Don’t let the ominous name fool you; Sensory Deprivation Tanks (also known as Float Tanks – nicer, right?) can facilitate the deepest physical and mental relaxation possible.
Here are some tips on how to get there – starting with one from the inventor himself:
1. “Thou shall not program”, warned Dr. John C. Lilly. It can be tempting to hope for the altered states, visions and lucid dreams that some floaters claim to have. Don’t expect these to happen your first float, if ever. Fixating on such ideas may keep you from receiving the simpler benefits you really need like release of muscle tension and organization of thoughts.
2. Expect to freak out! Entering the relatively small, black chamber (often described as coffin-like!) with its damp, heavy air can invoke panic in the bravest of souls. Fear not! Upon entering your Float Room, open the door of the tank – this will dissipate the steam and make the air less stifling when you get in. Then, take a few deep breaths and tell yourself you are safe (you are!). If your pulse is still racing try to view it as an opportunity to practice your Jedi mind control and conquer your claustrophobia.
3. No need to Freeze. While the Epsom salted water is heated to “body temperature” it can’t possibly match everyone’s unique comfort level. If you know you run on the hot or cold side, let the float host know beforehand so he or she can adjust the water temperature accordingly.
4. More awkward equals more rewards. While it’s tempting to use the foam neck rest offered, try to go without. It’s hard to get the full floating sensation when there’s an object in contact with you. For those of you with pain in your chest, neck and upper back, try the less natural arms-above-your-head position. It’s optimal for upper body tension release.
5. Don’t make plans to go for a java with your over-dramatic bestie right after. You will likely be feeling very light, sensitive, and balanced post-float. To make the most of this state try activities that are pensive, meaningful or sweetly sensorial. Think: writing, making love, going for a walk, or reading to a child.
Kiss gravity goodbye for 90 minutes of serenity. Just don’t kiss the miracle water – hello, 800 lbs of Epsom salts taste terrible.