Ever since I came across this article in Time Magazine called “Float Hopes,” I had made it a goal to try float therapy. It has reported benefits not only for relief of PTSD symptoms, but for pain relief as well. Dealing with a flare up of both my pain and PTSD symptoms, I decided that the time was perfect to give this a try.
What is Float Therapy?
First of all, you may be asking, “What exactly IS float therapy?” I was also a little confused. Essentially, it is a sensory deprivation pod that has about 12 inches of dense salt water that reduces the effects of gravity on your body by 80%. In one session, you float gently in the pod for 1 hour with the gently changing colored lights and meditation music. You can also turn off the music and lights for a complete sensory free experience.
My First Experience With Floating
I started off my experience trying to max out my relaxation, so I scheduled my float after a 1 hour massage, so I was already relaxed. The cost was more effective to sign up for a monthly membership, and with a two month minimum sign up, it was absolutely worth it. The benefit was that I was able to also do a 25 minute infrared sauna, which is included with the memberships.
Immediately, I loved the spa feeling. Lit with Himalayan salt lamps, the spa was clean and very comfortable. I cannot stand moist heat, so these dry heat saunas are perfect! There was even a crisp clean robe to wear, although I prefer to put on my own swimsuit. I also highly recommend using one of these awesome swimsuit bags! They are waterproof, and make it really easy to stash a damp swimsuit until you can hang it out to dry.
After my sauna, I was treated to the oxygen bar while I waited for the water in my suite to finish the sanitization process. It’s not something I would usually spring for, but it is included with the float. It was a lot of fun switching out the different scents!
Finally, it was off to the float suite. It is, in fact, a private suite. You can lock the door and control the lights, music, ect. right from inside the pod. There is even a shower right in the suite so you can wash off the salt immediately after. Initially, I was concerned about getting water in my ears or my face being submerged, both of which were immediately answered. They provide wax earplugs, and there is also a foam ring to place under your head and keep your head floating on top of the water, although you will find you start floating almost immediately.
Close the lid?
I was really freaked out by the idea of closing the lid on the pod, but as soon as I got into it I knew it was the best option, although I did leave the lights in the room on. The high domed lid was well above my reach and once it was closed I didn’t feel claustrophobic at all. Instead, it provides the wonderful sensation of being in an endless void with the gentle lights in the pod, and it is actually one of my favorite things now that I have done it a few times!
Nothing but your thoughts
I really thought I would get bored being in there for a whole hour with no distractions… and I was kind of right, but also really wrong. Without any way to really gauge time, I would say about at the 30 minute mark I started to get antsy, but not long after that I could say I went into a state. Just floating and feeling the water on my skin, my hair floating below me and tickling my back. Gently gliding from the front to the back, side to the side. Twisting and stretching, my lumbar spine actually popped! Next thing I knew, the float was over.
I went home, went to bed, and much to my surprise, I didn’t wake up that night. Not. Even. Once. For someone who wakes up from pain or nightmares at least 3 times each night, this was insane! I didn’t even stir until Damir came in at 1 p.m. in the afternoon to gently shake me and ask if I was ok. Yes. Yes I was indeed.
My Second Float
I wasn’t sure how much of the success of my first float was due to the combination of the massage, infrared sauna and a float, so I put off doing the second one for awhile until I was home on a Saturday with the start of a migraine forming. Making a snap decision, I booked a float and was there 30 minutes later. No massage, no sauna.
This time around, I got into the float so much faster, no boredom or antsyness at all. I don’t stay still, instead I bounce around most of the time since any movement, even every so slight, will send you drifting into an opposite wall, but I actually enjoy the gliding motion. Before I knew it, the float was over. I went home, went to bed, and although I did wake up to use the bathroom, I slept soundly and woke up without any migraine.
Recommendations & Considerations
- Don’t let the idea of being in there for a full hour throw you off. I think it was really beneficial to stick it out for the full hour the first time you try it, because subsequent soaks seem to go much more quickly.
- Keep in mind, it isn’t just the lack of gravity that helps with relaxation. They use epsom salt to increase the water density, and epsom salt has a ton of magnesium, a natural muscle relaxer. Some of this is absorbed into your body which is why even soaking in epsom salts in your bathtub can help with chronic pain.
- Try closing the lid, even if you are unsure. Know you can always sit up and raise it, or even get out, if you are uncomfortable.
- They have a spray bottle of distilled water in the pod, just in case you do manage to get the salt water in your eyes.
- You can even play your own music, or a gentle repeating mantra to aid your meditation goals. I haven’t done this, but it might not be a terrible idea.
Overall, I really enjoyed floating, and plan to continue my membership for much longer than those first two months. Have you tried floating? What are your thoughts?