The flotation tank at Still Point Wellness on Central Avenue near downtown Asheville is intimidating.
It’s big, big like a bank vault. There’s about a foot and a half of 94-degree water inside, water that has so much salt in it that a floating body becomes super buoyant. A big door closes off all light and all but the faint sounds of an air vent.
That’s all, but I was hesitant. What if I got scared or disoriented? Not to worry, advised Corey, Still Point’s warm and welcoming spa manager and therapist. He pointed out a big handle on a wall inside the tank, within easy reach. (The tank is something like 8 feet wide by 10 feet long.) Leave the door open a crack if you’re not sure, or just open the door and get out if you need a break.
The only experience I’d ever had with a sensory deprivation tank was the one I had watching William Hurt’s exploration as a character in Altered States. Pretty freaky stuff. Would I get lost in some wild hallucinatory haze? Would I come out a changed person?
Corey talked me calmly through some of those fears, advising me to relax, clear my mind and focus on my breathing. My friend Blake, who told me I should check out Stillpoint, also described to me his own experience, which he said was both relaxing and invigorating. And yes, he did have a vision or two. Nothing scary. Just more of some of what his mind had already been working over for awhile.
So in I went. My first float lasted about 90 minutes, but felt like just five. Inside the tank, I grew highly aware of body aches and pains, as well as the loudness of all the thoughts bouncing around inside my head. I concentrated on breathing, turning down the chorus of voices. My time was up just about the time I felt I was quieting inside. Sitting in Stillpoint’s little waiting area with a glass of water, I stared at a soothing tank full of brightly colored fish and gathered myself. I felt fuzzy-headed and incredibly relaxed.
And I couldn’t wait to get back inside the black, blank tank.