Float Brothers Float Spa opened in January of 2016 in Destin, Florida.
60 or 90-minute float sessions are available in one of their four sensory deprivation tanks (a.k.a. float pods or float tanks). I was able to check it out this week and wanted to share my experience.
There is a lot of information out there about the numerous benefits of floating. Many athletes and top performers in every field point to floatation tanks as the way they relax and recover. Studies have shown floating to improve many conditions such as stress, PTSD, muscle pain, back pain, depression, insomnia, anxiety, high blood pressure, and many types of chronic pain.
Floating also makes your brain release endorphins and all kinds of feel good chemicals in as little as just one session.
I found out about the Float Brothers Spa when I stumbled across their Instagram page recently. I already knew about all the benefits of floating so I was very excited to see we had a float spa right here in Destin.
As soon as I found them, I went to their website where I was easily able to make an appointment. They have 4 different themed rooms (the patriot room, the nature room, the ocean room and the space room).
I made an appointment for a 90-minute float in the space room. I’ve heard it can take 45 minutes to even start to calm your brain down and get into the deeper states of relaxation so I didn’t want to risk only getting a 60-minute float.
Upon arrival at the spa, I was greeted by a friendly employee named Lance. I had a bunch of questions and he answered all of them. He seemed to have a real passion for floating.
A man was just walking out of his first float and the look on his face was pure joy. He kept saying how he could not even feel his back pain. He looked euphoric. His smile was so genuine. He said over and over how he has never felt anything like this in his whole life.
There were 2 other people there who also had 1:00 appointments. They were first-time floaters like me. We were given waivers to sign and then shown a short but informative video in preparation for our float.
After the video, we were escorted to our individual private rooms. I powered off my cell phone completely (crazy nowadays,… I know!) because I was afraid of getting out of this relaxed experience and seeing something stressful or distracting on my phone immediately after.
Each room has a private shower to be used before and after the float. After showering, I put my ear plugs in and climbed into the tank. Inside the tank, there are buttons to turn the interior light and the music on and off. There is an option to listen to your own music if you prefer but you have to tell them beforehand if you want to do that.
I closed the pod lid and floated for a minute getting used to the sensation. After a couple of minutes, I felt comfortable and turned off both the light and the music. I know it might be tempting (and even recommended in some cases) to leave the music and/or lights on but I wanted to have the complete sensory deprivation experience since it is so rare anymore that we have an opportunity like this to really unplug and disconnect.
The tanks consist of 10 inches of water which is highly saturated with Epson salt. The high salt content is what makes you completely buoyant in the tank. I understood this from being a scuba diver. A body (or object) will float in proportion to the weight of the water it displaces. Salt water is heavier than fresh water which is why divers need to wear more weight to stay down in salt water.
This tank water is so heavily saturated with salt that you will feel lighter and more buoyant than you have ever felt in the water. You will float effortlessly.
At first, I had some intense stinging pain on my tattoo which is in the process of being removed. It had been 3 days since my last laser appointment so I thought I would be fine but apparently not. The pain did not last that long or else maybe I just forgot about it after awhile. They recommend not shaving before floating or going in with any open cuts because the salt water will sting. I will add to wait awhile if you have recently had any intense, skin-burning laser treatments.
It was pitch black inside the pod and completely silent. I closed my eyes and felt my body go weightless. I had never felt anything like this truly weightless feeling before. I was able to completely let go and still hovered on the surface. I never felt like I was sinking and never touched the bottom of the tank. Even when I thought I was completely relaxed, every few minutes I felt myself go a bit more weightless. It is an indescribable feeling to completely let go of holding yourself up.
I have heard the float tank experience be described as similar to the feeling of being a baby in a womb. That sounds so weird and creepy but I found it to be surprisingly accurate. The water did not feel like water. It felt like,.. fluid. It is the same temperature as the body so it’s easy to lose track of where your body ends and the water begins. It all feels like one.
Initially, my biggest fear was that the water would not be warm enough and I would spend 90 minutes feeling chilly. I did not need to worry because I was never cold (except when I stepped out of the tank). The temperature was perfectly comfortable for me but I can imagine some people feeling slightly too warm in the pod. They recommend that you prop the pod door open with the towel or neck pillow if you find it to be too warm.
Some might worry about experiencing claustrophobia in the tank but I don’t think that would be a huge concern for most people. Not only is the tank far larger than you would think, but it’s so dark in there that it feels more like being in outer space with no walls than being enclosed.
Many friends I have talked to about this experience have expressed a fear of being trapped in helpless silence with their own thoughts for so long. This is a concern that some people also have with meditation.
My mind relaxed very quickly once in the tank. I’m not sure how my past meditation practice played into the quickness in which I adapted but I would be curious to hear if that is the case for others or not. I have done four 10-day silent meditation retreats and also some shorter retreats (although my last retreat was 4 years ago). I was able to immediately tap into that experience by focusing on my breathing and trying not to attach to or get wrapped up in too many thoughts.
A major difference between the float tank and meditation is how deeply the body is able to relax during this experience. The physical relaxation happened so quickly (unlike meditation which can be physically uncomfortable) that it made my mind relax almost instantly.
The mind and body are so interconnected that anything you do to relax the body will relax the mind and vice versa. It is pretty much impossible to have a truly relaxed body and an agitated mind so for that reason, you will probably find your mind quickly calm and settled in the float pod like I did.
