As a busy and stressed-out mom/grad student/employee/wife, I am always looking for new ways to relax, refresh, and rejuvenate. I don’t feel like I do well with massages. If anything, I tense up more having a stranger’s hands all over me while they constantly tell me to relax. Also, as an introvert, being stuck in a room with a random person for an hour isn’t necessarily my idea of a good time.
A few months ago, I saw someone I know post a picture of some sort of water tank with the caption “See you in 90 minutes!” This greatly intrigued me, so I inquired what she was doing. She was going to float in a saltwater tank at a place called Lucidity Float & Wellness Center located in downtown Chattanooga. I looked them up and instantly wanted to go. As a lover of the ocean, nothing sounded more peaceful than floating in salt water for 90 minutes undisturbed. Though it was a few months before my birthday, I shared the website on my Facebook page and said, “If anyone is looking for something to get me for my 40th birthday!” and forgot about it. Well, for my birthday, I received a gift card to Lucidity from my best friend! I booked my appointment right away; here is what my experience was like:
My first visit
Upon arrival, I had a short orientation where I was given tips for floating and was taken to a private float room which was nicely set up. You don’t have to bring anything with you because they give you everything you need for your visit: the float tank, a chair with towels, a robe, and a shower with a variety of shampoos, conditioners, and body washes.
I took a pre-float shower to wash off oils from my body, put in the ear plugs they provided, and headed into the tank. The tank I used had a door in order to block ambient light, but they have a float pool as well for those who are claustrophobic. Because the tank contains about 1,000 pounds of Epsom salt, you float effortlessly. The water is also set at body temperature, so you are comfortable — neither hot nor cold.
After I closed the door and was floating for a minute, I had a slight anxiety attack at the thought of being closed in and not seeing anything, but I quickly got over it and relaxed.
There are a few interesting things about your first time floating. First of all, you have no concept of time. When I am at work or school or even home with the kids, I know what 90 minutes feels like even without a clock. When you are floating in quiet darkness, there really is no concept of time. Thankfully, they play soft piano music when your time is coming to an end. Another interesting thing is trying to figure out what position to float in. It seems like it would be simple, but you have to figure out what works for you. They provide a floating head rest and a pool noodle you can use to elevate your legs a little, but they aren’t necessary to float.
So, what do you do with your time while floating?
I spent my first visit thinking about the experience and getting used to it. I also tried praying a little because I figured what better time to do that. And of course, with an active mind like mine, I was thinking of my to-do list too. The second time I went, I was much more relaxed and was able to shut off my mind a little bit more. Some people even sleep when they are in their float tank! I haven’t gotten to that point yet, but I am hopeful to fall asleep in there sometime.
Once my 90 minutes were up, the music softly played and I got out and hopped into the shower. In the same way that nothing feels better than taking a long shower after you’ve been in the salty ocean all day, I loved taking a good shower after my float. I signed up for a couple more sessions and originally thought I’d do one in October and one in November to see if floating helps with my seasonal affective disorder, but I couldn’t wait that long. In fact, I’ve noticed that even a week post-float, I crave going again.
The benefits of floating
There are a few benefits I have experienced from going floating. First of all, it really relaxes me and seemed to calm down my anxiousness. I think that is partially due to floating in peace and quiet for a bit, forcing myself not to be busy with my phone or anything else, but also because of the magnesium in the Epsom salt. Besides my mind, it also helped to relax my body. Since I co-sleep with my youngest two kids, I end up sleeping in weird positions and wake up with my back hurting every day. My back is so much better after I float. Lucidity’s website also mentions that floating can help with weight loss from lowering cortisol, and with blood flow to the muscles, exfoliating the skin, and maintaining electrolyte balance.
I am interested in continuing to float during the winter to see what impact it might have on my seasonal affective disorder this year. Floating is definitely a unique experience and something I think is worth trying; in fact, I have recommended to several people already.