(This post has been sitting as a draft for a month. Oops…)
Float tanks were mentioned a few times at Paleo f(x) – Evan Brand mentioned it in the Hacking Stress panel, and a few people mentioned it here and there in discussions. (Then I tweeted about it and The Paleo Drummer said yes, go.) I had kind of heard of them before but didn’t know anyone who had actually been in one. Some things just sound crazy enough for me to try…
What is a float tank? Check out these articles – http://io9.com/5829343/everything-you-ever-wanted-to-know-about-sensory-deprivation-tanks, http://www.mensjournal.com/health-fitness/health/the-modern-day-float-tank-20131108 and this video from Joe Rogan – https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=YEjTXX2rHgA.
There’s some cool information about the benefits of floating here – http://www.soulerfloat.com/#!health-benefits/c90x and here http://www.floataway.com/index.php/floating/the-benefits-of-floating.
First, some tips. I’ll post my floating experiences tomorrow. 🙂
Float tank tips:
1. Try to let go of any expectations of what’s supposed to happen or how you’re supposed to feel. Just relax your body and focus on your breath. (Tip from my awesome Paleo f(x) roomie, Brendon – thanks!)
2. If you’re anxious or afraid, just remember that you are in control of the experience at all times. You can open the door of the tank and get out whenever you want. Anything you see/hear/feel is coming from inside you, so just try to relax and take it all in while knowing that you can stop at any time. (Another tip from Brendon!)
3. Some people wear bathing suits, some do not. I didn’t have one with me the first time I floated, but the second time I wore one and honestly, it was annoying. (You know how when you get into a pool or hot tub and there are sometimes tiny little bubbles around the bathing suit? Yeah.)
4. Cover up any cuts with vaseline before you get into the tank. (Most places have a little jar of vaseline in the room in case you need it.) If you have cuts and don’t cover them, it’ll be a little unpleasant.
5. Don’t wear the earplugs. Or…wear them if you want, but just be prepared to be super in tune with your heartbeat the whole time. (That can be a little bit creepy at first – BUT it gives you something to focus on. It can be kind of unnerving for some people though.)
6. Once you get into the tank, don’t touch your eyes (or they’ll burn) and don’t touch your mouth (because the salt leaves a gross taste).
7. If you’re having trouble relaxing, focus on your breath. Breathing in and breathing out. Counting breaths. (In fact, if you are planning ahead a little and haven’t done any meditation at all before, try it before you go to the float tank! Try just a few minutes, or a short yoga nidra session. The staff at the float tank in Austin mentioned that people who meditate/are familiar with yoga nidra-type stuff sometimes have an easier time relaxing and letting themselves go.)
8. Don’t be afraid to let yourself go and let your mind wander. But if you start actually thinking (like yesterday in the tank, I started thinking of work problems), refocus on your breath or the meditation. Let the thought go. Just let it go. Think of it as a fly, maybe – usually it will just fly by and not bother you much, but if you start swatting at it, it will definitely get more annoying. (I guess you could just squash the fly – that works too.)
9. If you can (and if the thought of more than 60 minutes of anything isn’t too much of a commitment), book a 90-minute session for your first float. (At the end of the 60-minute session, you’ll probably wish you had more time.)
10. Don’t worry about what time it is, how much time has passed (has it been 5 minutes? maybe it has been 30? maybe it has only been 2??) or how much time you have left. This is really tough, but again, just focus on your breath. Relax. Also, do not wear a watch.
11. Give yourself a break. Floating is fun, but if you’re not into meditation, it can be kind of tough at first. But give your mind and your body a break – odds are they need it. 🙂
12. Seriously, again, just don’t go in with any specific expectations. Think of it as 60 or 90 minutes to give yourself a break from the crazy, busy world.
13. BREATHE. Seriously.
14. Remember, you are in control and it’s a safe environment. Don’t be afraid to let yourself relax.
15. Be prepared for a little bit of sensory overload afterward. Things might seem brighter and louder after an hour of complete sensory deprivation. (Thanks, Brendon!)
So, where can you float? Floatation.com and Floatationlocations.com both have float tank directories. They’re popping up all over.
In Austin, Texas: Zero Gravity Institute was pretty awesome. The float “tanks” are actually pretty big rooms. And you start with a 15-minute chair massage while watching space-y stuff.
In Orlando, Florida: Total Zen Float was nice. The tanks are smaller (like pods, not rooms) but it’s more affordable (aka easy to go back a bunch of times)
Stay tuned for firsthand experiences tomorrow. 🙂