When Nothingness Is Exactly What You Need (My Float Tank Experience)

STD_6089I was walking down the street one day last year and saw a black sign with the word NOTHING written on it in bold, white lettering. It had an arrow pointing beneath it towards the building on my left.

My gut reaction was that that sounded like the most wonderful thing on earth. It was Christmastime, the most stressful time of the year for any retail employee, and I was feeling burnt out and over-peopled. While it’s easy for anyone to feel that way after a certain amount of time, HSPs (Highly Sensitive People) have a higher tendency to become overwhelmed and over-stimulated by the world.  There’s sometimes a point where I honestly would do anything to just turn the world off for a few moments and do, hear, feel, and think absolutely nothing. I’m not talking about a permanent shut off, just for an hour or a day or something. So when I saw that sign, I was intrigued.

Floating claims to help with many things, from joint pain relief to anxiety  to enhanced meditation. The basic premise is that you float in an enclosed pod, in about a foot of water with between 800-1300lbs of epsom salts in it. It’s essentially a deprivation tank. Complete silence, darkness, and only your thoughts to keep you company.

Are you convinced  yet?

The first time I went – a month or so later- I found it really hard to lie still. It’s a pretty odd sensation, floating in a dark, enclosed pod. It doesn’t feel claustrophobic because the space almost seems limitless, but nonetheless it’s not a feeling I’ve had before. I focused on breathing and just tried to take the experience for what it was. An hour and a half seems like a really long time, and truth be told I was probably ready to get out after about an hour. I really wasn’t sure if I felt any different afterwards, but for the rest of the day I had this sense of calm. I was more aware, slept better, and kept that calm feeling for a few days.  My muscles were also very relaxed because of all the magnesium in epsom salts.

The second time, however, was completely different. I went for my float because I desperately needed a break from the world. I was over-stimulated and over-stressed, and couldn’t seem to get enough silence to make a difference. I felt some initial anxiety about having to be in one place for an hour and a half, but the moment I got into the tank that anxiety went away.  The whole thing was more familiar, and I knew the routine, so it took less time for me to relax. Eventually I drifted off into this half-asleep state and woke up only to the music coming on to signal the end of my float. I could  have stayed for another full hour.

Immediately I felt more grounded, more centered, and more internally attuned. My body was still buzzing slightly with the stress I’d felt before, but my mind was completely calm. The feeling lasted the rest of the day; no hurry to do anything, and every stress was put into perspective. My mind was focused, yet more relaxed than it has felt in months. I went and sat on top of a rocky hill for about an hour, taking in a view of the city and a short nap in the sun.

Whether you’re highly sensitive, an introvert, empath, or none of those at all, this is a kind of relaxation you won’t find anywhere else.

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