Several decades ago, it was discovered that floating in an isolation tank of body-temperature salt-water for an hour or so could evoke theta brain waves—the state between sleeping and waking, the level that meditators strive to achieve. A floatation session, being a mini-vacation from gravity and external stimuli, has been found to reduce stress, relieve pain, heal conditions like jet lag and insomnia, and stimulate creativity.
At Zephyr Float in Kingston, clients immerse themselves in five-by-eight-foot tanks with eight-foot ceilings—big enough for two, although many people prefer a solo session for introspection. Schoonmaker says she sees anecdotal evidence of floatation benefits every time the float center's doors are open. "We have a regular who comes every week to treat anxiety and another says it helps chronic pain better than painkillers. It's important to find a higher purpose in life, and the center and the connections we make there have helped us find ours—when a person comes out of that tank with a sigh of relief and a smile, nothing beats that."