Sink or Float. Literally.

2016 has been…challenging, to say the least. In pretty much every area of my life. I’m not writing this to complain, because goodness knows I am blessed beyond words in so many ways. But what I’ve had to remind myself is that even when there are blessings, it’s okay to have struggles. It’s okay to admit when you’re not okay. As family stress and work stress and writing stress continued to rise, I was ignoring that advice. I was pushing it all down and putting on a happy face, all the while gritting my teeth until I could take a vacation.

Of course, after vacation, everything was still waiting for me. And my body was telling me it wasn’t okay.


Guess when my vacation was

Last weekend, after a particularly disastrous and stressful event, I decided it was time to take charge and make some changes to address my constant high levels of stress. I can’t change a lot of it, but I can change how I react to it.

I was talking to my friend Andrea, and she said she had been considering floating. I’d heard about this, actually researched last summer. It’s fascinating all the benefits that are said to come from floating. Stress relief, relief from chronic pain, increased creativity…all those things and more were appealing to me. So I thought, why not?

Some of you may be wondering what floating is. Maybe not as a general term, but as a therapy. Basically, it’s sensory deprivation. You climb into a tank with about ten inches of water highly saturate with Epsom salts. You close the door to the tank, turn off the little light inside, and the salt in the water allows you to float effortlessly. So you do. For an hour and a half.

Half of you are intrigued, and half of you are probably having vicarious claustrophobic episodes. I’ll wait while you recover.

I went to Fadeaway Floatation here in the Des Moines area. The lady I talked to on the phone was super nice, and the guy who gave me the rundown was also very helpful. The directions were clear, and everything you could possibly think of was provided, down to contact solution and a hair dryer.

So here’s my little run-down of my first floating experience. First, the accommodations:


Looks kind of like a washing machine. Wash away your stress!


The water is so clear. I left the little light on for a bit, but did turn it off eventually.

I know. It seems creepy, but there’s no latch on the door, and it’s really quite cozy, like being back in the womb. I assume. I don’t really remember that stage of my life.


I showered, then climbed in, propping the door to the tank a bit with a towel because it was MIGHTY steamy in there. The water is skin temperature, in order to decrease the ability to know where the water is. You’re supposed to have the sensation of floating without distractions like different temperatured water. Below is an estimated timeline of my 90 minutes in the tank.

1:00: This is weird. The water feels weird. What if someone comes in?

3:00: Wait. I’m supposed to be relaxing. I’m doing it wrong. I can’t even relax right. What’s the point of this if I don’t do it perfectly?
5:00: Okay. I’m sort of comfy. What am I supposed to think about? Maybe I should meditate. Ommmmm. Ommmmm. WHAT IS THAT? Oh, it’s my hair, never mind. Ommmmm…

7:00: Do I always breathe so loud? Is that my heart beating? Why does it sound so far away? Am I already reaching nirvana? Are my senses all wonky? Is this how it ends?

10:00: I cannot do this for an hour and a half. How long has it been? Probably an hour. Maybe two. Maybe they forgot to tell me to get out. Maybe I’m stuck here forever.

12:00: Seriously, who can just lay here for that long? Maybe if I was at the lake, on a floaty, in the sunshine, but in a dark tank there’s no one to hear you scream.

30:00: I’M A MERMAID *swishing hair* *bouncing from top of tank to bottom*

45:00: I really should blog about this

90:00: *music begins* What? Already? Five more minutes?

Conclusion: Weird. So much salt. But it has potential. I bought a package of sessions, as they say that you need at least 2-3 to really get a feel for it. The guy at the desk told me his second session was profoundly different from his first. I’m not sure how often you go, but I’ll make another appointment in a few weeks.

There are some other things I’m working on to lower my stress levels. I’m trying to think outside the box, find things I haven’t tried before, shock my body into behaving and being calm. We’ll see how that works 🙂

If you’d like to know more about floating in general, check out for more information on the benefits of the practice.

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12 Responses to Sink or Float. Literally.

  1. Never heard of this, but I want to try it. Sounds perfect for a non-claustrophobic introvert who needs to escape.

    • Rena says:

      If you love dark spaces and floating and hearing yourself breathe and possibly hallucinating about being a sea creature then YES, this is for you!

  2. Kathy Palm says:

    Neat-o! But I would claw my way out after the panic set in.

  3. I admit I’m intrigued. I may look into this.

  4. Maggie says:

    I’ve had a few clients report major benefits from this when struggling with anxiety.

  5. I’ve heard one other person talk about this before, but the picture helped me grasp the idea so much better. It’s like a tanning bed, except instead of cancerous light surrounding your barely clad body, it’s dark salty water… surrounding your barely clad body.

    I think I’ll stick to my 5-20 minute almost-daily meditation. If you are into trying that, the Calm app is a good place to start.

    • Rena says:

      I have considered some meditation as well. I’ll have to check out that app. There are so many benefits from floating though, it’s crazy. It stimulates the same area of your brain that is stimulated in meditation.

  6. I’m super claustrophobic, but I still kind of want to try this. Lord knows I could do with some stress management. Also, you’re hilarious and I like you ❤

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