Today I visited the newly opened Floatation Centre. These centres are popping up all over Canada, and this is the first of its kind in the beautiful city of Halifax.
What is it? Floatation tanks (also known as sensory deprivation tanks), filled with 10-inches of water and about 800lbs of dissolved epsom salt.
That you float in. For 75 minutes. Devoid of sight, sound, and touch. Alone with your own thoughts.
Scary right? Let me walk you through my personal experience...
This beautiful new clinic (office? spa? naturopathic medical centre? not sure which name fits) has all kinds of Qì (chi), the atmosphere is calming, inviting, and so positive.
I arrived abundantly early to take advantage of the complimentary 15-min massage offered by the new massage therapist (first experience with ashiatsu massage, two thumbs up)
And after that I was brought into my own "floatation room" - complete with one floatation tank, and a shower. The owner, Lindsay, gave me the run-down on procedures and seemed completely thrilled that I was a first-time floater.
After that, the room was all mine. After rinsing off in the shower (as requested), I hopped inside the tank to begin the experience. The tank is completely dark inside, so I put a small rolled up towel in the door (as suggested if I was a little nervous).
While its perfectly normal to ping-pong about inside the chamber when you aren't used to "letting go", it took me only a few minutes to find "centre" and relax myself enough to stop moving within the tank (I attribute that to my love of water and 12+ years in competitive swimming). Who knew, the "ability to float", what an odd life skill.
My first thoughts were to try and relax every muscle in my body (it was suggested to let everything go and trust the water and the salt to keep you buoyant - boy does it ever). The hardest part for me was getting my hips to relax, but eventually everything let go. Once I got comfortable I took the towel out of the door and entered into complete darkness.
After that the hardest part was "tuning out". After I stopped focusing on my body, my mind started to wander.... I found myself thinking about the massage I'd just had, and scheduling another at a different time... which led to thinking about a face massage... relaxing my jaw... the taste in my mouth... "stop thinking"... "concentrate on breathing"..."What time is it?"..."concentrate on breathing"... Oh I wish I didn't have to breath then I'd really relax... "keep breathing"... "I should blog about this"... "I should remember what I'm thinking about right now so I can blog about this"...
... And somewhere along that line I realized I could hear my heart beat... through my ears... so I focused on that and just drifted...
Eventually I lost all proprioception of my limbs (I had no idea where I was or where my arms or legs were in space, a very unusual but relaxing feeling)
And then the music started... 75 minutes was up before I knew it... and the sound of some strange man chanting (in the music) awoke me from my relaxed state... that told me it was time to get out and rinse off.
As a soon-to-be health professional, a stressed out student, and a human, I highly recommend floating if you are comfortable being left alone with your own thoughts, if you experience chronic pain, fatigue, anxiety, stress, or just want to get away.
The experience was surreal, relaxing, de-stressing (and I just finished an exam today).
For many it is a chance for mediation, mindfulness, prayer, and/or rehabilitation.
The magnesium in the salt has therapeutic benefits of its own. For more information you can read about it on their website www.TheFloatationCentre.ca or find a floatation centre near you.