Created By Brooklyn Magazine
Floating in a dark, silent little pod full of water and 1000 pounds of Epsom salt could become your new favorite way of escaping the stresses of city life. Lift Next Level Floats, Brooklyn’s first sensory deprivation center, has recently opened in Carroll Gardens, offering a sci-fi-esque form of therapy that promises to cure you of any womb nostalgia.
Co-owners Gina Antioca and David Leventhal, who became float-addicts back in the 80s, met through fellow float-fans and decided to go into business two days later. “Once you do it I think you’re kind of like, ‘How have I not done this my whole life?,’ ” Antioca told the Brooklyn Paper. The center has three Evolution Float Pods, resembling giant eggs with clamshell lids, into which visitors can retreat for one-hour float sessions. The water is saltier than the Dead Sea, so you couldn’t not float if you tried, and it’s customized to your skin temperature. If you’re afraid of the dark, the center also has two Ocean Float Rooms, with 7-foot-high ceilings speckled with starlights and a soft chamber music soundtrack. “This allows you to contemplate the infinite as you begin your journey,” says the center’s website.
Sensory deprivation tanks were first used in 1954 by neuroscientist and psychonaut John C. Lilly. They were a hit in the psychedelic movement of the 60s — devotees rave about the tanks producing trippy out-of-body experiences without the brain-frying effects of hallucinogens. (Co-owners Antioca and Leventhal are also “Burners,” regular Burning Man Festival-goers.) With the opening of centers like Lift and a growing community of “floaters,” isolation tanks seem to be poised for a resurgence. Comedian and Fear Factor host Joe Rogan might be one of today’s biggest proponents: “I think it’s one of the most incredible pieces of equipment for self-help and introspective thought that you could ever find,” he told The Atlantic in 2012. “It’s been one of the most important tools for me in personal growth for understanding myself, how I am, and what effect I do have on other people.”
Also known as R.E.S.T., or Restricted Environmental Stimulation Therapy, its benefits are said to range from the physical to the spiritual to the intellectual. “Once the pressure of the world is literally off of its shoulders, knees, and back, that freedom from gravity can allow your body to be relieved of so much more—high blood pressure, fatigue, joint and even muscle pain,” Antioca and Leventhal write on the center’s website. It supposedly raises relaxing Theta brainwave activity: “Floating has been shown to help even novice participants experience extended periods of Theta brainwave activity, normally available only to advanced students of meditation.” (You might even astral project!)
That’s not to say the experience won’t be weird at first: You’ll be alone with your mind, without any of the sensory input that’s bombarded you since birth. In an age of insane overstimulation, it’ll take some getting used to (there is no WiFi in these tanks).
If you’re interested in becoming a pod person, a single hour-long float is $99, or a first time 3-float package is $199. Monthly memberships are also available. You can book appointments here.
Lift Next Level Floats is located at 320 Court St., second floor, at Sackett Street in Carroll Gardens.
Photos via LiftFloats.com