The basic premise: you get naked and into a hot-tub sized pod filled with body-temperature, super-salty water (think Dead Sea salty). You close the hatch behind you, enclosing yourself in absolute darkness and silence, and float around in your warm salty little pseudo-womb for an hour. The idea is that you are, for once, completely free of wordly distractions as well as gravity—your muscles can relax as well as your brain.
I was a little more hesitant about this plan than Alex; the idea of being left alone with nothing but my thoughts for an hour didn’t sound remotely relaxing. But you gotta try things at least once, so off we went.
I actually didn’t find the hour super-relaxing, nor did I find it scary or claustrophobic. After a few minutes of fidgeting around, making sure I could in fact get the door back open if I wanted to, I realized that the feeling of floating almost on top of the water was awesome. I never fully relaxed or thought about falling asleep, though – pretty sure I kept my eyes wide open the entire time, not that it made a difference. And, true to form, I started getting antsy and decided enough was enough, it was time to get out, although my hour wasn’t over—but when I stepped out, there were only five minutes left, so perhaps I relaxed more than I thought.
Here’s the revelation: although I wasn’t particularly enjoying my hour alone with only my brain to keep me company, when I stepped out of my pod I felt like I was reborn. My movements felt relaxed and slow, and I had that same drowsy, contented sense of calm you get after a really great massage. And the added bonus: the super salty water (which you wash off in an adjoining shower with special soap) made my skin look and feel awesome. Although we had to go to dinner right afterwards, I’m sure I would’ve slept very well and easily if I had the chance. I also think it relaxed and took pressure off aching muscles in a way that I was shocked could be accomplished with only an hour of floating.
Alex, who tends to find inner peace a lot easier than I do, loved it even more. He enjoyed the entire process (although I don’t think he fell asleep like I expected him to) and described the same “being born” feeling when the hour was over and he emerged from his tank.
One word of warning: if you are at all prone to panic attacks or claustrophobia, this is not for you. No joke, you have to get in a small, pitch-black box full of water and close the door behind you. Opening that door isn’t difficult, but requires calm and patience. If even the idea of doing this freaks you out, just get a massage instead.
Overall, I was pleasantly surprised and impressed with how it made me feel. I think I’d still rather spend my money on a spa treatment, but if we had a float tank in Ottawa, I would definitely treat myself once a month or so. As someone who has an extremely hard time letting go and relaxing, this process almost forces you to do so, without you even realizing it. And for some of us, enforced relaxation is exactly the right way to get the job done.