Imagine ... nothing.
That is the point of flotation therapy. You put in ear plugs, take off your clothes, and lie floating in a tank of salt water, in complete darkness, for an hour, an hour and a half.
I never planned on trying it. I saw a flotation tank on "The Simpsons." The cartoon tanks looked like coffins. They put a cinderblock on Homer's, so he couldn't get out. And Lisa, Homer's daughter, hallucinated in the tank that she was the family cat.
Flotation tanks, in short, scared me. But Flo, a spa on Allen Street, invited me to try it, and after some hesitation, I did.
The tank didn't look like a coffin. It was more like a fridge, with a heavy door. And sure enough, you just float on the water's surface. I lay back in the darkness, concentrating.
Then I panicked.
I couldn’t tell if my eyes were open or shut. The air felt too warm. What if I couldn’t get out? When I finally found the door handle, I opened it and didn't want to close it again.
Finally I did, though, and I determined to relax. I thought pleasant thoughts. I said a decade of the Rosary. The softest whisper was magnified. All I could hear was my breath.
Faintly, I thought I heard a text come in on my phone. Fine, it would have to wait.
That was when I began to see one benefit of this therapy. You really do leave the world behind.
And later, walking down Mariner Street to my car, I did feel pretty good. I was super tuned in to everything. I seemed to hear a dozen different bird calls. I noticed the clouds and the sun.
Maybe the tank had made me more mindful. I floated that idea past Emilee Philips, who teaches yoga at LA Fitness.
Philips had not tried flotation therapy, but was hoping to try it. She had bought gift certificates for friends to the Silver Essence Floating Spa in Williamsville, another place that offers it. She sees the tank as a kind of reboot.
“A TV or a phone, if it’s not working right, what do you do? You unplug it, and reset it, and turn it back on,” she said.
“The same thing goes for you. You are focusing attention inward, relaxing your muscles, feeling your heartbeat. You’re not looking at the car in front of you.” Or your phone? “Especially your phone,” she said.
“All you have is what’s inside you.”