I also have to pee, and since the number one rule of sensory deprivation is “DO NOT PEE IN THE TANK!” (whispered, of course), I sneak down the hall to the bathroom where I can hear the hum of another tank being cleaned.
Ever the germaphobe, I’d researched the cleanliness of a communal tank before my visit. According to Lift's site, the water is “completely recirculated at least three times between each float through a 1 or 10 micron particulate filter, and then treated with either a combination of a germicidal UV lamp, ozone and hydrogen peroxide; or with a small amount of bromine.” I do not know what any of this means, but it sounds legit, and all the whispering has made me feel safe.
I return to my "Ocean Float Room" and open the door. A glorious sight meets my eyes: The float room is lit from above by a beautiful, constellation-like pattern of tiny bulbs from below by what can only be described as "mermaid essence."
Any unease I'd had about this experience is gone. I'm not afraid of salt, water or the dark. But sensory deprivation has an unsavory past — it was used to torture prisoners during the Korean War, and earned a bad rap in the 1960s when tank pioneer and scientist John C. Lilly started dosing himself with powerful hallucinogens before entering the tanks, and claimed to have communicated with long-dead historical figures during his floats.
I lower myself down into the tank, which has just one foot of water.
You might be thinking: But Allie, aren't you an average sized woman? How can one foot of water support you? But this is not just any foot of water. It's 12 inches of water mixed with 1,000 pounds of Epsom salt — it’s basically the Dead Sea of Brooklyn.
Not only will this water cradle me for 60 minutes of uninterrupted floating, it also promises to leave my skin silky and hair smooth upon emerging. No post-bath prune skin either: I’ll be moisturized and hydrated like never before.
Despite the staff telling me there’s no right or wrong way to float, it takes a while to get comfortable. I keep drifting into the walls and don’t know where to put my arms. I feel the salt water dribble into my ear and as memories of raging ear infections from childhood flood in, I grab the complimentary earplugs and inflatable neck pillow.