By Sonia Garza
If I told you there was a natural way to achieve complete relaxation in just an hour, would you try it? No medication necessary. In fact, all you have to do is float in water. Yes, have you heard of floating? I, for one, had not, but being that I am nine months pregnant, an hour-long float sounded like a refreshing and replenishing retreat. And you can achieve this unique experience locally.
Uncharted Waters Float Center is a new small business in Tacoma. Newly minted Technical Sergeant Sarah Maynard-Murray and her husband, Jonathan, have had a dream of owning and operating a business of their own for quite some time.
Originally from southern Oregon, Sarah joined the Air National Guard in 2004 and it allowed her to obtain a Bachelor in Corporate Fitness as well as a Master’s degree in Education.
Before Uncharted Waters Float Center’s opening, Sarah was working for a non-profit aerospace company while her husband volunteered and completed an internship at a couple different float centers in the Portland area. “Running a float center was Jon’s dream to begin with,” she said. “Between the two of us we have most of the skills needed to be successful in this type of industry.” Jon maintains the float cabins, daily shop operations and networking, while Sarah keeps the books, helps with daily shop operations and manages the center’s social media presence. “We make a great team,” she said. After the birth of their daughter, Piper, Sarah decided it would be best for their family if she worked for the float center full time.
So what is floating exactly? After I heard about it and all of the health benefits, I had to try it for myself.
Floating is said to be quite amazing and is achieved by creating buoyancy with a mixture of Epsom salts in the water. Floating offers unbelievable benefits to anyone, but especially those with a busy and hectic lifestyle or work stresses as it can help reduce anxiety and depression, improve sleep, lower cortisol, balance hormone production, enhance creativity, improve physical performance, reduce chronic pain, arthritis, fibromyalgia, high blood pressure, migraines, back pain and post-partum depression.
At Uncharted Waters, clients have their own private suites that include restroom facilities, a shower and float cabin, which are quite spacious and allow clients to enter standing up. “We really tried to make our float suites inviting for everyone, especially those who deal with claustrophobia, like me,” said Sarah.
I stepped inside the floating room with no expectations, considering I had never done anything like this before. I was completely and utterly alone, with only my thoughts to keep me company. Overhead on the ceiling are twinkling, illuminated stars that can be switched off to give you complete darkness. There are no sounds, no lights and no interruptions whatsoever.
Quieting the mind appears to be the hardest part for most. When there is nothing to distract you, what do your thoughts turn to? Work? Family life? Daily stress? I focused on my breathing until I was thinking only of the sound of my breath and honestly, for that full hour, I had achieved something I never have before: total relaxation.
An hour sounds like a long time, but when you are in a space where you have no distractions, such as light or sound, time becomes irrelevant. It was a strange feeling to be suspended in water and darkness. The water kept me afloat. I never had to use my muscles and it was the first time in my nine months of pregnancy — and life — that I felt absolutely nothing. No body aches, backaches, muscle aches or stress.
After the hour was up, the twinkling lights slowly illuminated and music started to play. I woke feeling revived. It only felt like 15 minutes had passed and yet I felt I had been in there for hours at the same time.
After your float, head to the relaxation room to get a refreshing drink of water. Since the float brings clarity and awareness to some, there is a table to play chess, some couches to sit and reflect and some journals to jot down notes.
The biggest benefit Sarah has experienced from floating is a reduction in her anxiety level. “It also helps regulate my insomnia,” she said. “I sleep a thousand times better at night than before I started floating.” One hour in the tank is said to be the equivalent of two to four hours of deep sleep.
Uncharted Waters’ big grand opening will take place on Saturday, September 26, where they plan to raffle off free floats and other goodies.
Other upcoming events include a yoga workshop called “Yoga, Feminism and Embodiment” hosted by Sky Yoga, a local non-profit yoga studio in town. They currently have a massage therapist that rents space in their building, offering massages as well as classes.
Uncharted Waters also just started a “Freedom Floats” program that allows customers to show their appreciation for the men and women who are a part of our armed forces. Clients can purchase a float and donate it to the Freedom Float Bank where active duty, guard and reserve members and veterans alike can use the donated float lessons at no cost.
Sarah is excited to expand the business with the addition of another massage therapist or acupuncturist in the near future. “The sky is the limit for what’s next for us,” Sarah said.
I highly recommend that anyone give floating a try. You have everything to gain and nothing to lose. I must say that nothing in my life has given me the amount of clarity and sense of peace as one hour of floating. “Every float is different. To get the most out of your float, don’t come in with any expectations. Just come in to relax. You are literally giving yourself the gift of nothing,” Sarah said. If you are nervous trying it for the first time, you can follow Uncharted Waters’ blog for information about how and why to float.
Want to try Uncharted Waters firsthand? Uncharted Waters Float Center offers discounts, including a 10 percent discount to military, firefighters and EMT’s. “The military community is very dear to my heart, and I am very grateful that Jon and I can run a business that can improve the quality of their lives.” First time clients receive 20 percent off their float and Uncharted Waters is currently in the process of adding monthly membership packages. The center also host a “Ladies Night” every Friday, offering half-priced floats and massages.
Uncharted Waters is located at 3837 South 12th Street in Tacoma and is open Monday, Thursday and Friday from noon to 10:00 p.m. and on Saturday and Sunday from 10:00 a.m. to 10:00 p.m.