Interview with Sean Lavery of FLOAT-TORONTO
1. What is Float, and what makes you unique?
We are a floatation and sensory deprivation tank centre located at 1159 Queen St West. After trying floating for the first time, we fell in love with it and set out on a mission to provide the best possible float experience while making it more affordable and accessible. Powered by an intense passion for floatation therapy, I think what sets us apart is how we’ve executed on all those things: a great float experience, a really affordable price, and an accessible location that’s open 8am – 1am every day.
2. Tell us what we can expect from a Float session?
Your experience in the tank is about everything you won’t be doing. You won’t be fighting gravity – the 850 lbs. of epsom salt takes care of that while you lie on your back and float effortlessly. The water is kept at 34.1 degrees C. This is a skin receptor neutral temperature which means that once you settle in, you lose track of where your body ends and the water begins. Your ears stay just below the water (earplugs optional – we have a couple of different ones to choose from), and the tanks are insulated against sound – noise form the outside world is unable to reach you. After you shut the door and turn off the light, you float in total darkness. During your float, the outside world is gone and amazing things happen. It turns out that when you’re not fighting gravity or constantly taking in external information, your body has a lot of extra resources at its disposal. Your mind is free to navigate without distraction, your brain produces dopamine and endorphins, and your body gets to rest, de-stress, and heal. It’s likely to be the most relaxing thing you’ve ever experienced…
3. What are the health benefits of sensory deprivation / a Float session?
The benefits of floating are far reaching. While much of the evidence is anecdotal at this point, there are a few things that have been well researched. Firstly, it has been shown to lower cortisol levels – the stress hormone. Secondly, it has been shown to have benefits for those suffering from various chronic pain issues ranging from back and neck pain to fibromyalgia. But stress is the really big one… that’s really what we see a huge need for.
4. How does floating specifically affect stress and stress hormones?
It lowers them!!
5. For people who are claustrophobic, is this a concern?
This is really a question that’s specific to the individual. The quick answer is no. While many people are worried before they get in for the first time, the vast majority of those with claustrophobic concerns beforehand end up loving their floats. Naturally everyone who suffers from claustrophobia assumes they’ll be in that small minority who can’t relax but it’s worth trying. I never thought I’d get my dad into a tank in my life but on a trip out here, I convinced him to try it out. There are two important things to know if you’re claustrophobic:
i) The float tank is much bigger than most people assume. It’s 4 feet wide, 8 feet long and when you’re lying down, you won’t be able to reach the roof.
ii) You’re in complete control of the experience. The door isn’t lockable – it’s a lightweight manual door than can be opened or closed at anytime and only by the floater. We even encourage first time floaters, if they have any concerns, to keep the door open for the first 5-10 minutes of their float while they get accustomed to the space. They are even welcome to leave it open for the entire session… they just wont get the full benefit of the float. With that being said, there is a lot going on in there and there is something to be said for just floating weightless in a dense epsom salt bath for an hour.
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