You ever just want to wake up at 6:30 AM on a Sunday, strip naked and lock yourself in a pitch black, soundproof tank filled with water for an hour and a half? I know, right? Sounds so good.
Well, that’s exactly what happened at the newly opened Liquid Floats in North Austin. And what did I do while trapped inside what’s referred to as a sensory deprivation tank? Nothing. That’s right – I just lay there, floating in about 10 inches of Epsom salt-filled water, and did nothing. Believe it or not, it just might have been the craziest and most interesting 90 minutes I’ve spent in a long time.
What Is Sensory Deprivation?
First of all, I’m making this sound a lot worse than it is. Instead of thinking of sensory deprivation as some sort of torturous, claustrophobia-inducing confinement chamber, think of it as a meditative spa treatment.
Sensory deprivation is designed to strip you of as many of your senses as possible, giving you intimate and direct access to your thoughts. While supposedly offering many physical benefits such as pain relief, a faster healing rate and improved sleep, the real benefits come on the mental health side of things.
I don’t think I’ve ever felt more relaxed than during my 90-minute “float session.” It’s essentially like meditating in space, as the absence of outside stimuli provided me with clarity, self-reflection and heightened awareness. I know. I sound like a total hippie right now, but trust me. It was awesome.
How It Works at Liquid Floats
Upon walking into Liquid Float’s welcoming and cozy lobby area, I was promptly greeted by co-owners Sean and Kelsey. After a friendly chat and explanation on how floating works, I checked in and was shown to my room, which is equipped with a shower, ear-plugs, lotions, towels and the tank itself.
The tank looks like something straight out of a sci-fi movie. Climbing inside was a bit intimidating at first, but surprisingly comfortable once the door was closed and the lights were off. The sensation of floating without any effort was pleasant in and of itself, especially with the water being set to match my body temperature.
Admittedly, I spent the first 30 minutes or so thinking to myself, “Ummmmmmmmmm….Now what?” I questioned whether or not I had the patience to put up with an hour and a half of not checking Twitter, and started to become annoyed that I was missing out on sleep. As a reminder, this is all taking place AT 7AM ON A SUNDAY. Eventually, however, I decided to embrace the situation and relax, which was easy once I committed to the idea. This is the part when sh*t gets crazy.
What It’s Like
I’m going to get really weird and trippy here, so bear with me as I try to describe what went down. Keep in mind, I reckon the experience would be different for everyone, and would depend on a number of factors such as prior floating experience, ability to relax, etc.
For me, I literally felt like I was floating in space. Once I got myself to calm down, which took about 30 minutes, I felt a sudden sensation of the bottom completely dropping out, with no sense of direction or orientation. My thoughts were random, but I found it easy to focus on what I wanted and move effortlessly from one thought to the next. And it wasn’t like I was thinking them in my head; it was more like they were laid out and almost drifting around in front of me.
It probably sounds like I’m describing an intense trip on hallucinogenic drugs, and I guess that’s what it was like, only without the drugs. Plus, I wouldn’t at all know what it’s like to take drugs. Drugs are bad.
I have to say I wasn’t really sold on this whole sensory deprivation thing at first. I walked in with the impression that it was some sort of bogus wellness trend that California decided to bless us with. However, after forcing myself to be open-minded about the experience, I can tell you I would 100% recommend giving it a shot.
If you do decide to have yourself a float, there’s no better place to do so than at Liquid Floats in North Austin. The facility and equipment are all brand new and state of the art, the owners and staff are friendly and knowledgeable, and the amenities tie it all together (I got freshly-squeezed carrot juice on my way out). If you’re looking for a unique, mind-blowing experience, do yourself a favor and try sensory deprivation. Just don’t book your appointment at 7AM.
@andychuckchase wants to know:
Have you tried sensory deprivation before? If so, what was it like for you?
We always have unique content on the Austinot, and we love to give things away. You know, like CDs, event tickets and other cool stuff. We only send out our Best of the Austinot newsletter two times/month. It’s where we give you a recap of our best articles and give stuff away. Interested? Subscribe to Best of the Austinot here!