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Loving Yourself in Dark Spaces

Wisdom in a Float Tank

Article by Chelsea Chambers

Photography by Chelsea Chambers + Provided

Originally published in Boise Lifestyle

I opened the door of the tank just a crack and peered out into a world of light. It felt strange and new as I pushed the door open all the way and settled myself to stand again for the first time in nearly two hours. I took in everything like I had never felt it before: the cool air on my salt-speckled skin, the light of day coming through the closed blue curtains, the colorful art lining the walls. I slowly stepped out with one foot, then the other, and reached for a nearby towel. I smiled widely as the sensations of life continued to present themselves to me. I felt reborn. And in a way, I had been.

I have been floating in isolation tanks for over a decade. Like most people, I often struggle to quiet my mind, and meditation can be challenging for me. In the tank, everything falls away. Eventually, the thoughts slow and calm themselves. You stop worrying about what to make for dinner tonight or the weird way you choked on the word ‘hello’ to a coworker last week. The frustrations of debt and feelings of mounting anxiety disappear into the darkness, along with everything else.

Ember Maucere had a similar experience when she first floated.

“I came out in awe, absolute awe. All I could do was nod for a while before I spoke, I was just taking everything in. The flowers, the pool, the world. It was everything I had hoped for,” she said. “We came back home, finished the remodel, and in September 2014 I bought my tank.”

Ember, founder of Reflections Float Center, aspired to own a float tank for over seven years before she actually floated herself. “I worked as a medic at the state prison in maximum security,” she started. “My coworker was deployed to Afghanistan and an interim was appointed in their stead. I always admired his quiet strength and surety. At the time, he shared that he was saving up to buy his own float tank. I had never even heard of one.”

Ember, with her ever inquisitive mind, spent hours researching float tanks and their benefits. Often called sensory deprivation or isolation tanks, she read countless articles on the positive effects that floating had on people with anxiety, cancer patients, PTSD, trauma, arthritis, depression… the list went on and on and on. She decided, right then and there, that this was what she wanted to do. She wanted to own a float tank and offer it to the people in her community.

“My husband and I started remodeling the house and setting everything up before either of us had even tried it. I just knew this was what I was supposed to do.”

Ember was a medic in the air force for five years before working in prisons for more than a decade. At the same time, she worked for the Boise VA Medical Center and had another job harvesting eyes for corneal transplants. All the while, she dreamed of floating and what it could do for not only her, but the people she had worked with and worked for. She saw firsthand the traumas of war. The pain of imprisonment. And tirelessly, she continued to raise her two sons while working multiple jobs doing things that most people could never even imagine.

All the while, Ember was in deep discussion with Lee and Glenn Perry, owners of the Samadhi Tank Company, about what it would take to buy her own tank. After nearly a decade, Ember decided the time was right and she and her husband hopped on their motorcycles for a road trip to Grass Valley, California, where Lee and Glenn lived.

“Part of what I found in there was healing,” Ember said, with tears welling in her eyes. “I stopped eating my feelings. I used to weigh 250 pounds.” She continues, “I got over my claustrophobia, which is a common experience that I hear a lot. But if you’re brave enough to close the door, brave enough to turn off the light, you will be rewarded. Every time.”

Not long after she first floated, she put her savings to work, alongside an inheritance left from her father’s passing. “I bought my tank, spent a thousand dollars on Epsom salt, and then the money was gone.”

She opened Reflections Float Center in her home in 2014 and immediately started taking small business classes at the library. “I had no idea what I was doing. I had never owned a business! But Caleb Barham, who owned Drop of Calm in Nampa, was a huge help! I got a lot of guidance from him. Truly, so many people have helped me refine my practice.”

She continued to speak, and through impassioned tears, she shared stories of people she has impacted. “I have a client who has been floating nearly weekly for almost two years. The first time she floated, I approached her at the door as she put her shoes on and asked her how it went. She was just opening and closing her hands. Opening and closing. I asked her if she was okay and she said, ‘This is the first time I have been able to do this in years.’”

And those stories don’t stop.

Floating impacted Ember so much that it made her want to change her name. Born Beth Widau in Richmond, Indiana, Ember Maucere is now so grateful to be a business owner that has a positive and meaningful impact on the Treasure Valley.

I have been floating in Ember’s tank for years now. Hers is the same Samadhi brand that I first floated in more than a decade ago. What I love most about floating is the silence and the darkness. Many other tanks I have tried will offer music or have a small ring of light around the rim. But that far exceeds the point. It may be terrifying to think of, but I promise, it is more than worth it, to sit in the darkness and silence of your own existence.

Float tanks are filled with skin-temperature water and several hundred pounds of Epsom salt. Allowing you float effortlessly on the surface. The water cradles every part of your body, which makes it the perfect space to stretch and breathe deeply. In my experience, every float is different. And if you could, just try to remove your expectations and allow the 90 minutes of dark, warm, quiet silence to bring you exactly what you need. Whatever that may be. “If you are brave enough to turn off the light, then you will be rewarded.” Visit ReflectionsBoise.com to learn more.

"But if you’re brave enough to close the door, brave enough to turn off the light, you will be rewarded. Every time.”

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