Chicago is welcoming Float Sixty with open arms - open wide and above their heads floating in 1000 pounds of Epsom Salts. Read the news release on our opening here.
Gina Irwin joins the Float Sixty team and brings her enthusiasm and excitement along with her! Having tried floating for the first time after one of her dance competitions, she is ready to add it to her health & fitness repertoire and help our guests get comfortable doing the same. Gina has worked in various hospitality jobs and has a passion for guest service. She plans to soak in as much about the business as possible before leaving for college to study management and hospitality this fall. We welcome Gina to her role as Float Coordinator!
Float Sixty is Chicago's newest and largest Float/Sensory Deprivation Studio. Newly opened in January of 2016 and nestled in the city's River North neighborhood, this is the city's MODERN float and relaxation destination! Float Sixty River North offers guests sixty minute sessions in one of five european-style float suites. Our private suites are fully equipped with state-of-the-art showers and floatation (or floatation) equipment with options for color light therapy and integrated music. For those desiring the true R.E.S.T. (Restricted External Stimuli Therapy) lights/sounds are simply disengaged promoting hyper meditative states in personal private environments. Our sixth suite is dedicated to quiet and is offered as a meditation/relaxation room.
Float rooms, pods and tanks vary in style but are the same in foundation. Guests float effortlessly in a meticulously clear personal pool. Each room is filled with ten inches of water dense with a saline solution containing 1,000 lbs of dissolved, pharmaceutical grade magnesium sulfate or "Epsom Salts"!
Float Sixty carries a full line of take-home Epsom Salts, Dead Sea Salts and approximately sixteen salt soak formulas infused with essential oils beneficial to men, women and children. Our retail area offers unique relaxation inspired gifts that appeal to anyone who needs to "detox" from their busy crazy worlds.
Float Sixty - One Clear Hour Specialties Floatation Tanks/Pods/Rooms, Restricted External Stimulation Therapy, Relaxation, Self-Care, Sensory Deprivation Tank, Epsom Salt Products
Website http://www.floatsixty.com Industry Health, Wellness and Fitness Type Privately Held Company Size 1-10 employees Founded 2015
Imagine stripping down and stepping into a water tank filled with 1,000-plus pounds of Epsom salt. Free of sound, free of gravity, and free of light (yes, you are in total darkness). Just you and your thoughts, floating in the water in total darkness for an hour. Welcome to the latest in wellness treatments: sensory deprivation tanks. The tanks have been around for a while, since 1954, when scientist John C. Lilly supposedly took LSD and did experiments in the tank.
Mindbodygreen's Allie White reported earlier this year that the “tanks promise total-body rehabilitation. Physically, they're effective at treating certain chronic pain and illness and can even help with high blood pressure and fatigue. Mentally, floating is believed to help with stress by lowering levels of cortisol and allow for a deep state of relaxation (aka the perfect place for mediation). It's also supposed to help get creative juices flowing by removing distraction and instead allowing the floater to focus only on what's happening in his or her brain.”
More athletes are beginning to use them as a way to get a mental edge. But what does a real doc think?
“I like sensory deprivation tanks,” says Dr. Frank Lipman, founder of Eleven Eleven Wellness Center. “I used to go about 20 years ago when there was only one place in New York City that had them. It’s a great way to get you into a deep state of relaxation and sort of forces you to meditate or get super relaxed. But they are obviously not good for anyone who is claustrophobic.”
Joe Dowdell, founder & CEO of Peak Performance, will have a flotation pod in his new New York City facility opening in February. He sees athletes and executives embracing it and explains that ”the float pod helps promote a parasympathetic state, which can speed up the recovery process. Floating is not just great for athletes but also for anyone who is dealing with a lot of work and/or life stress such as busy corporate executives.”
Lisa Martin is a published author and master esthetician for over 20 years. Known for her motivational leadership and vast knowledge with the business of beauty, health and wellness, Lisa has served as keynote speaker for industry conventions including the Illinois Reflexology Association and the International Congress of Esthetics. Martin has also had the honor of judging the 2011 & 2014 Salon of the Year for Modern Salon & Salon Today Magazine. Lisa is dedicated to creating a positive client experience and is ready to "float" to new heights in her new role of Director of Studio Operations at Float Sixty!
