- Julie Turner
Fear of small spaces: Claustrophobia and float tanks
Updated: Sep 17, 2022
Claustrophobia is the extreme or irrational fear of confined spaces. The most common aversion we hear - the number one reason people are resistant to floating is because “I’m claustrophobic I could never get in there”. So let's get crawl into it shall we?
I'm sure everyone has a fear of being locked in a small space. No one wants to be trapped in the DeathStar garbage compactor while the walls are closing in. I used to think I was claustrophobic, but looking back I don't know why I thought that, or how it got into my brain. Brains are funny that way.
From what I've read only 3-5% of the population truly suffers from the phobia - which is conveniently almost the same number of people that are afraid of wide open spaces. Proof that you truly can't please everyone.
So why is it that so many people’s initial reaction is that of fear? Trying new things almost always includes an element of fear. Overcoming fear is where you find and discover your capacity for courage.
Claustrophobia presents differently in each person. Claustrophobia evolves after a traumatic experience and the particulars of the trauma will determine which aspects cause fear. For some people it's about the size of the space, for others it's air quality, or the dark. We have many options to help you ease each of these aspects. Let's chat about them!
Our float tanks are almost 8 feet long, 4 feet wide, and 4 feet tall. There is far more room to stretch out in the float tank than there is in any vehicle. For most people getting into a vehicle, even at night is no problem. So if you're able to be in a vehicle, I can almost guarantee you will have no problem with a float tank. No vehicle compares with the space, comfort, and relaxation offered by a float tank.
It’s bigger on the inside!
Physically, it truly does feel larger when you experience it from the inside, but floating also promotes mind exploration and on a metaphysical level the tank is unbelievably expansive. For many, the weightless environment can bring about imagery of floating through space and/or a very expanding feeling.
MRI's & CT Scans are common examples of times when people feel claustrophobic. The big difference with a float tank is that you are entirely in control of your experience at all times. Get in or out at your leisure, leave the door all the way open or prop it open a little with the pool noodle. The door is on a simple hinge with absolutely no way to accidentally lock you in.
Just like every other aspect of floating, you are in complete control! Leave the light on or turn it off. It's totally up to you! Our Samadhi tank has a built in interior light with a button that only you control. In the Oasis tank there is a floating glow ball to provide light and keep you company. Learn more about each tank here.
If you are one of the 3-5% with legit claustrophobia it doesn't mean you need to completely avoid floating. If this describes you, I would recommend you start with an open float room (Float Space in Kelowna has 2 beautiful open rooms). The most effective treatment modern science offers for phobias is exposure therapy. If you want to overcome your irrational fear of small spaces a float tank might be the perfect, and totally safe opportunity to do so.
I once spoke to a lady who was absolutely terrified of water after a traumatizing childhood experience. She was intrigued with floating, but needed some help getting over her fears. When she emerged, she was in tears; she had overcome her phobia and said the experience had changed her life forever. I’ve heard other reports of people going into a float studio and just sitting beside the tank, sometimes taking 3 tries before they could actually muster enough courage to get in, but once they did, and in time, they were absolved of the paralyzing fear.
When people are given the right information, and allowed to take things at their own pace, floating can provide an environment to overcome fears, especially the fear of water and confined spaces.
Just like everything else in life floating is not for everybody, but the tank holds so much potential that I think everyone should at least consider it. The only way to know if floating is right for you is to try it! And maybe not just once, but at least 3 times. Claustrophobia or not, it takes time to get comfortable in this completely new environment, and to truly relax comfort is a must. Take whatever steps you need to RELAX HARDER!!
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