Float Therapy – Part 1

Float Therapy has become a popular trend in the wellness industry.  More accurately it’s an old therapy repackaged to appeal to a broader audience.  Created in the 50’s, it has only recently become mainstream.  Up until this point it’s been a purview for scientists and Hollywood.  Fringe fans will remember Dr. Walter Bishop disappearing into a large industrial tank to solve the team’s problems.  More recently, a homemade sensory deprivation pool played a key role in the plot of Stranger Things.  If you decide to try float therapy, neither of these two representations will prepare you for the experience.  I expect you’ll find it to be more like a visit to a spa, in fact depending on where you go, it may very well be a spa that has added to the services they offer.

The “float pod” has evolved in the last 70 years.  They are no longer small boxes that remind you of coffins that a large part of the population would avoid.  Each float pod is in a private room that also includes a shower.  Before entering into the pod they request that you rinse off – this is to remove lotions or other oils.  The pod sits open in the room, it has a hatch door which is fairly easy to open and close.  Inside the pod, underwater, is a light that glows softly and cycles through different colors, red, blue, and green.

You have the options of floating in a bathing suit or nude.  It’s whatever you are most comfortable with.  In terms of relaxation, no clothing means fewer stimuli during your experience.  However, if by removing your clothes you’re going to obsess about what would happen if the building caught on fire, keep them on.  I quickly stripped and rinsed off in the hot shower.  Then I inserted the earplugs they provided.  As I climbed into the pod, I stepped into 10 inches of water and piles of salt that squished between my toes.  It was similar to walking along the beach barefoot, only the water was warm and there were no surprise shells to cause discomfort.

I moved further into the pod and rotated so I was looking out and my head was by the controls for the intercom, lights, and radio.  The intercom allows you to communicate with the staff should you find yourself experiencing any issues.  The lights are also under your control.  I pulled the hatch door shut and laid back to float effortlessly on the water.

After a moment of floating I became aware of my ears.  I found myself obsessing for a moment on whether I had a good seal on the ear plugs.  I did, but having my ears plugged was a very foreign feeling and it took time for me to adjust.  I laid in the pod and tried to get comfortable, moving my arms above my head, to my sides, one arm up with the other at my side, only to end up in the position I started in.  The pods aren’t small. They are approximately 7 ft. long by 5 ft. wide and although you can’t stand up straight in them, you can certainly sit up with no problems.  I kept bumping into the side of the pod, but this was only when I was moving frequently.

Once comfortable I began to drift and realized that I wanted complete darkness.  I turned off the lights and focused on my breathing.  I’m not sure how long I stayed like this; it’s difficult to track time within the pod.  I will say that if you turn off the light, darkness is complete.  The private rooms have motion detector lights so there isn’t any light entering through the seams of the pod.  I had a difficult time finding the light button once off.  Using my sense of touch I found and opened the pod door and the room light came on which allowed me to turn the light inside the pod back on.  I then studied the interior of the pod a little better, however if you turn out the light, be prepared to have to search in the dark for the button…or door.

With the light back on I settled back into my float and lost track of my body.  Then I became so excited that I found it again.  Seriously.  For a moment I was just consciousness floating and it was exhilarating, but by being aware that it had happened it also triggered my sense of body.  Soon after that occurred the music came back on letting me know that I had five minutes until my session was over.

What do I think about float therapy?  I bought a membership.  I currently have three floats credited to my account.   Time does not appear to function the same in the pods.  In addition to losing your sense of body, you also lose sense of time.  I meditate regularly and experience this feeling then as well.  You may find yourself coming back to your body wondering what did you think about… it’s like you took a vacation from your brain and body.

I definitely recommend it to all my family and friends as a way to unplug and spend time in self-care.  If you’re looking for some peace, this is it.  For an hour the only thing you have to do is relax.  You don’t have to take care of anyone; you don’t even have to listen to anyone.  In addition, there are healing properties associated with it.  There is science that shows how our brains enter into a different state during sensory deprivation experiences.  It’s more of the mind and body medicine that we are discovering that can heal us, if we let it.

I am looking forward to my next float and you can expect further feedback on the process as I continue with this therapy.  I’m excited to report that this will by my first series of blog posts as I explore the benefits of float therapy.  I welcome any comments or questions in regards to my experiences and if I don’t have the answers now, I’ll be sure to have them for my next installment on Float Therapy in early June.

Note:  A quick internet search of Float Therapy will provide you with locations near you.  I have a membership at True Rest Float Spa.  They have a number of locations.  You can visit their website here:  https://www.truerest.com/

I’d also recommend doing a Groupon search to see if there are any facilities local to you offering discounted pricing.  True Rest does currently have a Groupon where your first float is half off!!

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