first float

6 Steps to Overcoming Claustrophobia and Enjoying Your First Float

When I tell people about floating I get one of two responses. One is people have no idea what I'm talking about.. Or, people immediately respond with, “I could never float, I’m claustrophobic”.

While that may be a true statement, claustrophobia should not deter you from floating. You may feel nervous in tight spaces and the first few times you float might be uncomfortable, but there are ways to overcome this and enjoy your first float.

Floating relieves anxiety, heals pain and will help you overcome fears. This first few times may be a little uncomfortable, but the more your float, the more comfortable you will become. And we are here to help you move through that initial fear.  

Here are 6 steps to overcome claustrophobia so you can enjoy your first float:

  1. Crack the tank door

    Being in total darkness can feel confining, overwhelming and disorienting, at first. And not being able to see anything (aka the door), you might feel trapped, like you won’t be able to get out. Leaving the door cracked so you can see where it is, will reassure your mind that you are not trapped and that there is a way to out.  
  2. Leave the light on

    Some float tanks have lights inside them. If you happen to be floating in this type of tank, you can leave the light on the entire float. While this may not be “sensory deprivation”, being able to see where you are can help you relax and feel comfortable in the tank, until you are able to turn it off.

  3. Place your hands on the wall

    To help orient yourself and trust that you are okay, you can stretch your hands out to the edges of the tank or lift them above your head, touching the walls. Being able to feel where you are in space can help you feel more grounded and calm inside the tank.

  4. Focus on breathing

    Floating is about meditation and calming your mind. When your thoughts or fears start to take over, come back to your breathing. Inhale for five counts and exhale for five counts. Focusing all of your attention on your breath will get your mind out of fear, help you relax, and propel you into a deeper meditation.

  5. Take a hot, pre-float shower

    Because you do shower and rinse off before any float — for sanitary reasons — use this time to calm down, relax and get in the right headspace before your float. Many of us rush through this step, because we are so eager to start floating. Instead, use this time to meditate. The warm water will help your body relax and intentionally calming yourself will relax your mind.  


    This is perhaps the most important “step”. There is no right way to float. If you can’t go the entire time, step out. If you want a light, shine the brightest one you can find! Remember that you are in complete control in the tank, and you can do whatever feels right.

Use these tips and let us know how your first float goes at Can’t wait to hear your stories!

New to floating? Start with our free Float 101 Mini-Course

About the Author: Monique Morrison recently graduated from college and is currently a yoga instructor who will complete a 500 hour Yoga Teacher Training in August 2017. She also co-founded ZenAF, a space dedicated to helping millennials learn how to meditate and create their most kickass life. 

Try Floating 3 Times, And Then Tell Me You Still Don’t Like It

I remember the first time I heard about floating. My brother described it to me by saying, “You lie in a giant bath tub and you can’t hear or see anything — it’s great!” ...Huh??

I thought he was crazy. In no universe did that sound enticing. Fast forward a few years and now my brother is running Zen Float Co. — an entire business developed around making float tanks. How is this working? Why do people like it so much they are willing to buy their own float tank? Still confused at why people enjoy this alien activity, I thought maybe I should try it.

Let me pause here for a moment and tell you a little bit about myself. I recently graduated from college and am working as a part-time yoga instructor. While I was in college, I had your typical existential crisis and was endlessly searching for my “purpose”. That is when I found yoga. It was a meditation that allowed me to look inward in a way that I never knew how to do. It built my confidence and developed a trust in myself, showing me that I do know what I want in life.

Why is this important? Because I thought I already had it figured out. My mental game was strong, I knew how to meditate and my anxiety was under control. I didn’t think I needed to float, I didn’t think it would bring me anything new. But considering my brother is a floating guru, I was urged to try it.  

So here I go, about to float for the first time. And I should mention — my brother made me promise him I would try it at least 3 times before I made up my mind about it. I rolled my eyes at him, “yeah, yeah, floating 1 time versus 3 times won’t make any difference, but sure”.  

So there I was, standing in the float spa, ready to go. Calming music played overhead, it smelled like essential oils, and the room felt peaceful and inviting. I was starting to like this place - it reminded me of being in an actual spa. So I stepped inside the tank and the water felt good. But then I shut the tank door. The light and music disappeared, I was left floating in this dark abyss, and I completely lost my mind. I became so disoriented, it felt like I was spinning and spinning and spinning in circles. Feeling trapped and lost, not knowing where the door to get out was, I felt the onset of a mini-panic attack. Quickly, I jumped out of the tank, my mind racing, I stared back at it trying to get my bearings.

