After we got our float tank up and running, we started having our friends come by and try it out. They’d helped us in numerous ways, including actually hauling the thing into our basement and maneuvering it into place. We were excited to share floating with them, and they were excited to try it out! Here are some of our friends’ thoughts after floating for the first time.
My first moments in the tank were noisy with my own reactions. In the nearly complete dark and silence outside of me, supported on a pillow of dense water, there wasn’t much sensory input for my brain to fret about. So it made up some of its own. I worried whether I was doing it right. I worried that it wouldn’t work. I worried that the relaxation response wouldn’t happen to me. And then, somehow, it just did. I didn’t go looking for it or working for it. The relaxation came to me.
I’d say that the relaxation response hit me after such-and-so many minutes, but that would be guesswork at best. In the tank, one hour passed like 10 minutes. (No, really. When I got out, the time came as a complete surprise.) Suffice to say that my brain’s noisy objections didn’t seem to last long. I began to enjoy the sound of my own breathing and the sensation of sinking into the earth, all the while remaining buoyant and supported.
There was nothing to distract me from close observation of each muscle, each joint, each part.
At some point in the experience, I grew more aware of my body. There was nothing to distract me from close observation of each muscle, each joint, each part. This may not sound relaxing, but it was perhaps the most important part of the experience for me. I was able to approach my body with detachment and focus, and I was a better observer for it. Instead of feeling a general sense of overuse in my legs after the day’s workout, I became aware that the outer portion of my left hamstring was strained. Not badly, and not something I’d noticed earlier, but something to be aware of in my workouts the next few days.
By the time I climbed out of the tank, I was feeling slowed-down yet alert — some kind of zen state achieved through the mysteries of heavily salted water and my autonomic nervous system. The mental chaos of the day was cleared. My shoulder tension was eased. I felt downright chill about life and idly noticed that the name for this activity could just as well refer to the feeling you leave with.
– Lucy S.
When I left the tank my shoulders felt three inches lower!
It took me a while to settle in to floating in the tank. But once I did, I realized that suddenly there was nothing left to do. There was nothing I needed to think about or be aware of. My muscles had no work to do. The only thing left was breathing.
At the same time, I realized that there was nothing left to feel, either. No gravity, almost no temperature difference from my own body, no surfaces touching me…the only thing left to feel was the tension left in some of my muscles. And because I knew that there was nothing
left for those muscles to be doing, I knew that tension was nothing but the leftovers from the stresses of everyday life. So I spent the next while…half an hour? an hour?…focusing on releasing that tension. When I left the tank my shoulders felt three inches lower! My partner, a massage therapist, immediately noticed the difference when I came in the door, and I also had to lower my standing desk an inch, because now it was too high!
There were points where I felt as though I was experiencing what it was like to exist in another plane.
Floating was an experience that I could best describe as being in space, sort of like in 2001 (A Space Odyssey). There were points where I felt as though I was experiencing what it was like to exist in another plane (i.e. afterlife, or in utero). It was a very calm experience, and at times I felt as though my body was disconnected from my mind, as if my brain had no requirements to control my extremities- only to require basic organ function, and to otherwise just be left with my thoughts.
– Joe A.
(Joe isn’t alone; writing in the Washington Post, this writer says, “I didn’t just feel relaxed, I felt like the giant baby at the end of Stanley Kubrick’s “2001: A Space Odyssey.”)
We also heard from other floaters’ partners that they had come home looking “like a little Buddha”… that one with chronic sleep problems had fallen asleep right in the middle of describing her float… and one had a chronic skin issue resolve, thanks to the super-saturated Epsom salt soak! I love seeing how different people experience the tank. We’ll keep bringing reactions to you as they come in.