You’re alone, naked, and climbing into a light-tight, sound-proof, eight foot long tank. Meditation comes easy with the world filtered out. The tank is filled with water that’s saltier than the Dead Sea. And the temperature is the same as your skin. You float on the top of the water with an effortlessness that’s remarkable. The water itself feels slippery from the salt, and only very faintly scented. When you close the door, the light disappears and sound vanishes. You can hear your heartbeat, your lungs fill with air, but that’s nearly it.
Your fingers stick out of the water, but after a few seconds, you can’t tell where the water starts and your skin ends, and it feels like you’re floating on air.
If you close your eyes and imagine it, it almost feels like there isn’t a container around you at all.
Meditation can be a really helpful tool for reducing stress and taking a step back from your life in a way that doesn’t disconnect you but let’s you get some distance.
Studies show that closing your eyes and focusing on something involuntary, like your breathing, helps activate alpha-waves in your brain, which help boost creativity and alleviate depression. Often, in today’s fast-paced world that demands results now, now, now, you’ll find your mind racing by the time your head hits the pillow at the end of the day.
Taking breaks is important for your mental health and can prolong your life. Considering where you live or what you do for work can have a large impact on your health. All stress is detrimental, even if it’s considered “positive” stress, like getting married. Emotional stress is especially damaging though, and can contribute to chronic illness like cancer and heart disease.
For some people, simply taking a ten minute breather to help refocus your thoughts might not feel substantial enough. While I highly recommend incorporating a ten-minute session a day, I also found my experience with flotation tanks, or their scarier name, sensory-deprivation tanks, very enlightening.
Almost undoubtedly, you’ll feel refreshed after emerging from the humid tank at the end of your session. I know a couple of years ago when I first heard about flotation tanks, they were nonexistent in my area. At the beginning of the year, I finally had the chance to try it out. It looked like it had suddenly sprung up in my region.
It was rejuvenating. I had already been practicing meditation for the last fifty days beforehand, and I asked the owner if many of his clients were meditation practitioners. He said that most were, but not all. He mentioned one client who came in every week, but claimed to not get any mental benefit from it. For him, it was entirely about the physical sensation of floating and being disconnected from the world. I’d argue that his mental health was boosted from that calm and serene opportunity to disconnect from the world.
If you’re already meditating or practicing mindfulness, and even if you’re not, I strongly encourage looking into taking a nice break for yourself and looking around for a flotation tank studio. While you might be tempted to replicate the effect in your tub, you’ll most likely be disappointed by the cramped space, inability to get the water salty enough, and light and sound.