Most humans are born with the ability to experience the five senses: sight, sound, smell, taste and touch. They’re what helps us experience the world, learn more and understand each other. So, knowing how important these seemingly simple functions are to our bodies, why would we ever purposefully try to turn them off? As it turns out: for our health.
I think the last time I spent 90 minutes in a pitch-black, dead-silent, enclosed body of water, I was in my mother’s womb, so I surprised no one more than myself when I signed up for a 90-minute session at FLOAT Trinidad, having heard only good things about their sensory deprivation tanks. Floatation therapy, also known as sensory deprivation therapy, consists of lying in an isolation tank full of water and 1,000 pounds of Epsom salts—and, quite literally, nothing else. No sound, no light, no clothes, nothing but your mind for the entire duration.
But before you freak out—and trust me, I did—let me assure you, it’s not as bad as it sounds. When you think of sensory deprivation, you think of being locked in a dark chamber and experiencing nothing. While you’re definitely experiencing no senses, it’s not as scary as it seems. As it turns out, the pitch-black chamber is actually a decent-sized tank with a door that can stay open or closed, depending on your preference. The lack of light allows you to turn off your brain, and the absence of sound encourages you to be at one with your thoughts. And most interestingly, the body-temperature water, in which your body hovers on the surface, eventually feels almost like nothing at all.
And so, with 90 minutes of removing all distractions, senses and external stimuli, you’re left at one with your mind. I decided to try a 3-session intro package at FLOAT’s location at One Yoga in the Queen’s Park Oval. FLOAT’s owner, Troy Hadeed, recommends doing three introductory sessions to really give the experience a try, and I wasn’t sure exactly what to expect.
Through living with anxiety for most of my life, I have a very open and somewhat healthy relationship with the disease, and so I knew the sensory deprivation experience could encourage me to switch off, reconnect and find the stillness needed to accept and address bigger issues.
“In our society, we don’t know how to switch off,” Hadeed said. “There’s a lot of avoidance—and we think that’s switching off, but it’s actually disconnecting, not connecting to the source. Not everyone’s going to step onto a yoga mat or a meditation cushion, but I do feel that floatation therapy is a really powerful tool to help people destress and connect to what’s important and find that stillness.”
But still, the idea of lying in a body of water brought me anxiety, and I found myself running through my list of what-if’s and reassuring myself before I allowed myself to truly relax. Could I sink or drown in the mere inches of water in the tank? I couldn’t, even putting it to the test to triple check. Would I contract some sort of unmentionable disease? I wouldn’t—the water is heavily filtered and the salt content doesn’t allow for bacteria to survive. Could I survive 90 minutes of meditation? Well, that one I had to see for myself . . . .
All in all, I survived my first session—and the two others in the weeks following—having come out a little more relaxed, a lot more introspective and even better for it. Since then, I’ve continued to practice meditation—both in the tank, and out—and have seen the benefits of the float practice on both my mind and my body (athletes famously use it for injury relief).
“It’s like hitting reboot on the human computer,” Hadeed added. “Resetting so you’re more focused and more aligned. I think it’s a really powerful tool in our society and the time we live in.”
Hadeed opened FLOAT back in 2017 after experiencing it himself years ago in Vancouver, Canada, and now has plans to expand throughout the Caribbean—and definitely to all over Trinidad and Tobago. FLOAT’s initial centre, located within One Yoga, is expanding too—adding another tank, with four more on standby.
Whether it’s anxiety, an injury, insomnia, PTSD or any type of physical or mental ailment, there are many benefits to be found in floatation and sensory deprivation therapy. It’s just to turn off your senses and discover them.
You can try the sensory deprivation experience for yourself at FLOAT Trinidad. Learn more by visiting their website at www.floattrinidad.com, following on Facebook at FLOAT Trinidad or calling (868) 351-9642 for more information.