Humor me for a minute: what would you do if there was nothing to do? I’m talking zero stimulation. No phone within arms-reach, no one nagging you to unload the dishwasher, not even a snowy slope to barrel down.
Add a tub of warm water, 900 pounds of Epsom salt, and total darkness to this equation. Now clear your mind and step into the sensory deprivation tank.
“We like to call it adult time-out,” says Bryan Messmer, founder of Easy Float Bend. “It’s an opportunity to completely chill out. There’s nothing to it, and everything to gain.”
In a world of over stimulation, sensory deprivation businesses like Easy Float are finding a niche in the wellness scene, and for good reason. From famous athletes to podcasters like Joe Rogan, floaters are indulging in something close to nothing. The Bend location offers two deprivation chambers that run six days per week. Floaters can enjoy seventy-five minutes of deep relaxation time for $65. With no sign-up fees and reduced rates with membership, it’s the ideal environment in which to take the plunge.
Before we do, let’s backtrack to the mid-1950s. Neuroscientist Dr. John C. Lilly, an avid researcher of deep relaxation responses, sought to examine how our brains react in a state of total isolation. It turns out, isolation in a safe environment allows one’s consciousness to flourish, expand, and explore.
“The idea is that you’ll drift into a theta state, which sounds hippy-dippy, but it’s just the stage before sleep when you are totally relaxed,” says Messmer.
Just me, myself, and an egg-shaped seven-foot “Dream Pod.” Claustrophobics, rest easy: it’s quite spacious.
Cue the weightlessness jitters. Expect a bit of resistance as you drift into your nirvana, most commonly manifesting in neck pain and back twinges. In the absence of sensory input, there’s freedom, detachment, peacefulness and mental clarity. Before you know it, reality hits. Like a child anchored into a time-out corner, you may feel your brain firing on all cylinders and a slight temper tantrum surfacing.
Then, like magic, your tension starts to dissipate. You sink a little deeper, realizing it’s just you and the salt, in a swaying, peaceful waltz of twelve inches of water. Active Bendites, you’ll love this: the elimination of gravity allows muscles and joints to release tension and heal quicker. More slopes, less fatigue.
Warning: your brain may feel otherworldly, but not in a psychedelic, festival-goer type of way. You may pretend you’re in a fantasy flick, or a little kid playing in a giant bathtub. You may be up in space, descending back to earth with your greatest idea yet.
Maybe that’s just me.
Afterward, you’re likely to drop into a state of euphoric awareness and confidence. Simple relaxation with no senses or corralling of the mind. It’s a breakthrough. A therapeutic, well-deserved time out.
Float on, friends. Dive deep into your personal narrative and relieve all that tension and stress. “Let yourself relax!” says Messmer. Wise words. (Or – just live out those astronaut dreams you secretly never gave up on. That, too).