By Rachel Woodward, June 16 2016 —
I am a relatively anxious person. Finding new ways to be more calm in my day-to-day life has always been a goal of mine. I’ve done yoga and used breathing techniques for a while, but I thought it was time to try something a little more extreme.
People have used sensory deprivation tanks for various reasons since their invention in 1954 by Dr. John C. Lily. Users enter a dark, quiet tank of water with over a thousand pounds of dissolved epsom salts, allowing them to float effortlessly. Deprived of all senses, they sit alone with nothing but their thoughts.
In early March, I decided to spend a 90-minute session in one of these tanks. I carried many misconceptions into this experience, expecting to sit in a cold, small area where I was more or less trapped for the entire period of isolation. But the experience turned out to be the opposite of what I expected.
I chose to experience my first float at Float Life in Kensington. Dustin Ryan, the facility’s co-founder, began floating two and a half year ago. He started doing so to help with his own anxiety and to discover greater self-awareness.
“At that time, I was really into personal development, meditation and different states of consciousness. Floating really appealed to me,” he says. “It’s something that you can do without taking any drugs — you’re in control of the entire experience, you can get out whenever you like, but after you float a couple of times, you can get into some really unique states of mind that you can’t necessarily get into anywhere else.“
When I arrived for my first float session, the room felt more like a spa and less like a coffin. The pod is spacious and you have options to listen to relaxing music or keep a coloured light on. The door is hydraulic, and you are able to leave it open as much as you like.
Initially, I assumed I would stay as safe as possible by leaving the lights and music on, but after a few moments, a feeling of intense relaxation washed over me and I decided to try being fully deprived of my senses.
While being alone with my thoughts for 90 minutes was daunting, it ended up being extremely therapeutic. The escape from technology that so firmly holds my attention was a welcome relief. At times, I was stressed, and at others, restless. But leaving the tank, I felt like a new person.
When the music turned on in my pod to mark the end of my float, I felt like a baby emerging from my mother’s womb. I showered the salt water out of my hair and sat with a cup of tea in the entrance room.
For days after my experience, I was relaxed. I had less anxiety going through my week and felt like I was more comfortable going without my phone or laptop when it wasn’t necessary. My experience may not be common for first-timers, but it is something I feel everyone should try. It was a leap into the unknown for me, but ended up being thoroughly comforting. Floating is unlike anything I’ve experienced and is something I plan to continue doing in my life.
For more information, visit floatlife.ca