What if I told you that you could experience deep relaxation by stepping into a metal tank or pod filled with salty water, closed the door behind you, and floating for an hour?
Well, what could easily sound like the setting from a scene in a horror movie surprisingly turned out to be something that is ripe with the potential for the ultimate experience in relaxation and meditation!
Sensory Deprivation/Isolation Tank- What Is It?
I originally heard about the isolation tanks after one of my friends tried it out and raved on and on about how awesome her experience was!
Now, I’m a person who loves all things connected to meditation and relaxation and I’m down to try out *almost* anything once but if we’re being honest here the thought of stepping into a metal tank filled with water and closing the door behind me only to float in complete darkness and silence is nerve wracking to say the least!
I’m not claustrophobic by ANY means but I can’t imagine that your heart doesn’t speed up even just a tiny bit at the thought of voluntary isolation in a metal boxed filled with water.
So what is it?
Depending on where you go it’s a closed space filled with roughly about 10 inches of Epsom salt rich water heated to 92-93 degrees (to match the average human body temperature) with minimum light and sound, if any. This is designed to minimize any external stimuli and distractions. Yup, just you and your thoughts!
My friend and I (yes, I only wanted to go if I could go with a friend! Safety in numbers! Okay, I’m being a little dramatic but still...) chose a location in Philadelphia that had the option to choose either a cabin, a pod, or the tank for our floatation experience. Each one had its own specific and special traits. For example, the cabin boasts high(er) ceilings with light and the option to leave the door open- a must for those who struggle with claustrophobia), the tank that has zero light and sound, and the pod which you allows you to leave the light on and float with music.
For me the obvious choice was the pod! How cool would it be to float in a sleek egg shaped spaced looking shuttle?! How very Lady Gaga!
For my experience I ended up running in late (Uber driver problems, lolz) so I was about 20 minutes late for my appointment however the girl manning the front desk was friendly, down to earth, and informative explaining the whole process in wonderful detail that was inviting and welcoming. She gave us both a complete tour of the place (we had the place pretty much reserved to just us for this night) and allowed us the option of choosing which method of floatation we wanted to experience (refer to the tank, cabin, and pod descriptions mentioned above).
I froze up even LOOKING at the tank.
I mean, I really FROZE up!
I didn’t even want to ENTER the room but apparently a lot of floaters (Ha! That’s the name I’ve giving to people who float on a regular basis!) prefer the tank simply because of how awesome it is at cancelling outside noise, light, and distraction.
My friend chose the cabin and I went with the pod (to satisfy my inner Lady Gaga)!
Each of the rooms came with private stone lined open door showers with body wash, shampoo, and conditioner. You’re supposed to shower with the body wash thoroughly first to rinse off any lingering body oils and moisturizer, make up, and dirt and then thoroughly shampoo your hair. If you don’t want to get your hair wet for whatever reason (understandable! Salt water can be supremely drying on hair!) you are asked to bring your own swim cap.
Next, you put on the ear plugs that they provide to protect your ears and also for noise cancellation.
You have the option to strip down completely (cue nakedness!) or wear a bathing suit. The rooms are 100% private and comfortably warm so I went in naked to minimize the irritation and distraction of adjusting my bikini straps or anything else that would take my mind away from getting the full sensory deprivation experience. For the sake of keeping my blog PG-13 (for the most part) I took my photos with my bikini on for obvious reasons (oh, hey internet trolls and creepers!) ;)
We booked our rooms for a total of 90 minutes. For the first 20 minutes I spent capturing photos and videos so that I could share with you all here (you’re welcome! Haha)! After that, I stripped down completely and entered into my private pod surprised at how quickly my body adjusted and was ready to float! If you have issues with swimming or floating be advised that you should have zero trouble in this environment! The water is so densely packed with Epsom salts that as soon as you lay back you will feel your body being gently lifted. Allow yourself the beauty of letting go of any fear or resistance. Even if nervous or tense you will guided to let go, which is a wonderful experience!
