Ever since I heard about sensory deprivation tanks, I was interested in trying one out. Lucky for me, my girlfriend knew this and got me a gift certificate to Float Bellevue for Christmas.
Sensory deprivation tanks, also known as float pods, aim to be an introspective experience, removing external stimulation. Dark and silent, with thousands of pounds of Epsom salt dissolved in the 93 degree water, floatation therapy has been suggested to relieve stress and pain and is well-known as a meditative experience.
From the moment I walked in, I knew relaxation and comfort was top of mind. I was first greeted by Jacob, the single employee behind the counter. Helpful and attentive, his entire manner was very chill and calming. I found myself starting to relax deeply just talking to him.
The service was impeccable. Jacob gave me a combination of practical advice, such as how to avoid getting salt water in my eyes, as well as tips on how to approach the experience. Part instructor and part shaman, Jacob addressed all of my questions about the process and I went into the tank relaxed with a mind free of expectation.
The procedure for floaters is quite simple. The rooms consist of the float pod and a shower for washing up before and after the session. Soap, shampoo, towels and earplugs are provided to floaters. Floating is done nude, so the only thing users need to bring is themselves.
Using the tank was an absolutely fantastic experience. I’ve never floated in any sort of water past a pool or ocean, so the buoyancy was a remarkable feeling. Without effort, I was able to relax more fully than I was able to in recent memory. Tanks are illuminated with a switch in the tank, so after I was situated I hit the light switch and was plunged into perfect darkness. Eyes open or closed, I couldn’t tell the difference.
I had read reports of people experiencing hallucinations in float tanks and I was a little surprised to actually have minor visuals, considering I went in without any drugs in my system. Flickering Mandelbrot fractal patterns growing like crystals, abstract half-faces, and the impressions of neon seabirds in flight were all features of my float.
I also experienced strange impressions of movement, feeling like my body was accelerating across the surface of the water. I almost felt like I was moving so fast I was going to smash into the side of the pod, but no impact came. I found it more entertaining than anything but I could see those prone to motion sickness having a little less fun.
I’ve always carried tension and stress in my neck, and after the years I’ve become used to everything from a dull ache to the feeling of needles sticking out of my skin. The act of floating allowed me to become even more aware of the tension and it was a little hard to get comfortable initially. However, after some adjustments and experimentation, I felt myself stretching in new ways and my neck started to slowly unwind.
I wasn’t immediately aware of just how relaxed the session made me until hours later when I was still feeling calm, without tension or neck pain.
I can’t express enough positivity about the whole experience. Helpful employees, a clean and well-decorated facility and the relaxing ambiance all made my session remarkable. Anybody who is at all curious about sensory deprivation tanks should try it immediately.