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Column: My experience in a sensory deprivation tank

Jenna Bradford

Jenna Bradford

Sophomore Jenna Bradford relaxes in the tank.

Jenna Bradford, Stephen Decatur High School

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If you have ever seen the sensory deprivation tanks on Instagram or any form of social media, you know that they are essentially water-filled capsules in which you float. What you may not know is that they have the potential to lead to numerous health benefits.

The flotation tanks are supposed to relieve pain and headaches, improve sleep, lower blood pressure, enhance creativity, and make meditation easier. When I discovered them, I wanted to experience it for myself.

I found a local business in West Ocean City, Ocean Elements Salt Spa and Float Center, that specializes in the practice. It has floating tanks and a salt cave. I went to the center and saw each room as the employees explained the services offered.

The salt cave is a large room containing salt aerosols. As they are inhaled, they clear the sinuses and lungs and help with symptoms of the flu and colds.

There are two options for the floating tanks: a deluxe tank for those who are claustrophobic, and the regular pod. The deluxe tank is the length of a wall and is very large. It has lights on the ceiling to simulate stars.

In both pods, there are three buttons: one for the lights in the water so the client can turn them off, one for the stars, and one for the meditation music. The customer can adjust the music volume or turn it off according to their preference right from inside the pod itself.

The tanks contain about five inches of water with a high concentration of salt so buoyancy is inevitable even while being completely relaxed. The water is heated in each pod to 98 degrees to match normal body temperature.

For every pod, earplugs are provided to prevent water from entering the ears and to give the customer the full sensory deprivation experience.

I started without earplugs, but shortly after I began, I went back for them because I got salt in my ears. It was unpleasant, so I recommend them.

I went with my mother, and because she wanted to try the pod, I tried the deluxe tank. My immediate reaction was one of surprise because of just how big the tank was and the fact that I was able to float without using any muscles. I was completely relaxed, and I let go of everything as I floated in the water.

I started my 60-minute session with the music loud and all the lights on to ease myself into being in the tank. After a while I decided to turn off the light in the water to make it a little darker. As I floated, my body slowly spun around in the water and moved all throughout the tank. After what felt like five minutes but was probably 20 minutes, I turned off the music to allow myself to relax more. Then, after what felt like ten minutes but was probably 40 minutes, I turned off the stars.

I sat in the water for the last 20 minutes in complete silence. It was eerie because when you are in the tank, you can hear your heart beating, the dripping of water, the blinking of your eyes, and your joints cracking. Everything in the tank echoes back to you.

Because the water is 98 degrees, you cannot even feel the water and it is as if you are flying.

I was nervous at first because I figured it would be boring in the tank, but time flew by. Before I knew it, an automated voice came through the speaker to tell me to exit the tank.

When I left the tank my head felt heavy as my hair was saturated with water, and all my limbs felt heavy because gravity immediately took control of my body.

Located right beside the tanks are showers complete with shampoo, conditioner, and body wash so you can wash off the salt.

A suggestion while inside the tank: keep your eyes closed the whole time and only open them after you have wiped your face off, because the salt water burns if  it gets in your eyes. I unfortunately had it happen numerous times and it is not pleasant, especially if you wear contacts. I was worried about the water getting trapped behind them. It did not, and after a few minutes the burning stopped.

The employees are incredibly nice, and they instruct customers on how to use the controls and what will happen while inside the pod.

Something that sets this facility apart is that it offers free float sessions for veterans who suffer from PTSD and anxiety. The floating helps them slowly transition into civilian life.

Ocean Elements Salt Spa and Float Center was so interesting and made for a really great experience. It really helped with stress and I will definitely be going back. The next time I go I will be trying the salt cave as well. I believe students who may experience stress should try this at least once, especially seniors as they are dealing with the stress of college. So if you are stressed out or just need something to do, I recommend letting it all go and hopping in a float tank.

Read the original column here

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