Floating Away: 90 Minutes in a Sensory Deprivation Pod

One of the activities that has been patiently waiting to be checked off my bucket list is experiencing a sensory deprivation tank or isolation tank. It’s friendlier, less intimidating term is simply “floating.”

What is Floating?

When you float, you get into a pod filled with about 10 inches of of water. The water is super-saturated with around 1,000 pounds of Epsom salt, which allows the body to float effortlessly. The pod also regulates the water in order to keep it at skin temperature; once you’re in the water its almost impossible to tell which parts of your skin are in the water or not. When floating naked and weightless in the darkness without no sounds, you’re sensory deprived; your body gets a break from gravity and your senses get a break and from constant input to your brain, making it the ideal environment for complete physical and mental relaxation.

Oddly enough, floating is not as mainstream as other forms of relaxation, like massage, yoga, or meditation, but it’s for anyone and everyone! I would especially recommend it to my friends who enjoy yoga and meditation and want an experience that will potentially allow them to deepen their meditation practice and connection with their mind.

Is it Dangerous?

The phrase sensory deprivation does not always invoke positive associations; it’s easy to imagine being inside an ominous tank that you can’t escape from. I have to admit, the idea of closing myself into a totally dark tank was a little intimidating; however, once I saw the sleek, inviting Dream Pod and learned about how it worked, I was confident that it was safe and user-friendly.

Once inside, you pull down the inside handle to close the pod. It doesn’t lock or even seal, and fresh continually air circulates inside the pod. Once you’re comfortably floating, you can reach over and turn off the lights. You can open the open the top or turn on the lights at any time during your float- whatever helps you to be most comfortable and relaxed! There is so little danger to floating, but it has so many benefits!

Benefits of Floating

Floating is known for its positive impact on general well-being in addition to physical and mental benefits.

  • Promotes state of total calm and relaxation
  • Eliminates fatigue and jet lag
  • Improves sleep
  • Alleviates mental and physical stress
  • Relieves pain from arthritis, migraines, and injuries
  • Energizes, rejuvenates, and revitalizes
  • Speeds the healing and recovery process in your body
  • Decreases production of Cortisol, ACTH, Lactic Acid, and Adrenaline
  • Increases production of endorphins
  • Boosts immunity
  • Improves blood circulation
  • Increases distribution of oxygen and nutrients
  • Improves mental clarity and awareness
  • Increases creativity
  • Shifts brain waves from Beta to Alpha, Theta, and even Delta (an advanced monk-like state)
  • Reduces blood pressure, pulse, and heart rate, and oxygen consumption
  • Intensifies acuteness of all senses
  • Allows brain to better handle mental load
  • List adapted from Bangkok Float Center

Big City Living: Sensory Overload

If you’re living in a big city, or if you travel frequently, you don’t realize how much your senses are taking in at any given time and how much work your brain is doing based on the information you’re receiving. In Bangkok, I’m continually bombarded with noise and sight pollution: relentless, blaring TV noise in the public transport, large screens glaring from malls, honking horns, etc. As I walk down the street, my eyes dart between watching the sidewalk for uneven tiles and scanning the buildings for that new restaurant while women holler, “Thai massage?”

Needless to say, there are times when my senses crave a break. But even then- say you’re quietly sitting in your room- your brain in still taking in a wealth of information: light, color, outside noise, etc. Floating is one way to truly break free from the sensory input and effects of gravity.

Letting Go: A Freeing Mind and Body Experience

Standing at the pod, I put my earplugs in. No noise. I closed the top and laid down. I was in awe of the way my body floated and how for the first time in my life, there was no pressure on any certain part of my body. I turned off the light. Complete darkness. I couldn’t hear anything but the sound of my own breathing- Innnn. Outttt. Innnnn. Outttttt. As my breaths became longer and deeper, I felt my heart beat slow and my body give into the feeling of total weightlessness. Time becomes irrelevant.

I felt a few aches in my shoulder; long held tension spots starting to release their pressure. From time to time, my legs would twitch- the way they do when I’m falling asleep. Joe Rogan, a comedian who promotes the use of sensory deprivation tanks says, “It’s one of the greatest tools ever for exploring thinking.” My mind wandered freely and drifting aimlessly while oscillating between letting go and dissecting my life from a whole new light (or lack thereof). Being in the pod with only your thoughts is a truly intense and enlightening experience.

Donovan Suwanapal, the owner of Bangkok Float Center, said his favorite part of floating is “being zoned out and losing sight of all boundaries. When you turn off the lights, it’s just you and yourself.” I could have sworn that I had only been in there for a half hour when the soothing music came on to alert me that my 90 minutes was almost over.

