In a world where we are constantly bombarded with stimuli, electronics, to-do lists and even traffic, some people are looking to float their cares away. More sophisticated than bobbing on a boat or lounging on a raft in a pool, people are entering floating tanks – filled with warm water loaded with Epsom salt – that offer people the chance to completely shut off from the outside world through sensory deprivation.
“I felt like I was a smartphone and I had apps that were closing out,” Sharon Ackerman, a Murrieta-based physician’s assistant and regular floater said of her first couple of times in a float tank. “It takes a little bit to get used to, but, once you get used to it, everything calms down.”
How do float tanks work?
Float tank sizes can vary, but most tanks are about 4-feet wide by 8-feet long. They are filled with about 175 gallons of water and 850 to 1,000 pounds of Epsom salt.
People enter the tanks and shut the door, placing them in total darkness and quiet in approximately 10-inches of water heated to 94 degrees. Most float sessions last 90 minutes.
“I make sure people know during my orientation they are in complete control of their experience,” said Matt Soper, co-owner of The Float Experience in Temecula where a 90-minute floating session is $69. “They can get in and out of the tank at any time, can float with the tank door completely opened or propped open by a towel.”
When it comes to claustrophobia — something people often ask about — Soper said those who have expressed concern about feeling closed in report no issues when they emerge.
And due to the amount of salt in the tank, if people fall asleep they remain afloat.
Soper said that the combination of the water temperature and being weightless means people are not fighting gravity or constantly taking in information.
“Your body has a lot of extra-resources at its disposal,” Soper said. “During your float the outside world is gone and amazing things happen.”
What people say about floating
Ackerman, 48, started floating at The Float Experience about a year ago, after hearing about it from a friend.
She found herself looking forward to going once a week to reset and recoup from her busy life.
“Knowing it’s a quiet space where nobody can bother you allows you to let go,” Ackerman said. “And as someone who takes care of others for a living, it’s nice to spend time taking care of myself.”
At Newport Float Therapy in Costa Mesa, regular client Melissa Swigert of Irvine said she started floating several years ago because she was curious about it, not realizing the positive impact the experience would have on her life. Her first trip rejuvenated her even more than sleeping.
“I fully let go and it was a womb-like feeling,” Swigert, 29 said.
Being a runner for many years, Swigert said he was able to feel her muscles relax.
“You don’t realize the spots in your spine that are hunched,” Swigert said. “It helped me un-crunch my back, which was very freeing.”
Newport Float Therapy owner Ron Becker turned to floating to help with concentration and health issues.
“I am hyperactive and when I got in the first time I thought, ‘I am OK. Now I’m bored’,” Becker said with a laugh. “After about 20 minutes I started to zone out and completely relax.”
He opened his location in 2014 and said it started a little bit slow, but he is now booked two weeks out.