What if I'm Claustrophobic/Afraid of Water/Silence/Darkness?
Many people have some fear or concern before they use the tank the first time. Fears such as being alone in the dark, drowning, not having enough air, claustrophobia, and others. These fears are usually the result of the thought or idea that YOU won't be in control of the situation, but in this situation you are completely in control at all times. You can go in and out of the tank as you please. You can use the tank with the door completely open, you can keep it partially open, or you can close it. There is an interior light. You can turn that light off or leave it on. There is no particular way to use the tank that is more correct than another. Any way you use it, that is comfortable for you, is correct.
If you close the door while inside the tank, once the light is turned off it is completely dark and that may be disorienting. When you get in and before you lie down, open and close the door several times, noticing how it feels different from the other surfaces . If at any time you try to push the door and it doesn't open, it's not the door.
The solution within the tank is only 10" deep. It is made up of 40% Epsom salt. You can't sink in the tank, regardless of your size and fitness level. You will float effortlessly and it is 100% safe to sleep in the tank. Since there is no pressure or hot spots anywhere on the body, you do not have the desire to toss and turn the way you do while on a mattress. If you *were* to somehow roll over while sleeping in the tank, you would wake up the very instant the salt water touched your eyes or sinuses.
The tank is designed so that it is not airtight. You'll have plenty of air. To keep the tank air fresher, an air circulation system brings additional air from the room. The air enters at the rear of the tank. You may prefer to have your head at that end. You can also brace the door open slightly with a towel or washcloth for additional circulation.
The Magic of Zero Stimulation
Of those that come to us with a phobia-based fear, I would say 85% of them settle right in to their first session without much ado. For the remaining 15%, fears and concerns are typically dissolved by the the second or third session. The float chamber itself is excellent at calming the mind and any fears it may harbor within it. This is simply the nature of the zero stimulation environment. We have had a surprising number of particularly skeptical clients complete a session and say something along the lines of "I just couldn't be afraid. I even tried to think of things that normally upset me, and they had no power over me while I was in there."
Don't just take our word for it. You can read a number of similar sentiments on our testimonial page and Facebook review page. If you are open to it, the float tank can be used as a tool to help you overcome your fears.
The zero stimulation environment triggers some pretty profound physical and mental effects. There is no pressure anywhere on the body. The solution is the optimal temperature for our bodily systems. Our brains aren't constantly processing input. We are no longer struggling against the pull of gravity. As a result our blood pressure is reduced, stress hormone levels fall and endorphins are released. This creates an immensely pleasurable experience. It is downright difficult to feel anxiousness or fear once you enter that incredibly soothing physical and mental space. People might assume that time drags along while doing nothing inside the tank, but that could not be further from the truth. Once you reach the super-relaxed theta brainwave (lucid dream/meditation) state all concept of time vanishes. The session ends in what feels like mere minutes after that.
It sounds counterintuitive at first, but most claustrophobic clients find having the door closed with the light off far more comforting than leaving the light on.
Inside the tank with the light on
Inside the tank with the light off
The online photos of float tanks are always a bit deceiving. They don't give an accurate sense of the chamber's true size and interior space. Each tank is about the size of a car and the interior is completely open. Once you lie back into the solution, you can stretch your arms up in front of you and you will not be able to reach the ceiling of the tank. We have had clients 6'5"+ and 400lbs+ float very comfortably here.
Float tanks are not new. The safety record of floatation therapy is indisputable. Thousands of people all over the world have enjoyed the benefits floating has to offer over the last 60+ years. To date, no sober floater has ever been seriously injured during a session.
Does she look cramped or uncomfortable to you?
No clothing = more room in the tank!
Realistic expectations are essential. Floating does come with a learning curve. The float experience resembles an onion. At first you might only get one or two layers deep. Whether you suffer from a phobia or not, it is important to recognize that it takes 3-5 sessions to really get a feel for floating's potential. A great number of beginners settle right in and have an incredible first float, but for a number of others the initial sessions can be challenging. In the beginning you might find some difficulty getting physically comfortable within the new environment. You might not be able to quiet your thoughts. You may experience some fleeting feelings of claustrophobia or anxiety. You may even end your initial sessions early. THIS IS ALL COMPLETELY NORMAL.
These challenges WILL be overcome if you choose to stick with the practice. The tank always wins out in the end.
If a challenge arises, you must ask yourself how badly you want the benefits that floating can provide. The research is very clear on this. So ask yourself if you are willing to commit to the practice and push through the possible initial discomfort. It is best to view floating as an ever evolving path to betterment, much like a healthy diet, meditation or exercise regimen. The benefits of floating are real, they are yours for the taking - but they may not come effortlessly.
Floating is not a one shot miracle cure, but if you stick with it miraculous changes can happen. One of the greatest gifts floating can provide is the realization that YOU are truly the master of your own thoughs.