At the suggestion of Wallace Nichols, I made an appointment for a sixty-minute session at my local flotation pod. The pod was in a room in the basement of a yoga studio, and it’s the only one in these here parts of northern Minnesota.
The pod technician led me to the room, which contained the pod and a shower. He gave me the choice of silence for my impending pod experience or four types of music. I chose piano music. He explained that he would have to program that into the computer, which was upstairs in the reception area.
The pod was about ten feet by eight feet. It featured a large hatch, which was open, and rotating, pulsating colored lights that illuminated the ninety-eight-degree water.
The technician explained that all the Epsom salt in the six inches of water is what makes a person float. A bottle of fresh water stood nearby to rinse the salt out of your eyes in case some happened to get in, plus a towel, and a small floaty tube if a person wanted it for head and neck support in the water. Earplugs were also available, to keep the excessively salty water out of one’s ear canals.
I asked the technician how I would know when my session was over. He said that the music would stop and a voice would say, “It’s time to exit the pod.” (Somehow this struck me as funny, and I almost giggled.) Then the filtration system would come on, which he said was rather loud and was bound to wake me up if, by chance, I fell asleep in the pod.
He mentioned that after the session, since it was late in the evening, he probably wouldn’t be at the desk once I finished, so I could just get out and head out on my own. I asked him how I should pay for my session because I hadn’t done that yet.
This seemed to surprise him and I ended up giving him my credit card, which he was going to process while I was in the pod. He said he’d leave the receipt and card for me on the front desk and I could get it on my way out. (Damn, why did I say something? I could have had a free session!)
Details done, he left me to my experience.
I was expecting soft piano music during my pod float. I expected to emerge totally blissed out. That didn’t quite happen.
After showering and putting in the ear plugs, I entered the pod wearing only my birthday suit. I wondered when the music would start. It never started. I suspect the technician was so distracted by processing my payment that he forgot to turn on the music.
I laid there in the water (which is weirdly buoyant), and decided I didn’t need no stinkin’ music. I even got brave and turned out the psychedelic lights. As I lay there in the silent dark, suddenly a jet of water came on. My body started spinning slowly around in the pod.
The filtration system! Hey, I thought that wasn’t supposed to come on until my session was over. Surely, sixty minutes hadn’t passed yet? It only felt like ten minutes. Now what to do?
I could push the red button in the pod, which the technician said would cause an annoying sound to come from the computer in the reception area. But would that work since the music wasn’t working? Would anyone even be there to hear the annoying sound?
I didn’t feel like getting out of my warm pod and running upstairs in a towel to complain to the technician. Besides, that wouldn’t be very Zen.
So I stayed where I was, getting pushed in slow circles by the filtration jets. At some point, I turned the lights back on because it was just too weird having all this stuff happen to me in the dark.
Then I started giggling. This was like being stuck inside a giant psychedelic washing machine. Yes, I could always raise the hatch and get out if I wanted. But I didn’t want to. Besides, that wouldn’t make for a good story.
After about five minutes, the filtration system turned off. Although I wasn’t sure when it would strike again, I was finally able to relax and get into the floatation groove. It was very blissful. I could hear my heartbeat and my breathing.
Pods are supposed to inspire creativity and help with pain management. I didn’t have any pain. Mostly, what I thought about during my session was how to describe it in this blog post.
My bliss was shattered after about a half hour when the filtration system came on again. I floated around and around in more slow circles. As before, the system eventually shut off. I laid there until I thought my session was over and I emerged from the pod, checking my watch. I was only about ten minutes over my time.
I took another shower to rinse off the salt and got dressed. My credit card was waiting for me at the reception desk. Nobody was there. I debated again whether to find someone to complain about my expectations not being met.
Nah, that just didn’t seem very Zen. Besides, it was all kind of fun.
Would I try it again? Maybe, if I was really stressed out. But I don’t see it as something I would need regularly.
I picked up my card and walked into the night, peaceful.
Update: The owner heard about my experience and offered me a free float as compensation for my interrupted experience. I told him that I wasn’t dissatisfied at all by the experience and didn’t feel like I really needed another float. But I have a friend who is very stressed out lately. I asked him if my friend could have the float instead, and he said yes. How nice of him! Bliss all around.