The first 20 minutes I found my mind thinking the most random thoughts (how much time do I have left? What is Jasmin (my friend in the other room) doing? What if I lose a contact lense? Should I take my contacts out? Will I recommend this to a friend? Am I okay?). These thoughts are 100% normal and happen during meditation in general. Simply acknowledging your thoughts and letting them pass with the intention of focusing on breathing/the meditation experience will allow you to maneuver around and quiet any of those racing thoughts. (See my quick and easy guided to meditation here). I was given a small pool noodle to keep with me while I floated which I kept under my neck in the beginning to keep my head extra lifted up. More than half way into my meditation I felt that the pool noodle was distracting and removed it from the pod so I could further dive deeper into my meditation and relaxation. The deeper into my relaxation I went, I felt my body naturally turning to the side wanting to rest in the fetal position- so I reached back for my pool noodle to keep the half of my face up and out of the water. I have to say, that was my favorite part and I found that position supremely nurturing, relaxing, and healing for my body to experience.
I meditate daily but in this new environment (and the excitement over the fact that I was floating in this cool pod!) it took me about 20 minutes to completely clear my mind, which frustrated me because normally that is something that comes so easily to me! Cut yourself some slack if it takes you a little while to initially warm up to the new surroundings and completely relax- mind and body. This is all normal!
About 45 minutes into my relaxation and floatation I decided that I was comfortable enough to click the light off and floated in complete darkness with the lid closed. At first while my eyes adjusted to the darkness it looked and felt like I was suspended in the womb and I found that super comforting however once my eyes had completely acclimated and I allowed myself to fall further into my relaxation I felt a disconnect from my body that made me uncomfortable... at least for my first experience within the isolation tank. I quickly and easily found the light and clicked it back on and lifted the lid to allow fresh air to come in while my mind and body could settle again. This is something that I realized I would like to address and focus on within my meditation as a whole- my personal fear of completely letting go of control. To experience that within the tank was a bit nerve wracking but I love the chance to self explore and heal and the tank gave me that experience to observe how I instinctively react to letting go of my need to control, especially in a place that is safe and so well protective of me and my body.
After my time was up, the music in the pod turned off and a soft automated voice informed me that my time within the isolation tank was over. "Coming back" was easy and effortless and I stepped out of the pod and into the shower to rinse the salt and any remaining stress I was carrying off of my body!
The overall experience was effortlessly easy and relaxing but there are a few things I would recommend before you show up:
- COVER ANY CUTS WITH VASELINE before you step in to float in the water! This prevents stinging that can happen when salt water enters any type of cut or wounded space on the body! I learned this the hard way when my cat decided to scratch my arm a few days before my floatation appointment!
- THOROUGHLY RINSE AND SHOWER! Again, I learned this the hard way! I thought I had done a good job in rinsing the water off however on the way home as the water continued to evaporate my feet and toes were covered in salt powder! Not cute!
- BRING YOUR FAVORITE MOISTURIZER with you to follow after your shower. Here again I learned this too the hard way however my friend Jasmin was prepared and brought with her her almost empty jar of the BehatiLife "The Empress" all natural body butter! She was generous and shared a bit with me ("normal" lotion to me is just awful for the skin!)
- FLOAT NAKED! Straps and bathing trunks are a definite distraction and the last thing you want is to have your meditation and relaxation interrupted by irritating bathing suits! The room is private and it is safe for you to get fully undressed! GO NAKED! Your body is beautiful!
- GO IN WITH AN AGENDA! My only regret was that I didn't have a plan for what I wanted to DO with my meditation! Did I want to use this time to see if anything came to my intuitively? Did I want to focus on chakra healing? Did I just want to enjoy my experience and relax? I recommended setting an intention for the time and space and determine what you want to get out of it before your time is up :)
Yes, totally! My greatest fear was that I would feel claustrophobic during my experience. The isolation tank itself is a bit intimidating for me but something that I would be willing to try in the future. I loved the modern feel of the pod and even would come back just for the enjoyment of floating within such a really cool space!
The location we visited was called Floatation Philly at 534 E. Girard Ave, phone number: 609-923-1913. I would call them beforehand because at the time of this blog posting their hours were not updated on the website or on Yelp and you may be missing awesome time slots available later on in the evening!
Service was excellent and the space felt clean and comfortable and was easy to get to by Uber, public transportation, or driving with easy to find street parking!
HAPPY FLOATING! :)
Questions, comments, want to work with Jessica one on one? Email BehatiLife@gmail.com