This is a very interesting documentary on the practice of floating. It is a full hour - worth the time!
Thank you to all of the individuals who put the time into this production for our industry!
By Kyle Dowling: Kyle Dowling is a writer based in New York City. His work has also appeared in Playboy, COED Magazine, Psychology Tomorrow, and The Smoking Jacket, among others.
As it gets harder to live in the moment, without distraction, some swear by a forced shutdown.
It's an environment entirely stripped of stimuli. Even gravity feels nonexistent, inside a tank filled with nearly a foot of water and just about 800 pounds of Epsom salt. Like the Dead Sea. You climb inside and lie floating in the darkness.
To experience complete sensory deprivation is, ideally, to delve into one's psyche. It forces contemplation of facets of life, that -- similar to less "heavy" types of meditation -- is meant to leave us healthier and happier. The theory is that removing yourself from all external stimulation allows your mind to suddenly dial down the RPMs, resulting in heightened in-the-moment awareness, creativity, and clarity.
Comedian and Fear Factor host Joe Rogan has been effusive in his praise of the tank. "I think it's one of the most incredible pieces of equipment for self-help and introspective thought that you could ever find," he told me. "It's been one of the most important tools for me in personal growth for understanding myself, how I am, and what effect I do have on other people."
Rogan got into sensory deprivation in hopes of achieving psychedelic experiences without taking actual drugs. He's attained that, and, in the process, gained innumerable reasons to keep floating. "People don't realize how much everything is a distraction," he says.
The experience in the tank, though, can be "brutal and unflinching in its portrayal of you and your reality," said Rogan. "That's a terrifying thing to a lot of people -- the fact that you're alone with your unconscious thoughts, with everything that's truly troubling you. It's the only time that you are untethered from your body."
He's not alone in describing that untethered feeling as a potentially intense emotional experience. Your mind begins to run rampant. With nowhere else for thoughts to go, whatever problems, worries, or guilt sits in the back of your brain has to be confronted. As it's been put before, inside that tank, you have to face yourself.
"It can be uncomfortable in the sense that you really can't run away from any of the things that are subconsciously troubling you, but I love that," Rogan said. "I'm not a big fan of running away from reality. I like handling all of the issues that bother me in order to go through life truly happy. There's a lot of people out there with ghosts, a lot of demons haunting their mind. In my opinion, this is your chance to face it head on and try to come up with a better path."
But a fear of facing oneself shouldn't be a deterrent to any type of therapy. Sensory deprivation has become a popular exercise throughout the world, with validated positive results that extend into everyday life. Namely stress and anxiety reduction, but also as an adjunct for chronic physical pain.
Dr. Darren Weissman, a holistic physician who has floated weekly since 1986, explains, "I really feel that it's a result of floating and getting myself out of the way that I saw how all these multiple disciplines that activate the healing potentials of the body actually work together."
Floating isn't just about facing the negative aspects of life. It's also about being more aware of, and appreciating the good. Letting the little, good moments simmer -- instead of just moving to the next thing -- helps them feel (and actually become) more real.
As Dr. Weissman says, it "allows us to recognize our body's potentials. It opens us to a whole different level of awareness and of who we are. We start to notice things. It awakens consciousness."
Matt Frederickson, an avid user of floatation tanks, says, "Since I started doing it, I've become more calm, especially in my work life." A long-time sufferer of chronic neck, head, and back pain, Frederickson took his first float after hearing Joe Rogan's praise of the physical benefits of the isolation tank on Marc Maron's WTF podcast. "I thought it sounded interesting because I personally suffer from a lot of chronic pain, so that's what initially drew me to it."
Frederickson tried therapies for his chronic pain, a lot of which worked a little, but he's found that no other practice produces results as consistently effective as the isolation tank. But, like Rogan, he gets more out of it than he initially sought. "I still use it mainly for the pain," he says. "It really helps lessen that, but I think the secondary benefit, for me, would be the anxiety that's tied to the pain."
