A float session consists of lying naked (or in a swimsuit) in an individual tank of warm water that is super-saturated with Epsom salts. The door of the tank can be closed so you are in complete darkness and silence. It’s sensory deprivation.
No sound, no light, no gravity. You’re floating in blackness.
Why do people do this? Well, it’s supremely peaceful. You get to experience a feeling we rarely get to feel: weightlessness.
I’ve also read that many people fall asleep when they float.
And I’ve also read that pregnant women can prop up their heads in a certain way that allows them to float face-down. Doesn’t that sound lovely? I can’t imagine how wonderful that would feel to have all that weight lifted from your body. (From now on, I’m buying my pregnant friends float sessions as shower gifts!)
However, when I tell people about floating, they almost always have the same reaction: “I could never do that. I’d feel claustrophobic.”
So, what was my experience?
I, too, was worried about feeling trapped, but I knew I could leave the door of the tank open, so that eased my worries. And if I really hated it, well, I could just leave.
When I first got in the water, I had a hard time letting my body relax while it floated. My neck was so incredibly tense–I think because I was trying to hold my head above the water (which wasn’t necessary, since, well, I was floating!) You don’t want to get any of that water in your eyes because it would burn intensely. I finally got my neck to relax.
The water was the perfect temperature.
While floating with the door open, I could see light when I opened my eyes. I could feel a faint, cooler air on the exposed part of my legs. I got braver, so I shut the door but propped it open a few inches with a hand towel. I could still see a sliver of light, but I no longer felt the fresh air on my legs. For me, the lack of fresh air bothered me more than the darkness. (There was air pumped in near my head, but I could hardly feel it.)
Also, I wasn’t notified that the lights in the room were on a time delay. After a few minutes, I opened my eyes to see my sliver of light was GONE and I was in complete blackness. I sat up fast and felt for the door, pushed it open, and the lights came back on. Sooooo…yeah. That wasn’t great. I had to continuously sit up and wave my arms around every few minutes when the lights would turn off.
Anyway, enough complaining. Did I find inner peace? Did I have the best nap ever? Did I discover the meaning of life?
Sadly, no major realizations took place. I was just floating in a tank of water. I mean, it felt really different and interesting. My favorite thing was to super gently push off the bottom of the tank with my toes and float to the top, then push back the other way, just enjoying the feeling of water flowing through my skin and hair.
I had a difficult time allowing myself to be completely, utterly still. Anytime I approached that state, I would have to flex my calf muscles or clench my toes or fingers for a second. I would move my body in some small way. Strange–I could not let myself reach 100% sense deprivation. I had to move.
When it was over, I was ready to go. Experiment = completed. I was nowhere near feeling sleepy. I was probably thinking about writing this blog post.
I already lead quite a quiet life, so I don’t yearn to “get away from it all”. I enjoyed the feeling of floating but didn’t experience anything noteworthy. That said, even though I didn’t have a transformative experience, I would definitely recommend trying a float–why not? Especially if you are a high-sensation seeking HSP.