This is a short account of what my experience of a flotation tank was like.
I have been meditating regularly for a few years now, and I have been wanting to make my practise deeper.
I tampered with deep trances which I will be writing about specifically, but this experience is quite similar in essence to them.
I have also tried transcendental meditation repeating mantras which haven’t been great for me.
On the other hand, focusing on my breath, walking meditations and counting my breaths have done wonders for me over the years.
I wrote a whole article on the subject you can read here. In the article there are no details on the how-to because I do not consider myself knowledgeable enough to dare teach it, but I direct you towards resources to help you out. My teacher are your teachers
I first heard of these floatation tanks in the simpsons where Homer goes on a colorful trip before Lisa gets him out of there. Then on The Joe Rogan Experience, where I was convinced to go and try it out for myself.
First of all, where did I go, and how did I chose it?
1) In paris there a few places where you have these flotation tanks, but only one where you actually have several machines, and are specialised in that and only that. I figured it would be better.
2) Their website is simple, clear, beautiful, and mobile friendly. They have also partnered with the MINDBODY app, which makes booking a session easy. Two clicks and you’re booked.
3) The neighbourhood is fashionable, secure, next to the metro, and the location faces the Seine, which is always nice when you’re in Paris.
First impression on the place?
Clean, lots of whites and greys, trees inside (yes, trees) teas, coffee, varied seats and silence. No music, just pure calm. Almost as if the walls ooze of serenity. Great first impression.
The cashier was smily, not overly energetic or too soft. He asked me a few medical questions which was reassuring, and then he gave me a tablet and an instructional guide to look at while he prepared the room where the isolation tank was.
VERY clear video, good animated graphics, and well structured. Once you go in the room you can see the video was tailored for their concept.
The shoes have to be taken off and left outside of the room, which is a very warm 34,9 degrees Celsius, (94,8 Farenheit) and he gives you the final instruction on how to optimise the experience.
The water is 500kg of Epsom Salts (magnesium-sulfur) diluted in 800 Litres of water. Basically 5 times more salty than the dead sea. The Epaom Salts help decontract your muscles but also float like a surfboard.
« Once you’re in the tank, just lie down and relax, let your mind wander, let yourself drift and float. Don’t TRY and relax, it would be like trying to sleep. You can’t you just have to let it happen ».
So I got naked, hopped in their cool italian shower with their 3 coloured soaps (start with the transparent one!), and I was ready to immerse myself!
Hopped into the water, which is just right, lied on my back and turned the light off…. And 3 mins in I’m bumping on the sides of the tank, I can’t seem to stay still. So I try the little floaty fry to put behind my neck but all I focus on is IT touching my neck….
So I sit up and shove the thing outside but of course the salty water drips into my eyes and I have to wash them out before they burn my eyeballs off!!!
So out I go, rub rub rub, dry my face off and lie down again… It’s ok…
And I forgot to put my earplugs in. I hope I won’t go deaf after this…. Can’t take my mind off the idea so I hop out again and plug myself.
Back down lying… I try different positions and I figure I’m best arms out, elbow bent and hands about head height.
I figure out that if I don’t move AT ALL I’ll stop floating sideways and bumping into the walls of the Bubble.
And then I start feeling my joints pop…. I’m relaxing. One vertebrae. My shoulder. My knee. Quick burn of my bad shoulder… Then it goes aways. I’m actually observing myself relaxing.
I’m starting to feel longer. Then I can’t really feel my hand and feet anymore. They aren’t numb, I just don’t realise they’re there. Or my arms and legs. Then I feel like I’m actually floating in deep space. Like I’m bound by nothing.
The temperature of the air and the water feel the same. I’m not moving anymore so I don’t feel the water moving. I’m not sure which part of my body in under or over the water. It is so dark I don’t know if my eyes are open or closed anymore. I don’t really care. There are so many ideas going through my head I’m not sure which one I should focus on. Should I be focusing on my ideas? Whats that thump? Is that my heartbeat? It’s loud…
I can hear myself breath. One… Two…. Three…. Four…. Five…. this is nice…. Six… Damn my jaw is tight. What happens if I relax it…
How much time has gone by? Does it matter? It’s hot… actually not really.
Then I saw pulsating light, like going into hyperspace in Star Wars, but smoother. Just a light halo of light pulsating, I could feel I was drifting off and then caught myself realising I was drifting off, and it was gone. Back to breathing. One… Two… Three….
I’m on the coast in Cornwall. Looking out on the sea. There’s a tall figure next to me. With a torn white cloak around it… Am I dreaming? Back in the tank. My heart is racing. One…. breathe… Two…. breathe… Three….
I’m in the middle of a old Roman Bath Place (or as I imagine it) and a tall dark figured beast with a deer’s head, bat wings, a gorilla’s body and jaguar legs approaches me. I’m not scared “What do i have to do?”. It smiled and grabbed me and told me it was me. It was both me and next to me, and I asked it lots of questions about my life, and it answered them so easily. I have the next few months ahead of me all set. I know where
I’m going. I feel at peace, I was wondering about some issues with friends, and now I know.
PLOP… a cold drop of water just hit my leg. Or was it a spasm? Damn how much time has gone by?
It’s dark, I must still have time. One… Two…. Music starts. Oh 5mins left. I move a hand, a foot, I bend a leg. Get control over my body again.
Turn the light on. A dim blue light. I open the door. Its not cold. I hop into the shower.
Put steaming hot water all over me, shampoo the salty goo off. My muscles are soft and hot. I feel reborn. Once clean I turn the water to the coldest there is and have a 30 second cold shower to jolt my body.
A warm cup of tea is waiting for me as I leave the booth.
That was awesome. I’ll be coming back in a month.
I suggest if you have any issues with yourself, with your life, if you feel overwhelmed, need some time off, just go into one of these bubble for an hour and drift off to wherever you want. It is a massage, a stretch, a sauna, a yoga class and a meditation all in one.
I hop you enjoyed this.