Why I Floated
As a photographer, I am always on my feet. Constantly vigilant; waiting for the right moment to photograph. My mind moves fast at a thousand miles an hour. Anticipating, envisioning, composing photos. Executing shots.
It takes a toll on a person to remain vigilant for long periods of time. It requires a lot of concentration.
As a business owner, I’m continuously improving, promoting, advertising, creating. It’s something I love to do. But it keeps my brain awake more than it should.
As a dad and husband, I am always “on.” I’m a playmate, a confidant, a negotiator, a disciplinarian, a friend. As any parent knows, it’s the most demanding (and rewarding) job in the world.
When I was asked to float by my friend Jolene, I immediately said, “yes.” Why? Because I’m curious. I wanted to try something less stimulating for 60 minutes. To see what happened to my mind and body.
The BUOY Floatation + Rejuvenation Experience
Getting to BUOY
At the door, one is greeted by large pillars, a grand staircase and old, varnished wood. The tiles on the floor read “ERA”. You know this place has history. Upon stepping inside, one is immediately transported to the early 20th century.
I followed the signs to BUOY’s residence; the lower level. When walking down the steps, it feels like you enter a chamber that holds secrets. You are entering a place that is special.
Before the Float
I was greeted by Emilie, one of the staff members at BUOY. Her smile and demeanor made me feel comfortable immediately. She directed me to remove my shoes, put on a comfy pair of slippers and enter the spa hallway.
After passing a small lobby, she directed me to my room amidst a hallway of doors. In my room rested a “pod”. This floatation pod was about 9 feet in length and looked like something straight from a science fiction movie. One would think that a human may undergo suspended animation for long space flights in this thing.
She showed me the shower area, equipped with all the amenities and rain-shower shower head (those are my favorite).
Following her directions, I showered, undressed and put in some earplugs. The goal of a float session is to be completely devoid of any sensory input. Sight, sound, and touch. The temperature of the water sits at 93.5 degrees Fahrenheit, which ensures that your skin feels like it is suspended in air. It’s as close to being in space as I could imagine an experience could be.
The pod is filled with over 900 lbs of epsom salt. That’s right - there is nearly half a ton of salt in one pod. This is to ensure that the density of the water is so high that a human body completely rests on it's surface. And it works extremely well.
During the Float
The pod is equipped with two large, rubber buttons. Big enough that one can press their entire hand against them and it performs the desired action. One is for light and the other is for sound. A calming, meditative music plays when sound is activated and a smooth, blue light glows when the light is on. It is recommended that no stimulation occur during a float session, but these are optional for those that want to engage them.
I slipped into the water and immediately felt…like a buoy. My body lifted up towards the surface and I felt like a kid in a swimming pool on summer vacation. The water was warm and I felt comforted. A smell of incense also lingered in the air, causing me to further slip into a relaxed state.
I slowly closed the door and let darkness, silence and the absence of any sort of touch surround me. And off I went.
The 60 minute session lasted for what seemed at least 90 minutes, which was nice. Time had a different meaning. The absence of sound and distraction allowed my mind to wander. I saw visual stimuli from the latent images on my retina. The space surrounding me was completely black. Like a rich velvet that absorbed all light.
Eventually I began to nod off, which is common in the pod. One may wonder “How does your head stay afloat? Don’t you sink or suffocate in this thing?” The short answer is “No.” Your head rests comfortably on the surface and allows you to slip into a dream-like state. You can even fall asleep.
The greatest danger is getting a little saltwater in your eyes. Which, BUOY abates by having a small freshwater spray bottle ready for you to use inside the pod. They also offer a small, doughnut-shaped headrest for those who feel more comfortable placing their heads upon a “pillow”. It’s natural for our heads to want to try to lift up in water; it’s our instinct. This can sometimes create strain on the neck muscles. The goal is to relax and let this reflex fade quickly. So that you can experience a true floatation in isolation.
Another consideration for those looking to float is shaving and skin wounds. I shaved my face immediately before my float session and noticed that it stung a little bit. It didn’t last long and wasn’t any more severe than any other post-shave experience, but it is worth mentioning. You may want to reconsider a shave before the float and wait until after.
