I first heard about Levity in Squirrel Hill (floatlevity.com) on Twitter, where people were tweeting about the joys of sensory deprivation floats and how effective they can be at clearing one’s busy mind. Since I figured my mind could definitely use a little housekeeping, I contacted Levity and made an appointment.
I was a little nervous in the days leading up to my float. After all, a) I don’t like being wet, b) I’m somewhat claustrophobic, and c) I’m still a little afraid of the dark. So being submerged in water and enclosed in a small, dark room certainly gave me pause. But, hey, if it meant I’d have a guaranteed hour of peace and quiet, I was willing to face my fears.
When I arrived for my appointment, I was greeted by Dave, who owns Levity along with his wife. Dave was a most gracious host, and he immediately launched into a tour of his facility, beginning with the very welcoming reception area, which has a calming aura about it and really sets the stage for what’s to come. Honestly, I would’ve been fine with just taking a nap right there on the couch. Unfortunately lobby naps aren’t currently on their menu.
Next Dave slid open the huge, 500-pound, King-Kong door that led into where the two float rooms are located. He then pointed out their three-tier filtration system, which ensures that the water in the float tanks is “cleaner than drinking water.” If you’re going to be submerged in what is basically a public bathtub for an hour, it’s nice to know it’s cleaner than your average health club jacuzzi.
Before beginning my float, I first made a visit to the little boys room, even though I had just gone five minutes before at the coffee shop down the street. Better safe than sorry. After all, nothing ruins a good sensory deprivation session like having to pee.
Finally it was time for my floating session. First I rinsed off beneath the heavenly, 18-inch rainshower shower head adjacent to the float chamber. Meanwhile, soothing spa music began to fill the air in the dimly lighted room. Then I inserted the foam ear plugs, took a deep breath, and prepared to deprive my senses for the next sixty minutes.
Looking down into the chamber opening, I couldn’t see a thing. I have to admit, it was a little intimidating. But there was no turning back now. I had already paid $3 dollars for parking.
Stepping inside, I settled down into the 10-inch pool of warm, epsom-salt-infused water and closed the hatch behind me as the last sliver of light faded away. And thus began my hour-long adventure into nothingness.
Like I said, I’m not a big fan of the water, and I’ve never been able to float that well in a swimming pool. However, as I lay back in the darkened chamber, I found myself floating with such ease it was as if gravity had ceased to exist. It felt as if I were floating in mid-air. Actually, being inside that thing was a lot like what I imagine it’s like in outer space, just without the freezing cold temperatures and those pesky, deadly gamma rays.
One of the reasons I wanted to try this was because I haven’t had much luck with meditation, which is supposed to be great at quieting your mind. But as I floated there in the silent darkness, at first my mind was alive with thoughts. I felt like Neo in the Matrix, when he found himself floating in that pink-gelatin-filled, cocoon-like pod that The Machines used to suck the life force out of him. Except this was more relaxing.
It also brought to mind those deep-space hibernation chambers that Sigourney Weaver’s character (“Ripley”) and her crew used to travel across vast times and distances in the movie “Aliens”. Again, not the most pleasant of thoughts when you’re supposed to be unwinding.
What it reminded me the most of, however, was the small, walled-in loft I used to sleep in back in my fraternity house in college. Only, of course, that was much dryer. Except for that one time when I had that oh-so-realistic dream I was peeing in a beautiful meadow and…well, let’s just say it was a very vivid dream.
My hour in the float pod flew by and eventually the music came back on alerting me that, unfortunately, my time was up. I felt so at ease and relaxed, and I hoped that the feeling would last throughout my day. But of course, as I climbed out of the chamber, I slipped and hit my shin against the frame of the opening, replacing the feeling of total peace with that of intense pain. Also, I discovered I was pretty much deaf on my right side because I had failed to insert my ear plug properly, and now my ear was full of water. Oh well. It was nice while it lasted.
I had such a wonderful time during my float at Levity that I’m actually considering installing a sensory deprivation chamber in my own home. That way I’ll have somewhere other than the bathroom where I can hide from my kids. ~
Copyright © 2015 Valentine J. Brkich