Saturday, June 13, 2015

The Float Center: Float Your Way to Relaxation

By Jessica Metcalf

There are few experiences more relaxing than floating in a pool of water. The Float Center in Oakland, CA is a place where you can experience the calming, creative effects of floating- in a safe, supportive environment. Allison Walton, owner of The Float Center says, "Resting your brain to a 10% processing level is an amazing tool."

The idea behind floating came from neuroscientist Dr. John Lilly in the 1950s. Floating tanks were originally named "sensory deprivation tanks" or "isolation tanks," and they were meant to create a perfectly quiet, relaxing environment in order to promote healing of various physical and mental issues. Floating is known to create an unparalleled level of relaxation and reduces feelings of anxiety and fear.

Walton opened up The Float Center after a vacation in Europe. "I realized there was an absence of float centers in the US," she says. "And it seemed odd since floating was created here. So I believed it was only a matter of time that this would change in our crazy, high stress culture we live in."

The idea behind floating is that, with sensory deprivation, your brain becomes more active. Imagination and problem-solving abilities increase dramatically. Walton says that, "In nine years of operations, every artist, writer and musician that has come to us with a creativity block has busted through it in a single float."

The Float Center also considers itself an "urban art spa" that is committed to a constantly changing art space that showcases the works of both established and emerging local artists.

The Float Center has a staff with over 30 years of flotation therapy experience, and they can answer any questions you may have about sensory deprivation, float tanks or the art hanging in the gallery.

- See more at:

Friday, July 25, 2014

Spirituality & Heath Magazine, talks about floating, By: Brittany Shoot

Brittany Shoot
So What's It Really Like to Run a Sensory-Deprivation Flotation Tank
Ask a Practioner
flotation therapy

Name: Allison Walton
Title: Owner, FLOAT Floatation Center and Art Gallery
Location: Oakland, California
Years operating: 8
Rates: $75 per one-hour float for adults; $65 for students, seniors, and veterans

How did you get interested in flotation therapy?

I was a teenager in 1980 and watched the movie Altered States. Eventually, I was able to try floating in my 20s. I couldn’t relax my brain and fought it the entire time. After my hour, though, I thought it was interesting and that I could do it again. Later, on my way to see a friend, my car broke down. It was so stressful, but I was completely calm. Floating had worked! I would not have known about the positive impact if something bad had not happened. Now I’ve been floating for 17 years to help with stress management. Floating is the lazy person’s yoga. I know how to meditate without ever learning.

How does it work?

When you float, without any external stimuli present, your central nervous system’s workload is reduced by up to 90 percent. Floating is great for jet lag and any type of exhaustion. It’s also good for the grumpies or just being really upset. You can still have the issue in your life when you get out of the tank, but it’ll be far more manageable because you’ve rested your brain. Back out in the world, you’ll be happier and more chilled out.

People with pain issues, including those related to stress, also benefit by floating in our 1,000-pound medical-grade Epsom salt solution. Your body absorbs healing magnesium in a gravity-free environment, which can significantly reduce or banish pain.

One thing you probably won’t experience is claustrophobia. It’s extremely uncommon, and you can always open the tank door if you need to.

What kinds of people use flotation therapy?

When I first opened, I thought there would be a client profile. There really isn’t. Businesspeople with families are the core part of the business. They have to find a way to cope with all the demands of their lives and keep on going.

I find that people who come frequently have often been hurt in a deep emotional or physical way. It’ll be big things like losing a partner or a parent, and they’ll come twice a week to recover throughout that grieving process. I’ve personally used it during Mercury retrograde several times. Except for a skin condition, you can use floating for almost anything.

How do you keep things clean and sanitary?

The tanks have a multilevel filtration system that uses ultraviolet lights and H2O2. We use all-natural chemicals to sanitize before and after every floater and regularly clean out the tanks. And floaters must shower beforehand to be 100 percent clean. You go in wearing nothing but earplugs, which are optional.

How did you decide to have an art gallery in the same space?

When I went other places to float, I never really liked the space. A gallery showcasing local artists was always part of my plan, since I’m an artist and collector. After floating, your senses are heightened. So we have art right there where you have your postfloat tea.

“Ask a Practitioner” explores the world of alternative therapies. Is there a practice you’re curious about? Email
- See more at:

