Sensory Deprivation: Fifteen Years of Research, published in 1969 and edited by John P. Zubek, was the first authoritative overview of what was then called “sensory deprivation” literature. The idea of going into a tank with virtually no sound and no light is not a new thing. I’m not for trends at all, but much like traditional fermented foods we often feel as if “our generations’ thing” when in reality it’s all been done before us, it was here before we were even on earth. Thanks 60’s! I was captivated by the idea of floating for my own well-being and not for its ‘current craze’ stage. Before I understood the real purpose and science of floating I was a little hesitant to try it, but my friends were SO psyched about the benefits that I thought “why not?” and hopped in.
Now? I’m hooked.
That was almost 3 years ago, when Julie and Devon of oGoFloat in Penticton first realized they wanted to build a float center as their home-based business.
What used to be known as "sensory deprivation" or "isolation" therapy has been re-branded as the more appealing label "flotation therapy.” You literally float on the water in thanks to the 800 pounds of epsom salt in it - that’s not a typo. (Eight. Hundred. Pounds) in a dark, quiet tank that often reminds me of a space ship. Because floating in the dark with no stimulation can sometimes feel like outer space. But the relaxation that comes after a float is worth the weirdness. Some of the best bucks you’ll ever spend, and I’m here to tell you why.
oGoFloat boasts the ability for you to “Relax Harder” after Julie heard it in a yoga class years ago.
My yoga class.
When I was still a regular teacher of Restorative yoga classes at Get Bent, I lamented “We work harder - we take care of families harder - we create structures and plans and goals - we celebrate harder - but, we also need to RELAX harder.”
She was so inspired by the concept (and wanted me to share that story!) that those two little words became the tag that would sum up exactly what floating can do for you. Here are seven reasons why floating could be on the next leg of your self-care journey. (It should be.)
1. Don’t be nervous - there's lots of room in the tank. Just the word “Flotation chambers” gives people a visual of a coffin that they’ll be completely claustrophobic in. No worries. At oGoFloat, for example, they’ll tell you that we are biologically programmed to avoid dangerous situations, so naturally tight spaces are a common fear. The reality is that only about 3% of the population are truly afflicted by the phobia. Most people have no problem once they see the tank and actualize the experience. However, you are welcome to leave the door open and the lights on as you’re in control of your experience. If you do get anxious, you can just open the door or step out and re-group. Sometimes it does take the first session to just ‘understand’ floating before you get really comfortable in the tank. It's bigger on the inside! The point is to lie down and let the water carry you while mental clutter falls away. What you’ll learn is there is lots of room in the tank - and loads of time for you to learn to explore deep relaxation.
2. It's totally private. Float centers are catering to individual needs. At oGoFloat, each suite comes with its own shower complete with basic toiletries and a fluffy towel and bathrobe. No detail was left out here - there’s a place to hold your reading glasses, a choice of ear plugs, Q-tips, make-up removers, flip flops…. and all you need beyond that is your birthday suit. Once you've showered, you gently step into the flotation unit and let the floating begin. What you’ll learn is taking this private time for yourself to [Keep Your Life Plate Clean] isn’t just another thing on your to-do list. It gives you more time because you’ll be more productive, healthier and relaxed.
3. You'll enjoy the feeling of freeing buoyancy. At oGoFloat it comes from the 800 pounds of Epsom salts dissolved in body-temperature water. As the mind relaxes, you get to choose your experience. Will you let your mind wander? Count your breaths and meditate? Experiment with different tools they have for neck rests? Stretch? The unit is virtually soundproof: all that’s left when you remove all stimulation is a deep connection to YOU. I find this to be a seriously magical place. Don’t knock it until you try it, because until you’ve had at least a few floats under your belt you ain’t seen nothin’ yet. The changes it makes in your brain. How relaxed you can feel. How your creativity sparks. How food tastes better and music sounds fresher. How your body ailments begin to shift. Any spiritual experience you want to explore. Or simply sit and rest. It’s all up to you. What you’ll learn is how buoyancy can feel in your body! How relaxed and free you really can feel, which is an experience you’ll want to start applying to other areas of your life.
