Imagine nothing and no one touching you for 90 minutes. Imagine holding up nothing, not even your own head, for 90 minutes. Imagine not needing to keep an eye on or listen for anyone, for 90 minutes. For most caregivers, this probably sounds like an unattainable dream. This is the blissful reality of a float spa. You float in an enclosed tank of water, with a surface area similar to an extra long twin bed. The water, and the air above the water, are heated to body temperature so the boundaries between your body and space almost seem to disappear. The water itself is completely saturated with epsom salts, so you float completely weightless, the way you would in the Dead Sea (which is what is depicted in the main image, it perfectly captured how I felt in the float tank.) You can choose to have soothing meditation music play, or not, and you can choose to close the door at the foot of the tank, creating total darkness, or to leave it open to the private room where the tank sits. The float spa has become my favorite luxurious self care experience.
Toward the end of this summer, the tiny guy went through a serious bout of separation anxiety. This meant to get anything done it was babywearing, or admit defeat. While I was then and continue to be a huge babywearing advocate, it took a toll on my back and neck to wear him so much; I had a muscle spasm in my neck and my lower back was constantly in pain. My husband offered to make an appointment for me to get a massage, and my brain screamed “Noooooooooo! No more people touching me!” A massage did not sound appealing at all after having another human attached to me for the good part of a month. It made me realize what did sound heavenly; a trip to the float spa.
I did my first float a few years ago, when Satori Float Spa first opened in South Burlington, VT. My only understanding of the experience before that was from a Joe Rogan podcast about how he had a float tank, also known as a sensory deprivation chamber, in his house, which he used all the time for meditation and to induce hallucinogenic-drug-like experiences. In my first float I had a hard time letting my body and mind relax into the float; by the time I had finally unwound enough to enjoy the nothingness, it was over! I definitely didn’t have the transcendent experience Joe Rogan had described.
When I went back for my float this summer, it was a very different experience. During my pregnancy I attended a Hypnosis for Birth class and the self-relaxation techniques I had learned in the class allowed me to get into the float-groove almost immediately after getting in the tank. Before long, my brain started to produce the kind of psychedelic imagery I had expected on my first visit. In the darkness I felt I was flying through a beautiful and strange fractal-dimension, (for my fellow nerd friends, it was not unlike the intro to Doctor Who but with calming music) and I actually had to continue to use the self-relaxation techniques to keep from feeling I was actually falling into them. This image is the closest I could find to what I saw and experienced my second time in the tank.
After my second float experience I felt rejuvenated and rested in a way I had not since long before my son was born. I cannot imagine anything else that would have allowed me to feel as outside and relieved of my everyday responsibilities. I am not being compensated in any way to write this: I just really wanted to share my experience with the float spa in hopes that another caregiver would read this, try it out, and love it as much as I did! Have you ever tried a float spa/sensory deprivation tank? What was your experience like? Do you have any questions you would need answered before you were willing to try it?