Exploring Portland’s float tank community - KPTV - FOX 12

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Exploring Portland’s float tank community

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Emily Noren, floating in a tank at The Float Shoppe in NW Portland. Emily Noren, floating in a tank at The Float Shoppe in NW Portland.
One of the enclosed float tanks at The Float Shoppe. One of the enclosed float tanks at The Float Shoppe.
The open float tank at The Float Shoppe. The open float tank at The Float Shoppe.
A group of customers at The Float Shoppe. A group of customers at The Float Shoppe.
PORTLAND, OR (KPTV) -

When you think of your favorite way to relax or relieve pain, do you think of floating in a dark, quiet tank of salt water?

For a growing number of people, the answer is yes.

“When we first found out about floating, I think there were something like ten centers in the entire U.S.,” Sandra Calm told Fox 12.  “Now there are hundreds, and we’ll see hundreds more open this year.”

Calm and her husband are the owners of The Float Shoppe on Northwest 23rd – one of four float centers in Portland.

They have three float tanks, each with enough dissolved Epsom salt to allow for effortless, weightless floating.  Customers come in for 90 minute sessions to float in the warm, shallow water with no outside stimulus.

Advocates say the benefits are mind-blowing.

“I had a skydiving accident and broke my leg in several places,” regular customer Marty Gibbons told Fox 12.  “The pain wasn’t a little bit gone, it was completely gone.”

It’s a practice that inspires books, movies, even an annual Float Conference held in Portland.

Some 500 people from all over the country just attended the August 2015 conference.  Emily Noren was one of the speakers this year, and shared her powerful story on stage.

She credits floating with ending the eating disorder she silently battled for 14 years.

“When you have an eating disorder, how your body feels is really important,” Noren explained.  “So when I first got in the float tank and my body felt completely different in the non-gravity environment, it was really unsettling.  My bones didn’t feel the same, I couldn’t feel my ribs sticking out… But eventually, I felt like I wasn’t connected to by physical body at all… and that was really relieving.”

Research is continually being done on the effects floating has on the mind and body, primary at Dr. Justin Feinstein’s Laureate Institute for Brain Research in Tulsa, Oklahoma.

“[Floating helps with] both rheumatoid arthritis and osteoarthritis, chronic back pain related to muscle tension…” Calm said, skimming the surface of the benefits.  “We’re really on to something with this.”

“I walked in a little skeptical, but I walked in a believer, I really did,” said customer Ted Healy.  “You’re totally with your own thoughts, you’re with your own feelings, you’re with your own being – and in this age, that’s a gift.”

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