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Sensory deprivation

Sensory deprivation. Sounds weird, right? And definitely doesn’t sound like something that you would do to try and relax, right? And that’s exactly what I thought 5 years ago when my girlfriend, a self-proclaimed, “hippie,” asked me to go and try out floating in San Francisco. I agreed to go with her because at that time I was newly into my rotation on the felony trial team and in need of some good relaxation.

I was nervous and skeptical about my first float. I always considered myself to be claustrophobic so the idea of climbing into a completely dark chamber full of salt water and deprived of any noise sounded freaky. When we arrived at the center I was relieved to find out that you could float with light and music if you wanted to and that of course, you could climb out of your pod at any time if it just wasn’t working for you. I put in my ear plugs and decided to forgo the music and light so that I could try and get the full effect. The first half of my 1 hour float wasn’t very relaxing – I couldn’t turn off my brain – I kept opening the door to the pod to make sure that I wasn’t stuck inside. The next half wasn’t that much better, but with about 10 minutes left, I got used to the feeling of floating. You are engulfed in body temperature water and 1200 pounds of Epsom salts – so, if you let yourself, you literally float on your back. And although I didn’t totally, “turn off” my brain, I did see how the experience might be relaxing.

The next month I asked my girlfriend to go back so that I could give the floating another go around. And after that, I was hooked. Floating is so unlike anything else we do to try and relax. I know that for me, when I unwind and, “relax,” on the couch in front of the TV, I’m usually distracted by my cell phone. Even when I read that temptation to check on every buzz from my phone is always there. Things that are supposed to be relaxing, like getting my nails or hair done, now feel like chores or things that I need to do to check off of my list. And while working out gives a lot of us a chance to unplug, we are usually still engaged, whether we have friends in the class or are working on some personal goal. Floating provides a true opportunity to turn off all of the noise from our busy lives and to just chill.

Physically, the experience is relaxing. You have a chance to feel weightless. The water is warm. Your back, neck and hips are given a chance to feel zero pressure. Once you’re done floating, your skin is super smooth from the Epsom salts. Mentally, I have found that the experience changes with every float. I do think about my to-do lists or work, but it’s a chance to think about those things without interruption and not in the middle of the night when you’re supposed to be sleeping. You have clarity. Sometimes when I float, I am able to completely unplug and reach that semi-conscious almost sleeplike state. Those are my favorite floats!

I was so excited when Capitol Floats opened in Sacramento so that I wouldn’t have to make the trek out to San Francisco, which is less and less appealing these days. Capitol Floats is a beautiful facility. It’s super clean and has a very relaxing vibe. Every room has a shower so that you can rinse off before and after your float. They provide you with ear plugs for your float and shampoo and lotion for when you’re done. The pods are spacious, almost like little rooms, so that you don’t feel claustrophobic. You can float with our without music or with or without light. When you’re done with your float you can head next door to the Vibe Health Bar and complete your healthy experience with a smoothie or acai bowl – perfection! Give it a try. I doubt you’ll regret it!

By: Erin Blake

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