This week, because I have an awesome job, I got to accompany my good friend Ryan Pepper, the arts & culture editor here at the Fulcrum, to ISÖ Spa, Ottawa’s first floatation therapy centre. For those of you who skipped the arts section this week, floatation therapy is essentially the act of floating in a tank of 1,200 pounds of epsom salt and 1,000 litres of water that is heated to your exact body temperature. The future is now.
There’s a lot of talk of holistic healing when it comes to floatation therapy, and as someone who is known to frequent a spiritual church, owns a deck of tarot cards, and plans my life around what my psychic tells me about my aura, I was super down.
Spoiler alert: I did not find God, but because I’m a piping hot mess, I missed the bus and called an Uber to meet Ryan so we could head over to the spa together, and my uber driver was named Jesus, so in a way, He found me (to settle the debate, Jesus is a black man).
The website recommended exercising before your float so Ryan and I walked 10 minutes to a bus stop to take a bus that would get us there faster.
The atmosphere in the spa was calm and welcoming. There was a sitting area with a sofa next to a table with coffee, tea, lemon water, and a coffee table tastefully littered with books about mindfulness, being happy, and the science behind floating.
According to Jasson Grant, ISÖ Spa co-owner, floatation therapy has many health benefits. Jasson explained that floating helps people with chronic pain, and a lot of his clients are athletes, from sports teams like the Ottawa Redblacks. He also said it helps reduce insomnia and stress, and that one hour of floating is the equivalent of four hours of sleep. I suffer from clinical depression and occasional insomnia so this is what sold me the most, and despite not loving the idea of being alone with my thoughts for an hour in a dark enclosed space full of water, I was intrigued.
When it came down to actually floating though, I was pleasantly surprised to find that the giant receptacle that would hold my body was more reminiscent of a queen-sized bed than a coffin. Still, I had my doubts.
For the first 15 minutes of the float, the outside lights remained on and ocean sounds permeated my eardrums. It was pretty cool. As soon as the lights turned off though, I was nervous. There was an LED in the tank that changed colours if you pressed a button, and it switched between sci-fi blue and rainbow. I preferred rainbow.
I tried to relax, but my thoughts flitted between “oh no am I in here too long, did everyone leave me,” planning the next four weeks of articles for this column, and imagining my life as an episode of a Bob Ross-esque show.
Time felt suspended in the tank, and somehow an hour stretched on forever, yet it also felt like no time had passed at all. I don’t know if I did it wrong, or if I just don’t know how to relax, but I found myself sitting up, or trying to bounce off the walls of the tank rather than just floating. After the fact though, Jasson and Ryan assured me that this is a young people problem, and not just a me problem.
At the end of the day, for 60 bucks I would totally do this again. Being in that tank is the lightest and happiest I’ve ever felt (hell, I only swore twice). I would definitely recommend doing this with that one friend that you don’t really like and have been putting off plans with, because you literally get to avoid them for an hour and still walk out of there having had a pleasant shared experience.