The photo is what the tank I used actually looks like - it is from the Float Center in nearby Oakland (How spoiled am I to live a mere three miles from this place!). It is about 8 feet long and wide enough that you can stretch your arms out but not fully. When relaxed, you don't bump the sides.
So upon arriving, I was greeted by the co-owner. I arrived a little early so I could look at the artwork (it has an art gallery in the lobby) and she talked with me awhile and then gave me the orientation on how to use the tank while her current clients were finishing up.
First I showered and shampooed my hair - it's very reassuring that you must be head to toe fresh and clean before entering these tanks. Then you wrap your towel and not three feet away is the tank. Before entering, I put in earplugs provided.
The water is about 10 inches deep and has 1000 lbs of Epsom salts dissolved in it. You float like cork bobbing on the water and you cannot sink if you tried. 10 inches of water is still deep enough that you don't touch the bottom of the tank. The water is the same temperature as your body and the air inside is also the same - you feel very little. Once the hatch is closed there is no noise and it is painted black all on the inside, so it is completely dark.
I lay back and look around - sometimes its difficult to tell if my eyes are opened or closed. My breathing was the only sound I heard and because it was all encompassing, I was able to focus on it far easier and repeat my mantras and begin meditation.
It was easy to relax into the water, but now and then I had to focus on my neck because of the natural tendency to flex the neck when floating on your back in regular water. I had to put my hands behind my head to allow for full relaxation at one point, but most the time my arms were relaxed up around my head - more comfortable than down at my sides.
I noticed my breath slowing significantly and my heartbeat still felt the same and at one point my pulsing blood pressure pulsing made me feel like my body was dissipating with every beat. It was weird and very nice, like I was suddenly made out of sand and with every pulse, the outer layers of body were dispersed into the water. I would say that was my experience of leaving the body. Allison, the co-owner with whom I spoke, said it was common to have an out of body experience, or just have the sensation of not feeling your body any longer. My experience did not last long, but I did have it, and it was cool.
Toward the latter part of the hour, I felt very very relaxed. I could feel salt crystals forming on my stomach and arms that were exposed to the air. Allison knocked softly on the pod when the hour was up and I left and showered and shampooed again. Once finished, I sat in the lobby and had a hot tea that she prepared and we talked some more.
I felt uplifted and energetic the rest of the day, but by night, I was exceptionally sleepy. I went to bed early last night and I still feel great today.
A float session is something I would love to be able to do twice a year. I absolutely love it, but it is expensive, so it's got to be for special occasions. If you live near a place that has isolation tanks, give it a try! I am happy to say that I've got one more on my list of things I HAVE TO DO in my lifetime checked off and that makes me feel almost as good as the float itsself. :)