Monday, May 19, 2014

Bay Area Artist Rory Terrell on Earth, Oil, and Infused, by Ethan Kaplan

Bay Area Artist Rory Terrell on Earth, Oil, and Infused

We are what we’ve experienced and as each new moment changes us bit by bit, we evolve. Bay area artist Rory Terrell is the epitome of this kind of evolution. Hailing from Boise, Idaho, Rory has lived in a myriad of places and has had a number of interesting experiences throughout his career; however, it was one event in particular in Australia that changed the focus of his work and his life. I sat down to talk to Rory about his work and life experiences that have led him to this point in his career.
Ethan Kalan: You’ve got this awesome exhibit opening up at the Float Center Gallery in Oakland, California. Can you tell me a bit about what kind of work you have going on there and how it all came to be?
Rory Terrell: Right now, I have 19 pieces from my Oil and Earth series, which uses motor oil. I have five litho prints and three paintings, and the rest are mixed media.  I take a Plexiglas container and fill it up with used oil or dirt, and then I pour the used motor oil on top of it. When I first moved to Oakland last November, I started emailing all of these galleries, and the Float Center Gallery was the first one to reply. I set up a time to display my work and now it’s up and hanging.
EK: And this is your first show, right?
RT: Well, it’s my first show in California. This is the first show with all of my—well almost all—of my Oil and Earth pieces.
EK: Why did you decide to do a show that only features these works?
RT: I’ve been working on this project for a few years, and I finally have a good body of work to show. It’s a new form, using the used oil and the dirt; it’s kind of a new form of painting in a non-traditional sense.
EK: It’s very unique. You think about traditional art and you think about painting or pastels or something like that. How did the idea come to you to use motor oil and dirt?
RT: It was weird. I was going to school at Boise State University, and I was working with Plexiglas and learning the different layers I could make with it. One of my professors thought it was really interesting and said I should explore it more. I wanted to use motor oil and started saving it when I would change the oil in my car. But then I wanted to start painting with it on canvas. The issue arose of how to get it to dry without it running all over the place. I got the idea of making a Plexiglas container and submerging the painting in oil in the container. Then I started experimenting with dirt as a reflection on pollution. I lived in Australia in 2009 and, while I was there, the Queensland oil spill occurred and it triggered something in me to speak out.
EK: Did your art reflect things that you felt passionately about before this? What was it about this cause that really spoke to you?
RT: The fact that there’s so much disregard for our environment. The oil spill that I witnessed was caused by a captain of a ship who didn’t obey the Australian Coast Guard. I went to the beaches afterwards and they were just ruined; there were floating dead fish everywhere and there was oil on everything. It made me sick inside just thinking about how one person’s greed could cause so much devastation. It’s so unfair to have one person take so much from so many others. I haven’t been back since August 2009, but when I left, they had excavated all of those beaches.
Australians, or at least the ones that I was hanging out with, are very environmentally conscious. They recycle everything, walk everywhere or ride their bikes whenever they can. That really influenced me a lot.
EK: Getting back to some of your work, how do you get your oil? Do you just offer to change your friends’ oil all the time?
RT: I do actually! I get some oil from an older couple that I know from their motorcycles, but they drive so infrequently that the oil isn’t dirty enough to stick. I have some other friends that don’t take good care of their vehicles, so I offer to change their oil. The darker and dirtier it is, the more contrast will show against the dirt that I use. I take used oil from dirt bikes, motorcycles, old cars—even my old car. I wasn’t very good at up keep, and I’d probably change the oil every five or six thousand miles so the oil was definitely dirty.
EK: How did you finally get the oil to stick to the canvases?
RT: That was quite the process. I started out mixing some Japan Drier and some impasto resin—which is a thick application of paint used in a specific area to invoke atmospheric perspective or amplify expression—to try and hold it together, but none of that was working. Then I got the idea of reducing some oil. I took a gallon of used oil up in the mountains with my camp stove. I boiled it down to about a quart, and it made almost a gooey paste. From that I’d mix in Japan Drier and use that for my print-making ink. From there I’ll add that resin, and I can use that as paint. There was definitely some trial and error, and it took me a good month to figure out how to use the oil for a specific purpose.
EK: So you’re sort of part artist, part chemist.
RT: A little bit, yeah. I did feel bad when I was reducing that oil because I knew that I was putting toxins in the air. I remember thinking, ‘Oh this is so bad, I should be in a filtered environment.’ But there’s just no place in Boise that would let me do that.
EK: Going over your work a little bit, you have a lot of Earth and natural elements in it, but some are very abstract as well. Where do you get your influence from?
RT: Some of it is Native American paintings, and some of the mixed media ones with layers of different colors of soils are an attempt to do landscapes. A lot of it is just experimenting to see what looks the most interesting. I make a lot of mockettes but then expand to make a more aesthetically pleasing piece. Some pieces are just part of the hydro carbon process, like a HazMat placard. I tried making an hourglass, and that piece is about a time frame. Time is running out when we’ll be able to use oil and fossil fuels.
EK: How do you see artists using an application like Infused to achieve the level of success that you’ve attained? How can this app help other artists get their work in a gallery?
RT: I have at least three ideas for using Infused.  One would be for the artist studio if the artist had his work open for viewing at a studio while there was an art walk happening.  And the same goes for a gallery. Like I think it’d be great to have my art tagged within a heavy traffic area, which could then lead the user to the gallery.  And third is if a specific location pertained to a piece of artwork or the artist. For instance, if someone walks by the place an artist was while he or she made a piece of work like a landscape of Deloris Park in San Francisco, the landscape or the place that it was captured could be used by the viewer to juxtapose the artwork to the location.