Also, any sort of wounds or nicks in the skin may feel a slight burn. They provide petroleum jelly to cover these small wounds if necessary. You cannot enter a pod with any bleeding wounds.
Also, all water is drained and cleaned between each session. So you don’t have to worry about getting someone else’s “stuff” on you when you enter the pod.
For those experienced in meditation, floating is the perfect companion. It allows you to focus inward and helps to quickly dissolve the outside world.
After the Float
When 60 minutes had passed, I heard a gentle voice from inside of the pod saying that my time was up and I was welcome to leave the pod. My body felt like a noodle; I was loose from head to toe. It felt as if I just had a massage!
I didn’t realize it when I was in the water, but the buoyancy allowed my muscles to completely relax. I had no stress, no strain placed on them. Standing up was a bit disorienting because I was so loose. The only other time I felt this way was after receiving a deep tissue massage.
I showered using their super-nice-smelling line of soaps, conditioners and body washes. After dressing I was allowed to go into a separate room to prepare for the rest of the day. They offered nice things like rich-smelling oils from Haeckels, blow dryers and natural toothpaste.
I headed toward the lobby where I was greeted by Emilie. We spoke for a while about how the session went and got to know each other. She offered me some earthy, strong Haeckels tea which I gladly partook in. I sipped it as we visited and headed out shortly afterward.
She informed me that I am more than welcome to schedule any time and that I can also create a schedule in which I come in twice, three or four times a month. Couples sessions are also available.
Walking up the steps, I felt completely relaxed, refreshed and rejuvenated. My float session was a success. My curiosity was satisfied.
About Floating - From BUOY
The following is more information as to what floating is, how it helps you and what sort of circumstances this therapy can apply to.
This information is taken directly from their website.
A Beginner’s Guide: Why Float?
People float to relieve stress, recover from injuries, fight addiction, eliminate chronic pain, and much more. Studies indicate that flotation increases your dopamine and endorphin levels, boosting your mood and leaving you with a pleasant afterglow that lasts for days afterwards. Without the need to fight gravity or take in external information, you’ll likely experience the most complete relaxation you’ve ever felt.
Everything you experience while floating comes from within yourself. It’s the perfect time to reflect, and there are reports of creative and personal insights abound. Flotation tanks can also be thought of as training wheels for meditation. After about 30-45 minutes of floating, your mind starts producing theta brainwaves, which are responsible for the between waking & sleeping state. After years of practice, people can enter theta state through deep meditation. Flotation tanks get you there with hardly any effort at all.
People have cut strokes off their golf game, developed complex scientific theories, and drafted entire portions of books while floating. With nothing to distract you, your level of concentration and knowledge absorption is astonishing.
Answers to the questions you may have about floating. Taken directly from BUOY’s website.
Do I need to bring anything?
No, just yourself. Towels, earplugs, and everything else that you need are provided.
What if I’m claustrophobic?
People with claustrophobia consistently report no problems with floating, even in smaller sized tanks.
What if I fall asleep?
Often people fall asleep, the water is buoyant so you will stay afloat. The worst that can happen is getting a bit of salt water in the eyes.
How are the tanks kept clean?
The salt water is fully filtered between each float to ensure a safe and clean environment.
Is this a fad?
Floating has been around for over 60 years, and has oodles of published research to back it up.
How to Schedule a Float Session
You can call (920) 558-4033 or schedule online at: https://www.float-buoy.com.
About Adam Shea Photography
Adam is a wedding photographer based out of Neenah, Wisconsin that travels across the state of Wisconsin and abroad for destination weddings. He focuses on rich, vibrant photos which tell the story of his clients' wedding days.
When not photographing weddings, Adam also photographs engagements, corporate events, families, high school seniors, boudoir portraits, and professional headshots. Adam experiments with time-lapse astrophotography and loves to create short films as well. His main subjects are his two dynamic daughters at home.
Adam loves to roast coffee, fish and is active in the political scene. He strives for equality, fairness and compassion amongst all members of society.
Adam Shea started Adam Shea Photography in 2007 and his goal has remained simple: create timeless, beautiful images for couples. He focus on capturing real moments that are crisp, vibrant and beautiful.