My mind tends to race so I was afraid I would spend 90-minutes in the tank planning my to-do list and going over schedules in my head. I did heed the advice on the Float Brothers website and limited my caffeine that morning to only one cup. I sometimes have a tendency to overdo coffee so I drank enough to not get a headache but not enough to give me a caffeine buzz. In the first few minutes, I had some feelings of anxiety and stir craziness that quickly subsided once I settled in.
I still meditate now and then and I can safely say that the mental calmness I reached within 5 minutes in the tank would easily take me 30 minutes or so to get to in a sitting meditation. I can only point to the body relaxation and complete sensory deprivation element as to why this might be true.
Even on retreats, it has taken days for my head to finally begin to calm down though it happened within minutes in the tank. The mental calmness after the first few days of a mediation retreat happens in large part due to the lack of sensory input in that environment (no talking, reading, writing, etc…). Thoughts start to calm down when we stop taking in so much mental stimulation and that’s when you can go deep and find some stillness in your mind beyond all the usual mental chatter.
I was way too relaxed in the tank to have a racing mind. Thoughts floated in and out and I just focused on my breathing and they floated away. I did not have the energy to attach to them or give them much thought. I am personally experiencing some very stressful times in my life at the moment but I still walked away in a state of euphoric well-being that stayed with me all day.
The strangest thing that happened in the tank is that I lost all track of time. I would find myself wondering if it had been 10 minutes or 60 minutes or what. I truly had no clue. It was such a crazy feeling. I felt lost in space with no sense of the physical world at all after awhile. I just kept floating and going deeper and deeper into a state of relaxation.
The session ended with the jets and the lights in the tank coming on which signaled that the float was over. I slowly got up and went straight into the shower to wash off the salt water. I stumbled a bit in the shower. It felt strange and jarring to be standing up.
My skin felt so soft and amazing (and still does now as I write this 16 hours later). This is from the Epson salt which has its own enormous list of health benefits. It is full of magnesium (which most people are deficient in) so it’s a great way to soak up those minerals as well.
I chose to leave my cell phone off for 4 hours after my float. It helped me to keep my chilled-out, trance-like state for that much longer. It is a strange experience these days to truly unplug but one that I highly value. I regularly practice turning off my phone for hours at a time to de-stress so I knew it would add that much more benefit to the experience.
I definitely recommend trying this experience out. Judging by the Float Brothers trip advisor reviews, I would say that other people are also definitely enjoying this.
Even if you don’t have a deep, transformative experience, I’m pretty sure that the worst that could happen is that you would still find it at least as relaxing as a massage (I found it 10 times more relaxing than massages, which I do really enjoy).
Actually, I take that back,.. the worst that could happen is that you become a float junkie like me after only one session and suddenly all you can think about is the tank. Last night I slept with full awareness of the mattress beneath my body and for the first time kept thinking how wonderful it would be if it were not there. I just wanted to be floating weightless instead. The mattress felt so harsh compared to the tank. I’m suddenly constantly aware of the effort to sit and hold my body upright as I type this from my desk.
I keep glancing over towards the bathtub wondering if I should run to the store for Epson salt and see about re-creating this experience. It would never be the same though between the chlorinated water and the bathtub walls; not to mention all the salt I would have to buy and carry.
I just went ahead and booked my next float for 3 days from now. I will finish this article up after my second float.
My 2nd float was a lot different from the first. It was really relaxing but not as euphoric and mind cleansing as the first.
I’m pretty sure it’s because I showed up so exhausted for the 2nd float. I have insomnia sometimes and I only got an hour of sleep the night before. This led to me falling asleep for a good portion of the float.
Don’t get me wrong, it was probably the most peaceful and woozy sleep of my life and it’s totally safe to snooze during your float because the salt water keeps you easily afloat. It’s just not as meditative and mind-bending to sleep through your float session. It is an incredibly relaxing nap, but still a nap.
This is just my opinion as many float spas recommend sleeping during your float but trust me, there is something transformative about sitting in space with your thoughts and having no way to distract yourself like we normally do. Personally, I definitely recommend going into the tank fully rested and alert.
The prices for this experience range depending on how many floats you buy. A 60-minute float is $50 and a 90-minute float is $65. You can also explore membership options which will bring the price down further.
Everyone who has come into contact with me this week has heard about the float tank. My thoughts are consumed with it. When can I get back to the tank? What can I cut from my expenses so I can afford more floating? What can I tell myself to justify the premium membership? How much floating would be too much?
I have read that the benefits of this practice only increase with more floats so I’m excited for the journey ahead. I did end up signing up for a membership plan to allow me to commit to regular floats at a lower price.
I place a very high value on mental calmness, clarity and peace of mind so I am confident that this investment in myself will return itself tenfold.
I realize that the price of this might be too high for some people to budget into a regular practice but it’s still worth doing now and then if you are having a stressful day and just want to relax and unwind.
If you are visiting Destin from out of town, it is certainly worth kicking off your vacation with a float. Vacation is the time to treat yourself and I can’t imagine a better way to start a beach vacation than a relaxing float to unwind from your regular life and ease into your Destin vacation.
I would love to hear your experience if you have done a float in a sensory deprivation tank.