Most people visit the Asheville, North Carolina area to see the huge, sprawling, Biltmore Estate. We decided to do Asheville a bit differently than most by skipping this massive building of excess and instead visited a tiny little minimalist-like space; a six foot by eight foot salt water flotation chamber at what has to be the best Asheville spa – Still Point Wellness.
Let’s take a journey, shall we?
You’re in a completely dark, pitch black room the size of a walk-in closet.
Not a sound can be heard.
Now imagine lying there, naked, in a foot deep pool of warm water.
Now imagine yourself floating on that water.
And now close your eyes and let your mind relax and wander.
Do this for the next 90 minutes and you’ll have a basic idea of one of the most amazing and unique spa experiences (or any other Asheville spa) has to offer.
Still Point Wellness in Asheville operates what is called a salt water flotation chamber. It contains 1,000 pounds of Epsom salts mixed with 12 inches of water covering a 6ft x 8ft area (that’s roughly 83,000 cubic inches of water). Because of the science behind salt particles in water this ratio allows a person to float on the water, similar to parts of the Dead Sea.
But the beauty of the chamber isn’t simply floating, but the sensory deprivation it provides. It’s soundproof and is, literally, pitch black once the door closes. You can’t see your hand in front of your face. You can, however, open the door a crack if need be to let some light in if you’re feeling claustrophobic.
Ear plugs are provided, which serve two purposes:
- Adds to the sensory deprivation.
- Helps prevent water from going in your ears.
Hygiene: Each guest is asked to shower before entering the flotation chamber. And after every use the water goes through a vigorous filtration process combining a UV light, ozone gas, and a minimal amount of chlorine (required by health officials). Salt is also a sterilizer and you’re floating in it.
The spa also provides a small towel while you’re in the flotation chamber so you can wipe your face, and there’s also a small bubble wrap pillow to rest your head/neck on while floating, which came in handy for me because my head is so filled with useless baseball statistics and random TV lines it would sink like the Edmund Fitzgerald (and you thought I was going to say the Titanic, didn’t you!)
Still Point’s staff made us feel very welcome upon our arrival, offering water, giving us a brief tour of this tranquil Asheville spa, and also advising us of the other services offered:
- Esalen massage – A massage technique growing in popularity. It involves long flowing strokes and specific muscle focus along with a more personal experience to a client’s needs.
- Typical Swedish and deep tissue massage therapy (solo or couples)
- Yoga Therapy – One-on-one sessions allow for a more personalized practice to suit individual client needs.
So here’s a quick six-step process of how to use and enjoy Still Point Wellness’ salt water flotation chamber:
Step 1. Use bathroom before getting in. Trust me. I had to end my float a few minutes early because I had to pee. I made the mistake of having a tea prior to my float. The last thing you want is the thought-interrupting call of nature.
Step 2. Get naked. I guess you could interchange this with Step 1. But either way, go the Full Monty so you can enjoy your float experience without any extra weight or drag.
Step 3. Shower. This helps keeps things hygienic.
Step 4. Get in and close the door. Again, you can leave it open a crack or close it all the way and go completely, utterly, pitch black.
Step 5. Float. Lie down, extend your legs or bend and cross them, let your arms float at your side and enjoy the feeling of weightlessness on water.
Step 6. Relax. Enjoy floating around the chamber. Let your thoughts wander.
Or, just download the infographic for a graphic step-by-step explanation.
What a tranquil place for couples to recharge their batteries! I could easily see myself spending even more time at this Asheville spa than we did. Maybe I would start with a personalized yoga therapy session. Follow that up with an hour long Esalen massage? Then let everything float away in the salt water flotation chamber. And to finish it off, lounge with a warm tea in their relaxation area while watching the tropical fish swim around the salt-water fish tank. Or maybe just do what my wife did and fall asleep in their library. Talk about peaceful and serene. Who needs the TV show Cheers to take a break from all your worries, this Asheville spa will let you do that without the inane chatter of Cliff Claven!
It’s said that everyone experiences something different in the flotation chamber. Some have life-changing moments in the flotation chamber. Others see things, like images in a kaleidoscope. Some complete thoughts from previous floats. Others just do their best Doobie Gray impression and Drift Away.
My experience was a collage of the above.
Al’s Salt Water Flotation Experience
I drifted. I felt weightless as I floated around the chamber. My legs were extended and arms drifting by my side, but I felt like I was also having an amazing side stretch somehow.
