It was a sweltering July day when I stepped off of Queen Street and into the lobby of Float Toronto.
I was greeted by a friendly-faced lady who told me that before I got down to my floating business, I was welcome to relax in their lounge and watch a video tutorial on the practice of Floating.
Floating is a form of therapy that requires resting in a 8′ x 4′ x 4′ tank filled with 10 inches of water saturated in 900 lbs of Epsom salts. The air and water in the tank are kept at 34.1 degrees Celsius – skin receptor neutral – meaning that when you fully relax in the float tank, you lose track of where your body ends and the water begins. Additionally, the tank is pitch black and sound proof, giving way for a fully sensory-deprived experience.
The concept of a float tank was imagined in 1957 by neuroscientist John C. Lilly. Lilly found that when the body ceases to fight gravity and is deprived of its senses, amazing things can start to happen. Floating has been used for pain management, meditation, creative exploration, magnesium absorption, and increased blood circulation, among much more.
Once I finished watching the tutorial, the lady led me into Float Tank Room #1, where I would spend the next hour and a half.
My first thought upon entering the room and viewing the float tank was “Salt Coffin.“
I stayed silent while the lady gave me a run-down of the Floating procedure, quietly contemplating my fate. When she left, I took a quick shower to get off any scents lingering on my body, and was then ready for salty action.
Sidenote: Before I floated my only question to Google was “What should I wear?!” Google came back telling me that for a fully authentic experience, I should be in the nude. I don’t know if this was a total faux pas, but alas, it is too late.
I stuck one foot in the tank, acclimatized, then lifted in the other. I felt…. buoyant. Then, I closed the lid to the tank and slid my head to the back so my feet were close to the door, being very careful not to let the water touch my face as I moved.
And then, there was nothing. For the first time in ages, all I could feel was my heartbeat. It was literally the only thing in existence.
Then came the panic. I don’t what prompted it but I felt as if I couldn’t breathe, like the walls were closing in on me. I began entertaining the thought that I didn’t exist, and that I would never be able to leave the tank. Scrambling for the door I gasped for air, somewhat alarmed that everything in the room was exactly as I left it. I breathed in the cool air, calming myself, getting ready to go back in the tank. Mama didn’t raise no quitter.
After five more minutes in the float tank, it happened again. Maybe it was an existential thing, or maybe I just really that uncomfortable being completely by myself.
Third time’s a charm. After some more deep breaths, I climbed back into the tank and floated into oblivion. I had figured out how to be comfortable, and I had calmed my conscious into realizing that I was not going to spend the rest of my existence in a black void.
My mind started to wander, but I don’t remember what I thought about. All I know is that after what felt like no time at all, music started to play in the background of my mind, and I realized that this was the tank signaling to me that my session was over.
I jumped out of the tank, ready to once again take a shower and cleanse myself of the salt. I felt like I was in a daze, like my zen was so impenetrable that nothing could break me out of it; like nothing would even dare. After my shower, I got dressed and went to the vanity that Float had set up in a back room to groom myself.
Hairdryers, hair spray, combs, towels. Float does not make you leave their building feeling like a hot, zen mess. To add, after the grooming station, I was offered a sweet peppermint tea back in the lounge. Coupling that with the smell of sage lingering in the air and the dim glow of crystals all around, I could have comfortably stayed right there forever.
I walked back onto the street feeling peaceful. It was interesting, as I would never describe myself as someone being not at peace with myself, but up until that moment I had failed to realize just how much the pressures of life had really weighted on me.
A somewhat rocky first experience with Float, sure, but I will most definitely be back for round two. Only hopefully next time I’ll be better equipped to confront… myself.
Have you ever floated or thought about trying it out? I’d love to hear your experiences!
Float Toronto is located at 1159 Queen Street W. Visit http://float-toronto.com/ for more information.