One of my favorite people to follow on Instagram is Jenny SanSouci who writes the blog HealthyCrush.com. Like me, Jenny travels all over the world and wherever she goes she seeks out green juice, happy food, cool bodywork, and other body-mind-spirit adventures.
For months I saw Jenny posting about floating and how much she loved the experience. Without knowing much about isolation tanks and wanting to answer “what is floating?” for myself, I felt attracted to the experience and I googled flotation joints in Philadelphia.
I ended up at Flotation Philly and so far I’ve LOVED my float experiences. For me floating is incredibly relaxing, regenerating, and trippy enough to satisfy the spirit junkie part of me that’s always looking for a body and soul high.
What is floating?
Floating happens in a sensory deprivation tank filled with hundreds of pounds of epsom salt so that your body floats. The water is heated to body temperature and the tank facilitates complete silence and darkness. Some tanks have the option to have a small light on as well as sound if that’s important to you.
Good times to go floating:
- After a plane ride, since floating helps with jet lag
- While getting over a cold (after any contagious stuff is over of course)
- Float when you need inspiration or insight from your higher power / inner guidance system
- Recovering from a muscular injury or other sport recovery issues
- During sensitive times of your moon cycle
- Floating helps with memory retention so having a float session is a great study break
- When you’re happy
- When you’re bored
- When you want to treat your spirit to something grand
- Floating is recommended to treat chronic pain
- Any time you’re in need of a thorough detox since epsom salts draw toxins out of the body at a high rate
- Whenever deep rest sounds appealing
- If you’re in search of focussed theta brain time!
What are theta brain waves?
One of the big intentions behind floating is encouraging “theta brain.”
There are five main brain waves: beta, alpha, theta, delta, and gamma. Theta brain waves are believed to be the frequency where all creativity and quantum shifts in thought occur.
Theta brain waves can be achieved during deep meditation, hypnosis, REM sleep, and floating in sensory deprivation tanks.
What should I expect the first time I float?
You can float for various time increments and for your first float I’d suggest 45 minutes, which is enough time to get a sense of the experience and also short enough that you won’t go mad with uneasiness if the experience is challenging for you.
Wherever you float, the first thing you’ll do is take a shower in your private room. If you have long hair I recommend putting it up so it doesn’t bother you in the tank. Naked and clean, you’ll put in earplugs and climb into the tank. When you’re ready, you’ll close the door behind you and relax into a floating position on your back.
In some float tanks you have control over the light and in other tanks the light in the tank turns on and off on a timer. You can sit up and open the tank at anytime if you feel uncomfortable.
Breathe deeply and settle in for the experience. You can try placing your arms in various positions to see what works best for you. No need to choose one uncomfortable position and stick with it. Try a t-shape, at your sides, behind your head, and resting one hand on your heart and the other on your stomach. Sometimes I like to put my hands on my hips to feel extra present in my body while floating.
If you fall asleep and wake up, that’s ok. Just come back to the present moment when you come to. If you get lost down a thought spiral in the midst of your meditation, that’s alright. Simply notice your thoughts and return to mindful awareness about where you’re at.
Some people have visions, downloads, and other trippy experiences while floating. For other people it’s simply a deeply restful practice space.
For me, each time I’ve gone to float I’ve experienced a sense of timelessness and moments of complete presence. While floating I’ve felt blissful gratitude and excitement about my life. Usually I float for 90 minutes at a time.
When your session is over, a dim light and quiet music will come on. Slowly sit up and open the tank door. Be mindful of your steps at this point since your system is probably super relaxed and you might be a little disoriented.
Hop out and shower off all of the salt. Bring a journal along with you to take notes on anything that came up for you during the floating session.
Take your time before driving or having conversations that require a lot of coherence — you’re nervous system will be incredibly chilled out at this point and it’s important to be protective of your body for the next little chunk of time.
Some flotation places sell green juices, which is brilliant of them, but if the place you’re floating doesn’t have their own brain and body rejuvenation refreshments, I definitely recommend bringing something with you since you’ll be thirsty for hydration and nourishment after your floating session.
What do you do with yourself while floating?
You don’t have to “do” anything while floating. If you have a meditation, Reiki, or another mindfulness practice, you can turn to that while in the tank to stay engaged with the present moment.
I think it’s nice to go into a float session with a clear intention like, “I welcome deep rest,” or, “I’m willing to let go of my expectations,” or, “Please give me insight on why I’m having stomach aches.” When you’re time in the tank is up, you can reflect on any insights that arose during your floating experience.
It’s ok to fall asleep in the tank (I have) but that’s not really the point of floating. Some people suggest keeping your eyes open while in the tank, even though it’s pitch black in there, in order to stay awake to take as much advantage of theta brain time as possible.
Where can I float in Philadelphia, PA?
- Flotation Philly, 534 E. Girard Avenue, Philadelphia, PA
- Halcyon Floats Northern Liberties, 209 West Girard Ave, Philadelphia, PA
- Halcyon Floats Roxborough, 6068 Ridge Ave, Philadelphia, PA