By Katie Mays
By Katie Maus
It was definitely the most unique birthday present I’ve ever received. My best friend had heard of sensory deprivation tanks from her coworkers and thought it would be something good for us to try. She suffers from migraines and I get some pretty frustrating back pain, and floating is said to help with both, among with a few other problems:
Aids in healing sore muscles
Makes your skin and hair feel great
Helps regulate blood pressure
Raises ability to focus
So we went, excited to do something so different from anything we’ve experienced before. When we were got there, we were given the tour and some tips/rules. Everyone has to shower before and after floating; before, so that the oils in the skin and hair don’t affect the composition of the water, and after because the water leaves you feeling somewhat slimy. It’s recommended not to float if you have a tattoo that is less than four months old, to be sure to prevent irritation. They also supply you with some petroleum jelly to put over any scratches or open cuts, so the salt water doesn’t sting. It was also advised to me to hang a washcloth on the bar on the wall in the tank in case I have an itch on my face or start to sweat. If you try to wipe the sweat or scratch your face with a wet hand, the salt would crystallize and might be itchy, detracting from the sensory deprivation. These guidelines are all for either safety/hygiene purposes or to maintain the integrity of your float. Itching or stinging would bring you out of the trance-like state you’re trying to achieve by not touching, seeing, or hearing anything—very similar to meditating, for which floating is an ideal environment.
The tanks are filled with 10-12 inches of water and around 1000lbs of Epsom salts and heated to just below body temperature. The dissolved Epson salts make it so you can float in the water without any effort. It feels similar to what I would imagine floating in outer space might feel like. I had fun just moving around in the water; it was definitely a good stretch.
It was dark and quiet, which definitely gave me time to think and relax. At first, I had some flashbacks to episodes of Fringe and Stranger Things, where these types tanks were used for vastly different purposes, but then I settled in to really get the most I could out of my experience. I went over some things I needed to do, then tried to stop thinking about anything at all. I’m an all-over-the-place kind of person, so that didn’t happen, but I definitely felt relaxed and even almost fell asleep. When the lights went on and quiet music began to play, I did not want to get up—the warm water and complete absence of strain on my body was so comforting. When I did get out and showered off to go meet up with my friend, I still felt pretty relaxed. They had a station set up to do your hair and get ready to continue the day, or just hang out and continue to relax for a bit with coloring books and hot drinks. It was a calm, pleasant environment that provided a nice way to ease back into the day. Because I only floated once, I can’t say that it had a lasting effect on my back pain or my friend’s headaches, but I felt great for the rest of the day for sure!
Floating was a completely new experience for me and, even though I can’t speak to the lasting effects, I definitely enjoyed taking some time out of real-life to relax and breathe. It’s a little pricey for my budget, but floating is definitely something I’d like to continue doing on a semi-regular basis.
Some local places to try out floating:
Zephyr Float in Kingston: 845-853-2400 (this is where I went!)
Mountain Float Spa in New Paltz: 845-256-9800
Rise Above Flotation in Mount Kisco: 914-241-1900
Long term benefits sourced from: