Floating like a goldfish
Honking cars, flying helicopters, tight skirts, bright conference rooms, ever feel like your senses are being overly stimulated? I know I do! Whenever I feel like this I notice my thoughts are wondering of and my attention span seems to be a lot shorter (or as we Dutchies say: shorter than the attention span of a goldfish). It is almost kind of tiring to feel overly stimulated all the time. Therefore, I was intrigued by the idea of sensory deprivation sessions. I gave it a try and I am sharing my thoughts and experience with you today!
Sensory deprivation can be defined as the deliberate reduction or removal of stimuli from one or more of the senses, also known as perceptual isolation. In our daily life, we’re continuously exposed to all kinds of impulses that are being observed by our senses. Therefore, deliberate sessions of sensory deprivation are supposed to aid in relaxation. This is called restricted environmental stimulation therapy (REST). There are different kinds of REST, like chamber REST and floatation REST. The one I tried is the latter one. During floatation REST one lies in a so-called float tank. This tank is basically a small room or capsule filled with water. The water is body temperature and filled with Epsom salt. By having the water at body temperature, the senses in your skin are less likely to notice a difference above and under the water surface. Furthermore, the Epsom salt ensures your body is effortlessly floating. It’s the same effect as swimming in the Dead Sea or salt mine lakes. The tank is dark to decrease impulses for your eyes and earplugs are provided to cancel out any sounds.
First floating experience
For my first floating experience, I went to float centre New Babylon in The Hague. I got an appointment for a single float which would last about sixty minutes. Prior to floating, the lady gave some extra instructions on the procedure and the effects afterwards. For the ultimate relaxing experience (which I was going for here) it was recommended to have a massage before going into the float tank. After an hour of rubbing and oiling up (sounds really wrong) it was time to get in the float tank.
I needed the first few minutes to get used to my surroundings, not splashing the super salt water in my eyes, teeny tiny burns in blisters and all that. But I have to say I got in a relaxing mood fast. Then something happened I almost never experience: a quiet mind. All those Headspace sessions must finally have been paying off!
And my whole sessions would have been like that if it were not for the fire alarm to go off in the building. That’s right, I go to float for some relaxation and the whole building needs to be evacuated. Imagine this: wet hair, no underwear, thrown on (way too big) bathrobe rushing outside. It was just as funny as it sounds, but hey, at that time I was so relaxed I really could not be bothered with all the people evacuated from the gym staring at me. Luckily it was a false alarm and I could finish my float session peacefully. The lady even extended the session as I was disturbed during the first part.
Right after the floating session I felt super relaxed and peaceful. There was no worry on my mind and I felt like I was a bit high (on life) in a way. There was a nice rosy feeling in my head and my body felt nice and loose. This mood stayed for the whole day and resulted in a really good night rest. The next few days were a bit different though. As your senses have been deprived from a lot of impulses, stepping back in the real world could cause an overwhelming effect. Which is exactly what happened to me. I was in the city centre of Amsterdam, full of tourists and bicycles, and I got super annoyed and grumpy. Usually I tend to not like crowded situations, but I can’t really be bothered. This time, I just felt anxious. The anxiety was on and off present in my mind, but completely gone after three days. After those three days, I do feel more rested and prepared to conquer the world (HAHA, okay not really, just a little part of the world I guess).
Would I recommend this to others? YES! Definitely! Not only was I super curious, it actually helped in relaxing my mind. It is suggested to do this regularly, and I sure see why it would be nice. Next times I go I might even be able to do some deep thinking or relax even more. So, if you’re looking for a new way relax and take some rest, besides your regular sleep. Book a sixty-minute session and give floating a try.
Have you tried floatation tanks before? What was your experience? Will you be giving this a float? Let us know in the comments below!