By Sarah Guidon
Recently I had the opportunity to try out a floatation tank, (also known as a sensory deprivation tank, or isolation tank) at Equilibrium Float Center, located in midtown on Seabright Avenue. “Floatation R.E.S.T.” (Restricted Environmental Stimulation Therapy) or “Floating,” is a way to induce deep rest and rejuvenation. The large float rooms are insulated against light & sound, with a shallow solution of Epsom salt and warm water that allows you to lie comfortably supported on the surface. Floating removes any possible stimuli that makes your body “work” — thus inducing dopamine and all the feel-good chemicals, while lowering the bad ones, like cortisol. One hour of floating is said to equal 4 hours of sleep!
Brenda was super kind and enthusiastically explained what floating is, how it benefits you, and thoroughly explained the process I would be going through. I had no idea how high-tech the rooms would be! Everything is temperature and humidity-controlled and kept sterile, and the room is equipped with everything you need — a robe, a shower, plenty of towels, earplugs, and more. I was surprised at how spa-like the whole experience was — it’s definitely not the scary experience some might expect.
I rinsed off in the shower, and got in the tank, which is the size of a small room. Your session begins with soft music and the chamber is lit with blue light, which slowly fades to darkness and quiet. There is a button on the side so you can turn the light back on any time you want.
The first thing I noticed (besides how cool it was to be floating) was how nice it is to have a neutral spine! As someone who works at a computer, having a neutral spine with the effortless support of the salt water felt so great! The second thing I noticed was how much tension I held in my body. Once you’re floating, your body really does begin to relax almost immediately, so it’s easy to notice if you are tensing your neck or your face, which I often do. The water was supporting me so fully, that I was able to let go of the tension and surrender to it — and that’s when I began to enter the deeply relaxed state that Brenda told me about.
As I slipped deeper into relaxation, I sort of felt like an alien specimen floating in a jar — disconnected from my body in the best way possible. Your body really isn’t working at all! It is an amniotic feeling, the air and the water being the same temperature as you. Then after awhile I felt very connected to my body in the best way possible. Maybe it was the rise of the feel-good chemicals they were talking about, but it was a type of sensory contentment that I had not felt before!
The blue light gently arrives. I get out and wash my hair in the shower, get dressed, and go meet Brenda in the front feeling light as a feather! I told her about my odyssey, and she told me that every session will be different, making me eager to try it again.
I gotta say, this was a really cool experience. As someone who used to get anxiety when I was younger, especially in claustrophobic situations, I can honestly say that I did not once feel any type of stress.
Any of my slight concerns upon going in turned out to not be a concern at all. What if my mind doesn’t shut off, and I’m just sitting there for an hour thinking about my to-do list, stressed because I’m supposed to relax? Impossible, your body feels too good for your mind to run wild for too long! What if I get water in my ears? Also not a concern — I didn’t even need to use the earplugs they provided. What if I start to feel too hot, or dehydrated? Out of all my concerns, this was the most likely one for me I thought. I’m not good with heat. But this wasn’t a problem, the temperature feels so neutral the whole time.
Okay, and the big one that many people probably wonder about — what if I feel trapped or claustrophobic? Nope, your parasympathetic nervous system is activated because your body isn’t working to process anything, thus freeing you of your normal anxieties. It’s hard to feel claustrophobic when you have that sleepy comfortable feeling of just dozing off. Plus the chambers are pretty huge!
I noticed on the drive home how relaxed I felt, like I had just gotten a massage. It took me a moment to figure out the other thing I was feeling, which was RESTED! What a foreign feeling. I honestly expected it to be a cool experience during the float, but then go home and forget it happened — I’m a very high-strung person. But I was pleasantly surprised that I really did feel rejuvenated and relaxed the whole day!
If you’ve ever wanted to try floating, Equilibrium provides such an amazing experience. Come visit them at the Big Eastside Block Party on Friday, 8/30 at Pono Kitchen and Tap! Equilibrium will be there providing information, hosting a raffle, AND they will be giving out discount cards! Don’t miss out, RSVP today!