After a few long, deep breaths, I regrouped and climbed back in the tank — this time leaving the door wide open. With the door open I could orient myself and got more comfortable in the tank, but I never got into any type of meditation.

Finally, my first float was over. I left feeling so angry and frustrated. Why wasn’t I able to relax? How is sitting in a dark, claustrophobic pod good for anxiety? I didn’t understand it, I didn’t connect with it, and I simply decided I didn’t like it.

I thought about the promise I made to my brother — I will go three times before I make up my mind about it. So I showed up to float a second time. I tried to keep an open mind, but was very reluctant to go as I remembered how scary it was the first time. I  thought to myself, “just get three floats out of the way and then you can be done”.

I climbed inside the float tank and didn’t even attempt to shut the door. I left it cracked, so only a little bit of light was shining through. And though it was a lot darker this time, I wasn’t completely disoriented. My body was able to relax and slowly my mind followed. I was able to get into somewhat of a meditation, but nothing profound happened, my life wasn’t changed. The float was over and I didn’t leave feeling completely discouraged. I just felt calm and pretty indifferent about floating.  

So now it’s my last time having to go. I was both excited to try it again and anxious to get it over with it. As soon as I stepped into the water, I knew it was going to be different. I felt instantly calm. I was immediately relaxed and all of my anxieties and stressors so easily melted away. I shut the door completely, so no light was getting in — and no disorientation! With all the noise and light that usually distracts me gone, I drifted off into another world. I got into the deepest meditation I have ever been in.

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I lost all track of time and don’t remember what happened between the moment I first stepped in and the moment I got out. It almost felt as if I was sleeping, yet I was fully aware and in tune. I didn’t feel any sensation, in my body or my mind. All of my worries and my thoughts disappeared. I was completely free — free of pain, free of doubt, free of worry, free of fear. And afterwards, I felt so light. I walked out of the building like I was walking on clouds. I was glowing and beaming, feeling so much joy within myself.

Now I understand why my brother made me promise to try it at least 3 times. Removing all of our senses that usually distract us from what is really going on inside can be scary. As all your thoughts and pains release, emotion comes up and it can be terrifying to become aware. But slowly, you get used to darkness and the quiet, and eventually you crave time that is free of all sensation.

To this day, I still float. It gets me into a meditation state that I am unable to access in any other circumstance - even when I am practicing yoga. My body feels better, my mind is lighter and I can think more clearly. It is amazing what you can achieve in one session of floating compared to hours spent on other forms of meditation. So don’t be discouraged if you don’t like you’re first time. And, from the wise words of my brother, promise me you’ll try it three times before making up your mind.  



Behind The Author:

My name's Monique! I recently graduated from college and am currently a yoga instructor who will complete a 500 hour Yoga Teacher Training in August 2017. I also co-founded ZenAF, a space dedicated to helping millennials learn how to meditate and create their most badass life. 

Community Post: My Best Advice For Someone's First Float

When it comes to floating for your first time, it may not be as relaxing for you as it is for others. A lot of this comes from fear or discomfort with the process and it's completely normal. Not to mention that if you do a search for "sensory deprivation" online, it can return some surprising and even frightening results. 

So, we asked our community of floaters, home floaters, and float centers what their best advice would be for someone's first float. Because you can't knock it until you try it. Here's what they had to say:

My best advice for someone's first float is________________.Comment with your best advice and tag someone you that you think might benefit from floating! #WellnessWednesday

Posted by Zen Float Company on Wednesday, August 26, 2015

Responses from our community:

