Do you enjoy taking baths, after a long day or a long week?
Have you added a cup of epsom salts into the bath to help release lactic acid after a strenuous workout? What happens when 1000 pound of epsom salt is added to a tank of water?
Have you ever heard of Sensory Deprivation Tanks or Float Tanks!?! I found out about them a few years ago from a friend and have been curious about them ever since. However, at that time, the cost of a one-hour session was pretty pricey (in my mind) – approx. $100 CAD. So I waited. While I was roaming the world in 2014, a couple of places opened in Toronto and made it more affordable. One of them being Float Toronto. Late in December, I took the plunge…
The sensory deprivation tank is a fully enclosed chamber filled to about 11″ deep and contain about 1000 pound of dissolved epsom salt. This allows a person to float with no distraction. No light. No sound. No scent. No nothing. The water and air temperature is set to about 34 degree Celsius, such that it is not noticeable where the air stop and the water touches the skin.
Yes, claustrophobia comes to mind. Fear of drowning also comes to mind – for me. However, it’s hard to drown when the water makes one float – effortlessly. But when all the sights, sounds, touch disappears – ALL the thoughts that are usually in the background comes into the foreground.
My first float experience was interesting. The staff walked me through the procedures after showing me my private room for the next hour which comes with its own shower facility. The shower prior to the float session ensures that my skin and hair is void of all products and dirt from the outside world. Don’t want to contaminate that tank of salt water!
They also provide petroleum jelly to close up open wounds and different types of ear plugs, if I didn’t want water in my ears.
After the float, another shower is necessary to wash off all the salt that’s on my skin and hair. What is interesting is that they provide apple cider vinegar as a wash for the ear canal! I do not want to imagine the pain of epsom salt stuck inside my ears!
Outside in the common area is a great assortment of environmentally friendly products to make me presentable after the experience.
So what happened during the float?!?!
I essentially had a roller coaster of experience inside the tank. I did not mind the silence nor the darkness. Though with the warm air and need to float – I felt my neck and shoulders tense up within a short period of time. Actually the staff had said this could be a problem, so I grabbed the float tube as provided to use as a head/neck rest. I tried my best to relax, tried different positions to rest my hand and arm.
I had no idea it would be so challenging. I kept fidgeting. However, when I fidget, the water moved then I felt like my whole body was turning inside the tank. I had to then extend my limbs, touch the walls and ground myself, calm myself.
Mostly, it was all in my head – stemming from my fear of drowning. What’s odd is that I was able to relax and lengthen my breath but I couldn’t relax my neck. Then the warmth of the air actually bothered me. I ended up leaving the door of the tank open for half the session.
Perhaps for the last 15 minutes, I finally found my zone. Eyes closed. Cooler air to breathe. Neck supported. I was able to tilt my head back and relax. It was a soothing meditative state while afloat. Quite interesting actually.
After the first session, I promised myself to return and give this a second try…
As a comparison, back in October 2014, I was very fortunate and found myself floating in the Dead Sea, along the coast of Israel. Let’s say it was quite the experience. I was at a private beach with a very shallow coastline. I walked in and easily floated, though there was a rhythmic wave that bobbed me up and down.
At times, that rhythmic wave and my attempt to reposition myself would cause water to splash. I tried to not get water into my mouth nor my eyes. However, I wasn’t very successful. Meanwhile, another tourist from Peru somehow had fallen face first into the Dead Sea – big splash. He was in great physical pain as the salt water burned his eyes, sinuses, ear canals and throat. I could only imagine how much pain he experienced. I teared up and felt the burning pain when a drop of water was splashed into my right eye. He stood under the outdoor shower for quite a while but he was quite the sport and smiled through the pain.
The 2 floating experience was very, very different. I can see they each have their respective therapeutic effects. Both offer positive physical experiences. The different composition of the salts leaves my skin differently, of course. I do prefer the touch of my skin after floating in the Dead Sea more though. However, my hair cannot say the same from either experiences – lots of hair conditioner was needed!
Mentally, looking at the ever changing clouds over the Dead Sea and listening to the chatter from other tourists was definitely a huge contrast to my experience inside the sensory deprivation tank. I hope I can attain the highly rejuvenative meditative state which my friend has experienced.
If at all possible, I would like to return to the Dead Sea, find an isolated spot and have the pleasure to enjoy nature in silence.