The cosmic pod at Balance Float in Redwood City, CA

Floating in the womb… Can you remember? Some say they can and if you’re one of them, contact me! I can’t say that this is a vivid memory for me. My imagination leads me to believe that it’s somewhat similar to floating in a deprivation tank. Regardless, it’s an incredibly unique experience that I cannot compare to anything else.

Last week was my third time in a sensory deprivation float tank. After one hour, I didn’t want to get out, but it took work to get there. I can be a very anxious person. My nervous system can easily be triggered to go into overdrive at times. Wound up with anxiety, fear had fertile ground to root in. For many years, I’ve had a fear of water; floating in the deep abyss of the ocean. I grew up in the middle of the great lakes, in Wisconsin, and these bodies of water freaked me out too after a brush with death in Hawaii. At eight years old, my little body was swallowed by a massive wave and the most fear I’ve ever experienced flooded my being.

This practice of floating in a deprivation tank, or “pod” as they’re called at Balance Float, certainly brings up that old fear. After about 10 minutes in the pod, in complete darkness and complete silence, I found myself poking around with my hands to feel the beneath me. I started to relax and drift off into a dream like state and was pulled back by that old fear. There was a brief struggle to let go in the first 20, maybe even 30 minutes in the one hour float session. In my life of constant striving to expand and evolve, this practice of floating and sensory deprivation is profoundly transformative.  We’re all familiar now with the benefits of meditation, and with floating, there’s the added benefit of absorbing an abundance of minerals like magnesium. I have to add, the environment of Balance Float certainly supported a transformative experience for me. This place is beautiful. Here’s a bit of the review I left on yelp:

The entire place (Balance Float) feels incredibly spacious, even the pods! The hallway connecting all of the rooms has high ceilings, and dim, peaceful lighting. The design is modern and extremely efficient. The walls are soundproof. Everything is extremely clean, which is a huge plus for a float spa-I’ve been in a few that aren’t. I’m sure it’s a challenge to keep them super clean because the salt dries from that escapes the pods and continually puts a film on the floor.

That wasn’t happening at Balance Float. It is spotless! I know when I’m nude and want to relax, clean is a real must. I felt so comfortable. The rooms are fully equipped for the entire experience. Lights are motion censored, and the float pods are illuminated with inviting colored lights. For me, the blue light felt cosmic and mildly psychedelic. It was as if I was stepping into the vast darkness of the universe. The pods look a bit like space ships. Once I was prepared to float, after a shower-which is right next to the pod, in the personal room, a button takes care of the rest. There are two buttons inside the pods, one for the light and one for music (if I remember correctly). Once I was in the water, I pressed the button for the light to go off, and 4 minutes of music to played and lead me into the experience. The music is beautiful! Very slow, tranquil wind instruments…

After I’d felt that the fear of water dissolve, it was as if I’d been transported into a deeper experience of peace than ever before. I’d stretched some of the most expansive lengths I’d ever felt and breathed into spaces that had never felt breath. It was as if the edges of my physical being were disappearing. We are water, 70% in fact, which is such an important fact to remember. Being in water is healing for humans, because we are mostly water! Not only was I exploring and completely aware these physical edges, I was also delve into the infinity of my mind. It certainly felt like a psychedelic experience. Floating allows us a chance to tune out and relax, and drift off into theta waves, and a dream-like state. Mental chatter and overstimulation in general isn’t unfamiliar to me. The unique opportunity to turn everything external off actually feels like a miraculous gift to me. This is why I also love restorative yoga classes, which I’ll certainly be writing about soon.

Examining my life and where I currently am is what generally begins after less than 5 minutes of meditation. It’s easy to get distracted by external stimuli in meditation or say, a restorative yoga class. In the deprivation pod, there’s only the mind. I learned long ago; actually during a yoga teacher training that it’s “the mind” and not “my mind.” In appreciation of this wording; the mind was a fascinating realm to explore while floating. After examining my life, I began offering myself encouragement and inspiration unfolded. Because auditory and visual hallucinations can occur while floating, I believe I went from distorted to peaceful. I heard unpleasant noises while I was in fear, and these morphed into a peaceful humming after the 40 minute mark.

In other words, I worked some (mental) shit out while I floated. It was therapeutic not only physically but mentally. After what felt like hours of affirmations and visuals of a utopian life I drew in, I entered into what felt like sleep when the light came on to call me out. This is when I knew I could stay longer. I was so blissful, I wanted hours more to experience this state. I stepped out of the pod feeling as if I’d been re-birthed.

The benefits listed for floating in these pods filled with water and epsom salt are literally endless. I came across astonishing claims such as the potential for recovery from addiction as well as balancing immune and hormonal systems. It’s been proven that floating can:

  • calm the nervous system
  • lower heart rate/blood pressure
  • improve circulation
  • offer pain relief
  • increase creativity
  • reduce headaches

Reading up on float tank research is highly encouraged. I don’t believe I personally know anyone who wouldn’t benefit. If you’re in the San Francisco Bay Area, visit Balance Float! You’re sure to experience deep relaxation if not more 😉

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