Self-Deprivation is the Ultimate Gift This Holiday Season

Self-deprivation is the ultimate gift for moms (really anyone, but especially moms).  Deprivation? At the holidays?! Yes! But it’s probably not what you think.  I’m talking about sensory deprivation! Imagine 90 minutes of complete silence and complete darkness – NO INTERRUPTIONS! No one is touching, tugging or pulling at you, and you are in complete and utter relaxation and did I mention, silence? Sound too good to be true? It’s not, and it’s amazing.

Allow me to introduce you to A Place To Float. This week I had the pleasure of enjoying my first sensory deprivation experience at this new “float center” just south of downtown. I had first heard about the concept of floating more than a year ago, and I had been anxiously awaiting their opening ever since.  I am pleased to report that my experience exceeded my high expectations.

What is sensory deprivation? It’s floating in 10 inches of supersaturated Epsom salt water in complete silence and darkness. The saturation of salt creates buoyancy, so you float easily in the water. The water and air temperature are the same as your skin temperature, so you feel… nothing. The company website describes it best, “The float tanks minimize light, sound, gravity and other sensory input we are bombarded with on a daily basis. Rest and relaxation, pain management and heightened creativity and meditation are results all can benefit from in as little as one session.”

Float Pod

The center has only been open a little more than a week, and their facility and customer service are already refined. The space is inviting, comforting and beautifully designed. You know you are in for something special as soon as you walk in the door. Owner Aaron Douglas has researched float centers around the country and put the best of what he found into his brainchild, right here in Indianapolis.

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Enough gushing about the space, (though it is gush-worthy).On to my experience of the float! I arrived the recommended 10 minutes early for my appointment and was warmly greeted by the APTF staff. I was given a short tour of the facility and shown to my room including my float pod. Each private room has a shower. It is recommended that you shower before and after you float to minimize contaminates in the water including lotions, perfumes, etc.

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You are welcome to float in swim wear, though floating “in your skin” is recommended because even the feeling of swimwear while you float can cause distraction. Once showered, I adorned the provided ear plugs, and I climbed into my spaceship-like glowing pod and closed the lid.

There was a dim blue light in the pod as I got acclimated, and then the staff starts your session from outside the room. The pod goes completely dark and silent. In orientation, they showed me the intercom button inside the pod. If I needed anything at all, I could push the button and reach staff. That was a huge comfort to me. You also have a button for light if you want or need the light on during your float, and you can add music if you wish.

I wanted to experience my float in pure deprivation, so I floated in the dark and silence. The buoyancy is amazing; you really couldn’t sink if you tried. There is no thought or effort needed to stay afloat.

I have to admit, I had a few short moments of panic when I first closed the pod. My brain raced as it was used to being called upon nearly 24/7. With two kids, two dogs, two cats and a loving husband at home, not to mention owning my own business, I am used to burning the candle at both ends. It took my brain a moment to shut down but when it did, it was glorious.

I floated both physically and mentally. I fell into a meditative state; I slept and did nothing for 90 whole, splendid minutes. In that time, I had to answer to no one and was not touched (as a nursing mother this was a much-needed break) or spoken to. I gave myself the gift of healing my mind, body and spirit. At times, I felt like I was in outer space and couldn’t tell where the water and my body met. The best word I can use to describe it is “trippy.”

When my 90-minute session was complete, the dim blue light turned on in the tank and I knew my float had concluded. The time went by both quickly and slowly. I opened my pod and showered using the delicious smelling shower gel, shampoo and conditioner provided in the room. I got dressed and made my way to the restroom to dry my hair with the facility-provided blow dryer. It was frigid and snowing outside, so this was a welcome amenity. The confirmation email I received upon making my online reservation suggested that I bring my own hairbrush, so I came prepared.

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Once quaffed, I made my way to the relaxation room. This room is quiet, dimly lit and beautifully arranged. It makes the transition back into the world a little easier. It is recommended that you sit for a few moments to collect yourself before your departure, and I took advantage of a few more moments of silence.

Visit the calming room after your float to ease back into the world.

After my float, I felt rejuvenated. I expected to feel drowsy or loopy like I often do after a massage or a dip in a hot tub, but this was different. I had gotten very little sleep the night before because… kids, and I went in nearly falling asleep on my feet. I was pleasantly surprised at how well I felt not just physically but also mentally. After my float I was relaxed yet far more awake and alert than I was when I went in.

The physical benefits of floating are many, including stress reduction, pain management and more. Plus, it just feels so good! As I was floating, I was lamenting the fact that I had not been able to experience this during my pregnancies since they were not open at the time. The weightlessness would have been such a welcome departure from the everyday pregnancy aches and pains. Plus, I can imagine the baby would have welcomed the experience, and we could have floated together. It is recommended that you check with your doctor prior to floating during pregnancy, but most pregnant women are given medical permission to float.

Now, if the idea of getting into a closed pod has you sweating with claustrophobia, no worries!  They have an open pool option as well. This can be a great alternative for those with physical impairments and a fear of being closed in a little pod. 

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As you can tell from this post, I loved my floating experience, and I can’t recommend it enough.  As a mom, I know how hard it is to carve out two hours to dedicate to myself, but it’s so worth it! At $80 for a 90-minute float, the cost is aligned with that of a massage, and though it’s not an every-day splurge my budget can handle, I can say that I am going to work it into the budget and/or ask for a gift certificate this holiday season. Gift certificates can be purchased online. If you are looking for that last-minute gift and can’t get out to make a purchase, they have you covered! Send the link to your spouse, parents and in-laws because mama needs some peace this holiday season!

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