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As a beauty editor, I get to test out a lot of treatments—some relaxing, some rejuvenating, and some downright odd. But when word about a new experience that boasts glowing skin and a cleared mind hit my inbox, I knew I had to give it a go. Turns out these magical benefits are the result of floatation therapy. Now I know what you’re thinking, “What is floatation therapy exactly?” I admit, myself, I was unsure, so I headed to New York’s Floating Lotus to see what the fuss was about. Here’s what I found.
What is floating?
First, I met with Joel Granik, LAc, Co-Founder and Director of Floating Lotus, to tell me what exactly is floating and could I possibly mess it up. (To my relief, I couldn’t.) Granik explained to me floating was basically a method of relaxation and meditation via a salt bath. The large amount of salt—800 pounds of salt to be exact—actually makes you buoyant (you couldn’t sink if you tried) and allows you to literally float on the water without any effort exerted. The idea is to float in a pitch dark room, without any sound or stimulus, for an hour to allow your mind and body to completely be at peace.
What can you expect?
This was where I got nervous. As soon as Granik said, “dark,” “no noise,” “meditate,” and “hour,” I started to panic. What would I do lying naked (you could do a bathing suit, but you’re in a private room so birthday suit is definitely best) in a lukewarm tub (it’s the same temp as your body) for an hour? I was also a little nervous I would suddenly become claustrophobic. However, after entering into the floatation room, I was relieved. The tub was quite large and wasn’t at all the space shuttle-like pod Google Images alerted me to. After showering off all of my lotion, deodorant, and makeup, it was time to float. I put in earplugs (to avoid salt build up), turned out the light, and started to float.
How will you feel?
This is a tough question to answer. Within that hour span, I seemed to go through an entire range of emotions: excited, nervous, hungry (definitely eat before or else you’ll be stuck listening to your own stomach growling for an hour.) Granik explained before I went in, the first 15 minutes can be the hardest, as your brain races and the thoughts of the day come rushing to the front, but a simple counting of breaths should do the trick to keep them at bay. But as anyone who’s ever attempted meditating knows, that can be difficult. I will admit, it wasn’t the easiest thing for me to relax in a ginormous bath tub in complete darkness, but after I stopped fidgeting, figured out what position was comfortable to rest my arms (I preferred out to the side), and realized “I don’t have to do anything right now except lay here,” I started to enjoy the experience. My legs kind of became one with the water and it started to feel like I was laying in jello as opposed to water. My muscles relaxed and loosened—a welcome benefit as I’m a runner and was recently struck with knee pain after a half marathon. Sure, my mind raced and my thoughts ranged from “I wonder how long it’s been?” to “Is this what Sandra Bullock felt like in ‘Gravity’?” to “Should I get a sandwich after this?” But ultimately, I was able to let my body relax and my mind (somewhat) clear. Basically, it’s nap time for adults!
What are the benefits?
This is a really personal treatment, and everyone will feel differently after floating. Floating causes an immediate release of endorphins and serotonin while the magnesium from the salt help boosts your mood and you leave in a state of euphoria,” explains Granik. “So many people come in scowling and angry and they walk out of the float acting like my best friend. You can see the neurological effect.” I certainly left feeling less tense, a little sleepy, and quite at peace. (Also the salt is great for your skin!) Plus the warm water and weightless feeling was great for my sore knee. And I’m not the only athlete who enjoys a little float session. Granik says many professional sports teams are opting to put floating tubs in the locker room.
Lastly, the mental benefits might be the most notable. It can be challenging to be completely alone for an hour. And clearing your mind is no easy feat. But allowing yourself some time to relax and decompress sans Snapchat, Instagram, or email calling works wonders for your well being. (Not to mention relieving stress keeps cortisol levels low, which can help keep you youthful and wrinkle-free!) “Floating helps put your mind out of the way and you leave with a clearer understanding to your problem,” says Granik. I second that!