"I think people are very mentally attached to certain things and certain ways of living," Frederickson told me. "I work in the music industry, so I attend a lot of shows. I'm constantly seeing people on their phones or giving into different distractions at these concerts. They don't see there's a way out of that, to be in that present moment."
While generally praised by users, sensory deprivation is met with some mainstream hesitation. Whether that stems from the germ theory -- which Dr. Weissman assured me shouldn't be a worry -- claustrophobia, or even a fear of experiencing thoughts that might make us question ourselves, the floatation tank is a tool that waits patiently for those willing to give it a shot.
Most who've experienced isolation tanks admit that the idea of "letting go" and allowing your mind to relax takes time. Even Rogan admits that floating took some getting used to. "I remember thinking, this is something I'll have to get comfortable with." But with practice comes success.
Ultimately the tank can create an optimal environment, but once inside the onus remains on the person as to where they go.
Originally published in The Atlantic:
Maria Welch leads me into a soundproof room where a huge, white, egg-shaped pod is waiting.
I’m supposed to get inside this thing, which is emitting a bright blue light from within and is filled with 160 gallons of water and about 1,000 pounds of dissolved Epsom salt, heated to skin temperature, about 94 degrees. The salt bumps up the water’s density to the point at which it can suspend a human body. It’s supposed to be relaxing, euphoric, meditative.
To me, it looks more like a space coffin.
“People go in and they’re not sure,” says Welch, who owns Float Factor on Madison’s west side. “They come out with a big smile.”
The original float pods were isolation tanks developed in the 1950s by John Lilly, a neuropsychiatrist who was studying the effects of sensory deprivation while under the influence of psychedelic drugs like LSD.
Commercial float centers rose to popularity among New Age hippie types in the ’70s and ’80s. Devotees say the therapy can soothe sore muscles, decrease stress and anxiety, improve sleep and creativity and boost the brain’s “theta waves.”
There was a float center in Madison on (of course) Williamson Street briefly in the ’90s. Now the movement is seeing a resurgence in popularity in Wisconsin and elsewhere.
In addition to Float Factor on the west side, a business called Float Madison is opening up on East Wilson Street in October.
Floating, as it turns out, is indeed “a thing,” one that costs $79 per hour-long session. But for many it’s worth it — a friend of mine claims that floats have helped him recover from hangovers and jet lag. Welch says before she opened, some of her local customers used to drive hundreds of miles to float centers out of state.
After I sign a waiver, watch an educational video (theta waves, man!) and get a quick briefing from Welch (who assures me I won’t get locked inside), it’s time to strip naked, shower off and take the plunge into roughly 10 inches of warm, salty water. It’s filtered three times between uses and sanitized with UV light.
Once I close the lid behind me, it’s actually not so bad. The pod is surprisingly well-ventilated, and it’s kind of fun to be buoyant. Bathed in blue light and serenaded by New Age pan flute music pumping through underwater speakers, I kind of get the appeal.
Floaters have the option to keep the lights and music on, but in the interest of fearless journalistic exploration into the true sensory deprivation experience, I opt for dark and silent (go big or go home, right?).
In a world constantly illuminated by iPhones and computer screens, the total absence of light is strange. The silence is stranger still; with ears submerged, I can hear the brittle sound of clicking joints and the echo of a churning stomach.
The video warned I might get nauseous. What happens if I barf in the pod? My body is light, but my neck is strangely heavy. I slosh around a bit. I’m pretty sure I’m doing it wrong.
With all outside stimuli removed, the mind is supposed to go blank and drift off into a blissful oblivion. This is perhaps possible for a non-neurotic person (or a veteran floater), but my inner monologue persists.
How long have I been in here? How am I going to write about this? I’m literally doing nothing. Target is across the street; I need some items. I wonder if my cat loves me as much as I love her. Why can’t I keep a man around?
