Scary Flotation Tank Experience
What is it?In a floating tank, there's absolute sensory deprivation. That means your senses do not receive input from the external environment. To achieve sensory deprivation, you put ear plugs in, turn off the lights, and float on a "bed / pod" of super salty water that's been warmed up to the same temperature as your skin in the privacy of an entire room. And as you lie there in pitch black darkness (some floating tanks are darker than others) it is suppose to help you relax, become aware of your body, and get your creative juices flowing, or so many have claimed.
I've been meditating since I was about 18. However, over the years I have failed to keep a consistent practice (probably to my detriment). But both my husband and I expressed an interest in trying it out after hearing Joe Rogan rave about it all the time in his podcast.
I was super excited about trying it out.
The First Time
The first time we floated was scary to me. We went to a cute spa located in Hillcrest while staying in San Diego. The flotation tank itself looked like an oversized scientific oven or a metallic bread box with a heavy lid that opens outwards. The tank was in a small private room and came lined with black plastic. Inside it was pitch black.
At this point, I should probably disclose I am claustrophobic and I did a stupid thing prior to my first float.
Prior to floating, my husband and I did the infrared sauna which was great but my reading selection was less than optimal. In fact, it ruined my entire experience. I grabbed a book off the shelf and read about astral projections. Yup, you read right. Astral projections. I opened the book somewhere in the middle and proceeded to read about the need protect your body from "monsters" while your spirit wanders. That's probably some super woo-woo stuff to you but it left a powerful impression on my psyche. I was unsettled.
When you have an impressionable mind being in a pitch black box is scary. What if creepy monsters pop out of nowhere? Can anyone even hear you? Did I lock the room door? How can I be rescued (from my overactive imagination)?
During the whole time I kept popping in and out of the bread box...flotation tank I mean. Sometimes I would leave the tank's lid open and when I noticed the light sensor turned off the lights I waived my hands in the air to get them to turn on again (I made sure to turn my body around). To make matters even more comical, I frequently got some of the supremely salty water into my eyes which required I leave the tank to grab a towel and go wash my eyes with fresh water (thankfully they had a bottle with fresh water for your eyes specifically for this reason).
Towards the end, I finally settled down closed the lid and relaxed for what I imagine was 10 minutes. I could hear everything from new customers inquiring about an appointment to the sound of the pump. How did I feel? Was it truly a sensory deprivation experience? I couldn't tell. Sure I was floating in 6 or 8 inches of super salty water that felt very slimy but all I could do was worry about the scary thoughts in my head as I imagined I laid in a coffin.
After what I imagine was ages, I was done (early).
I got out. Showered and changed and went to wait for my husband in the waiting area. My husband would later remark he heard all this noise (flotation tank door slamming and constant movement) while he was floating and wondered what that was all about (I guiltily admitted it was me) but unlike me, he absolutely loved it.
The Second Time
You know what they say? You need to try things at least twice before you rule them out! We decided to do the floating experience again nearer to home.
We went to a health center with two floating tanks in Palm Desert. This time the flotation tanks were more friendly. They looked like giant white plastic oysters. The lid opened up and the flotation tank room was large and spacious, unlike the previous room which was smallish and cozy.
Guess what? I loved floating!
I was able to float for the entire 60 minutes and the hour drifted in a snap. I felt at ease and was able to feel pressure points in my body where I carry stress. I let my mind wonder. It had been a terrible day in the stock market (a scary slide at the end of the day makes investors panic the next day) and I was worried. Inside the pod, it was not pitch black. But I turned off the lights, closed my eyes and laid back. It was great! I was considering possibilities I never thought of before and felt completely at ease in my body. Maybe it was the friendly clam that did not put me off, or the fact that I had more real concerns to worry about but I enjoyed it.
The effects were not long lasting however. Once done, reality kicked in.
Would I Recommend this Experience?I would definitely recommend this experience. You are forced to confront your body aches, thoughts and sometimes that is a wonderful thing, or not. Like me, you'll probably have to go more than once to find out whether this experience is right for you.
Have you ever been floating before? How did it go? Let me know in the comments below.