BETHESDA, Md. - Stressed out? There's a way to tackle your tension that you might not have heard about: floating naked in a completely dark tank filled with salt water. Floatation therapy gets rave reviews from many people who suffer from stress, anxiety, fibromyalgia and even PTSD-- and all you have to do is lie back and relax.
Hope Floats Bethesda, located near the National Institutes of Health and Walter Reed National Military Medical Center, is home to three float tanks. Inside, they're filled with about 12 inches of water and 1,000 pounds-- yes, POUNDS-- of Epsom salt. The amount of salt inside the tank gives you the feeling of weightlessness, alleviating pressure on your body. The water and the air temperature are the same-- around 95 degrees-- and when you crawl inside, it's dark and completely silent (except for 10 minutes of meditative music played through underwater speakers at the beginning of your session), thanks to earplugs that protect your ears from the salt. Your only job is to lie back, float effortlessly-- and let everything else go.
Hope Floats owner Kimberly Boone says the benefits from floatation therapy are both mental and physical. Many clients, she says, say it provides relief from anxiety, stress, depression, pain, and for some veterans, even PTSD. Athletes sometimes float to clear their minds and improve their focus, as well as for muscle recovery. Floatation therapy is also safe for pregnant women, Boone said.
After emerging from the tank, Boone says, clients report feeling relaxed and calm, and some say they have more energy and sleep better over time. The immediate effects might leave you feeling like you just had a massage-- only you're alone, and Boone says because of that, you're able to get in tune with your own feelings and thoughts. Some who float report the ability to fall into a deep meditative state.
The thought of floating inside a dark tank with the door closed might be a concern to some, and Boone acknowledges it takes a little getting used to. But, she points out, you're completely in control of the door. You can even opt to leave it open or slightly cracked if it makes you feel more comfortable. When you lie down inside the tank, it feels much taller and wider than you might think.
A 60-minute float session will run you $75, and packages are available. Hope Floats Bethesda is home to three floatation tanks and an infrared sauna. For more information, click here to visit their website.