This continues for some time until a woman’s voice tells me my float is over. I’m not sure, but maybe for a moment my snarl of thoughts became white noise, like om, the vibration of the universe. When I emerge, I feel...well, I feel something. That’s for sure. I’m buzzed. I scrape salt out of my ears. The feeling lasts all day.
Must be the theta waves.
Gallons of water in each pod: About 160
Pounds of dissolved Epsom salt: About 1,000
Water temperature: 94 degrees
Cost: Single float is $79; first float is $59
Float therapy is reportedly good for: Soothing sore muscles, reducing stress and anxiety, improving sleep and increasing creativity, mental clarity and “theta” brain waves
It hadn’t really occurred to me to be afraid of floating in a pitch-dark, top-sealed tank until a braver and better-adjusted friend said that she’d always felt a secret hankering to try it but was scared. “Scared of what?” I asked, although by then my mind was running to extremes: the heavy air, the terror of enclosure, the risk of falling asleep and inhaling water. I envisioned myself hauled from the tank like Jason Bourne out of the Mediterranean, technically alive but lacking memories of life. (“I have professional skills I do not understand!” I’d shout. “I can sit at a desk for an extremely long time!”) Floating, known as Restricted Environmental Stimulation Therapy (REST), promises many lifestyle benefits, including lasting calm, heightened creative thought, and greater suppleness of skin. As the hour of my first immersion neared, though, I began to wonder whether I might find myself calmer in a place that did not mimic the exact experience of death.
Sensory-deprivation tanks, once popular with stoners, scientific geniuses, and the sorts of people who prefer to polish their own chakra crystals, are reentering our culture in more mainstream therapeutic forms. It is possible now to go lie in one after lunch, much as you might visit a spa—except that tanks, unlike spas, are intended not only to help the body but to serve the mind. A REST tank is filled with about ten inches of water, into which a thousand pounds of Epsom salts have been dissolved. This solution, nearly saturated, is so buoyant that one can’t notfloat in it, even with effort. And the water is exactly at body temperature, obscuring the normal sensation of having discrete limbs in space; the floater’s ears sink just below the water line, leaving only two senses—smell and taste—untouched. Most people have not spent time without sight, sound, and feeling since leaving the womb. A good part of the intrigue of floatation tanks surrounds the question of the brain’s response in such bizarre conditions.
I hoped to try it without venturing too far from home, literally or figuratively. I’d been ill at ease of late—grumpy, impatient, exasperated with work—but a brand-new, upscale floatation center, Lift / Next Level Floats, had just opened in New York, apparently to cater to people as circumspect and world-weary as I. It sounded promising. One afternoon, after some mind-numbing phone calls, I went to Lift, near downtown Brooklyn, for my soak. The founders, Gina Antioco andDavid Leventhal, met me in their light-filled, loft-like lounge. They offered tea.
“We wanted to create an environment that had mass appeal,” Antioco, who wore shorts and a T-shirt, explained. She used to be a catering manager who suffered from insomnia; she tried sensory-deprivation floating as a solution. At a floating conference in Portland, in 2013, she met Leventhal, a wiry middle-aged man with Clubmaster glasses. For years, he’d been a partner at a law firm. Then he decided that he wanted to float. “The industry has just had an amazing resurgence,” Leventhal said. “A lot of centers in the past have bootstrapped themselves—they’re scrappy and ingenious.” In Lift, which has so far floated some eight hundred New Yorkers, they were aiming to catch the upper mainstream of the market—people who might have qualms about floating in a stranger’s apartment, which is traditionally how many centers ran—and to create a business that could be expanded elsewhere if its popularity grew.
Today, the science of floatation tanks is mostly honorable yet hazy. Their invention is attributed to John C. Lilly, the postwar researcher best known for his important but nutty research on dolphins. (Lilly, a neuroscientist, became convinced that the dolphin brain represented a supreme intelligence that humans could employ to solve a range of problems; he constructed cohabitation quarters—water-filled living rooms, basically—so that he and colleagues could live with the animals and cultivate what he hoped would become a common language.) Lilly was working for the National Institute of Mental Health when he invented floatation tanks, in the fifties, ostensibly with the goal of isolating the brain from normal perceptual experience. Later, in the sixties and seventies, he started experimenting with sensory deprivation under the effects of LSD and ketamine.
