For most people, their first time in a sensory deprivation tank is an incredible experience, but there is a bit of a learning curve. Most people come out of the float pod or room and say, “I wish I had known…”. Here are some of the most common first time floater misgivings and what to do to avoid them.
1. Don’t get salt in your eyes.
It’s easier said than done. Even though it looks like water, it’s important to remember that by volume, there is more salt than water in the tank. Therefore, it stings a lot if it gets in your eye. There is a spray bottle in the tank which will help if you get salt in your eyes, but the best thing is to prevent it. We recommend using your towel to dry your hair line very well after your shower. It’s also a good idea to bring the face cloth into the tank with you. You can either lay the cloth across your forehead and eyes, or drape it over the side of the tank within reach, so you can dry your hand first if you need to touch your face.
2. Take a cool shower
Some people feel a light chill near the beginning of their float, which usually only lasts a moment, but it’s distracting all the same. While everyone is slightly different when it comes to body temperature and preference, one common reason for feeling cold is having taken a warm or hot shower before the float. If you take a cool or lukewarm shower at the beginning, the water in the tank will feel warm by comparison and your body won’t be trying to bring down its temperature during the float. It can make the difference between a perfect float and one that takes a bit longer to find your Zen.
3. Chalk it up to learning
During the first float, you are going to have to learn how your body prefers to be positioned (i.e. hands up beside your arm or down along your side) and whether you prefer a head cushion or not, music or silence, light on or total darkness. Nobody but you can make these choices for you. It’s easy enough to turn off the music and the light during the float, so we recommend starting with both music and light on. Same goes for the head cushion – it’s easier to toss it aside if you find you don’t need it than it is to locate it in the dark if you choose to use one after the float has started. Most importantly, give yourself time to experience the options and don’t get caught up in worrying about whether you are “doing it right” or not.
4. Stop thinking about the time
One of the most disorienting things for new floaters is losing orientation in time. There are no clocks on purpose and we highly recommend turning your phone off and putting it away. Whether you choose music or silence, a calm voice will let you know when the hour is over. If you had the light off, the light turning on will also signal to you that the float has ended. Worried that you will sleep through the exit track? The filtration system will kick in a few minutes later – it is more or less impossible to sleep through this. We have never had to knock on a door to wake someone up, so you needn’t worry that hours have passed.
5. Use the washroom before your float
It can be very distracting if you become aware of your bladder being full during the float. It’s a really good idea to empty your bladder before entering your float room. It’s not the end of the world if you have to get out of the tank to use the washroom, but it does take away from the experience.
6. Surrender to nothingness
With the basics covered, you’re now ready to settle in for 60 minutes of nothingness. For many first time floaters, there are thoughts of, “what now,” “am I doing this right,” and “when will the magic happen?” The best advice we offer is that you must surrender to the stillness. Your brain is not use to silence, so its’ going to try and busy itself with questions and to-do lists. Let these thoughts come, then let them go. We say, “don’t let thoughts nest.” Your brain will get use to nothingness and even revel in it, but for that to happen, you must surrender to the experience.
7. Make time for your post-float glow
There’s nothing like the peace and stillness you’ll feel after a float. This post-float glow should be protected for as long as possible. For this reason, we recommend planning your float for a time when you don’t have to rush out of the studio and back into the chaos of your life. Here are some perfect after float activities to line up: have a tea and read, enjoy the outdoors with a walk or other activity, meet up with friends or family or engage in a creative endeavor.