Go Float Yourself: A Salty Escape in Float Therapy


I’ve always been obsessed with mermaids. Maybe it’s the strawberry in my blonde hair, channeling my inner Ariel. Maybe it’s that I’ve always loved manatees too, the creatures oft mistaken by seafarers as mermaids in days long ago. Weightlessness, being totally buoyant, these things became more alluring when I was pregnant with both of my boys. Recently being weightless (and nearly senseless) has become a real relaxation option: float therapy. Yes, mamas, this could be your ticket to an hour or so of silence! The meditative flotation therapy is gaining widespread popularity, with options outside the Twin Cities and even in our own beloved Duluth. Can sensory deprivation be the key to zen time for stressed out moms? I was about to find out if the salty escape would float my boat.

Go Float Yourself: A Salty Escape in Float Therapy | Duluth Moms Blog
Photo credit: Pixabay / User: NeuPaddy

Think floating might be for you? It just may be. As I left the gun metal gray afternoon outside and entered an essential oils diffused airspace, it was a little more relaxing already. But this is to be expected from any spa. Would I be able to shut off my mama brain and bounce around in my own consciousness for an hour or more without making a million checks on a mental to-do list? 

Making Time for Mom

 Moms have stress, it’s a fact of life. And in northern Minnesota, moms have stress and seek to escape the cold. Yoga is great, but requires some skill. Meditating means you need an actual quiet place to escape to, if only for a few minutes. Tanning, while delightful in the dark winter, is wickedly and woefully bad for you, so with my alabaster skin, that’s definitely out. And, while very alluring, acupuncture can be expensive and because there are few practitioners, the wait list can be extensive.
I needed downtime and I needed it NOW. I decided to try float therapy. I was lucky enough to get in nearby and right away for an hour-long first-time float. Hallelujah, I thought. Hopefully this would be key to the “me-time” I needed. After all, as you’re probably all too aware, the kids can follow to your own bathtub, but this dream pod is a salty safe haven.
Go Float Yourself: A Salty Escape in Float Therapy | Duluth Moms Blog
Photo Credit: Pixabay

Mermaid Grotto 

 When you walk into the room housing the flotation pod, it’s more like something from the X-Files or Star Trek than The Little Mermaid. The room is still reminiscent of the zen vibes in the rest of the spa area, but even more mellow. 
It’s humid. There’s a shower with specific shampoo to use before you float. Salt tanks have a greater salinity than even the Dead Sea. You know from the very name of the activity that you will be floating, but it’s mind-blowing how effortless it truly is! The water is around 10 inches deep and is filled with Epsom salt. The water is kept at about 93.5 degrees–or roughly your external temperature.
Ear plugs which are super malleable prevent water from entering the ear. Trying a “fun noodle” under your head can calm hesitation to let your head relax into the water. Rest assured, there’s no sinking in that tank! Allowing your head and hair to freely exist in the water is heaven on earth under the sea. I experimented, of course. Could I raise both my hands and feet without touching the bottom? Yep. Would the slightest movement cause me to slowly drift coast to coast within the small saline sea? Yep. Tapping gently to either side of the pod, I’d give the slightest nudge to center myself again.
Finally, experiments over, I try to quiet my mind. 

Don’t Make Waves

I wasn’t sure where my mind would go in 60 minutes. I chose to start and end my session with birdsong. This way, I was confident if I fell asleep, I would be gently brought back to the real world. The attendant told me if my thoughts started to wander to “gently lead them back, like a grandmother taking a child by the hand.” 
I’d heard and read here and there about floaters who had experiences akin to drug-induced mind trips. I sincerely hoped I wouldn’t be that person, having a complete breakdown while sitting in a warm brine. But part of me secretly wanted to have a little excitement. Maybe a wild and adventurous daydream. I knew better than anyone how active my imagination could be. I’d been sky-diving and zip-lining and surfing–how crazy could a warm bath in a sterile pod be?
For several minutes, I listen to my heartbeat. The birds stop and I miss them. They reminded me of being in Costa Rica. I fleetingly wish there was a call button, like on an airplane, to request the birds again. I decide it’s probably for the best, now I would test my mental fortitude against the quiet. 
Go Float Yourself: A Salty Escape in Float Therapy | Duluth Moms Blog
Photo credit: Pixabay

What to Know Before You Go

Generally, you can’t have a fresh tattoo, hair color within two weeks, or be glowing from a spray tan experience recently if you plan on floating. 
You can still float if you’re menstruating, just like you can still take a dip in the pool. 
You may have heard this called sensory deprivation therapy. That’s only partially true, since most pods have an LED light option and bird sounds or gentle music and ambient light seeping in from outside the tank. It can however, be pitch dark and virtually noiseless if you choose.  
If you’re claustrophobic, this may not be for you. However, having floated, I can tell you without the visual cues and spatial reference while in the pod, it feels much larger than the space you’re actually floating within. 

Thoughts Adrift

 Was my float life-changing? Meh. Probably not. But it WAS relaxing. And I was able to channel my inner mermaid. I thought a bit about the person who floated before me, hoping I could rely on the “self-cleaning” cycle which sounded a bit like the jets on a hot tub and the salinity to keep my germ-phobic brain from running amok. I was able to find reprieve from the wintry weather outside and take a bath without being assaulted by plastic boats and rubber duckies, or knocking on the door and requests to find lost belongings or make a snack. The weightless sensation was unmatched by simply taking a swim in the local pool, but the effects of flotation for me were not long-lasting. After all, Monday is there waiting for me, and the only thing proven to be effective against the stress of a Monday is Tuesday.