A few months ago I heard about a new business opening up where I live that offered floating. Basically, you are given a private room that has a large chamber filled with water that’s heated to about 94 degrees. The water is only about a foot deep, but its super-saturated with 1000 pounds of Epsom salts. This makes the water so dense that you’re able to float effortlessly on the surface of the water. The chambers usually have music and underwater LED lights, but you have the option to turn both of them off for a true sensory deprivation experience.
Once I got inside the chamber and closed the door, I laid back and found that I was indeed able to float without any effort. Most of my body was just barely submerged, but part of my chest and of course my face were slightly above the surface of the water, so you don’t have to worry about how you’re going to breathe. In fact I tried to push my legs down into the water a little more to see how much effort it would take, but the water is so dense they just popped right back up.
Once I tuned the lights and sound off, I let my arms, legs and neck find a neutral buoyant state where I couldn’t feel any muscle tension at all, and then I just closed my eyes and enjoyed the zero gravity experience. I’ve never been in space, but I have to say, I felt like I was completely weightless, and because the water and air are the same temperature as your skin, you can’t even feel your own body. It was a really interesting sensation, or lack thereof. The chamber is completely soundproof, so the only thing I could hear other than my breathing was my heartbeat. The chamber is also large enough that you can completely stretch out without touching the sides, but because you’re in the dark, you lose all sense of orientation. After my hour was up and the lights came back on, I was surprised to find that I was facing a completely different direction from when I got in. I had no idea that I had turned around in there. I was also amazed at how heavy my body felt when I stood up to get out of the water. It really makes you appreciate that weightless environment even more. Once you come out, a quick shower to rinse off the Epsom salts, get dressed again and you’re good to go.
Why would one do this, you may ask? Some people do it for meditative reasons similar to yoga or other deep relaxation techniques. Others just like to immerse themselves in the quiet solitude. I can understand that. I work in a loud environment all week, so I can see the benefits of floating in a dark, soundproof room as a way to unwind or decompress.
For me though, the main reason I wanted to try it is because I had heard that floating in a weightless environment could help relieve muscle tension and joint pain. Years of running and hiking have left me with some bad joints, as well as lower back discomfort, so I wanted to see if floating would do me any good there. To my surprise, an hour-long session really did make me feel a lot better. Even when you’re lying in a bed, your body is still under some degree of tension. When you’re floating though, you feel completely weightless, so it really helps take the pressure off your muscles and joints. My back felt perfectly normal for the first time in years, at least for a while.
Would I do it again? I’d do it every week if I could, but it can be a little pricy, so maybe every couple months instead, although you can usually buy memberships that bring the price down. Most floating establishments also give you a choice as far as the length of your session. I did 60 minutes the first time to see if I’d like it or not, but you can usually opt for 90 or 120 minutes as well. I definitely want to go longer next time. I’ve also heard that it can take several sessions before you really start to enjoy all the benefits of the floating experience.
Floating isn’t a cure-all, and it probably won’t let you have some wild ‘out of body’ experience as a result of the sensory deprivation, however for me it was certainly a unique and very relaxing way to spend a Saturday afternoon, and it definitely made my back feel a lot better. I’m curious if anyone else here has tried it? If so, what did you think, and what was your experience like? Feel free to post about it below. If anyone wants a little more information about it, just look up ‘float therapy’ on Youtube, there’s tons of videos about it.
The box said "Requires Windows XP or better", so I bought a Mac.