Floatation tanks fell out of fashion suddenly after the eighties—a casualty, according to Leventhal, of AIDS panic, since the tanks scared people unsure of how the illness spread. In recent years, they have regained a following, and, at the moment, the case for certain benefits is compelling. Under examination, floatation therapy has turned up encouraging results in reducing blood pressure and cortisol levels, reducing blood lactate levels after intense exercise, and other physiological improvements. It’s been shown to help manage anxiety, and it appears to be useful in dealing with addiction (although their waterless cousins, sensory-deprivation chambers, have seemed slightly more effective). One study found that competitive archers who floated for forty-five minutes before shooting arrows generally shot those arrows better than archers who did not.
I was personally interested in weirder stuff. Richard Feynman, the quantum physicist known for his lucid mind and zesty style, once met John Lilly after a lecture and began using tanks; in Surely You’re Joking, Mr. Feynman!, he describes undergoing about a dozen long floats. For the first two, he felt nothing much. From the third on, though, he had hallucinations. “I had many types of out-of-the-body experiences,” he wrote. “One time, for example, I could ‘see’ the back of my head, with my hands resting against it. When I moved my fingers, I saw them move, but between the fingers and the thumb I saw the blue sky. Of course that wasn’t right; it was a hallucination. But the point is that as I moved my fingers, their movement was exactly consistent with the motion that I was imagining that I was seeing.”
Antioco and Leventhal said that their clients also had “experiences” in the tank, though they were vague on what the range of those experiences could be. Some people had become intensely aware of their heartbeats. A few felt odd aches in their bodies—points of tension that they didn’t realize they had. Some effects had been stranger. “After sixty minutes in the tank, someone came out, and I asked him how it was. He couldn’t talk, but he was all smiles. I asked him again and he still couldn’t talk, but he had this infectious, giddy laugh,” Leventhal said.
Their spa contains two kinds of tanks: One is basically a high-ceilinged, vault-like room with water in the bottom. This is the tank recommended for people with fears of claustrophobia. The other is a more traditional model, the Evolution Float Pod. It has a lid. Leventhal mentioned that the New England Patriots had bought two such tanks for their locker room, which assuaged some of my fears: If a linebacker could fit comfortably in the pod, I thought, I probably could as well. I wanted the “authentic” tank experience, too—the one that Lilly and Feynman had undergone.
I shared my fears of falling asleep and drowning. Antioco and Leventhal told me that this would be virtually impossible. The water is shallow and so salty that it stings the eyes, they said; if I fell asleep and rolled, I would immediately be stunned awake by the solution. In the history of floatation, they told me, there had been only one drowning in the tank—and that was of somebody who had physically paralyzed himself with ketamine. “Experiment with different body positions,” Leventhal told me. “My favorite is to put my arms above or even behind my head.” I followed him into my small, private floatation room, lined with tile. He showed me around, wished me luck, and shut the door, leaving me alone to soak.
The floatation tank appeared more welcoming than I’d expected. It was white and sleek, and it gaped amiably, like a big clam. Far from being sepulchral, it was huge—almost the width of my arm span, I guessed—and comfortably rounded. The lid domed up to make quite a lot of head space: I am six feet tall, but I discovered I could comfortably sit up in the tank when it was closed. As I showered, the water in the tank turned oscillating colors, like the backsplash in a European disco. I was scheduled for an hour—a long time for a bath, maybe, but a short time by the standards of a REST tank, where the temperature holds steady and the salt means that your skin won’t prune. Antioco told me that, sometime this fall, she plans to do an all-night float.
I got in. On Leventhal’s advice, I’d taken a small face towel in with me, to keep the salty water from dripping into my eyes when I sat up, and I hung it on the hinge joint of the lid. I put in the earplugs that Lift provides—not required, but swimmer’s ear is common—and shut the lid over me. I hit a button to begin, and lay back in the water. Slowly, the colored lights dimmed, and then the lights in the room, visible through the hinge of the lid, dimmed, too. It was pitch dark.
