“When people get out of the float, they’re really raw,” Destiny Beck said.
What she meant is that after 90 minutes of floating in an isolation tank, where your feeling of physical existence is nearly wiped away, you can feel new, exposed or emotional when you get out.
The experience, aftermath and benefits are as different as the people floating, she said.
Beck is the co-owner, with her husband, Matt, of Float8 Wellness Lounge, opening in Deerfield Beach on Aug. 22.
Float8 has three pods and one special float suite, a giant walk-in tub with walls to the ceiling. Each gleaming white pod, space-y sleek, is filled with 1,000 pounds of Epsom salt and water. The water is roughly the same temperature as the surface of your skin, 93 degrees. The salt allows you to float effortlessly, and the temperature, Destiny says, is meant to prevent you from feeling where your body touches the water. Each session lasts 90 minutes, a long time (or not) when it’s just you and your thoughts in there. When you step into the tank, you close the lid and turn off the light and just… exist. No light. No sound. Just you.
My experience wasn’t particularly profound or life changing. I didn’t have a spiritual awakening or for feel like I was floating in outer space. But I did feel that rawness Destiny was talking about. While I was floating, there wasn’t any outside stimulus to distract me or detract me from myself.
Laying there naked, feeling the slimy salt water coat my skin, I began to notice that my thoughts carried a common theme. I was worrying about all kinds of things—about work, about what people thought of me, about my parents, even about what I was going to eat after. Once I noticed that worry and anxiety took up most of my thoughts, I was able to say, “Don’t worry.” I accepted the thoughts and eventually pushed them away.
At one point I sort of dozed off in a half-wake, half-dream state (it’s nearly impossible to drown in the tank. You’re floating so easily, it’s almost like laying on a bed.), and my mind just wandered. I didn’t have to analyze my thoughts. After that, I was in a more relaxed mood, and by the time ethereal music flooded the pod and the green light clicked on—my cue to get out—I felt good.
I spoke with partners Brian Lester and Barbara Alfonco on the phone a couple hours later, after they had both floated for the first time. There were striking parallels between our experiences.
Lester, who said he’d been waiting a whopping 17 years to try floating, Alfonco and I all went into the pod with no expectations.
“I feel like when we expect things, then it’s not what we get,” Alfonco said.
We all also noted that our bodies felt good after, and back pain and other muscular pain went away. That’s likely a result of the Epsom soak, which is one reason athletes like Tom Brady and Steph Curry float.
When Lester got out of the tank, he said he felt very emotional, “like I was being born again,” he said. Maybe it was that out-of-this world music (amplified by the way sound carries underwater), he pondered. “I almost felt like crying. It was really peaceful.”
They both purchased packages so they can continue floating.
Floatation therapy, sensory deprivation chambers or isolation tanks aren’t new. Comedian Joe Rogan is probably one of the most outspoken public figures on the benefits of this practice, and Matt and Destiny learned about it by listening to his podcast, the Joe Rogan Experience. Watch him talk about floating here.
They’ve been into floating ever since, and their passion led them to open the first multi-tank float center in South Florida. The studio has a meditation room/library, lounge area with organic teas and snacks, and bathrooms with lotion, q-tips and other post-soak necessaries. Local artwork by Jason Koerner, Kazilla and others is on rotation, and books, a journal and coloring books help you relax and reset after the float.
When I got into my stiflingly hot car and drove along the congested streets after the float, I felt happy. I even laughed when I got stuck behind a senior driving 20 MPH on a 45 MPH road.
I didn’t attain enlightenment during my float. Didn’t experience nirvana. Just a few hours where the stress of the world couldn’t touch me.