For a full detail of the concept of “floating”, along with its origins dating back to John C. Lilly, check out FlotationLocations.com. Here is the quick breakdown of Sensory Deprivation (“floating”).
– An enclosed tank: oversized tub room, pod, or chamber
– 10 to 12 inches of water, loaded with approximately 800-1000lbs of Epsom Salt (magnesium sulfate), temperature-regulated to match your natural skin temperature
– Minimal to zero light inside the tank
Together, this combination allows you to lay completely flat in the water, with your body forced to float. The earplugs, combined with your ears being underwater (while your face remains above water), eliminates sound. There is little to no light, and if there is minimal light, closing your eyes competely blocks that out. The temperature-matched water makes you lose track of where your skin ends and where the water begins.
This brings me to my first floating experience, as done at the Spa at Briarcliff in Kansas City. Before I get to the float itself, allow me to share what they offer as a complimentary service with your float purchase. They have a room known as the European Bath Ritual, which has three different jacuzzi pools set to different temperatures (90°, 100°, & 104° respectively), each with its own individual waterfall. Jets and waterfull for each pool can be turned on and off whenever. During my one hour in the EBR, I rotated amongst each of the three pools, and utilized the waterfall on the warmest of the three. The water cascaded down onto my shoulders like a super-sized pulsating hand-held shower massage, gradually numbing my body leaving me extremely relaxed. I made sure to finish my time in the 90° pool, as it was closest in temperature to what I would be entering in the float tank.
Now, to the isolation float. Their setup is essentially a chamber: an oversized round tub, fully enclosed, I’m guessing about a 3.5-4ft radius (7-8 feet from side to side) with a ceiling high enough for you to completely walk into. The only light inside the tank is a single, soft, colored bulb that allows you just enough light to see what you might need. These needs might be the inflatable neck wrap that some people choose to use to keep their head out of the water during their float, or the supplied spray bottle of plain water (do NOT try to take care of an itch by rubbing your eyes when your hands have been in high-concentrate salt water).
I was introduced to the setup by their staff, and told that after my 1-hour time was up, they would come in and knock on the side of the tank to let me know. After they left and the door to the tank room was closed, I forced myself to disrobe (note: their supplied robes are VERY comfortable), cut out the lights (save for the single bulb inside the tank), stepped inside, and closed the chamber doors. I took a moment to acclimate myself to the environment, lowered myself down to the water, and eventually laid back and allowed the water to lift and hold me. It takes a bit for you to figure out what feels right – in my case, where my arms should be. I ended up just outstretching them to each side, and the water holds them there. As I was suspended by the water, I could immediately feel relaxation and relief. Because of the buoyancy, your body is literally having to use zero muscle activity, and is allowed to be at rest.
As I became more and more relaxed, I closed my eyes. Almost involuntarily – it just seemed to come naturally. Having my ears under the water with the earplugs in, it eliminated nearly all sound. Every once in a great while, I could hear if someone bumped up against the wall in the hallway outside the tank room. With no sight, no sound, and no touch, I became overwhelmed with the sense of… well, nothing. I lost track of my surroundings, having that only interrupted on a couple of occasions when I’d float close enough to one edge of the tank and would feel the side touch up against my hand, head, or feet. It was just my body and my mind – nothing else existed. At some point during the float, I slipped away and fell asleep. How many times, I won’t ever know. The only I thing I know is that I was told by the staff that it took several knocks on the side of the tank to get an audible response from me.
After regaining my senses, and slowly getting back up to my feet, I stepped out of the chamber and over into the in-room shower to wash all of the salt water off of me and out of my hair. To say that I felt like a million bucks afterwards might sound overstated, but I can’t really describe it any better. With all due respect to anyone who’s known me in that way, the post-float euphoria is better than sex. My mind and body both felt alive, rejuvinated, and carefree.
This is something I most definitely plan to do again – not only at the Spa at Briarcliff, but also at a new facility opening soon in the Kansas City area, as well as one in St. Louis with whom I have already been in touch for a future visit.