Flotation tanks are making a comeback, at least in Seattle. There are flotation tank centers popping up around the city, intriguing clients to come and explore relaxation, meditation, physical rest, and even massage alternatives. These devices go by other names too such as isolation tanks or sensory deprivation tanks, but they all refer to the same concept.
I tried Float Seattle. The atmosphere is friendly but subdued, and privacy is emphasized for separating oneself from the rest of the world. After an initial overview of the process, I was left on my own to strip down, take a shower (to remove body oils, outside shampoo, etc.), pop in some ear plugs to keep out the salt water, and then enter the chamber.
Shower at Float Seattle is located in same private room with the flotation tank
The flotation tank has an entrance door that is stepped up to and then into the water. To maximize buoyancy, a huge amount of Epsom salt is pre-mixed with the filtered water. To minimize sensation, the water is heated to average human skin temperature (slightly cooler than the traditional 98.6 degree core temperature). An optional faint blue light can be turned on if the whole thing feels creepy or claustrophobic for beginners.
Isolation tank with light-tight door closed
Isolation tank with door open to enter
Then I laid in the water on my back and positioned myself for comfort. Putting arms above the head was recommended, though I eventually switched to arms outstretched from my sides. It was easy to fall into rhythmic breathing, meditation, or even falling asleep if desired. The only occasionally distracting thing was the occasional very light bounce off the side of the tank caused by any slow movement within the tank. Resolving this issue would enable a more fully realized sensory deprivation tank experience. After a while the water also exerted uncomfortable “pressure” on my neck and lower head as well, which was difficult to adjust away from. But other than that, it was quite pleasantly womb-like.
Inside the float tank
For the first half hour, I enjoyed the meditative experience. Since I have not done much meditation and easily wander my mind into new areas, after that first half hour it became a bit harder and I was somewhat restless. Perhaps something to work up to or just limit the time to what feels right.
Then piped in instrumental music indicated it was nearing time to leave. Another follow-up shower removed the thick salt and freshened me up for the outside world.
Overall Float Seattle and the isolation tank experience was fun and recommended for anyone looking to relax or meditate in a truly specialized environment.
Isolation tanks overview