Pilates. Physical Therapy. Specialty pillows. CBD Oil and Gummies. Essential Oil Diffusers. Himalayan Salt Lamps. Yoga. Meditation.
I tried what seemed like everything to ease my anxiety (primarily fueled by the performance from the Detroit Red Wings so far this season) and my chronic pain from Cervical Kyphosis. Some things worked, others not so much. Luckily, my curious nature led me to discover, look into, and try float therapy. I figured it was worth a shot and a great way to bring in 2020.
Float therapy - or sensory deprivation - has been around for over 50 years. It’s used by
professional athletes and Olympians, musicians, yogis, sports therapists, and even celebrity chefs and superheroes. It’s also popular with military veterans and women during pregnancy. If you’re a child of the 80s or 90s, you may remember an episode of The Simpsons (season 10, episode 16 to be exact) where Homer and Lisa try it out:
Over the weekend, I visited True REST Float Spa in Farmington Hills (the REST stands for Restricted Environmental Stimulus Therapy). This had been on my list for about a year, but not too many places near me offer the service. Believe it or not, it was a big decision for me, so I made sure to research what spas that offered it in order to find the best fit for me. Then, I was lucky enough to have been awarded a free float from True REST Detroit through their Instagram page. I was able to talk my mom into joining me (okay, it didn’t take much convincing) and after closing out the holidays, we headed down on a Friday night after wrapping up a pretty hectic week.
Once inside, I absolutely fell in love with the embracing aesthetic of the spa and knew I had made the right choice. It was dimmed with dark blue tones and inviting meditative music. We were quickly welcomed in and directed to a lounge area to fill out waivers and watch a short video on the process. The video explained what floating is, what to expect, what to do for the best results and the long-term effects and benefits of the process.
One of the key points the video made is that for first-timers, it may be difficult to shut your mind completely off and let go. Others find it incredibly easy to do so, even on their first try. I really should have kept this in mind going into my float pod.
That’s right, I said pod. After a short tour of the Oasis Lounge and Prep Room, our consultant took us into one of the float rooms. Inside was an absolutely beautiful mosaic wall, huge open shower area with a rain shower head and shampoo/conditioner/body wash dispenser, a bench with a few amenities - earplugs (a lifesaver), vaseline to protect any cuts from the sting of the salt water, towels, washcloth, and spray bottle of fresh water - in case you got a little salt water in your eyes or mouth. The centerpiece of the room was a massive white tank that truly looked like an alien pod. The lid was open to reveal the ten inches of water running through a filter with the lights set to a blue-purple tone. In that ten inches of water, a staggering 1,000 pounds of magnesium sulfate (otherwise known as Epsom salt) is dissolved and it’s all brought up to body temperature. The room as a whole is humid but in an inviting way.
On the wall between the shower and the door, was this sign. Again, I wish I had really read it through but I was either too nervous or too excited and wanted to get straight in the tank.
After a quick rinse in the shower to get rid of any lotions, perfumes, etc off and avoid contaminating the water in the tank, I got in with my feet at the open end and closed the lid. The pod is large enough you can almost kneel on your knees and still not hit the top of the lid. The lights in the room turn off after five minutes of no movement, so it didn’t take long to experience the darkness, even if I had the lid propped open.
Almost immediately, I started adjusting the lights and sounds within the pod. There is a foam halo-looking thing to place under your head for support, which helped me quite a bit (thanks to the aforementioned Cervical Kyphosis). You can sometimes bump into the sides as your body adjusts to the weightlessness, but it goes away rather quickly. In the earlier video, they highlighted several poses to try including a Shavasana-like corpse pose, a mummy pose and - what I went for - the touchdown pose. Even while having my arms up, I felt a little restless and found myself moving my legs around. At one point, I had my entire body bent into a “C” shape to either side and OMG did it feel amazing!
I soon realized I was overthinking. I was trying too hard to find the right position right away instead of letting go and letting the position find me. I found myself toggling the music off and on and adjusting the light combinations until I finally settled on a blue-green ocean-like theme. Then I started wondering if the reason I selected that color combination and kept moving my legs around is that I’m a July baby (Cancers unite at the beach!) and I really just wanted to swim.
Thoughts like that kept racing through my head. I even found myself wondering if I was wasting time thinking too much.
“Way to go, Krystle. You just wasted ten out of your 60 minutes just getting your legs right.”
“How many times are you going to cycle through the same ten color combinations, Krystle?”
“Wait, has it been ten minutes or 40?”
“If I just shut my brain off now, I can really enjoy this experience how it’s supposed to be enjoyed!”
“Wait… that girl that looked at me funny one night at Lynch’s in April of 2016… I wonder if she still frequents that tavern…”
“I wonder what my dog is doing right now?”
“I really hope the drive home is less foggy.”
“I wonder where mom wants to go for dinner after this?”
“Has it been 15 minutes or 50?”
“You know, if you could just land a decent job, you could afford to do this almost monthly!”
I’m not even kidding. My mind was absolutely racing THAT MUCH.
Eventually, I went to complete silence and complete darkness, hoping to force myself into relaxation. Looking back, that’s probably not the best idea. I completely forgot that it’s completely normal for some people to have a really hard time shutting their minds off on their first float.
When the hour is up, the filter starts to run again, so you feel the water moving and hear a slight hum and the light switches on to the original blue-purple combo. I opened the lid and sat up for a minute, kind of mad at myself - definitely not the purpose of the float! I wish I had taken the time to stay in the pod, even with the lid opened a bit, and stretched and really eased out of the process. Instead, I stepped out and used some fresh, cool water on my face to get rid of any traces of salt. I also recorded a quick video snippet for Snapchat/Facebook/Instagram because why not get my initial feelings down?
I really took my time in the shower - they say to take as much time as you want! - and I usually take 30+ minute showers anyway. Plus, I knew it was important to get as much of the salt off of you as you can, so it doesn’t leave residue on your clothing. Speaking of…
It is SO HARD to get dressed in there! I wore leggings and a tee with no-show socks and running shoes. The combination of such high humidity in the room and no bench or chair to really help with getting clothes on was a recipe for struggle pie.
I beat my mom to the Prep Room (I knew I would), and there, we had at our disposal blowdryers, lotion, cotton swabs, yoga mats and more ways to decompress and reflect on our experience. Just outside of the prep room was the Oasis Lounge where there were journals and sketchbooks to document our reflections, Himalayan salt lamps, lemon-infused water, a kettle for herbal tea, headphones to listen to meditative and mindfulness tracks, and the highlight of the room: an oxygen bar with six beakers of essential oil-infused water. My mom had always wanted to try an oxygen bar, so we took advantage of the 10-minute session included with our appointment. The benefits of each beaker are listed on a menu and the consultant helps set up the tubes and your session begins.
As we were leaving, our consultant explained future options to us which included memberships and packages - both really user-friendly and affordable. The lobby also offers locally made lotions, geodes, apparel and more - but all in a classy, never overwhelming way.
Overall, I truly feel that I made the right decision to experience True REST Detroit. I will definitely be back and will take a slightly different approach now that I know what to expect. I highly recommend you try it or at least look into it further if you’re just the slightest bit interested or curious. The benefits are numerous and, if nothing else, your skin will feel amazing afterward!
And for the record, “Float On” by Modest Mouse played during dinner in Auburn Hills afterward and yes, that song was also something that infiltrated my mind during the float…