From the moment I entered the door at SacredWaters Wellness Center in Long Island City, I could tell I was in for a life-changing experience. I am no stranger to the high-speed, hustle-hard New York City life, but my continual quest (as a coach, athlete, writer and human) is to find balance, recovery and renewal in my small amount of free time.
That’s why I went to SacredWaters. According to its website, it’s is the home of the only Sensory Deprivation Floatation Spa in Queens, and I have been interested in Sensory Deprivation Float Therapy for some time; I’d heard its praises from combat sports athletes, my own mother and the popular podcast “The Joe Rogan Experience.” I was determined to give myself over to whatever was going to happen, eagerly and completely.
Once inside the wellness center, I felt my shoulders drop a bit. I was instantly aware that I was moving at a very different speed than the energy of this space. I was intrigued, but also a little apprehensive.
I met Tara Summers, the resident “Den Mother,” who was equally as welcoming as the space, and she showed me where I could put my shoes and belongings. She eased my mind by providing me the details of the process and some insight to what I could expect.
To ease into the experience, as well as to preserve the environment, I entered the sound proof room, undressed and took a shower before sliding open the door to the float tank inside. As I turned around and shut the door, I was instantly aware that I was turning off the outside world. I could hear nothing but the water and the quiet, twinkling music. I could see nothing but a dim blue light.
I sat down, centered myself in the warm, buoyant water, and placed my arms against the sides. As soon as I did, I effortlessly floated, and my journey had begun.
I can sometimes have a difficult time relaxing, but do have vast experience in “breathing my heart rate down,” and so that was my first approach to settling myself in the environment. My mind was racing, and I had to repeatedly remind myself to focus on my breath. As soon as I adjusted to breathing in the humidity, I decided to touch the buttons on the side of the tank, turning the music and the lights off.
Instantly, all I could hear was my breathing in my ear-plugged ears and the sound of the blood coursing though my body. My heart rate quickened, my body jerked, and I went back to the business of trying to calm myself.
As I brought myself back to deep, relaxed breathing, I slowly started to realize that I couldn’t feel the chronic pains that I have lived with for years. As a matter of fact, I just kept getting lighter and lighter. Shortly after, I couldn’t feel my extremities, my spine, neck or head. And then, as I was told would happen (but didn’t initially believe), I could not feel the water that I was floating in. For lack of any words to describe it, I felt suspended in nothing — no gravity, no light, no feeling — nothing but the sound of my breath. There is no telling how long I was in this state; the world had been erased.
Eventually, the tinkling of music brought me back to full awareness when the float experience was concluded. The literal details of the post float involve another shower, a walk across a grounding moss mat and warm tea in a comforting nook. As this can be different for everyone, I will only suggest that you take your time and listen to what your body is telling you it needs during your return to “the outside world.”
This kind of experience can be intensely personal, and I was told that it could bring many things to the surface. This was definitely true of my experience; I was emotionally impacted by Sensory Deprivation Floatation in personal ways. I won’t go into details about my specific emotional journey, but I will confirm that I will be back. My life bombards my nervous system with sensory input of every make and matter, and I am incredibly eager to see what it could do for me as a recovery modality as well as providing an opportunity to work through some personal growth. I slept better that night than I have in years, and I also noticed (as did those I coach) that I was working from a much more settled place than is customary for me. Even now in the weeks following, I am still processing the experience.
SacredWaters is very much set up to operate as a community as opposed to a business. Through my correspondence and interaction with Summers, I was aware how committed they are to the well-being of those who step through the doors. In addition to Sensory Deprivation Float Therapy, it offers a host of other wellness services, such as Reiki, tribal body art, reflexology and past life regressions. There are also classes and events, including a free community meditation every Thursday at 6:45 p.m.