Test More, Live More: Meïsō float center
During the summer, one of the best ways to relax is to float on your back in the pool or ocean. You can actually feel your stress melt away as you let the water cradle you. If you close your eyes for long enough you begin to drift in and out of a sleep-like state where you forget about your busy work schedule and real life responsibilities. But what are you supposed to do the rest of the year when you’re stuck in a bustling city instead of on a sandy beach? Book an appointment at a float center.
That’s what I did at least, at Meïsō, a float center in Paris, France. The night before my floating session, I received a text message in French that I had booked an appointment “with myself” to float at 10:30 a.m. the next morning. It put a smile on my face and made me excited for the one hour of complete relaxation that awaited me.
The next morning when I arrived at the float center, Maïté, a sophrologist and one of the cofounders of Meïsō, greeted me. She took the time to sit with me in the cozy welcome area to tell me about the history of sensory deprivation float tanks.
They got their start in 1954, when John C. Lily, a medical practitioner and neuropsychiatrist, wanted to create a space that contained the least stimuli possible, in order to explore the limits of human consciousness. Today there are over 230 studies on REST (Restricted Environmental Stimulation Therapy) and the float tanks are used as a way to relax, relieve muscle tension and pain, and meditate (fun fact: Meïsō means “meditation” in Japanese!).
SOME OF THE HEALTH BENEFITS OF FLOATING ARE:
-Lowers blood pressure
After our chat, Maïté guided me to the room where the float tank is housed. She told me that she and her partner, Alexandre, developed the tank on their own with the help of a 3D printer - very cool! She instructed me to put in earplugs, take a shower (which was located right next to the tank) and then either put on a swimsuit or go into the tank naked. She assured me that it’s automatically cleaned 3 times after each float session, so I had nothing to worry about when it came to germs.
She let me choose if I wanted to have music, a guided meditation or nothing at all to accompany my session and if I’d like to leave the light on or off. Even though I was always scared of the show “Are You Afraid of the Dark” as a kid, I opted to face my fears and be in total darkness for the one hour. I wanted to have the purest sensory deprivation experience possible.
She left me alone and a dim light was left on so that I could take my shower. Shortly after it began to blink in the tank, indicating that it was time to step in. The water was warm and felt slightly thick from the Epsom salts. I was reassured to notice that it was only a couple inches deep so that I wouldn’t drown if I fell asleep (hey, it’s a valid fear!). In the first few minutes I got salt in my eyes which I have to say hurt quite a bit, but all I had to do was step out of the tank and rinse it out under the shower. The dim light from the beginning of the session guided the way and then quickly went out again once I was back in the tank (Maïté and Alexandre thought of everything!). It took me some time to completely relax, but once the hour was up I felt calm and my head wasn’t filled with any anxious thoughts about everything I had to do that weekend. I went home and felt so zen I even fell asleep!
MY OVERALL IMPRESSION
It was easy to get distracted since the experience was so new, but Maïté told me that the more you float, the easier it is to totally relax. I loved my first float session and look forward to doing it again!
WHO FLOAT THERAPY IS FOR
-Anyone who likes baths (a float tank is like a big bath, but you get to be totally on your own without any distractions at all, for one whole hour!)
-Anyone who loves floating in the ocean or a pool already
-Anyone interested in a new way to meditate
Top tip: If you’re claustrophobic or don’t like small spaces, don’t be scared to try a float tank! You can leave the door of the tank open as much as you want, and you can get out at any time during the session if it starts to freak you out.
Float therapy is great, and I’m recommending the experience to everyone I know (including you, dear #LIVEMORE readers!).