People and Places

Sensory-deprivation tanks great for stress refief, mindfulness & meditation

Nothing says stress relief like floating on a cloud. Now, as long as you are willing to climb into a tomb-like sensory-deprivation tank, that feeling can be yours.
Dylan Blanchard, a researcher at Shopify who visits float tank spas such as ISÖ Spa on Bank Street and Tank Action on Carling Avenue about seven times a year, says they are a great tool for anyone who’s practising mindfulness or meditation. This is part of our series on Work/Life Balance

Photo: Courtesy of Tank Action
Photo: Courtesy of Tank Action

How would you describe these tanks?
I’ve seen tanks that are pretty simple, like a box, that you climb in through a hatch at one end. Others are shaped like a clam shell. In all instances, you have a large, enclosed tub with a few inches of ridiculously buoyant mineral salt water. The tank is pitch-black, there’s nothing to hear, and the water is warmed to body temperature.

How do the sessions make you feel?
The water is so buoyant that it’s as if you’re floating on clouds. A by-product is that you have absolutely no concept of time in there. It can also be really good for pain relief, as it’s one of the few times that your body doesn’t have any pressure on it because of the buoyancy.

How do these sessions help with stress and fatigue?
You’re unplugged, still, and resting. For stress relief, it’s one part forgetting about everything going on outside the tank and one part providing yourself with the tools to deal with stress once you are back outside. At the end of a float, I tend to come out feeling a lot more relaxed, feeling like I’ve timed a nap perfectly.

What kind of stresses arise from your job?
I speak with entrepreneurs to understand what they’re trying to do, what’s working, and what’s not. I ask them about their lives, their struggles, and their successes and steer the conversation by asking questions. It can be pretty mentally taxing.

Photo: Courtesy of Tank Action
Photo: Courtesy of ISÖ Spa

Are there people you know who don’t like them?
Yeah, for many, the idea of being alone and away from their phones for an hour is scary — or at least very unfamiliar. It’s easy to ask yourself, “Why would I ever go in a sensory deprivation tank?” I guess that’s the point — if you want to be more comfortable with unfamiliar situations, give it a try.