Ever heard of a sensory deprivation tank? Well, picture it: Sicily–or ya know, whatever town you live in. You’re suspended in a sea of nothingness. You can’t feel your body. There is no light, and there is no sound. There is only you…you and your thoughts.
Does that sound peaceful, or does it sound frightening? Does it sound like a scene from a movie set in outer space? Sure it does; all of the above, in fact. But what this image actually describes, is an experience designed to relieve you of stress.
A sensory deprivation tank (float pod, isolation tank) could be likened to a hot tub, but let me break down the differences. First of all, there is a door that closes you inside. The water heats up, but only to the point where it matches your body temperature (so that you feel nothing).
Also, the bubbles are nonexistent. There is no party here, no romantic rendezvous, and no drifting off into social media world on your waterproof phone, in it’s waterproof case.
That’s right, no nothin’.
Hundreds, sometimes thousands of pounds of Epsom salt fills the tank to keep your body afloat. Earplugs, often silicone, are provided to block out all sound, as well as to prevent the salt solution from filling your ears. An attendant directs you to a room where you will shower, and
enter the pod wearing nothing but the skin your mother birthed you in.
Swimwear is optional, but not recommended. The lights, generally LED, are dim enough for you to get into the pod and adjust, and then there is darkness. Some float spas fill the room with soft music for the first few minutes to encourage total relaxation. The music may resume in the last few minutes to indicate the end of your session.
Rumors float around (no pun intended, okay maybe there was some intention, but what are you, the pun police?) about the tank’s medicinal healing properties. Float therapy has been said to relieve muscle tension and joint pain, in addition to ailments such as hypertension. Epsom salt does have its own medicinal use, but there is no sufficient scientific evidence to otherwise support these claims. What you can likely count on, is an opportunity for some cool, super zen meditation time.
There are war stories out there of people freaking out in the beginning, panicking for fear of the unknown, and needing some time to adapt to the surroundings. The idea is that, on the other side of your adjustment period, there is a calming, intrinsic, perhaps even spiritual experience of mental wellness awaiting you. Relax, be free and let your mind drift.