, even a sketchbook if you feel like writing or drawing.
Then I was shown to my own private room for my float. As the excitement in me was overwhelming, I had to first take a quick shower to get any excess oil off my hair and skin. Before climbing into my pod, I put earplugs in to keep the salt water out of my ears. Then, stepping carefully into the tank, I lower myself to sit in the comfortably warm water. I didn’t feel like it was going to be possible to float – my butt was firmly placed as I sat there for a second, playing with the light and music buttons. However, as I slowly tilted back – bop! – I was completely and effortlessly floating.
As I lay floating, I couldn’t figure out what I was to do with my hands – arms to my side, arms across my stomach, arms above my head. I finally settled on my arms above my head and started listening to the soft rasp of my inhales and exhales. I played around with lights completely off and on, finally deciding to keep a faint light on since the endless black was a bit frightening. With my eyes closed, it felt as if I was drifting through space – nothingness around me, just the calm of my breathing.
At some point I must have fallen asleep or in that stage of drifting off, as I started having mini dreams and then I’d wake a bit and think. This went on for a while and I did eventually think they forgot about me and hours had passed. What must have been my last 10 minutes or so, I stretched and enjoyed playing around with the weightlessness.
The music and lights came back on, bringing me back to reality and signaling the end of my float session. I was so relaxed and energized, it was a bit sad that the experience was over. Climbing out and heading to my shower, I felt like my body was heavier than normal – probably from being weightless for so long. In contrast to my pre-shower, I relished in the hot water and enjoyed just feeling it wash over me.
Finally leaving my peaceful, private room, I head to the Vanity room to blow dry my hair, apply lotion and make myself presentable. Once done, I headed back to the Quiet Room to enjoy tea and some writing before heading back into the world.
After being so stressed about going, this was probably one of the most enjoyable self-care experiences. I am not one to go get nails done or a facial or massage but this! I would definitely do this again. It has now been five days since my float and I still feel more relaxed than I have ever been. I haven’t gotten a headache, I have zero back pain, and I feel like my mind is more clear, making my days easier. I will be going again and am excited for all the benefits I have already been able to see.