floating and sinking in the center of the universe


I noticed that Peet’s Coffee in Fremont (the one a few doors down from Starbucks) has closed it’s doors forever. Here in the center of the “center of the universe” there’s still Fremont Coffee and Cafe Ladro, so all is not lost. My prediction of what business will take Peet’s place – a dog underwear boutique. What do you think? Isn’t this a niche waiting to be filled?

My prediction of the next business to go under (so to speak) in Fremont is Urban Float, the isolation tank business. My only association with floating in salt water enclosures is Dr.  John Lilly, who may have developed the modern float tank. I guess that really dates me as an oldster. He used to go into them under the influence of LSD or ketamine. I went to a public talk he gave way back in the day. Someone in the audience asked him a question: “What state of consciousness are you in now?” His answer: “Do you mean me or the man talking?” He seemed very much interested in being perceived as the far-out mystery wisdom man, but that’s just my retroactive impression. Aliens, dolphins, psychedelics … it’s all too beautiful.

But anyway, back to Urban Float. I believe they will sell a fair number of first-time floats ($45) and maybe some first-time three-float packages ($179), but then customers will realize that an hour massage might be nicer than an $89 float. I could be wrong. I don’t wish them ill. I just have doubts. A question on the FAQ page asks, “Is this new-aged (sic) mumbo jumbo?” The answer: “Floating has been around for over 40 years and has oodles of research to back it up. No mumbo or jumbo here.” Why then is there no link to the oodles of research to back up whatever it is they are backing up?

I recommend going next door and getting a warm bowl of pho. You’ll find slippery noodles floating in the salty, soupy nutrient broth. Let it cool a bit and set your face in it for a moment to get a mini-float experience. Then you can eat it, which you don’t want to do with the fluid in the isolation tank. Just ask the woman with the British accent in the video on the Urban Float home page. She can’t talk back of course, but if she could, she’d tell you not to drink the “silky” epsom salt water. By the way, her eyebrows look plastic. Why is that?

If you scroll down on the home page, there’s a photo of a woman in a business suit, sitting cross-legged with her hands making that classic “O” shape with the thumb and index finger – the pose you only see in advertisements. There’s also a photo with a man in a spacesuit, holding a surfboard and standing on a psychedelic beach. I’m not kidding. That’s meant to attract the modern-day John Lilly with discretionary cash. Maybe one who works at Adobe or Google. You too can be a psychonaut!

Last but not least, watch the video by Dr. Darren Weissman on the Urban Float site. He explains how the salt water pulls “toxins” out of your body and the floating allows you to “move through life and life to move through you.” It allows you to “make that heart connection” and “be in a space with who your real self is.” That, my friends, is classic new age mumbo jumbo.



5 thoughts on “floating and sinking in the center of the universe

  1. Dan,
    I happen to be one of the owners of Urban Float and I’d like to invite you in to try floating for yourself. You might have a different opinion once you actually have a first hand experience of floating. I understand your initial skepticism. We are making some strong claims about the benefits of floating but our experiences as well as the research demonstrates that the benefits are real and not new age mumbo jumbo. Here is a link to a research article on the subject from the journal of Psychology and Health that summarizes some of the health benefits:
    We’re working on putting more citations like this one on our website to substantiate our claims. Here is a link to additional research if you are inclined to dig further.
    Let me know if you’d like to take me up on the offer to check it out first hand.


    • dangblog

      Thanks for replying, Brandon!

      Thank you also for the links and kind offer of a personal float experience. As I mentioned to a friend who also responded, I’m sure it is relaxing and enjoyable. I’m confident that it has the benefits one would get from deep relaxation (meditation, hypnosis, a hot tub, a massage, a nap in a comfy spot, etc.) I know there is research, for example, on the benefits of meditation, and I would expect a flotation tank to show similar effects.

      Okay, I do have doubts that a float experience can “detoxify joints” because I suspect there is little evidence that joints become “toxified.” I’m also dubious that the sensory deprivation tank has significantly more benefits than the other techniques I listed above. I could be wrong. The comparative study in one of the links you sent was a pretty small sample size, though. Need more info.

      I honestly hope that your business succeeds. I also honestly want to make fun of the marketing on your site. Dr. Weissman in particular … his video talk should be next to the dictionary definition of “new age mumbo jumbo.” 🙂

      I can already tell you that I would find a float experience peaceful and relaxing. But instead of putting my skeptical self in one of your tanks, I’ll ask my friend who commented above to report back on his experience. He’s already planning to try it, he’s a paying customer, and excited about it.

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )


Connecting to %s