Heres what a tank looks like just before you get inside.
  • Here's what a tank looks like just before you get inside.

My experience at Urban Float, the sensory deprivation tank facility up in Fremont, was nowhere near as entertaining as Cienna Madrid's, and I didn't have any fantasies about speaking at my own funeral. After reading Cienna's review, I was kind of expecting to dislike the experience. And I don't have a history of enjoying these sorts of inward-facing self-care experiences. I have a hard time when I try to do something that most people use to pamper themselves—hot tubs make me uncomfortable, massages don't do anything for me, meditating in a group just feels weird—but my curiosity got the best of me when Urban Float dropped off a few gift cards for a free float at The Stranger. I wanted to try it, if just once, to see what it felt like.

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Turns out, I loved it. Some of the trapping were a bit woo-woo for me—especially the optional new age music that plays at the beginning and end of the session—but the experience of floating in the dark on a bed of hypersalinated water in near-complete silence and total darkness really worked for me. It was easy to clear my mind with no external stimuli, and focusing on the sound of my own pulse and the sensation of breathing helped me relax my body and forget about everything around me. (With a few minor exceptions: I could occasionally hear the traffic outside Urban Float, which sometimes distracted me, and as Cienna experienced, my arm would sometimes hit the wall of the tank and I'd freak the fuck out for a second.) The hour seemed to go on forever, until the time was up and the lights and music came back on, at which point it felt like it had only been a few minutes.

But the experience inside the tank is basically an emulation of nothingness, and so there's not too much to describe about it. What was remarkable was the way I felt after I went out into the world once the experience was done. I heard and saw and felt sensations with more acuity for a couple hours after I left the tank. My muscles were relaxed, and it took a while to dispel the feeling of walking in a lighter gravity environment. I was aware of the blood and the breath circulating through me on a very different level. I had breakfast and it was glorious. The sensation was similar to a low-level, and very pleasurable, marijuana high. It was definitely something that I want to do again. If you're doing last-minute shopping for someone who's hard to buy for, an Urban Float gift certificate might be a decent idea. I can't guarantee that they'll love it, but I can guarantee that the experience would be a unique one.