Ask me on any given day how I’m doing and the answer will be: busy. Between demanding work, an even more demanding (albeit adorable) kid, a cat that meows constantly, and a husband who needs the occasional hug, there’s little time for quiet solace. Massages are divine, but in a life of incessant stimulation and busy-ness, what I crave most is complete and utter silence. I figured there were few places stressed out gals like me could find total non-sensory relief that didn’t involve outer space or prescription meds. It turns out I was wrong.
Developed by a Harvard neuroscientist in the 1950’s, Floatation Therapy involves closing yourself into a pitch-dark pod filled with salt water for up to 2 hours. The result? A theta state promising deep relaxation like you’ve never experienced before. It seems we’re a pretty stressed out nation and float tanks are popping up across the country, including one in my hometown. When I read that Elle MacPherson owns her own float pod, I made an appointment stat (because I’ve yet to see anyone look as zen and gorgeous as Elle while dropping her kids at school).
I arrived in the middle of a typical crazy day and got second thoughts immediately. First of all, the pod looks more like a giant metal box full of water and who wants to be locked inside that? Reality set in and I considered a deep tissue massage instead. Apparently I’m not the only client to have a moment of panic and the staff was prepared with a soothing spiel. I’d be floating in just 10 inches of water with 900 lbs of dissolved Epsom salts (that’s three-times more buoyant than the Dead Sea) and I could open the hatch anytime I wanted.
After showering, I gingerly stepped into the pitch-black pod. The water is controlled at the same temperature as our skin (34.1 degrees Celsius), so there’s no shock to your system. OK, I thought to myself, you can do this. I closed the hatch, lay back in the water and waited to drift off into theta-land. Initial thoughts? Complete and utter panic. Heart pounding I felt around for the door handle and pushed it open. I gasped for air but after a few deep breathes, I went back in. It was this, or head home to the meowing cat. Besides, Harvard neuroscientists are usually right, so I lay back and opened up to the whole experience. Once I’d found a comfortable position, I started to drift. I didn’t dream, but I wasn’t really awake. My eyes opened a few times but because it was pitch black, there was nothing jarring me back to the fact that I was shut inside a tank. After an hour, soft music started piping in and my brain slowly ‘woke up’. Afterwards I felt more relaxed than I’d ever felt in my life. It turns out that locking myself into a dark room officially floats my boat.