Overstimulated? This therapy may be for you!
If you watched my Instagram stories, you know that I visited a sensory deprivation float tank on Monday evening. And the experience was WILD. Sensory deprivation therapy (flotation therapy) is a therapy that involves just what it sounds: deprivation of the senses for therapeutic benefit of mind and body. A float tank is like a MASSIVE bathtub filled with water that is the temperature of our skin so that our sense of touch is not stimulated by water temperature. The water is filled with enough Epsom salt to allow us to float without any effort, creating this anti-gravity effect, so that we can completely relax. OH- and there is no light OR sound.
If you’re like “this sounds like an anxiety attack waiting to happen”, I get it. I felt the same way the first time I heard about flotation therapy. But you are totally in control. The depth of the water is very shallow ( when sitting up in the tank, most of torso is out of the water) and there is the option to keep the light on if you choose. (At least, this was the case at Floating Lotus, where I had my experience).
The sensory deprivation tank helped me to relax unlike ever before. Think about it, we run around all day stimulated by our phones, friends/co-workers, and the world around us. All day our muscles are bracing us to fight against gravity, which takes energy. There is never really a moment where all of our senses are tuning out the outside world and our muscles are completely relaxed.
Floating helps to quiet our sympathetic nervous system that regulates our fight or flight response. This lowers our stress response (and cortisol levels) and allows our hormones and immune system to find balance.
Reduces stress and lowers cortisol
Stabilizes blood pressure
Helps to relieve adrenal fatigue
Helps to relieve insomnia
Eases sore muscles from the magnesium in epsom salt
Promotes creativity and mindfulness
The set up
I had been to Floating Lotus, a wellness center in midtown, when I visited their salt cave to help fight a bad cold, read more here.. I had been wanting to try flotation therapy for a long time, so when I saw that they offered it- it was a no brainer. Their flotation room had a counter with mirrors and shower at the entrance of the float tank. Towels and toiletries for use post-tank were provided. You can wear a bathing suit in the float tank but they suggest floating in your birthday suit to deprive the sensation of touch. In the tank there is an automatic light that stays on for the first few minutes while you get comfortable. The light comes on at the end to signify the end of the float.
I laid down in the water and used my arms to stabilize myself in the middle of the tank until the water was still (that way I wasn’t bouncing off the sides of the tank). I was amazed how easily I was floating- but DAMN, did I have a hard time relaxing my muscles. The hardest part for me was relaxing my body. Which okay, makes sense- relaxing in water without bracing our muscles is the opposite of our instinct, but phew. I kept having to coach myself to relax my neck and trust that the water was going to hold me afloat. I started to meditate to help relax my mind. Once I was able to relax it was the most WILD feeling. I had these moments of not feeling ANYTHING within my physical body. It was trippy AF. I also noticed the places in my body where I am constantly holding tension like my jaw and my solar plexus- something I never noticed before. The hour, yes- a full hour, FLEW by and before I knew it the light came on to signify the float was over. It felt so bizarre to feel the weight of my body again, but my body felt rejuvenated. As for my mind, HA. I felt high as I kite from that hour of no stimulation. Like, when I left I walked 2 blocks in the wrong direction I was so zenned out. AND floating lotus is in the area where I work so I really had no excuses.
I bought the flotation therapy as a first timer special for $59.00 when I visited floating lotus for the salt room. I’m not sure if this special was seasonal, but it is definitely worth looking into. Otherwise, a regular hour floating session is $150. Which is a little steep… BUT I would highly suggest trying sensory deprivation at least once because the experience is unlike anything I’ve tried. The full mind and body relaxation made me feel like a new woman! And it felt so f*cking nice to be completely unplugged from the world to focus on me, especially living in this chaotic (I say this lovingly) city we call New York. As with a lot of other therapies that I have tried, routine sessions would probably impart the most benefit- but I don’t have that kind of dough. So next time I’m feeling overstimulated, you know where you can find me.
Have you tried flotation therapy? What has been your experience?
Share with me in the comments!