Why I Am Obsessed (and you should be too) With Sensory Deprivation Float Therapy

[vc_row][vc_column][vc_column_text]My mind is buzzing excitedly as I drive to The Float Experience (a floatation therapy center in Temecula, CA). The notion of floating naked in an enclosed sensory deprivation float tank with a magical cocktail of 35% medical grade epsom salt to water has me feeling anxious. But the touted health benefits have me thinking it’ll be worth it. As a busy professional and mom, I’m always looking for ways to destress, but a part of me wonders –  what did I sign myself up for?

While sensory deprivation float therapy has been around since the 1950s, recently, float tank clinics have sprouted up in alternative wellness communities in Portland, Seattle and now the Southern Los Angeles area; and unlike some questionable alternative therapies (I mean, really, crystals?) numerous scientific studies support the health claims of float therapy. One such study published  by the Karlstad University in Sweeden, reported floating improved overall health by reducing the stress hormone cortisol, provided chronic pain relief and improved sleep quality.

At The Float Experience each enclosed float tank is filled ten inches deep with ninety-four degree Fahrenheit water and one thousand pounds of Epsom salt (for buoyancy). Sound and light are void inside the tank (aside from the little light users can turn off and on) and heated water blurs the line where water and air meet, permitting the body to divert large amounts of energy (usually spent towards regulating body temperature) towards immune and tissue repair. This combination creates a sensory experience void, of well, senses. No gravity, no touch, no sight or sound for ninety minutes – just pure relaxation.

sensory deprivation float therapy

After a brief chat with co-founder of The Float Experience, Matt Soper, on the health benefits, salt/water ratio, and how floating healed him physically and mentally, which you can read about here, I head to one of the three private rooms for my session.

Each room contains a float tank and shower; and provides all of the necessities for a comfortable experience – towels, robes, toiletries and ear plugs. I quickly shower, remove my contacts and head over to the tank. Pulling back the tank door I step into the water up to my knees and slowly sink back into the water. Hesitantly, I close the door behind me. A small light inside the tank is all that’s left to comfort me. A few seconds pass before I put all my faith into the mixture of epsom salt and water, lay back, and float. It takes a moment to adjust to the buoyancy, absence of gravity and feeling of nothingness.

The silky water lulls me into a relaxed stated and in a moment of courage, I reach up and turn off the float tank light embracing absolute darkness. I adjust my arms into a comfortable position, taking care not to splash any water on my face since the high salinity will burn if I get it in my eyes ( The Float Experience has thoughtfully provided a squirt bottle of sterile water to use for just this purpose on top of the tank). A thousand thoughts run through my mind and in an effort to drown out my internal chatter I focus on my breathing and count backwards from one hundred. Somewhere around twenty three I fall into a deep dreamless sleep.  

Soothing nature sounds bring me back to the present as I realize my session is over. I begrudgingly sit up and open the door; take a quick shower to rinse off the salt water; dress and head back to the reception area where Matt reminds me to drink lots of water, since the high salt concentration can act as a low detox.  

I seem to float through the rest of my day weightless mentally and physically. And I’m not sure if its due to disconnecting with the world and its stressors, or if they’ve added unicorn tears to the water, but the feeling that I can accomplish anything overcomes me. I fall asleep easily that night and dream of climbing mountains and shooting stars.

In a world full of sensory overload the chance for emotional, spiritual and physical synchrony is more than this busy professional and mom could have asked for. The Float Experience was ah-mazing and left me feeling as though I could run the world (or at least my household).

-by Becca Mendoza
Main image source: fleauxt
mage source: The Float Experience