Flotation tank: tune out the world

Flotation tank: tune out the world

Have you ever heard of sensory deprivation tanks or flotation tanks? I went to my first session via a Groupon deal (check your area… you may find a good price) more than a year ago. I’ve been back twice since.  The concept behind these tanks is that you experience “Restricted Environmental Stimulation Therapy,” also known as R.E.S.T. Therapy. Basically, you tune out all the computer and TV screens, vehicle noises, and screaming children for about an hour. You get to hear nothing and see nothing. Oh, and you get to feel basically nothing. (It’s not as scary as it sounds.) The result? Research seems to point to benefits related to stress management, addiction issues, chronic pain, mental acuity and beyond. To put it simply: if you give your brain time to REALLY tune out, you may just feel better… kind of like meditation.

IMG_5848You come into a private room, undress, shower, put earplugs in and climb into the tank. The location I went to (Awaken to Wellness in St. Paul, MN) has two sizes: an almost room-sized tank and a small tank. I’ve tried both. If you’re claustrophobic, perhaps the larger one would be better. On the other hand, the smaller one keeps you more contained and less likely to float around aimlessly. You walk in, close the top or door and lie down in a pool of water that is supersaturated with Epsom salt. (Don’t worry. It’s extremely clean: filtered several times, ultraviolet light sterilization, yada yada and so on.) Then the lights slowly go off and any music that is playing also turns off. (If you do not want the lights off, you can keep them on… but it pretty much defeats the whole purpose.) If things go well, you end up feeling like you’re floating in space. Eventually, your body stops moving and settles in one spot. Your skin adjusts to the salty water (you’ll quickly learn whether or not you have any tiny open wounds). And then you just float.

Everyone’s experience will be different. During my first session, I went into a deep dream state and hallucinated a little. It was wonderful. The second time my mind just kind of wandered for an hour and I relaxed. My mom tried it out and said, “it was okay.” My sister dealt with some motion sickness issues. Everyone will have a different experience. Set your expectations low and think of it as  “something different to try.” It’s like getting to experience the Dead Sea in your hometown.


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