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De-stress in a tank full of water? Give me coffee and booze instead
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By Andrea Peyser
July 10, 2015

De-stress in a tank full of water? Give me coffee and booze instead

Where did I go wrong?

The other day, I found myself soaking wet, my skin caked with enough salt to season the popcorn of a multiplex.

Could I, a Type-A New York City dweller cursed with a fundamental inability to stop and smell the exhaust, tune out life’s stresses and gaze deeply within my navel in the pitch darkness? Could I relax and cure my insomnia while ridding my body of alcohol and caffeine, which to me amount to basic nutrition? Was I capable of doing nothing for an hour, except bob like a cork in a tub of warm water with only the din of my thoughts to keep me company?

In a town in which condoms may be delivered to your doorstep around the clock (in San Francisco, too), I learned that, for $99 ($65 for first-timers), one may buy a brief vacation from the city that never unplugs.

Floating in sensory-deprivation chambers, a practice that reached its height of popularity in the late 1970s and ’80s, then fell out of fashion in the ‘90s, arrived in Carroll Gardens, Brooklyn, last month.

With five flotation tanks, each using 250 gallons of recycled water spiked with 1,000 pounds of Epsom salts, making the wet stuff even more buoyant than the Dead Sea, LIFT/Next Level Floats’ co-owners David Leventhal, 46, and Gina Antioco, 33, say it’s the biggest facility of its kind on the East Coast.

There currently are about 267 flotation centers operating around the country, up from some 85 in 2011.

A few tanks exist in Manhattan, mainly in day spas, Leventhal said.

“You can get a colonic or float,’’ he told me. Ewww.

I’ve read that New England Patriots quarterback Tom Brady owns his own tank, in which he can get naked and tune out allegations of his involvement in the deflation of his balls. Players for the Seattle Seahawks “have been floating for three years,’’ said Leventhal.

Non-football-playing floaters of note have included Hollywood types Susan Sarandon and anti-vaxxer Jim Carrey, though not Gwyneth Paltrow, who has advanced the theory that water has feelings.

The late musician John Lennon is said to have kicked a heroin addiction by spending time in a tank.

The fad may be necessary. As I wrote in 2013, Americans are gripped by something that social observers call an “anger epidemic.’’ Whether sparked by blaring car horns, hours spent on telephone hold or the proliferation of grammatically suspect two-word corporate slogans (such as Time Warner’s “Enjoy Better’’), a USA Today poll found that 60 percent of Americans reported feeling angry or irritable — up from 50 percent two years earlier. We’d become a nation stocked with Alec Baldwins.

It’s gotten worse.

Rap mogul Diddy last week dodged felony charges after his arrest in an alleged attack on his son’s strength and conditioning coach at UCLA, with a kettlebell (a heavy weight used in training). The allegedly ranting, cursing dad still could face misdemeanor raps.

Celebrities aren’t the only folks who feel crabby these days.

A 2014 USA Today/Pew Research Center poll found that, despite an improving economy, a whopping 71 percent of respondents were dissatisfied with the way things are going in the country. Just 49 percent predicted that this year would be better — the first time since 1990 that optimism for the year ahead dipped below 50 percent.

Whether it’s despair over the prospect of a President Hillary Rodham Clinton or dissatisfaction with the reign of New York City Mayor de Blasio and the Rev. Al Sharpton, I had a lot of noise to tune out of my head in the flotation tank.

I tried an open tank, rejecting a claustrophobia-inducing one that resembles a porcelain, clam-shell-shaped sarcophagus. Doffing my clothes, I plunged in.
I lasted less than 10 minutes.

Floating is a great idea — for other people. Gwyneth Paltrow should give it a try. That is, if she promises not to hurt the water’s feelings.

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