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10 Tips to Having a Great First Float

Updated: May 21, 2022

Experiencing a sensory deprivation tank for the first time can be an exciting and unfamiliar adventure. Here are some insider tips to make your first float an enjoyable event!

1. Do your research.

Various float spas yield different experiences. Would you like a pod or a room? What is your desired duration? Would you like accompanying services such as massage, sauna, or cryo? Do not pick a float spa just for proximity. A bad first float can turn you off to the experience altogether. Read reviews and get recommendations from friends before you go to assess client experience.

Check out some of my Spa Spotlights for more info on places I've enjoyed -

And if you have any questions about a spot you're considering, just ask!

2. Bring a buddy.

Your relaxing float may be the highlight of your day. If you're like me and enjoy sharing experiences with other people, book your session at the same time a friend books theirs. You can ride together and hype one another up in the car. Even better, you'll have someone to decompress with after the experience. Chances are, you'll want to discuss your perception of the session, and it's nice to be able to talk through the experience with someone else that just went through it. Floating is one my favorite activities to plan with friends for a self-care day. Way better than going to a bar or mindlessly binge-watching a show, in my opinion.

3. Don't shave that morning.

In fact, avoid shaving your face or body 12 hours prior to your float. Keep in mind that you'll be floating in 1,000 lbs. of pure magnesium sulfate. This can be an irritant on open cuts on your skin. Each spa will offer you petroleum jelly to cover any scratches, but best not to exacerbate the likelihood of irritation by shaving before you go to your session.

4. No stimulants.

You'll be relaxing in the tank attempting to reduce stimuli on your brain and body. Skip your morning coffee or tea to assist your mind in the settling process. You'll have the opportunity to refresh with tea post-float.

5. Keep a light stomach.

A growling stomach and digestive overdrive can be distracting. Stay hydrated leading up to your session, but don't chug a bunch of water right before you go in. Nothing shortens a good float session early like needing to get out frantically to use the bathroom. And no, you can't pee in the pool. Every location has an explicit clause in the contract / waiver restricting the expulsion of ANY bodily fluid into the tank. If you do so, you will need to pay to have the tank drained and completely sanitized. Also..ew.

6. Choose your options in advance.

There are some cool customizable options to provide a floating Choose-Your-Own-Adventure:

  • Visual - Some tanks have a lighting feature. Before you go to your session, consider if you'd like any sort of light on - usually there is a choice of different light colors and / or twinkle stars. You may be able to control the lights from an OFF / ON perspective directly in the pod, but occasionally, you will need to tell your float facilitator in advance what you'd like.

  • Audio - Will you float in silence? Some tanks are wired for sound so that you can choose from pre-selected musical tracks. Some have AUX hook-ups so that you can pump in your own audio - music or guided meditation. Anything you like! Have something in mind so you're not fumbling for inspiration right before you have to walk in.

Pro-tip: I highly recommend listening to singing bowl sessions. The vibrations of the tones travel through the water and wash over your body. An amazing experience.

  • Additional Services - Spas offer additional services that you'll want to be aware of before you go. Would you like to couple your float with massage, sauna, or cryotherapy? How about relaxing in the post float lounge at the oxygen bar...or preparing your mind pre-float with some CBD? See what your spot has to offer and have a loose plan on your way in. The less you have to consider right before your session, the more easily you'll be able to relax.

7. Keep the shower temperature low.

Once you're shown to your room, you'll be instructed to shower. Your first inclination might be to blast the shower and get all hot and steamy before you hop in your pod / tank. Resist this urge. The water inside the tank is not *hot*, it is specifically heated to a very warm neutral 93° - 94° F, the average surface temperature of your skin. If you heat up your body right before entering, your brain my register the water as cool. This could lead to additional time settling in and getting comfortable.

8. Settle in and stretch.

Inside the tank your beautiful, curious brain will be processing all that it can. "I thought the water would be deeper!" "That's what a ton of salt water smells like." "It's dark in here!" "Breathe in, breathe out!" "Am I relaxed yet?" It's a new experience, and your brain, so used to processing a HIGH level of stimuli, will rebel a bit. Give yourself time to settle. Practice conscious slow, deep breathing. This is all normal. You are doing everything right. Orient yourself in the center of the tank by stretching out your fingertips. Place your arms in a comfortable position. Play around with placement and see what feels good in the moment. I invite you to stretch, sway, notice the sensation of the water on your skin. Allow your eyes to adjust to the deep darkness. This process could take 15 minutes or so, especially for your first time. It is all okay. Welcome the curiosity and let the tank work its magic.

I like to walk myself through a small guided practice where I consider each part of my body, starting from my head, and working down to my toes. I meditate on each part and consciously give each muscle the permission to release - eyebrows, jaw, neck, fingers, hips, etc.

9. Don't touch your face!

This could be numbers 9 and 10 for me. Please don't touch your face. Not that you'll mean to, but just be mindful. Most places will have a small in-tank station for just such an event. A dry washcloth if you need to wipe your face, and a bottle of clean fresh water to flush our your eyes if the salt water gets in them. It isn't the end of the world, but it also isn't incredibly pleasant. Like I mentioned in #3, the magnesium sulfate can be an irritant on soft tissue. You want to avoid getting it in your eyes or up your nose. If you have an itch, use the washcloth. There are also little floating neck supports you can use if you don't feel comfortable allowing your head to float free. (It won't sink, but sometimes that is a bit of a mental hurdle to overcome.)

10. Plan to stay.

The post-float experience can absolutely be just as enjoyable as the in-tank portion. Once your float has concluded and you've showered, show yourself to the post-float lounge and give yourself time to bask in the after-float-glow. Lounges are typically equipped with journals, tea, books, soft couches. Really take the opportunity to consider what came up for you during your float. There is no need to rush back into the stress of the day. Plan to stick around for 30-60 minutes after your float to really deepen the relaxation and allow yourself to return as slowly as your spirit needs.

I'm very excited to be taking a friend floating with me next week, and I wrote these tips to help him have a good first experience. Is there anything I forgot that was integral for you? Feel free to comment below with any questions or recommendations! I love hearing from you.

Happy Floating!

- A

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