"Leave your ego, expectations and desires behind. Know that floating is like any other worthwhile mode of self care - you get better at it with time. Your first float may be amazing, or it may just be something you need to get out of the way. Even if you don't enjoy your first experience at all - give it a second and third chance. The tank will win you over in the end, and the benefits are worth it." -Fadeaway Floatation Center 
"Pee! Even if you don't think you have to! I also recommend starting with a shorter float until you get used to it. 90 minutes was too long for me." -Lauren Acklin 
Since most first floaters will be skillfully instructed by a float center staff member 1) listen to all of their advice and, I agree, 2) go in with zero expectations...just "be" and consider that simple act a success after your float...anything else that comes along for the ride, is just a bonus to be grateful for. Oh yes...and your first float doesn't really count as a float haven't truly floated until your 3 or 3) be sure to book them before you leave. wink emoticon. And once you're hooked....4) visit Zen's site, hook yourself up with your own on-demand, at-home float and save money on float center visits. gas, and time." - Tim M. Hoefer 
"Spend some time figuring out how to get comfortable. Do not worry about achieving anything on the first float." - Caleb Fawkes
"Go the the bathroom first, even if you don't think you have to!!!" -Randall Peterson 
"Don't touch your face! Ever!" -Blake Norfleet 
"Dry your face before you get in the tank after you shower." -Chris Coyle 
"Leave your expectations in the shower." -Nicholas Trietsch 
"Let GO and surrender to what happens next." - Benny Kong 
"It's okay to be curious about your 'self'" -Bryan Phillips 
"Let go" -Michael Musa 
"Relax the neck, be water smile emoticon" -Gaynor Longden 
"No shaving of any kind prior to. I don't consume any fluids an hour prior and make sure I go to the bathroom just before getting in regardless. And for me I also don't consume any food at least 2 hours prior. That works for me." - Joe Roberts 
"I agree with making sure you pee before going in! Also...float 1 is throw away, don't judge floating on your first float. It takes a few to let the darkness and water relax you, replenish you & show you the way. Never touch your face, but if you do just grab that water bottle ASAP to spray the salt away." -Wendy Kesinger Kuhn 
"Have something in mind to think about. Then the tank will laugh at you and show you what you really should be thinking about." -James Miller 
"I agree with the Don't touch your face, 
2. Don't go in with too much expectation of yourself to come out with some great revelation or life changing moment, just let those expectations go and see what happens
3. Journal about it afterwards
4. Relax your neck, it's ok to let it go, your head won't go under!"  -Sara Lord 
"Don't expect anything. The float will give what it wants.


Don't touch your face" -Dustin Mark Dee 
"No expectations, everybody is different! Don't take anything in but curiosity and a sense of wonder at the prospect of feeling weightless! Bliss!" -Lynn Taylor 
"Trust the water" -Donavan Suwanapal 
"Bring neck support." -Darcey Olsen 
"Be yourself" -Cari Klenk 

Surrender your body by relaxing every muscle and letting the water take all of your weight- especially around your neck and shoulders. Feel that you are fully supported. 

Surrender your mind by allowing thoughts and memories to drift through like clouds, without expectation, resistance, or attachment." -Michelle K Lange
"Give yourself time after the first float to come back to earth. Thankfully, my sister (who commented above) was a pro so I was able to talk to her afterwards. Also, its ok if it takes time, like 30 min, to slow your mind. Be patient with yourself and relax. Its like a womb of joy and relaxation that you never want to leave. -Jenny Kesinger-Patton 
"No expectations." - @richypocket
"Keep your face dry. Be still. No expectations." -@floatuniverse
"Every time you feel like getting out don't. Force yourself to stay in and focus on your breathing. Slow it down, in and out of your nose into your lower belly/diaphragm. This will help you disappear and quiet yourself to another level." -@handsomhairless
"Trust the water. Relax into it as if you were trying to sink into your bed. Let go with every muscle. -@pismokitty
"Make sure you keep your helmet on, otherwise you may run out of oxygen. KIDDING! Everything above plus if your neck starts to ache, make sure you push it back so the water nears your brow line, stretch it, use your hands as a pillow (or use pool noodle/neck pillow). Enjoy the amazing instant experience of the water supporting you and as it's your first float, play. There are no rules." -@cocoonfloatation

Big thanks to everyone in our community for their participation and feedback! We got tons of great advice that hopefully will help newbie floaters have a better first time experience. 


If you're new to floating and want to find a float center near you, please visit

To find out more about our affordable home float tank please visit here


My First Float Tank Experience and My Advice to You

I knew when I was first asked to join the Zen Float Co team that the unrelenting question would arise, "When are you going to try out floating for yourself?"  So, I'm here today to tell you about my first time floating and experiencing the world of sensory deprivation tanks. 

Months before ever going, I had researched floating non-stop. I was so excited to finally try floating for two main reasons:

- I needed a way to shut off my mind completely.  I've tried meditation, yoga, massage, and many other relaxation techniques but nothing completely shuts out all the thoughts that fill my head in a day or leaves me completely at peace. 

