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First Time Float Experience: Sensory Deprivation

First Time Float Experience: Sensory Deprivation

I’m not sure if it was the epic montage of the kids in Stranger Things creating their own sensory deprivation tank, or the people of Toronto always looking for new ways to spend their money, but Float tanks are popping up near and far.

Adam kept bringing up floating (now a common verb used in every day discussion), saying how much he wanted to try it. I was skeptical at first – I’m not the most patient/relaxed/chill person at the best of times, and I certainly wasn’t sure how i’d spend 1 hour in an isolated tank.

In the end he flat out asked me to get us a float session, and whatever my baby wants, he usually doesn’t get. But this I could do. I emailed the nice people at Float Toronto, asking if we could try it out and see what all the hype was about.

What Is Floating?

Flotation therapy involves lying in about a foot of salt water inside a pod for an extended period of time (usually 1 hour). There is so much salt in the water (~1000 lbs), that your body literally floats on top of the solution.

The term sensory deprivation is used, as the tank is insulated against noise and after shutting the door, you are in complete darkness. The water is also at a temperature considered skin-receptor neutral, meaning you lose track of where your body ends and the water begins.

First time float experience! What to do, what not to do, and the benefits of sensory deprivation

Floating is considered to have many benefits including – relaxation response, heightened senses, pain management, blood circulation, stress reduction and others.

Float Toronto

When we first walked into Float Toronto, I immediately felt more relaxed. We took off our shoes, Anand checked us in, and showed us around the spa. In the front they had several couches, as well as kombucha, peppermint tea, and fresh water to drink. It was warm and comforting, with a lovely scent diffusing in the air.

First time float experience! What to do, what not to do, and the benefits of sensory deprivation

He walked us down the hallways to the Float rooms, and explained how it would work. Each room had a pod, a shower, a robe, ear plugs, ear cleaner, shower supplies, towels and a face cloth. It was well kept and very clean for my first float experience. At the back they had a bathroom, plus a little area for you to get ready in post-float. They had everything – more towels, combs, hair dryers, organic moisturizer, face cream, etc.

I was also very impressed with how everything was so on brand – turquoise colors with lotus flower decor sprinkled throughout the spa.

My Float Experience

First time float experience! What to do, what not to do, and the benefits of sensory deprivation

We were told to eat a light meal 60-90 minutes before the float, as the last thing you want to be thinking when floating is how hungry you are. I showered off, dimmed the lights, and got into the pod. At first I planned to just close my eyes without shutting the pod, but the cold air from the room kept coming in. For the sake of a true experience, I quickly got over my fear of being trapped in a tiny dark space and shut the pod.

I closed my eyes and floated for a while, leaving my hands by my side. It was quite relaxing to be honest, and I really wanted to see if I could fall asleep.

Unfortunately, it’s a lot easier to think about everything than to think about nothing. I kept thinking about what I would write about in this post, what I was going to get at the grocery store, why hadn’t I fallen asleep yet, what was I going to write for my next Instagram caption, ETC ETC ETC. Jesus.

At some points I managed to shut my brain off and actually relax. It was as though I had gotten into a deep sleep, without actually falling asleep. It’s true that your senses are deprived – I couldn’t hear anything with my ears underwater, and it was pitch black. There were some points where it felt like I was floating in a huge pond, or a night sky (so cheesy), and I lightly moved myself forward and back in the pod to really get the feeling I was drifting away. Those were the best moments.

First time float experience! What to do, what not to do, and the benefits of sensory deprivation

Then I started to get bored.

I’m not a napper. Nor can I fall back asleep once I’ve waken up in the morning. Overall, i’m a very un-relaxed person.

I kept saying to myself that I would get out, shower, check my phone (lol, seriously Beverley, chill), go drink some tea and wait until Adam was finished. I guess I didn’t realize just how relaxed  I had become, because when I finally convinced myself to sit up, I felt extremely tired. I sat with my head between my legs for a couple minutes before lying down and letting the water take over me once more.

First Time Floater Tips

First time float experience! What to do, what not to do, and the benefits of sensory deprivation

1. Shower off immediately after you get out and don’t touch any of your belongings. I was so dumb about this one – I got out of the shower still dripping, and wrapped the towel around my body. I sat beside my backpack, and dug inside looking for my phone. Later on, all the water that had gotten on my backpack, clothes, even my CAMERA, had dried into white salt. I had to pick and wipe it off for ages, praying that it didn’t affect my camera (so far, so good).

2 . If you have any cuts or nicks – don’t go. Something that I noticed immediately was that all the tiny cuts and scrapes I had on my body felt like FIRE. I have a tendency for random tiny rashes (gross I know), and I had a couple cuts around my ears and finger nails that were burning. Most of them faded throughout the float, but a couple of them stayed the entire time, which was distracting.

Would I Go Again?

To be honest, i’m not sure. I don’t think I got as much out of it as someone else might. I thrive when i’m busy doing/thinking of something, and I leave relaxation for when I go to bed at night. It was a really interesting experience, and I can definitely see what benefits would come of it – I would recommend anyone who’s thinking of doing it to give it a try.

What About You?!

  • Have you ever done a float before?
  • Do you think you would benefit from a float experience?

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  1. I’ve never even heard of this before – I need to see if there are float studios in Chicago!

    • beverleyc

      3 February

      oh im sureeee there are. Toronto and Chicago are basically the same 😉

  2. Gillian Pendlebury

    1 February

    How did your partner find the experience?

    • beverleyc

      3 February

      similar to me! i thought he’d enjoy it more cause hes wayyy more chill than i am, but about the same (he didn’t fall asleep either)

  3. Very interesting! I think (?) Emily of My Healthyish Life tried this out, too! I think my mind would be racing the whole time, too…I think I’d prefer a massage for a relaxing experience!

    • beverleyc

      3 February

      haha agreed!! now i just gotta find a bunch of RMT’s who’ll massage me for free…

  4. tami

    1 February

    i live in a VERY small town and a float place just opened up. my question is-do they change the water after every session? i think i would freak out being in the dark inside the pod

    • beverleyc

      3 February

      so as soon as i got out, they started running this pump/filter? thing through it, so i believe the water gets cleaned after every session.
      and you don’t really notice the small space because it’s so dark and warm, and almost soothing.

  5. I’ve heard of sensory deprivation tanks before but haven’t tried one out yet… thanks for sharing your thoughts!

  6. I feel like it would be how I am in yoga where I have to slow down and then it actually makes me more stressed out bc I have time to think about everything I need to get done haha

  7. I am right there with you with thinking about everything that I could/should be doing! It would an interesting experience to say the least!

    • beverleyc

      16 February

      Haha thats the toughest part of the entire float for sure!

  8. Leo Tat

    18 February

    I meditate frequently and going into a float tank is something I’ve wanted to do, Beverley. I know what you mean about the mind wandering in thoughts. That’s the trouble I have, and concentration on the breathing seems to help. When I saw your photo of the salt bags, I immediately thought, ‘damn that must burn!.’

    • beverleyc

      22 February

      Haha it did! I had one small cut and it stung for ages. Probably super clean now tho 😉 I think you’d enjoy the float if you meditate a lot!

  9. Akansha

    23 February

    Just looking at the pod makes me feel claustrophobic! I’ll have to do some research now, never heard of these before!

    • beverleyc

      1 March

      Its actually not as bad as it seems! i didnt even notice!

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