My thoughts drifted. On two occasions my thoughts drifted as they would in an unconscious dream. And when I snapped out of said thoughts I couldn’t, for the life of me, backtrack and recall those thoughts. I still can’t! I didn’t have a life-changing epiphany or an “AHA!” moment. Although I think I may have had the song “Take on me” by Aha in my head. Okay, that’s a lie. I had too many thoughts to remember, and some I couldn’t remember if I tried!
After a float a shower is necessary to get as much of the salts off as possible. And then it’s time to chill. More important, it’s time to enjoy the post-float experience.
I sat in the library for a few minutes and felt completely at ease with everything in the world. I cared about nothing, even if for only a short while. I also felt my senses were sharper. My eyesight wasn’t so much as more precise, just more focal. My ears seemed more receptive to sound. I was more alert but in such a different way it’s hard to explain, but I’ll do my best. I wasn’t just noticing things around me. I was experiencing them like never before. I remember a car driving down the street but being able to completely block it out and listen to some nearby birds chirping. I felt the same glow of the sun. I felt a slight breeze in the air as I have many times before. I guess I can utilize my silly penchant for remembering TV lines: you know that Corn Flakes commercial; “…taste them again for the first time”? I felt like I was experiencing some of these things again for the first time.
Shelly’s Salt Water Flotation Experience
At the start of my float I opted to use the bubble headrest that was provided. I couldn’t find a comfortable position with the rest so I decided to place it back onto the rack by the door. So I felt my hand along the wall where I was sure the door was and of course it wasn’t there. Why would it be? The chamber is pitch black and how could I possibly know where the door was?
At this point I started having a small panic attack. I was able to calm myself down by thinking “I’m in a very small room, the handle couldn’t have disappeared”. Sure enough, the next wall I tried I found the handle. Yay!
Since I had raised my heart rate I decided it was probably best if I tucked the hand towel into the door frame so a stream of light would flow in. Even with the crack of light coming in through the door, the room was still pitch black. I even tried the hand in front of my face test a few times and could never see my hand. But having that small bit of light I felt better about being able to orient myself when I would open my eyes. Sometimes the crack was to my left. Sometimes to the right. Sometimes right above my head. I actually liked having the light as I could understand how I floated around.
I floated around in all different ways; in a star shape; with my arms over my chest; with my arms underneath me when I got cool. To me it was very much like savasana in yoga.
I know my mind wandered a lot, but truthfully, I can’t remember what exactly I thought about.
At the end of the 90 minutes – which incidentally went a lot quicker than I thought 90 mins in a dark room with my own thoughts would, I felt super energized. The best way I can explain it is that it felt like the endorphin rush after an amazing workout. For about 20 minutes I was on a high and excited to tell Al all about my flotation experience. I chatted with the owner and the receptionist with enthusiasm and zeal. After Al went in for his treatment, I took a seat in the library and had a ginger tea. Shortly after that, I found myself pulling a blanket over me and having a short 20 minute nap on the couch. I guess I crashed from my endorphin rush!
For me the experience was one of great relaxation and serenity. I love that the spa highly suggests that first time floaters should float for 90 minutes to ensure the best possible experience. I definitely think one hour would have been too short!
I can’t wait to do this again!
Charles Darwin wrote about hydrotherapy curing a mysterious illness he had contracted. The owner of Still Point Wellness told me that salt water flotation cured his sleep apnea, and that he’s had clients walk in using a cane and walk out with zero cane help needed after a float.
Hydrotherapy is something we’ve always enjoyed. It started with an amazing experience at a wellness pool in Jamaica, followed by a hot/cold plunge circuit in Collingwood, Ontario several years ago, and again in Medellin, Colombia just last year. We can now add the salt water flotation and sensory deprivation chamber of this Asheville spa to our list of hydrotherapies to recommend.
The Asheville spa scene is a competitive one, but with the salt water flotation and other truly unique services offered at Still Point Wellness, the competition is being left in the dark, literally!
We would like to thank Still Point Wellness for the amazing hospitality while hosting us and during our salt water flotation experience. We were complimented by their staff numerous times about our blog’s goals – do more stuff with less stuff. Wellness is definitely part of our lifestyle. I would gladly spend money on a wellness experience over any material item.
For more information on floating visit the Still Point Wellness website where you can find an amazing write up detailing the benefits of salt water flotation. And be sure to follow them for their wellness updates on:
Now go sell all your stuff and float!