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that’s a question we hear all the time at The Flo.

According to the Dictionary, sensory deprivation is “a process by which someone is deprived of normal external stimuli such as sight and sound for an extended period of time, especially as an experimental technique in psychology.

But….that doesn’t really explain what it is.

I mean, technically it does, but a definition like that doesn’t give you the ins and outs and what you need to know about sensory deprivation, so we’re here to help out with that!

Here’s another explanation: “A sensory deprivation flotation tank is a body temperature-regulated, salt-water filled, soundproof, lightproof tank that isolates the floater from numerous forms of sensory input all at once.” — in a nutshell, that’s basically what it is, but that STILL doesn’t give us a good enough idea, so let’s dive even further.

But real quick, the name sensory deprivation….sounds a little overwhelming and intimidating, doesn’t it? Dr. Roderick Borrie thought so too, so back in the 1970s he redubbed the experience with a friendlier name: REST, or Restricted Environmental Stimulation Therapy. And around the same decade, John Lilly developed flotation REST, which involves floating in buoyant liquid in a light- and sound-proof tank….aka the Flotation Tanks used by The Flo today!

How Does Sensory Deprivation Feel?

The water and air in the floatation tank are both skin temperature, the darkness is identical with eyes open or closed, and there is no sound—so basically there’s no external input. You can feel your heart beating, and your lungs inhaling and exhaling air. You feel your muscles start to relax, and your brain start to quiet down. It’s kind of like being suspended in a place with no space, or time, or purpose.

Once in awhile, sometimes a little thought begins to surface —did I respond to that text message earlier?— it may bounce around in the void of peacefulness for a moment or two, but soon after it melts away as your brain realizes it doesn’t really matter at this very moment. Back to the void.

What Happens During Your Next Sensory Deprivation Experience?

After your first floating experience, your following transitions and process of relaxing tend to happen more quickly. The first time it could take a bit to get used to, but after you’ve been in the tank and know what to expect for the second time, it usually only takes  just a few minutes before you get into your zone.

The awesome thing about sensory deprivation is that you’re in complete control of your experience. If you chose to, you could purposefully focus on one idea at a time, roll it around in isolation, examine some parts of life with no distractions. Or you can choose to just relax in the strangely exhilarating emptiness.

Consider This: Right now, at this very moment, there are dozens of thoughts buzzing around and through your mind. When’s dinner? I need to charge my phone. Did I turn off the coffee pot before I left the house? Is my boss going to be in a shitty mood today? Is the heat on in this place? I’m freezing. I could really go for Lloyd’s right now, they should deliver. Am I a good person? — These thoughts are all happening more or less simultaneously. There’s clatter — noisy commotion— going on in your head. But the absence of that clatter, that’s a genuine revelation. I highly recommend you find that out for yourself, you’ll thank us after.

Curious about trying out a Flotation Therapy? Come see us down at The Flo on Allen, in the city of Buffalo. We’d love to have you come and relax with us.

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    1. there are several things that you can do if you suffer from claustrophobia. 1. Put a wash cloth in the door so it stays open a little bit, 2. We have floating glow balls you can take with you, or 3. Lots of people just tough it out and after about 10 minutes you feel like your floating in the largest room ever.

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