Pushing open the door to the spa, I hear a chime in the distance and am instantly greeted by Kristyn, who is working the reception desk. “Ready to float?” she asks. “As ready as I’ll ever be!” I respond.

I have done my research about float pods/tanks and sensory deprivation. After working with Melissa for over a year, I know that she wouldn’t invest in anything other than the real deal — but that doesn’t stop me from reading article after article by journalists and athletes who were once skeptical about floating, too. I feel as prepared as I can be about an unknown experience… I’m ready to give this float pod a shot.

Kristyn walks me back to the Relaxation Room where I complete my intake forms while enjoying a glass of refreshing citrus water. I peek into the float pod room, where I see the giant, egg-shaped tank gurgling away happily with illuminated salt water. It’s not ready for me yet, though, since I need to shower off any lotion, dirt, oil, sweat, or other substances that could taint the water. The spa shower is clean and comfortable and in no time, I’m in my cozy robe and flip flops, padding my way back to the pod.

Those intake forms gave me lots of instructions about how to experience the float pod but thankfully, there are reminders on a laminated sheet in the room. I shut the lid behind me, lock it, and reread the tips: use the provided ear plugs to keep saltwater from entering your ears, a foam circle is provided to help your head float, the door to the pod can be left open if you prefer (which is calming to my claustrophobic heart), and the water will start circulating after my 60 minutes are up. After stuffing the earplugs in, I disrobe and climb into the pod. There are controls for the lights and the music — I keep both on to start — and it’s easy to pull the lid down (but not close it all the way). I make note of the clean towel and spray bottle, which are provided in case I get saltwater on my face. With a big sigh, I settle into the warm water.

Surprisingly, I don’t need the foam circle ‘pillow’ — my body (head and neck included) floats effortlessly in the salt-saturated water. I stretch my arms and legs out wide and touch the sides of the pod; I bring my arms behind my head, interlacing my fingers, and straighten my legs. Now, I’m not touching anything but the water that keeps me afloat. After bobbing for a few seconds, my body goes still in the water and a feeling of weightlessness creeps in. I am suspended in water that’s the same temperature as my skin. It’s hard to tell where I stop and the liquid begins.

To be completely honest, it takes a while to stop asking myself, “Am I relaxed yet?” I keep my eyes closed, my body still, but my mind wanders and wonders, “Is this working?” After 15 minutes, I turn off the lights. After 25, I summon the courage to close the pod. Bracing for panic, I open my eyes and prepare to push the top open (in fact, I nudge it just to make sure it’s easy to do — it is). Again, surprisingly, that need never comes. In a few more minutes, I’m drifting off. I do that thing when you’re somewhere between dreaming and awake: my body jerks in response to a subconscious stimulation but it doesn’t take long before I’m sinking back into a deep state of relaxation. I’m not entirely positive but I think around 30 minutes in, I fall asleep and start to have dreams of stars and galaxies. It’s the most bizarre kind of sleep… I don’t dream of anyone or anything. I travel to a new place and just exist.

*whooooooooosh* A light tickle on my scalp compels me to open my eyes. The water is flowing and doesn’t that mean it’s time to get out? I’m slightly groggy but not in a napped-too-long-in-the-middle-of-the-afternoon kind of way. I feel like I’ve had a solid night’s worth of sleep and it’s time to tackle the day. Getting out of the pod is a little jarring, only because the noise I’m making seems like an intrusion on the experience I was just having, but soon I’m re-robed and ready for my post-pod shower. I open the door and Kristyn is waiting for me with another glass of cool, refreshing water. “How was it?” she asks. “Weird,” I admit. I’m not quite sure what to think yet.

She walks me to the infrared sauna and asks if I’d like to spend a few minutes there before showering. “Absolutely,” I nod. Another few minutes in womb-like heat and comfort sounds like just the ticket for reflecting on my first float. I think about where my mind just went, how it’s been so long since I’ve been in a place with absolutely zero stimuli. What a bizarre feeling. While relaxing on the sauna seat, I snap a photo of my legs — the infrared light shows off the streaks of salt leftover from the pod. My skin feels exfoliated and smooth.

After another shower (this time with conditioner), dressing, and blow-drying my hair, I emerge from the locker room and go to check out at reception. Kristyn has everything ready so the process is seamless. I float (no pun intended) out of the spa, wondering what that night’s sleep will be like… and dreaming of my next session.