I could feel nothing.
The tank was closed tight. It was dark. I could hear no sound, and here I was lying in 25 centimetres of water with only my thoughts to guide me. My arms, legs, fingers and head were all suspended in a world that felt like gravity had left my body.
It was a warm feeling. The water that caressed my body felt like it was not there, but as I moved my arm I could feel it and my body would move ever so slightly.
Welcome to the world of flotation therapy.
Flotation therapy is a practice where you enter into a float tank (also called an isolation tank or sensory deprivation tank) with water and 544 kilograms of dissolved Epsom salts in it. The individual lies down in the water and floats effortlessly in the nude.
The water is heated to the same temperature as the surface of your skin so that when the water settles and you remain relaxed and still, you do not feel the water anymore. The tank is light-proof and sound-proof and has a neutral smell.
“Most people who try it are amazed by it benefits,” says Erik Zaremba, owner of the Float House at 662 Herald St. and the only flotation therapy centre in Greater Victoria.
“The extreme buoyancy creates an almost zero gravity effect.”
The idea behind flotation therapy is all the forces of gravity on the musculoskeletal and nervous systems are eliminated from the extreme positive buoyancy; so imagine a space where you don’t feel anything, nor do you see or hear anything.
The Float House opened at the beginning of May and is proving popular, Zaremba says. Some clients come once a week, others more sporadically. And there’s a variety of clinets from chefs to elite athletes.
“The more you use it the more beneficial it is to your health,” he says.
Zaremba “floats” every chance he gets and finds that each session is different – sometimes its more on the physical aspect of his life, others on the mental.
“Floating is like setting the reset for your body,” says Zaremba.
My flotation therapy session lasted about one hour.
The first 20 minutes of my flotation therapy I felt this warm, itchy feeling – a feeling many people have when they during the early stages of meditation. Slowly the itching decreased and I felt a calming effect.
I went for the full sensory deprivation session – total darkness and no sound. Zaremba told me I needed to centre myself in the tank, which was difficult at first, but I soon got the hang of it. If you moved your body at all, even something as simple as clearing your throat, your body would move towards the wall.
Once I got over the initial apprehension of being enclosed in the tank, I felt a calming, relaxing state.
Did it last? Yes for several hours – and it helped my wonky neck get rid of some of its kinks from years of marathon running.
Now if only I can keep that feeling going.
Want more info?
Float House Victoria is located at 662 Herald St. Please phone 778-433-3166 or go online to floathousevictoria.com.
New research undertaken at the Human Performance Laboratory at Karlstad University by Sven-Åke Bood concludes that regular flotation tank sessions can provide significant relief for chronic stress-related ailments. Studies involving 140 people with long-term conditions such as anxiety, stress, depression and fibromyalgia found that more than three quarters experienced noticeable improvements.