Float On: Sensory Deprivation Tank Lessons

TL/DR: Anxious thoughts + period of zoning out in a tank = total zen day

Wait, Is that spa music? I stand up, push the door open, and check the clock. The clock reads 1110, and sadly it’s time for my 90-minute float to end. In what felt like minutes earlier (but who knows), I had finally begun to feel fully present in the tank.

About the Tank

I spent 90-minutes in a warm, dark tank that was 5X8 with enough height to stand up. Fourteen inches of water containing 1400 pounds of Epsom salt provides enough buoyancy for really anyone to float. Bath bars, attached to the wall, make the getting in and getting out process easier. An easily, opened door pushes outward. A vinyl covering coats the tank. A somewhat slimy sheen coats the tank and the parts of my body that have been submerged in the water.

Tank Rules

  • No clothes
  • Shower first and skip the conditioners.
  • Keep the tank door shut if the light is red.
  • Don’t mess up the tank. Doing so could result in a $200-1000

Expectations + Experience

I’m an awkward and quiet introvert with a tendency to get lost in thought. I’m okay with 90 minutes of quiet in a tank. I expected claustrophobia, but what I ended up with lots of germaphobic anxious thoughts as I floated. For context, I should divulge my low-key hypochondriac tendencies.

Intestinal parasites? STDs? Saltwater is naturally clean, though. After each float, the water is also sanitized with ozone and UV filtration. The tanks are also deep cleaned overnight.

Time zoomed by in the tank. Before I knew it, the music was playing, and it was exit time. Between anxious thoughts Following today’s float, I feel strangely zen and present. I don’t have a chatty inner voice. This isn’t surprising because multiple scientific studies have shown that floating may help reduce anxiety or depression.


  1. Embrace it, don’t seek to change it. As I floated in the tank, my mind drifted to all of the ways the float experience could be “improved.” However, all of this would have changed the fundamental nature of a float tank.
    • Clock to tell the time — > What about getting lost in the moment?
    • Aromatherapy like lavender —> How is this sensory deprivation?
    • Way to record thoughts —>. How does this equate to being alone with your thoughts?

    None of these would have been improvements, but they would alter the essence of sensory deprivation and the tank experience. Look for a post about this acceptance and embracing what is.

  2. Who needs made-up, bullshit rules? Stay still, and try to meditate. These are the things that you are supposed to do in a float tank, right? Says who? In our quest to add order to this chaotic world, we create made-up rules for which we mercilessly beat ourselves up for if we break them.
  3. Trust yourself. When the music began playing signaling that it was time to leave the tank, my inner critic seized the opportunity to scold me for ruining the experience by getting out too early. It couldn’t be music I heard. But it was. Why couldn’t I trust what I heard?


Because I had a couple of days between #NthSymp2019 and #NetAppINSIGHT, I ended up with a couple of free days in Anaheim. I found the Awaken Float Lounge. At $45 for a 90-minute float, why not? Part of what creating a life with joy looks like to me is finding new experiences. If they come with a little zen, even better.

Now that I’ve shared my float-tank experience with you, where have you’ve found your zen? Are there any other experiences that I should try?