Saturday, November 8, 2014

Go Float Yourself

I know my blog focuses on the creative process, art reviews and opportunities, but I wanted to share my most recent experience with you because I think you may want to try it to have some time to be self reflective, relax and unplug. What creative spirit doesn't need time for self reflection and calm? The other day I tried out a “float” – a visit to our area’s newest flotation tank space called  the Float Studio. The Float Studio is located on Sunset Avenue in Ocean, NJ. 

A flotation tank is also known as an isolation tank, sensory-deprivation tank or “restricted environmental stimulation therapy” tank. Don’t even ask if it is like 1980 sci-fi classic Altered States with William Hurt. I had no desire for lamb or a visit to the zoo afterwards. I didn’t have any crazy animal hallucinations like Lisa Simpson had either. It has nothing to do with those. 

The Float Studio is a warm and tranquil place with contemporary furniture and diffused lighting. There are two float rooms, each with a private shower and a tank. Each floatation tank holds 10 inches of water kept at body temperature with eight hundred pounds of dissolved Epsom salt.

Before entering the tank, I showered and shampooed thoroughly to remove any hair products, makeup and deodorant that might contaminate the water.  I was given earplugs for my ears and a foam noodle for my head. While it’s nearly impossible for my face to become submerged in the tank, I was told that some people have trouble relaxing and prefer the floating head support. For the first few minutes, I used it but found it cumbersome once I became acclimated to the floating sensation. If you wear contacts, you will need to take them out. Since I swim in the ocean frequently, I knew not shave my legs the day of my float because of the salt.

My experience was just relaxing. I floated naked and weightless in complete darkness, enveloped in a warm salty bath, listening only the sound of my own heartbeat and feeling acutely alive and three-dimensional. The darkness was optional – there are lights inside. At first, I found it difficult to relax because of recent shoulder injury. But after a series of stretches, the pain subsided and I was comfortable. There was enough room in the tank to swish around and play and to even sit up. I liked how I lost track of time, how I lost the dividing line where my skin ended and the water began, and how lost physical orientation within the tank. My brain just emptied. There was no email to answer, no work, no dinner to make, no conversation – just quiet. I had to time to reflect on personal goals and aspirations and just be with myself without any expectations. Time to be self reflective without any distraction is powerful. 

At the end of my float, I showered again. A ninety-minute session, which is the recommended time, costs $65. Towels and soap are provided but I would recommend bringing your favorite shampoo (Dr. Bonners mint soap is provided for hair and skin) and a fresh change of clothes. There was no pruning of the skin nor was my skin dry and flakey. My skin and hair felt baby soft afterwards. After my float, the water would be filtered and disinfected with oxone and hydrogen peroxide; no toxic chemicals, such as chlorine, are used.

I came home, ate a simple dinner, and slept soundly. I felt clear in my head, invigorated and alive. I will be definitely trying this again. The Float Studio hours are Tues-Sun: 10am-8pm and the telephone number is  732-898-7100. Appointments are recommended. 

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