Sensory deprivation doesn’t necessarily sound like a very glamorous or indulgent spa treatment. Maybe the thought of being enclosed in a tank or a windowless room feels a little (or a lot) claustrophobic to you. But let me tell you, it is the most amazing thing ever!
Floatation therapy, if you don’t know just yet what it is, is unlike any other spa treatment you’ve ever had. Most spas offer it in a pod-like tank or a tank similar to some sort of ice chest. The tank is filled with warm water, not very deep at all, and epsom salt. You then close the tank door once inside and typically there is not a ton of room for you to move, and you simply float. You can choose to have soft lights on or off, music on or off, and you are left alone for 50 minutes.
What is sensory deprivation?
Blocking out most of your senses – sight, sound, smell, taste and touch, creates an amazing wellness tool. You suddenly aren’t concentrating on anything other than your own breath. The weightlessness of your own body allows every muscle to relax and release tension. Since the water is as warm as your skin, and due to the high concentration of epsom salt, you literally cannot feel the water you are floating in.
All of this is supposed to also help you relax your mind, and for those of you like me who have 50 tabs open at any given time on your computer while holding your phone in the other hand, talking your kids through their homework and holding a toddler on your lap all at once – it is a very welcomed opportunity!
The Lodge at Woodloch, an amazing destination spa in the Pocono Mountains, now has a FLOAT Therapy treatment that I was able to experience for myself. You can either go in alone for 50 minutes or 75 minutes, or you can float with a friend for the same time intervals. Thankfully for people like me who tend to get claustrophobic in small, enclosed spaces, their sensory deprivation tank is acutally a room with a pool in it. There is no cover that lowers down on you, but instead has a very large door that you shut to the room. The pool room also has very high ceiling and wide walls.
How does FLOAT Therapy work?
At The Lodge at Woodloch, you are escorted to the FLOAT room where a spa professional asks you a series of questions (do you have any health issues, large cuts, communicable diseases, etc.) She explains to you how the float room works, that you’ll need to shower prior to and after your session, that you’ll need to remove any makeup you may have on, as well as any jewelry. She then leaves you alone and only comes back (and just waits outside of the room in the hallway) once the floatation system tells her that your session has ended.
You then put in silicone ear plugs (theirs are from Leaping Lizard and pretty amazing as NO water got in at all), proceed to shower using their body wash from head to toe and then step into the pool…completely naked. I had brought my swimsuit thinking that this would be my attire, but nude is what you wear for 50 minutes.
Once you hit the button to adjust lighting (you can turn it off, have a white light, or have colored lights) or sound (on or off, loud or soft), an automated voice comes over the sound system telling you that your FLOAT treatment is about to start, this sets the time for 50 minutes.
There was a neck floatation that I used to keep my head above water and they have a small hand towel that you can use to drape the exposed part of your chest and stomach since the air is a bit cooler than the water (although I found it all balanced out rather quickly once I shut the tank door.) I highly recommend saving the towel for when you may need to wipe your eyes instead. Trust me. I accidently rubbed my eye after my hand had been in the water and was able to rub the stinging salt out right away. Can you image if that towel had been salty and wet? Yikes.
I tried every variation of the lighting and no lighting and music and no music. I couldn’t get my mind to stop with complete sensory deprivation (no sound, no lights), but I did like low music and no lights. It was quite soothing and relaxing. It felt like floating in space.
When the 50 minutes were up, another announcement came on and let you know that you are done and that the sanitation process will begin shortly. My short two steps to the shower were all it took for the salt to begin to crystalize on my skin. You then use the body wash to cleanse your skin again. I was amazed to see salt all over the shower floor.
In case you were wondering, the high level of Epsom salt won’t dry out your skin. It contains Magnesium Sulfate, which is absorbed through the skin. This typically helps to soften dry skin and can sometimes help treat eczema.
I asked if it would strip hair color and if you have recently color treated your hair, it is not recommended to use the FLOAT Tank (if it does not come off on a towel, it should be thoroughly set.) It can remove tints of hair color, though. Overall, it is safe to use on color treated hair. If you have a Keratin Treatment, it would not be recommended.
The sanitation process itself is pretty cool to watch.
What amazed me most about this float experience is that my entire body felt as relaxed as if I had just had a one-hour massage. Being all alone in the tank made it even better because I wasn’t worrying myself about snoring, what I looked like, and any other thing that comes to mind when someone is giving you a facial or massage. I could just purely RELAX.
It was heaven. I can’t wait to do it again! Have you tried floating yet?
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Shannon began A Girl’s Gotta Spa! beauty blog in 2005 to morph her love of beauty and in educating women on what truly works and what does not. In 2013 she launched a bath and body line as an extention of the beauty blog. One thing she always has on her at all times? Lip balm.