4. Your experience is whatever you want it to be, but your comfort is #1. So, you can keep the lights on, if you want. Traditional float therapy calls for total darkness. But at oGoFloat, you decide. When I first started, I oscillated between having the light on and off throughout my float. Once I got more comfortable in the tank, my “need” to have the light on diminished. But it’s always in your control. Gentle, relaxing music will turn on to signal the end of your float (90 minutes.) There is no rush. Once the float is over, a second shower gets rid of the salty residue on your body and hair. A chill tea lounge awaits you after your float with a selection of books to read, journal to write in and fresh water or organic teas, all with the intention of regrouping you before you head “back to the grind.” What you’ll learn is how comfortable you can get with the uncomfortable, a major coping/life lesson that is taught in yoga as well.
5. Float therapy centers pride themselves on intense education and a high priority on cleanliness. At oGoFloat a high-tech system purifies the water between each floater, running it through an ultraviolet disinfection process. Minutes after the float is over the whir of the filter starts the cleansing process. Just like kombucha, health inspectors love checking in on businesses a bit unfamiliar to them, so standards are incredibly high. If you have any doubts, just ask your float host about the cleaning process. Your hosts are always happy to answer your questions and you have time to ask them as you’ll fill out your form at your first float, the idea being you’ll have the most comfortable experience once you get all your questions answered. What you’ll learn is how you don’t need to worry about the little details when you are working with trusted wellness folk who have your comfort and safety at top of mind, allowing your mind to rest easy.
6. You need relaxation on your list of to-do’s to help you with your nutrition and weight goals. I’ve wrote about the stress response and weight loss before - Read [Lose Weight With Stress Relief: The Best Way to Drop Lbs] - and I’m pretty obsessed with the art of relaxation since I came out about my own struggle with anxiety, [My Anxiety Story & Self Care Rituals You Need] I have a very strong belief that if we could all relax harder we’d be happier. As a Holistic Nutritionist I understand the deep importance of a properly functioning digestive system, and learning to relax gets your system out of ‘fight or flight’ and into ‘rest and digest.’ Floating will reset your nervous system to the lovely relaxed one so you can improve your digestive powers. This isn’t my own belief, this is science. Read [Relax Harder: How to Deal with Stress] for the facts and research as well as tools for HOW. What you’ll learn is how taking time for yourself improves all aspects of your life, including the things you never thought were related.
7. Floating is for just about everyone. You can get more info on the FAQ’s at oGoFloat, or feel free to call them up and chat about your concerns. oGoFloat’s primary care is your happiness in your personal float journey, and I have seen that every step of the way. Through the renovations, the little details in the float center, the phone calls with floaters I overhear, Julie and Devon really just want you to feel good, be happy and RELAX HARDER. What you may learn, if floating is right for you, is that you can work on the mental chatter during your floats; you can work on your personal patterns, dealing with personal relationships differently, get insight on issues or simply rest and contemplate the mystery and interconnectedness of all life.
I love (slowly, gently) hopping in the tank. I can try to explain what floating has done for me in the last years. Other than the awesome physical benefits like hormonal support, inflammatory, immune & digestive benefits, a lot happens mentally as well. Each float is a different experience and I leave the tank every time feeling like a fresh new human. Some floats I am completely deep in meditation and come out feeling like I just had a fantastic, restful 8 hour sleep. Some floats I am getting slammed with hits and ideas for my business and I come out feeling completely inspired to get back to work. Some floats I am restless and fidgety, and those ones are good too, because I know it means I haven’t been taking care of myself the way I should. Some floats are mentally productive and some floats are a mental OFF switch. Luckily my body knows what it needs, and a float experience is, in my opinion, one of the best ways’ to get it.
Oh - just Go Float.
…all photo credit goes to DaMo’s Photography