Yesterday I had the opportunity to cross an item off my bucket list that has been hanging around for over 20 years – climbing into a flotation tank for an experience in weightlessness, meditation, and deep relaxation.
Float Sechelt opened approximately 5 weeks ago in Sechelt, and seeing a steady rise in business as folks learn about the benefits of ‘floating’: pain relief, injury recovery, improved athletic performance, relief from pregnancy discomfort, and strengthened immune system.
You can read about the many benefits of this activity on the Float web site here. However, my friends had very specific questions and sent me as a guinea pig to try it out. Here’s what they asked.
Is it clean?
- A few friends had visible yuck-responses to the idea of floating in a tub that wasn’t in their own home and cleaned to their own unique interpretations of cleanliness. To which I answer: what icky things can possibly live in 800 lbs of epsom salts?? Also, the Vancouver Coastal Health authority requires Float Sechelt to add a minimum amount of non-toxic disinfectant above and beyond the hyper-sterile environment.
How do they clean the spas?
- First, all floats begin with the guest’s de-yucking ‘pre-float’ shampoo and body wash, with hypoallergenic fragrance-free soap. So the baseline of clean is established. Second, about 5 minutes after the start of the soft music that announces the ending of your session, when you’re rinsing and conditioning your hair, the filter system turns on. The water in the tank is cycled through the filter three times over a 30 minute period, so the solution is sterile and clean for the next appointment. The spas are wiped inside every second day, and the entire solution is replaced every 16 weeks.
Eek! The idea of getting into a dark tank and closing the door is terrifying. Why would anyone do that?
- In a constantly-connected world, there are getting to be very few places and times we can really retreat into quiet spaces. I can’t even use a bathroom at home without someone knocking on the door to ask me something or want to hand me a phone. Talk about yuck factors! Nope, I LOVED being able to climb into the spa, pull the door gently shut and float in absolute weightlessness, silence and darkness. I even used the package of earplugs… get out, world, and stay out!However, if you have claustrophobia, or prefer your experience to be less separate from day to day life, you are in control. Leave the door open (you might get cool and need to splash water over yourself from time to time) or even just prop it open with one of the provided facecloths. There’s pretty good soundproofing just in the room itself.
I saw the movie Altered States and it freaked me out. Will that happen to me?
- I suspect if you regularly practice meditation, the float experience will greatly enhance that. I meditate, not as often as I’d like, but enough to know when it’s happening – and when it might be skipped for a dozing/sleeping experience. Most of the time in my float I just let thoughts pass through my mind like cloudscapes, but occasionally I changed position or experimented with the feelings of gravity – try lifting your arms or head and find out just how heavy they really are – and even did some abdominal crunches! I just let the spirit move me and didn’t have any ‘rules’ about how I ought to float.
People with strong meditative experience or who are regular floaters may experience visions, creative breakthroughs or lucid dreaming. The trick is to relax and let it happen, and in the meantime let the magic of the salts do the things it will do for relaxation and reorganizing thoughts.
What if I fall asleep?
- A couple of times I drifted off to sleep but my usual jerking just before sleep settles in woke me up. Trust me, you’re not going to fall asleep and drown. You’d have to somehow roll yourself over in only 11 inches of hyper-buoyant solution that acts to hold you perfectly in place (almost like a very weak gel), and immerse your eyes, nose and mouth in solution that makes you hyper-aware of your tiniest hangnail.No one has ever drowned in a float spa unit.
I’m afraid I’ll get really emotional in that thing. Does that ever happen?
- Research says flotation tanks are really useful for treating depression, stress-related disorders, high blood pressure, and chronic illnesses like fibromyalgia. It’s more likely you will experience feelings of peace or relief. You can also use a float to relax you before a health treatment, or save it for after for an even deeper relaxation.
Do I have to stay in for the full 90 minutes?
- No. You are in control of your float at all times. There is a robe and slippers provided if you need to use the bathroom down the hall, and if you find you’ve gotten all the benefit you want in a shorter period you’re free to end your float early. However, staying the full 90 minutes is recommended as most people today are unaccustomed to deep relaxation and need the full float time to get the hang of it by working through impulses of boredom, distracted thoughts, and the drive to control every waking minute of our day.
How did you feel after?
- I made the mistake at the end of the float – didn’t have my cheater glasses on and couldn’t read the pre/post-float instructions – and not only rinsed all of the minerals and salts off but used the shampoo instead of the post-float conditioner, so I can’t tell you what my skin was like afterwards compared to those who merely rinsed. Even with the wash, my skin feels moisturized and incredibly clean… like my body can breathe through it. I also felt incredibly relaxed and peaceful, and a client meeting I had scheduled immediately after even felt different. I experienced feelings of intensified compassion for others and ability to view problems from different perspectives, without judgements or attachment to outcomes. Totally cool.
The experience is followed up with a glass of Comox Valley artisanally-grown TeaFarm tea featured for that day, and the entire TeaFarm line of oolong, black, green, roibos, and herbal/floral teas are available to smell and purchase.
If you plan to go, read this
Right now there is a wonderful Mother’s Day Gift Package… a 90 minute float gift certificate, a small Libre Tea Glass, and the tea of your choice, all wrapped as a present for the special woman in your life, for $75. Given that a single float is $65, that’s a great value. I came home with one for my spouse Diane. A float also makes a great gift for the grad student in your family, pre prom or graduation day.
You can buy floats individually, in 3 packs for a $10/per float savings, or get a monthly membership. The monthly membership is a minimum four month commitment at $45/month; you get one float per month, and any additional floats are also available at $45 each. The membership can also be shared with one person in your household.
There was zero pressure from co-owner Brenda Houle to purchase anything. A steady stream of folks coming in to book appointments for themselves or buy packages or gift certificates shows they don’t really need to do any selling – the experience itself and word-of-mouth recommendations are doing it for them.
A big thumbs-up!
If you go: please share that you read this review. If you comment on this story with your own experience afterwards, you’ll be entered to win a Libre Tea Glass and tea of your choice from Float Sechelt – my treat.