We live in an environment of endless distractions. Whether you realize it or not, our bodies have never experienced actual nothingness. Sure, we can get close to this feeling by sleeping or meditating, but even those can get interrupted.
I often struggle to find ways to shut my brain off, and if you’re anything like me, you know the struggle is real. Until recently it never occurred to me that there was only one way my mind and body were going to relax. I was going to have to force it.
Knowing me like the back of her hand, my wife gave me one of the coolest Christmas gifts I have ever received. My jaw was on the floor when I opened the card.
A 90-minute floating session in a sensory deprivation tank.
What the hell was that? I had only heard about this type of thing from the movies and recently from Joe Rogan. I was ecstatic. I had no idea what to expect, but I could not wait.
Here is a breakdown of my experience.
After packing up our overly excited kids (sleepover at grandma’s!), we drove into the city. The space was dimly lit when we walked in, and smelled like lavender. Ambient music was playing in the background. The scene was set- calmness was just around the corner.
We were led to into our own private rooms that included a shower and a separate tub that was closed off by a clouded glass door. At this location, you could either “float” in a pod or an open room. We chose the room. Picture laying in a larger than normal sauna filled with thousands of pounds of Epsom salt.
I took a quick shower before getting into the water to make sure I felt fresh and clean. I popped in some ear plugs and got in. When I laid down in the water, I floated. As in, legs and arms outstretched and literally sitting on top of the water. This is a feeling I never thought I would experience. Ever.
There was nothing to look at, so no visual distraction. No sound, so no audio distraction. The water temperature mirrored my body’s, so my physical being wasn’t a distraction. True sensory deprivation.
It took a while to physically (and mentally) adjust to this strange feeling. It was pitch black and completely silent. I could actually “hear” my eyes blink. My body had become weightless to the point that I felt like I was floating in space. I was set.
About 10 minutes in, I felt like I didn’t have a body. Honestly. All I felt was my head – and boy was there some activity going on up there. So there I laid, still trying to make sense of what the hell I was doing here.
20 minutes in, I panicked. “I have to get the eff out of here, this is crazy. Why did I think I could handle this? I cannot disconnect this fully. This is not for me.”
I love being in control of things. I manage things for a living! It’s what I do! Now, there was nothing. Nothing to work on, nothing to talk through, nothing around for me to jot down my next big ideas.
Around 15 minutes later, I convinced myself that I could and should go through with this. Then came the random daily thoughts.
My cracked windshield.
What would I do if I won the Powerball?
Soon after that came the thoughts with a little more substance. I need to listen more. How lucky am I to have such an amazing wife. I need to have more patience with my kids. I need to give more. Smile more. It was those types of thoughts, but this time with feeling.
Then I drifted off into nothingness.
I am pretty sure I was awake, but I am not certain. I truly disconnected from everything. I felt like I pulled my brain stem out and unplugged myself. I think I was in that state for 5 – 10 minutes. It was somewhat of an out-of-body experience. That is the state I wanted- and needed- to be in for this experience. It just took close to an hour to get there. I am a pretty high strung dude, so I had a feeling it would take a little longer than the average bear to calm down. My wife, on the other hand, was “in the zone” after about 10 minutes! So obviously, this will be different for everyone.
I had a feeling it was coming to an end, so I sat up in the tub and reflected on what I had just experienced. Just then, the music started playing softly, which means you need to wrap up and shower off. Good timing.
Your skin feels amazingly soft and healthy, and you feel a tad bit “high.” I got dressed and headed out to an area that was dimly lit and quiet, so I could slowly come back to reality. I did that for about 10 minutes. Then headed back into the real world.
Overall, it was an amazing experience. It felt like I hit a reset button on my mind and body. It was one of the most relaxed feelings I ever had.
I do plan on going again, but next time, I know what I need to do to prepare. Looking back, I realized that we rushed there and never took the time to wind down. I needed more than the 10 minutes before stepping in the tub to get in the right frame of mind.
I highly recommend this experience for anyone who needs a break from life. We all need to unplug every once in a while, even if you have to force it. It’s definitely worth it.
F.L.O.A.T. is located in downtown St. Louis. I have no affiliation with them, but I would highly recommend their space.
I got a gift certificate too! Can’t wait. Floating hasn’t been in St. Louis in 20+ years. Very excited to do it again and compare experiences. I wasn’t married and didn’t have kids last time I floated and was in a completely different line of work. Should be interesting….