Now that you’ve read Lift / Next Level Floats owner, Gina Antioco’s journey with floating, I’ll share my own. I was very excited to try floatation therapy for a number of reasons: My life is incessantly stressful, busy and loud; I love meditation when I do it but never take the time to and I’m an introvert who craves solitude but never gets any.
Gina was kind enough to host me at Lift / Next Level Floats, her pristine floatation therapy center in Brooklyn – the largest on the East Coast. I’m not sure what I was expecting, certainly not something so spacious, but Lift / Next Level Floats exceeded my every expectation. It was immaculate. This was much appreciated in a place where I’d be taking an hour-long bath. Usually, the lounge area of a spa is where you wait before your appointment. Here, the lounge, complete with green tea, lots of natural light and a copy of Buddha and His Teachings, is where you hang post-treatment, as a kind of buffer between post-float you and the hectic city. So after a few quick instructions, Gina led me to one of the center’s five floating suites.
Choose a Floating Suite, Any Suite
You have a choice of floating suite: You can choose from their three Evolution Float Pods, which resemble giant eggs with clamshell lids or one of the center’s two Ocean Float Rooms, accessed by a side door. Kind of like a walk-in closet. I chose the latter because the confined space of the pods gave me visions of Uma Thurman in Kill Bill 2…and I doubt I could afford to Pei Mei my way out of one of these expensive-looking pods. These Ocean Float Rooms also feature 7-foot high ceilings adorned with a starlight effect, which appealed to me on a *cosmic* level. It was pretty and roomy enough for me to fully relax.
The Ocean Float Suite
Is a room within a room. The outer room is a pristine private shower, like those bathrooms where the entire room is the shower stall. (I’ve always loved those.) Before I entered the actual floating suite, I was instructed to shower with shampoo and soap, but no conditioner or body cream pre-float. Gina left me to it, telling me to completely dry off my face before entering the tank, as that is the one part of my body that would be out of the water (you know…breathing).
I stepped into the float room, naked. You float naked. It’s completely private, so I wasn’t at all uncomfortable, but I mention it because everyone asked whether you float naked. You do. The first thing I noticed when I entered the tank was the water temperature. Since I had just taken a shower, I was aware of how much hotter my shower (which was my normal shower temperature) was than the water in the tank. I take very good care of the skin all over my body, and I was forced to wonder how much of my careful exfoliating and moisturizing I negate by taking scalding (and therefore skin-drying) showers every morning! Lesson learned. The water in the tanks is strategically set to skin temperature, which really allows you to lose yourself while floating; where your body ends and the water begins starts to blur.
And We All Float On Ok
The water contains 1,000 lbs. of Epsom salt, which makes you extremely buoyant. There are neck pillows available for head support. Now perhaps it’s because I have a huge noggin, but I was not really comfortable until I put on the neck pillow. Once I did, though, voila! I was comfortable and totally afloat. If you’re worried that an hour-long bath will cause you to go through the rest of your post-float day looking like a raisin, fear not. An Epsom salt solution is actually moisturizing and hydrating and does not cause the same skin pruning most long dips do.
I Relaxed Immediately
Gina advised me to situate my body in the middle of the tank so I would be centered once the water went still. You do shift around slightly as you’re floating (like a boat on tranquil water) and you don’t want your arms or legs to hit the sides of the tank. You really do lose sense of your extremities, so if they were to all of the sudden touch the side of the tank it would bring an awareness back to them that’s counter-productive to the meditative aspect of floating.
How Was It?
Blissful. Not for one minute did I wonder when it would be over. The room had a magical glow to it – nothing too bright, though. Like a purplish twilight. I looked up at the “starry” roof of the tank at first, but soon closed my eyes. In the egg shaped pods, you can also play music, if you’re so inclined. That seems antithetical to sensory deprivation to me, but to each his own.
A Few Minutes Into The Float
I started to remember, in vivid detail, my dream from the night before. Soon after that, though, conscious thought ceased, and I entered a dreamy state. Not asleep, not awake…just zoned out. In a great way. I didn’t put pressure on myself to have some deep revelation during my float, and I didn’t try to meditate (which usually leads to zero actual meditation). I just chilled. In my dreamy state, I actually experienced what Gina told me were hypnagogic jerks, those tiny spasms your body has on the edge of sleep. These were annoying because every time one happened, I stirred the tranquil water and made sound in the otherwise silent tank. Since your ears are under the water even the slightest splash seems super loud. Luckily, I zoned back out quickly after every jerk.
Your Float Is Now Complete
Then you can shower again, at your own pace. There’s no rushing you out of the room or the center. You can get dressed and then hang in the lounge with a cup of green tea until you’re ready to rejoin civilization.
Third Float’s the Charm
Gina told me the results really kick in after about three floats, when your body knows what to do immediately upon entering the tank, allowing you to get the full hour of therapeutic floating. Still, immediately after just one float, I got in a car with my husband and kids for an hour drive. If anything were to test my zen, this was it! I was much less reactive than usual – the bickering and the traffic didn’t get under my skin like they usually do. I even sang along with the Taylor Swift songs my daughter demanded we listen to, instead of scowling in the front seat for three minutes. Not a drop of Bad Blood was spilled…now that’s a transformation!
By: Claire McCormack, Twitter & Instagram: @clairemcmack