Writer Isak Dinesen once wrote “The cure for anything is salt water: sweat, tears, or the sea.” For Jon and Sarah Murray, owners of Uncharted Waters Float Center, these words hold especially true. Using an idea first developed in the 1950s, Jon and Sarah streamlined the float tank modality, and hope to spread the word on this alternative, though highly effective, means of healing and revitalization.

Upon arrival, clients are greeted by friendly staff and Frank the therapy dog/mascot who are eager to answer any last-minute questions. Next, guests are shown to their own private suite, which is comprised of a float cabin as well as a full bathroom. Jon and Sarah thought of everything, from shampoo and conditioner to cotton swabs and ear plugs. The suites are spacious, inviting, and spotless.

Uncharted Waters Tacoma
The front desk is where the journey begins. Photo credit: Daniel Beers.

After a quick shower, it’s on to the float cabin. The concept of floating is a simple one. A large tub of water contains 900 pounds of Epsom salt. The water is heated to a sensory-neutral temperature of 93.5 degrees Fahrenheit. The high salt concentration promotes effortless buoyancy, allowing guests to feel as though they were in a zero-gravity environment. Float cabins are sound and light proof, though Uncharted Waters offers the option for LED “stars” that shine from the ceiling, if complete darkness doesn’t sound appealing. The result is an inner peace that is good for both the body and the soul.

“You have total control of the environment at all times,” says Jon. “Once you lay back in the water, it may take a few moments to adapt to the sensation of weightlessness. Calm, steady breathing will help you relax. Within minutes, your body and mind will begin to let go. Your experience may be quiet, creative, visual, or something entirely different. Given the space to fully rest, your body and mind will do what they need.”

Uncharted Waters Float Center
A float cabin at Uncharted Waters in Tacoma. Float cabins include optional LED “stars” on the ceilings. Photo courtesy: Uncharted Waters.

After an hour of blissful solitude, clients are slowly brought back to reality with soft music and lights. After another quick shower, guests are invited to relax for a few moments in the lounge. “To maximize the physical and mental benefits of floating, we encourage moving at a slower pace for the rest of the day,” says Jon. The lounge is filled with books on mindfulness, notepads for creativity, and Buddha boards for impermanent artistry.

Jon Murray first discovered floating in Portland, Oregon, where he discovered a brochure in a coffee shop. “I was taking a couple of courses at a local Buddhist college,” he recalls. “I thought this would be an ideal environment for meditation. I tried it and I was hooked. I introduced it to Sarah shortly after we started dating. She immediately loved it and decided it was more than some hipster fad.”

Floating first gained popularity back in the 1970s and 80s. It is believed that the AIDS scare and confusion over how the disease was contracted caused float centers to all but disappear. “The industry’s renaissance started about 5 or 6 years ago,” explains Jon, “and the number of float centers in the US and abroad has grown exponentially since. There is an annual Float Conference held every August in Portland, and it too has grown exponentially every year. We believe floating is here to stay and will be as common as massage, yoga, acupuncture, etc.”

Uncharted Waters Lounge
The lounge is a relaxing place to rest after a float. Photo credit: Daniel Beers.

It is widely believed that floating can alleviate a number of common maladies including, anxiety, back pain, fibromyalgia, depression, migraines, chronic pain, arthritis, chronic fatigue, and high blood pressure. The high concentration of Epsom salt contributes to relaxation, improving circulation, as well as promoting detoxification.

When asked about the benefits they noticed in their own lives, Jon has the perfect answer. “Well, we’re still married,” he jokes. “Mentally, my mind is clearer, I’m more patient, and more ‘in the now.’ Physically, my back feels good and I feel more relaxed. I sleep better too.”

Sarah found that floating is also extremely beneficial while pregnant. “Within the first five minutes of my float,” she explains, “I, for the first time since finding out I was pregnant, began to completely and utterly relax. My spine was allowed to fully elongate and my lower back found much needed relief from the pressure of growing a human. Aside from the physical bliss the tank was able to provide, it was the mental calm I found most intriguing. I was able to focus for the first time on the baby and just the baby. My head wasn’t clouded by my ‘baby prep to do list’ or the anticipated failures I might encounter with being a first time parent. No, I was able to just think about the baby.”

Uncharted Waters
A holistic nutritionist is also available for consultation. Photo credit: Daniel Beers

Yet floating isn’t all that Uncharted Waters has to offer. There is also Reiki energy therapy, massage, a holistic nutritionist and iRest Yoga Nidra/Mindfulness Meditation. Jon and Sarah believe that floating and iRest Yoga Nidra/Mindfulness Meditation are perfect complements of each other. “Clients will experience some of the same benefits as floating,” explains Sarah, “but it also provides another tool for meditations for clients to take with them into the float cabin. This is especially helpful if a person is new to the concept of meditation. Also, clients can practice this modality outside the float center and see improved quality of life.”

So for anyone looking for a break from chronic pain, or simply just need a break for the constant hustle and bustle of daily life, Jon and Sarah Murray invite you to Uncharted Waters to recharge your batteries and find inner peace. “We believe this modality helps people become the best version of themselves,” says Jon.

To see a video about Uncharted Waters Float Center, click here.

Uncharted Waters Float Center
3837 S. 12th Street
Tacoma. WA 98405

Mon, Thu, Fri: 12:00 p.m. – 10:00 p.m.
Sat, Sun: 10:00 a.m. – 10:00 p.m.


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