Floatation Tanks & Time and Space

When was the last time you dipped your toe in and tried something new?

About a month or so back, I met someone at a networking event who described to me the feeling of pure relaxation. To lie on your back and float, suspended in time and space. Allowing the world around you to get all wibbly-wobbly and just let go.


He was referring to the Spacetime Tanks in Lincoln Park, which he would frequent either twice a week, or once every other (what does bi-weekly mean again?).

Either way, they came highly recommended. So I quickly recruited my brother to join me and we instantly procrastinated going for a few weeks. Then, in a fit of stress, I called them up, scheduled our session and put it in my calendar.

After only one reschedule, (from 4pm to 9pm), we took a cab there on a Saturday and decided to have the opposite of a night-out. Shutting ourselves into darkened, water-filled tanks, filled with 80lbs of epsom salt, for an hour.


Walking out of the cold, we entered the hallways of a building I could only describe as eerily similar to walking onto a 90’s Halloween flick. Not the best way to start a night of relaxation, but it soon passed as we entered the calm cocoon of the Spacetime Tank center.


Once inside, patrons who had recently left the womb of their tanks calmly nodded toward us. Relaxing, tea in hand, they were drying and waiting for their companions to finish their session and join them. As I reached for the tea, a hushed whisper recommended against it, as an hour in the tanks is not best served with a full bladder.

After I emptied my tank, I calmly followed the quiet monkish looking man to the tank I would fill and stepped into the room.


After re-reading the above sentence, I realize this is starting to sound quite odd. And I’ll admit, it is. Here I was, standing in a little room, about to strip naked and step into an isolation chamber, for an hour on a Saturday night in order to both improve my health and well-being and push my comfort zone.

In contrast, only steps from the front door of this establishment is the bar Irish Eyes – where I spent a very different Saturday night years ago in college, doing the exact opposite for my health and well-being, though possibly the same for pushing my comfort zone.

In either case, this is a post about “dipping your toe in” and trying something new. To step out of your comfort zone and allow yourself the opportunity to take flight/float...and in a moment, I was floating.


Entering backwards, I paused briefly like The Terminator entering a new time-period. Slowly, I reclined until everything by my ears and face were submerged.  My body, in reaction to the epsom salt rose out of the Dead Sea and hovered - I immediately tensed.

The water, matching my temperature, seemed to hardly exist, but I couldn’t bring myself to let my ears submerge. Time in darkness of the tank is hard to calculate, but I’d say about 5 to 10 minutes in, my neck finally relaxed and my ears went under.

Hearing the bloop-bloop of air escaping my inner ear, I laughed and started to find ways to pass the time. I couldn’t seem to fully relax, but I also knew that if I fought it I’d only frustrate myself away from anything good. So I made up games.

The first was called, “Woah, my hair feels weird!”. Where I had my hands behind my head and just kept moving my hair around in the water.  (Stop looking at me weird, I see you through the computer).

The second was called, “Am I moving?”. Where I would essentially play Pong with the tank – pushing off one side with my hands and wait for my feet to hit on the other. Since the water was your body-temp, it didn’t feel like you were moving, which was really interesting.


The third was called, “SUPERHERO!" because you truly do feel like you are flying/floating in the tank. I began to steady myself in the water, like Iron Man trying to take his first flight. 


At one point I played the game, “Shit, there is salt water in my eye”, and had to get out of the tank to rinse. At which point I also checked my phone, cause I’m addicted to technology, and saw I’d been in the 45 minutes, when it really only felt like maybe 20.

And in a moment it was over, I showered and joined my brother in the waiting room for some tea and light reading. They even had floatation journals and books for our writing and ready pleasure. People filled them out with their thoughts and feelings, and though I don’t know what it means, I think this note from a fellow floater sums it up pretty well.



What did I learn from dipping my toe in and trying something new?

That your fingers don’t get pruney because of the water softening your skin. It is actually just a reaction of your body knowing that it is in a slippery place and trying to increase the amount of surface traction of your hands. Making your fingers into giant-pruney-fingerprints.

This is also why our fingers did not get pruney in the tanks, cause of the traction from the salt.

(This is an explanation as described by my brother – not to be taken as truth, unless it is, then you’ve just been lawyered…cause he is a lawyer).

Did I reach a movement of supreme clarity?

Not really, but I did feel ultra-relaxed. Then again, there was a party going on upstairs, which the guy said has never happened in the 20 years he’d been there. But, it is kind of hard to relax with Skrillex shaking your cage.

Would I do it again?

Yes, but might wait till summer. I am far too dried out in the winter already to be dipping myself in salt too often.

Should you go?

Absolutely. The upsides far outweigh the negatives (a little dryness for a day) – and why wouldn’t you go try something super odd and interesting. Bring a friend, it is more fun, grab a drink after and tell everyone that you’ve found inner peace.

So, dip your toe in and get a little salty. What new thing will you try this week/month/year?



Martin McGovern