Bangkok Float Center

When I found out a float center had opened up in Bangkok, Thailand I had to try it! At Bangkok Float Center, floats are available for 60 minutes, 90 minutes, and 120 minutes, and they’re reasonably priced! A 60 minute float is only 1,500 Baht (about $45) while a 120 minute float is 2000 Baht (about $60). The First Time Package is a great deal: 3 floats for 3000 Baht (only $30 per session)! Bangkok Float Center is right off the tollway at Enterprize Park Center in Bang Na. You can book your float here! Or like their Facebook here to get updates!

For more info on floating or to find float centers in other countries, click here.

Tips for First Time Floaters:

Donavan, the owner, knows a lot about floating, and he was able to give me some great tips and information before I floated for the first time.

Before:

  • Don’t drink any caffeine.
  • Work out! Exercising prior to your float will enhance the overall experience.
  • Don’t eat a big meal.
  • Don’t shave! Since the water is so salty, a fresh shave will sting!

During:

  • Let go. Or as Joe Rogan says, “Let go from letting go.” Relax. Let your mind wander. This is harder than it sounds, especially the first time.

After:

  • Rehydrate! Drink a lot of water.
  • Don’t go outside or drive right away! Your senses will be more sensitive, so give yourself some time to process your float experience and slowly adjust your brain to the outside world.

Bangkok Float Center has comfy couches, books and a fridge full of beverages and snacks. Guests are encouraged to to read, draw, journal, and hang here to process their float before going back into crazy, chaotic reality.

  After Effects

One of the best parts about floating is the after effects. When I walked outside after my float, the colors were a little brighter, the sun more intense, and I was more sensitive to smells. Although I had a slight headache after my float, I felt very calm, and I slept wonderfully that night. I felt great the following days, and I experienced lots of creative energy and productivity. Not to mention my skin was silky smooth!

When it comes to floating, they say 3 is key. During your first float, you spend the most time getting acquainted with the pod, adjusting yourself, and telling yourself that it’s ok to let go and relax. A 2nd and 3rd float is when you can really go into deeper relaxation and reap more benefits. The more you float, the better you feel!

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Floating is still under the radar even though it’s a unique, introspective, gravity-defying experience with so many benefits! I can’t believe that float centers are not all over the place! If you’re in Bangkok, I’d recommend trying Bangkok Float Center. I can’t wait to go again!

Have you ever floated? Would you try it?

Thanks to Bangkok Float Center for hosting me. As always, all opinions are my own. 

14 COMMENTS

  1. staggerleee | 25th Nov 14

    That looks pretty cool! What if you fall asleep? Can you drown?

    • Words of a Wanderer | 26th Nov 14

      You can totally fall asleep!!! A lot of people sleep in the tank! It would be pretty hard to drown because it’s hard to roll over when you’re in the tank since you’re so buoyant. Even if you did roll over, you would get salt in your eyes/mouth and that would wake you up pretty quickly!

  2. NYC JetSetter | 27th Nov 14

    That’s so cool! I never heard of that before but it looks relaxing.

    • Words of a Wanderer | 27th Nov 14

      It’s soooo relaxing!!! I’m really surprised it’s not a bigger “thing.” I would definitely recommend trying it sometime! It’s an awesome experience. 🙂

  3. Dave Cole (@cooksipgo) | 27th Nov 14

    It’s funny that you quoted Joe Rogan about this – I heard about the pods the first time from him. I would definitely like to give these a try. I’m sure they’d be just right after some long days of traveling.

    • Words of a Wanderer | 27th Nov 14

      That’s awesome that you’ve heard about it from him! I didn’t know who he was until I started to do some more research after I floated! It’s a very unique experience. You’re right- these would be so great after long days of traveling (they should have them in all hostels and hotels! haha). I hear floating can also counteract jet lag- so it’d be perfect after those long international flights!

  4. jennmalka | 27th Nov 14

    Oh my, Ive never heard about this!! Where did you do it? I feel like this is a whole mind and body cleanse

    • Words of a Wanderer | 27th Nov 14

      A whole mind and body cleanse- yes!! That’s exactly what it felt like- great way to put it! I did this at Bangkok Float Center in Bangkok, Thailand, but float centers are popping up all over! If there’s one near you, you should try it; there’s nothing like a good float! 😉

  5. Bianca Malata (@ItsAllBee) | 28th Nov 14

    This sounds like a great experience but I am far too claustrophobic to do it.

    • Words of a Wanderer | 1st Dec 14

      I can see how it would be difficult for someone who is claustrophobic, but you can float with the door open! 🙂

  6. Adrian Ann | 29th Nov 14

    Wow! What a crazy experience. I’ve heard of these before but never tried them myself! Have to try this out when I’m in Bangkok next time at TBEX in October.

    • Words of a Wanderer | 1st Dec 14

      You definitely should! I’m stoked that TBEX will be in BKK next October, maybe I’ll see you there! 😉

  7. bournehungry | 10th Dec 14

    I’m convinced! I will definitely give floating a try!

    • Words of a Wanderer | 17th Dec 14

      You should! I bet there’s plenty of options in Manhattan! 😉 You may need to de-stress after the big move!

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