Watch your worries float away inside a sensory deprivation tank


    Stress is bad for us. Study after study has shown the terrible impact it has on our physical and mental health. But life is hectic, it’s loud, and it’s hard to find your Zen.

    Halcyon Floats, a new business in the Fishtown section of Philadelphia, offers an escape for weary travelers.

    At first glance, it looks a bit like a cozy café where you could get a cup of detox tea, and perhaps buy some crystals, but then owner Kerilyn Rakickas opens up an area that looks like a spa treatment room, with a strange addition: a massive black rectangular box.

    “It’s an escape pod tank, ” explained Rakickas. “It’s 9×5, inside the tank is 10 inches of water, inside that water is dissolved 850 pounds of epsom salt.”

    The massive amount of salt makes the person inside the tank completely buoyant. There’s no light, there’s no sound and the water is kept to skin temperature. “You can’t even feel it, so you are not receiving any sensory input when you are inside the tank,” said Rakickas.

    Rakickas first tried floating at the house of an acquaintance, after learning about it during a trip to Portland, Oregon. Once she tried it a few times, she became a dedicated “floater” and wanted to bring the experience to other people.

    “Once you are inside, it feels very spacious, almost like you’re in outer space.”

    The water inside the tank is maintained with a filtration system that is run after every float, and Rakickas also uses a UV sterilizer.

    She says a lot of people are somewhat reluctant to get into the tank at first. “A lot of people have apprehensions when they hear there is a door on there, but it’s very simple, it’s just hinged, no locks or latches.”

    Rakickas says floating can provide a space of quiet and peace, it can allow people to unplug and meditate without interruptions.

    “It takes practice, your first float, you fidget around in there. And then it’s like the second or third float, you are totally unplugged, you don’t have to worry about your phone, if you are muddling over your issues, you are there to solve them.”

    Rakickas says floating also helps people who are recovering from injuries and are dealing with chronic pain, because the weightless experience helps them stretch and relax their muscles.

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