Float Away

WCCO’s Jordana Green experiences her first float in a sensory deprivation tank, aimed to encourage relaxation and meditation

Awaken for Wellness, float tank
Float tank at Awaken for Wellness. Photo courtesy of the Awaken for Wellness Facebook page.

Complete escapism. That’s how I describe my ‘float‘ in a saltwater tank in St. Paul. It’s like being in the Dead Sea but in a tank and all alone. Well, that makes is sound horrible, but it’s really awesome. I wanted to try floating because I heard it can help you meditate. I struggle everyday to get through my 10-minute meditation practice so anything that will help sounded good to me.

Here’s the history of floating: In 1954, physician, neuroscientist, psychoanalyst, and St. Paul native, Dr. John C. Lilly, invented the salt water floatation tank as part of his research at the National Institute of Mental Health. He wanted to see what would happen to the brain during complete sensory deprivation. Complete sensory deprivation sounds terrifying, but instead he found weightlessness, darkness, and silence, which improved relaxation, lowered blood pressure, reduced stress, and enhanced creativity and mental acuity.

At first it was scary—you are buck naked when you enter this chamber filled with 10 inches of salt water. You put in earplugs, and in complete darkness, you lay down and just wait. I thought, “there’s no way I’ll be able to do this for 90 minutes.” You are floating, and eventually you lose your bearings which is very cool—you feel like you’re flying. It’s not cold or hot, some people fall asleep which is ok, you can’t drown. Then you are alone with your thoughts for 90 minutes. That’s the scary part. Thoughts come and go, you get antsy, you calm down, you wonder if anyone can see you naked, then you don’t really care. You lose track of space and time and you chill.

I had some moments of true meditation. When I emerged I was salty and relaxed. My husband who also floated (reluctantly), said in the first 15 minutes he was convinced he wasn’t going to make it the full 90. He made it. I can’t fully explain how floating will affect you or what you’ll get out of it, but I’m glad I tried it. My victory was knowing I can be alone with my thoughts for 90 minutes and actually be calm and still.

This week I wish you peaceful thoughts and the stillness to hear them and let them float away.