I was looking for an outing to force me to relax.  A few years ago I used to work at a massage place where I always took the time to pamper myself.  But since I quit I've barely been able to make time for me to go back and get a massage even once a year.  I never just take time to myself anymore. It's such an important thing to do and I've neglected doing anything about it for too long now.  

Image taken at Salt City Float Spa.  

Image taken at Salt City Float Spa.  

My First Float

When I arrived at the float center it was just as I imagined it to be in my mind.  I walked into a room surrounded in heavenly music, candles, and dim lighting that instantly made you feel calm and peaceful. After filling out some initial paperwork and waiting about ten minutes I was guided back to my room where I could see the light from the tank gleaming down the hall. When I got to the room I was instantly ready to hop in the tank and give it a go. I popped in my ear plugs, showered, and gently made my way into the tank.    

My first thoughts as I began to lay down were, "DO NOT get salt in your eyes, whatever you do just make sure you avoid getting salt in your eyes." I've heard a lot about how much that burns and didn't want my first experience to start off on a bad note.   

As I laid back and began floating I kept the lights on until I knew I felt completely comfortable inside the tank. I really liked that I had the option for music during my one-hour float where I chose to have it play for the first and last five minutes of my session.  The music helped a lot initially with making me forget that I was floating in an enclosed chamber and made me feel more like I was laying near the ocean on the beach.  By the time the music ended I already felt pretty comfortable so I reached over and pressed the button to turn out the lights and began floating in complete darkness.  

During My Float

The inability of me to turn my mind off was completely apparent right off the bat. Just like normal, thoughts were buzzing through my head.  I took the previous advice of my boss and started counting down slowly from 100 while also focusing on my breaths. It took me about 5 or 6 times of starting over for my mind to be able to focus and finally start to shut off. 

From there, I don't actually remember much other than being completely relaxed and feeling weightless. At one point I was trying to decipher what parts of my body were in the water or not but because it is the same temperature, you can't tell at all. I forgot at times I was even in water.

After a little bit I started to drift off for a moment only to wake up from a drop of salt water splashing onto my forehead. It was my mistake as I had previously touched one of the sides of the tank to adjust myself which then led to that happening.  Luckily, the salt water didn't roll into my eyes like I was fearing.

After that I shut my eyes again after what seemed like only a few minutes, the music came back on to alert me that my float was over. I was so bummed. Had an hour really gone by that quickly? I found myself wanting another 30 minutes to get back into the floating zone but I knew that I would have another chance soon. 

Post-Float Glow

jaymie salt city float spa

As I walked out of the spa to my car that day I could tell that everything seemed just a little brighter and I was truly refreshed and more energized than before I had went. I felt amazing and I could tell it was just what I needed. It only took about 5 minutes into my card ride home for my phone to start blowing up with phone calls and texts and it's in that moment I know for sure I'm back in the real world again.  

Days later as I write this post and I can report that I'm still feeling very refreshed.  All weekend long I had more energy than I can remember having in a long time and I was actually able to enjoy some time off rather than worrying about what I have going on that next week. 

If you're someone like me who is constantly on the go or struggle with shutting off your thoughts, floating can be a very beneficial solution. Plus, it makes you feel good too! I'm already craving another float session and I have a second appointment scheduled for this coming week.

So if you're reading this and are considering going to float for your first time, I want to lend you some pieces of advice that helped me to have a good first experience:

My Advice For Your First Float Tank Session: 

1. Prepare For Your Float Accordingly. I had ready many times not to eat right before your float but the day of my appointment I hadn't eaten much so I had a small snack shortly before I left. During the beginning of my float I could hear my food digesting in my stomach and it definitely took away from me getting to clear my mind sooner.  This could have been avoided if I had planned out my day a little better.   

2. Ask the right questions before you go.  A huge part of why my first experience went so well is because I knew exactly what to expect.  If my boss hadn't give me the advice to count down from 100 I might not have been able to relax very easily or as fast. Any questions that might have come up during the first few minutes of my float had already been answered so my mind was free to truly relax.  

3. Focus on relaxing your body as well as your mind. There were times at first where I would feel my thoughts clearing my head but I would then find myself tensing up certain parts of my body like my neck or even my jaw.  Take the first five minutes to really make sure that every part of you is relaxed, not just your mind.  


Ready to try floating for yourself?

To learn more about the benefits of floating and find a location near you, check out our free Float 101 mini course.