For three or four minutes, I had a vague feeling of panic. I was not afraid of anything much, and yet floating in the dark was so disorienting that I felt the need to reassure myself by touch. I felt the floor of the tank, only a few inches below; from time to time I’d reach out sideways and grab hold of the lid hinge. I’d begun to drift. Occasionally, I bumped a wall. Ethnic-sounding flute music had started playing; for a moment it was welcome, as another orienting detail, but eventually I groped for the big rubber button that would turn it off. Now it was quiet, too.
Many people are afraid of lulls in conversation; other people are afraid of silences in their own brains. As my body fell into a physical calm, my mind began to behave like a hammy actor in an empty theater. I did not hear my heartbeat, as those other people had. Was that a problem? my mind wondered. Should I hear it? Was I dying? Then there was the ache in my left shoulder. What was that about? And did I still feel my hands? I did. Was that OK? Finally, how high was the waterline on my cheeks, really? Should I be worrying about it trickling into my eyes?
So far, I did not feel particularly calm.
When I’d figured out my body, more or less, I found myself indulging in the most egregious of writerly tics: I started writing sentences in the dark. How would I describe this experience? my mind wondered. Although I wasn’t having any real hallucinations, I was seeing ghostly drifting geometric forms against the dark before me. In the outer fields of my vision I saw ripples—very faint, and indigo in hue, as if my brain were trying to make some visual image to match my sensory perceptions. I began to think of how I might describe these faint illusions. Most of all, they put me in mind of the Northern Lights, which I had seen once standing on a hill, in downtown Reykjavík, in late September. “Faint and pale and flickering, just like the Northern Lights at midnight”—that was the right phrase, I thought. The description was precise, and the phonetic voice-leading was musical, the A sound carrying from faint to pale, which broke the F alliteration just enough, and then the strong through-tone of like, lights, midnight . . .
I shook myself out of this pointless reverie—the normal drone of creative thought that I had wanted to escape. I began trying to think about my wrists. I could no longer feel the boundaries of my arms or hands, but I could feel my wrists, which floated at my sides. They seemed bizarrely heavy. Why? I thought of Leventhal, and tried putting my arms above my head.
I noticed that I hadn’t lost my sense of smell—far from it. For cleanliness, the water in the tank is micro-filtered between uses and treated with bromine. To distract myself from the chemical scent, I tried an exercise that Feynman had described. “I tried to think of very early memories. I kept saying to myself, ‘It’s gotta be earlier; it’s gotta be earlier’—I was never satisfied that the memories were early enough,” he wrote.
I acquired language young, and can normally recall—or seem to recall—moments and dialogue almost back to the time of my first words. What surprised me when I tried Feynman’s exercise, though, was the vividness with which memories came in the tank. Faint snapshot-like images (that blue door in a motel in Carmel or Monterey, where my grandparents had made peach Jell-O in a hurry using ice; the old back door into the yard of my parents’ house, before it was remodeled decades ago), were so clear now I could almost have written whole paragraphs describing them. Little licks of hazily remembered dialogue seemed to crystalize into full scenes. I can’t say that I remembered more, but I remembered everything much better. It was as if I had a telescope back into my own history, and the normal fuzzy light pollution of the atmosphere, the distractions of time and the moment, had been blocked, leaving the image sharp and pure. Like Feynman, I kept willing myself backward—further, deeper. I was surprised how immediate it seemed.
Suddenly, an electronic voice began to speak, and the lights in the tank came up. I blinked, bleary; an hour had apparently passed, though it had not seemed long enough at all. I got out, showered with fragrant soap and vinegar, to help dissolve the crystalizing salt, and wandered out into the hallway, which was bright with daylight. I had a couple more calls to take that afternoon, and chores to run, but they no longer felt as tedious. The immersion had done what I had hoped: I’d found a way of rediscovering my mind.