Feeling “deprived” never felt more beneficial—at least for fans of floatation tank therapy.
For me, the notion of flotation therapy was perplexing. why would one want to “Book A Float,” when particularly in Hawai’i, we are surrounded by some of the most picturesque beaches in the world? As it turns out, floating—a modernized term for “isolation” or “deprivation therapy”—can be a positively mind-altering and highly restorative treatment for reversing anxiety, stress relief, and even health conditions like fibromyalgia.
Geoffrey Sato, owner of Dream Float Hawaii, a soft-spoken fellow who runs O’ahu’s only dedicated float center, eased my skepticism and quelled a few fears. Do you float in a closed pool? Do you float in a chamber? Up until this point, I could only picture a Michael Jackson-esque hyperbaric device… I was pleasantly surprised to find out that Sato’s float center is located in a quiet, ocean-view locale nestled in Waialae Iki. Arriving at Dream Float, and walking back to a sitting area complete with white couches for clients, and eclectic, local artwork hanging about, I was soothed by the serene ambiance.
So why float? “On a universal level, it’s for stress relief,” Sato answers. “It’s used for muscle relaxation, insomnia, high blood pressure, and it can also be used to treat PTSD and fibromyalgia.
“You float for an hour on your back. No one is going to bother you,” he adds. This is a controlled float that’s all your own, where there are no currents to drift you away, no noises to distract you (unless you request music) and the water is set at your natural body temperature to ensure a seamless transition between you and the water.
“There is an almost anti-gravitational feel to the water because of its extremely high salt content,” Sato says. There are 1,000 pounds of epsom salt in 180 gallons of water, 10 inches deep. The water in the chamber is basically 10 times saltier than the ocean. Epsom salts are used to treat sore muscles—the magnesium sulfates are thought to absorb into your muscles to assist with soothing anxiety and alleviating aches and pains.
Sato himself got hooked on floating after someone treated him to a float. It changed his outlook on life so dramatically that he quickly invested in his own float chamber and started asking friends to experience it. As the demand increased, Sato decided to open Dream Float Hawaii in May 2015 and has quickly attained his set of regulars.
Melanie W., a 40-year-old holistic professional in Honolulu, was diagnosed with fibromyalgia 15 years ago. She tried full-body massages and acupuncture to treat her condition and had poor results. But for the last six months, she’s been floating three to four times a month at Dream Float and has seen great improvement: “Floating has had a totally different approach to healing for me,” she says. “I feel like I am actually floating on a cloud … my body revitalizes each time I float.”
“It’s an experience so close to our very first experience of life, in the womb,” says Kachina Neskovic—a 39 year-old, Honolulu-based life coach (femininefactor.com)—of her first float experience. “My mind drifted, and I felt muscle tension release. I liked that I was alone, [there was] no practitioner etc., to manipulate the experience.”
When it was my turn, I went into the dedicated float room. I showered first (protocol for before and after your float to help keep the water clean; there are water safety standards for the float centers and the water is routinely tested) and then climbed in. I opted to keep the chamber door open instead of closed, and stepped into water that felt unusually slick.
Upon lying down, I was taken aback at how buoyant I was. I didn’t even feel afloat in a tank, but more like I was in outer space or adrift off the coast of somewhere. I went on a float of the body and the mind. That was extremely relaxing and meditative in ways that I hardly expected. I came out recharged, relaxed and energized.