After posting on my insta-blog last week, “When was the LAST time, you tried something for the FIRST time?”, you could say I motivated myself to finally book an appointment at, Float Toronto, (something I have been wanting to try for months). The next day, I was fortunate enough to spend my Thanksgiving Monday morning in a sensory deprivation float tank! So what is a float tank exactly? Maybe you saw it on an episode of The Simpsons. A float tank, also known today as sensory deprivation, Restricted Environmental Stimulation Therapy (R.E.S.T), flotation therapy, or floating, involves lying in a, body temperature, Epson salt, water solution, in an enclosed spacious tank (900 pounds of dissolved Epson salts in 10 inches of water to be exact at Float Toronto). The salt water solution is what causes you to literally float on top of the water. The tank is sound proof, once you close the door there is no light, and as you float weightlessly, without gravity holding you to anything, you literally are deprived of your senses.
Floating serves as an effective means of stress relief and relaxation and is the perfect place to meditate, escape from the everyday reality and get some serious alone time. There are many more known benefits for floating. As well as reducing stress and anxiety, it can also relieve pain and inflammation, alleviate migraines, strengthen the immune system, actively promote creativity by stimulating the right side of the brain, and renew your skin and hair, (just to name a few).
It was almost like going to a spa. The room also included a private shower for your pre and post float bath, and the purple up-lighting set the mood for relaxation. The water inside the tank was body temperature which made getting in comfortable and eventually you can’t even really feel it on your skin. When I closed the door and lay down inside, I was expecting to be fully submerged but that was not really the case. With all the Epson salts, your body is so buoyant you’re floating on top of the water. The feeling of complete weightlessness and absence of gravity was very soothing. (I would recommend using the ear plugs they provide as most times my ears were below the water level.) I also opted to go with the intro music, to help ease me into my first float, which was 10-15 minutes of calm soothing sounds, similar to the alpha, beta, gamma waves we listen to during meditation classes.
I took a few deep breaths and tried to get myself into a meditative state. I had a difficult time letting the millions of thought racing through my mind come and go. I tried applying some breathing techniques I have learned in my meditation teacher training course, tried visualizing my thoughts coming and going, tried counting my breaths, but nothing seemed to work. It got even harder after the music stopped and I was stuck alone with my thoughts in silence. I eventually gave up and decided to let my million thoughts race on and that is when I was finally able to let it all go and I became present. Once I stopped trying so hard I was able to relax, let my thoughts float away and was completely able to really enjoy the second half of my session.
I’ll admit I was initially worried about feeling claustrophobic once I closed the door to the tank, but that was not an issue at all, it was actually quite to the contrary. Once I became present and was floating comfortably on top of the water I actually felt as if I was floating in a expansive, endless space of the universe. I felt as if I was an astronaut floating through the limitless infinity of outer space (kind of like George Clooney in the Movie Gravity). I became more and more aware that I was truly alone in the tank. I tried holding my hands up infront of my face thinking I might be able to at lease see their outline, but I could not (obviously it was pitch dark) but what I did have a definite cognizance of was the feeling in the weight of holding up my arms. After being completely weightless and feeling like I was floating around the stars in the universe sans gravity, it took some real effort to raise my arms up. Without sounds or sights to cause any distraction it truly is a magical place to meditate. For me it took meditation to another level and it is definitely something I cannot wait to do again. I had mini revelations regarding certain people in my life.
There have been many reports of a heightened sense of introspection, out-of-body experiences and hallucinations by floaters similar to those of people with extensive experience in meditation (watch the video below for a bit of a description on this). Sadly I did not experience any of these things in my first float, although at one point as I felt I was floating in outter space I did imagine billions of luminous ball of gas, all around me. Also at one point I reached my arms out and one hand over the other pulled on an imaginary rope (again like Geroge in Gravity) and actually felt like I was pulling myself across space…. so maybe I did go on a bit of a trip. Either way I cannot wait for my next float. It felt like it ended way too soon, maybe because it took me so long to “get there”. Maybe next time I will go for the end of day 2 hour session.
Something I loved about Float Toronto was the post-float lounge area up front. They have couches with books about floating, mandala coloring books, pencil crayons, and notebooks for you to write your experience in, or read the experiences and words from others who floated before you. It was a super nice way to unwind. I was also a BIG FAN of Float Toronto’s introductory package, which includes 3 floats for less than the price of 2! They give you the choice to opt in for the introductory package AFTER your first session, so you don’t have to commit until you know for sure that you want to go again!
I highly recommend floating to everyone not just for the benefits listed above, but also as an alternative way of meditation which I am a big advocate of. You never know what answers or revelations you might receive inside the tank! See below for a very brief history on the conception of the sensory deprivation tank and if you needed anymore convincing watch the 5 mintue video from comedian, Joe Rogan, who is a huge advocate of floating.
peace & namaste, irie soul. Xx
1159 Queen Street West
Toronto, ON M6J 1J4
A BRIEF HISTORY ON FLOATING: Neuroscientist, John C Lilly, initially invented what were then referred to as isolation tanks in, 1954, to study the effects of sensory deprivation to see would happen if the mind was deprived of as much external stimulus as possible. Lilly, was a pioneer in the field of electronic brain stimulation. He was the first to map pain and pleasure pathways in the brain and is also known for his study into inter-species communication (particularly with dolphins) and studied psychedelics, particularly LSD.