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Lose your senses: Float tanks promise unique stress relief

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CARROLL GARDENS, Brooklyn -- Naked and wet in the dark. It might sound horrifying to some, but my experience inside the sensory deprivation pod at LIFT in Carroll Gardens was one of the most peaceful, rejuvenating experiences of my life. Just make sure you're not scared of being alone with your own thoughts before you close the lid.

"We provide nothingness for people, a break." that's the claim from Gina Antioco co-owner of Lift.

The idea is simple: Clear your mind by floating in a sensory deprivation pod, or float tank, for about an hour.

Antioco's partner David Leventhal says he started floating during college in the 1980's.

"I would go into the tank and instantly feel relaxed and great. The stress from my studies were gone," said Leventhal.

But he says the experience benefits the stressed out, sleep deprived, and athletes among us equally.

"This year the New England Patriots bought two of the pods we carry here and the year before the Seattle Seahawks were actually big floaters."

The Float Center, includes futuristic looking pods that reminded me of the battery in the Matrix movie.
These pods aren't slimy and they're a lot more peaceful.  Each one has about 10 inches of water and 1-thousand pounds of Epsom salt making the tanks more buoyant than the Dead Sea.

"You don't have a choice but to float. As soon as you get in you're going to pop right up like a cork," said Antioco.

If you're claustrophobic, lift also has float rooms which have 7-foot ceilings.  The water is recycled and purified after each use so you don't have to worry about floating in someone else's dirty water. You can have the light on or off, float with music or in silence.

"Setting time aside from people's daily routines where they are truly alone, just that gives people calm," said Leventhal.

So, what was it like? Well you don't have to worry about drowning. The water is so buoyant it feels like something is actually pushing you to the top of the water for the first minute or so. But after floating in the dark for a little while I complete lost awareness of my body and the 20-minutes flew by. Typical sessions are about an hour each and cost $70- $100 depending on how many you sign up for at once.