Want to learn more about Rory Terrell and his Oil and Earth series? Check out his work at Share your art with the masses, and submit your work to Infused.

Ethan Kaplan
Ethan Kaplan is a member of the Public Relations team for Appoet’s newest app Chicago Poets. Ethan is a lifelong Chicagoan, a music junkie, a bowling enthusiast, and dedicated Cubs fan. He attended Indiana University and graduated with a degree in Studio Art with a focus in Graphic Design. He has dabbled in pretty much every medium there is, including welding, forging, sculpting, free verse and spoken word poetry, and absolutely hates painting. He loves absolutely god awful movies that nobody should waste their time on, collecting vinyl records, and spending time with his girlfriend and family.

xpressmagazine: Sensory Deprevation: by Nicole Dobarro

float8 copy
By Nicole Dobarro
I was naked in the darkest space I have ever been in. I willingly shut the door but my fingers refused to let go of the handle. Instead they only gripped tighter. My mind filled the seemingly silent space with an intensely loud, body-shuddering noise. As the first couple seconds passed the sound of my breath grew loud, competing with the rhythm of my racing heartbeat. I voluntarily decided that I was going to stay in this pitch-black, salt-water filled tank, also known as a sensory deprivation chamber, for an entire sixty minutes. It was a decision I started to regret.
After what felt like ten minutes, my mind progressed from a state of panic to reason. I was only naked in a soundproof tank where I couldn’t see anything. I thought, “How bad could it be?” My fingers finally released the death-grip I had around door handle and I began to sink back into the salt water. As I surrendered, my entire body was instantly lifted by the insane amount of Epsom salt mixed into the water. I was experiencing my first “float” and it felt really weird.
The story of sensory deprivation chambers begins in the 1950s with Dr. Jonathan Cunningham Lilly. He was sort of a fringe science jack-of-all-trades. He was a physician, biophysicist, neuroscientist, inventor and author. Many call him a pioneer in the counter-culture of modern science, while others would simply call him batshit crazy. Besides being the inventor of sensory deprivation chambers, Lilly is more famously known for his research done on communicating with dolphins and doing a lot of LSD in the name of science. His so-called eccentricity went on to inspire films like Ken Russell’s film Altered States and Mike Nichols’ film The Day of the Dolphin.
While Lilly’s research produced somewhat of a cult following, he was aiming to learn more about the human state of consciousness and its limits. Lilly’s research began in 1953 when he took at job with the National Institute of Mental Health. There he began studying how our brains work, what keeps it functioning and how it reacts to our environment. Lilly began toying around with sensory deprivation tanks to study the effects on the brain when all stimuli are removed. Stimuli in this case refers to vision and hearing. Lilly hoped that isolating these senses would prove that even without external stimuli, the brain and consciousness would continue to function.
Since research like this had never been done before, Lilly and his colleagues acted as the test subjects. Early designs of the tanks required them to be fully submerged in a water-filled tank wearing only a tight mask with a pipe for oxygen. Because of the uncomfortable state of having their heads wrapped in a tight neoprene fabric, the design evolved into the coffin-like tank design common today. Once the design proved more logical, Lilly began promoting the use of these tanks by sharing his experiences. Perhaps the most intriguing experience he shared with people he titled “First Conference of Three Beings” which is currently published on his website. Lilly recalls leaving behind his body in the tank and having a conference with three unknown entities “in a dimensionless space, the spaceless set of dimensions somewhere near the third planet of a small solar system dominated by a type-G star.” Was Lilly tripping or was this a legitimate experience? Who knows? However the act of floating in what feels like a zero-gravity tank caught on and is growing in popularity today. Today people “float” for different reasons. Most people float to reap the mental and physical benefits, though there are some who float as a shortcut to meditation and out of body experiences.
To gain a better understanding of how sensory deprivation tanks work, I decided I would need to get into the tank. I contacted Allison Walton, the owner of the Bay Area’s oldest float center called FLOAT located in Oakland. Allison opened FLOAT, which also acts as a constantly changing art space, in 2005 after she experienced a life-changing float twenty-five years ago. There are actually a couple spots in San Francisco that have float tanks, but none of the ones I found focused only on floating. I didn’t want to go to a spa that happened to have a tank. I wanted to talk to someone who actually knew what she was doing.
When I entered the space Allison greeted me with a glass of water and talked me through what I was going to do and what I could expect. She explained the types of tanks she had, which are manufactured by a San Diego company called Oasis. “Our tanks are the largest in the Bay Area. Everyone can fit in them,” says Allison. The white rectangular box is made of fiberglass with a vinyl inner liner. Allison explained that the solution, or water, used to float contains a high concentration of Epsom salt which increases the density of the solution causing a body to naturally float. “Average tanks require about 800 pounds of salt, but we use 1000 pounds,” Allison told me as she pointed to a stack of what looked like giant rice bags. “These tanks are also the most sound and light proof,” says Allison. “These don’t depend on the room  it is in for a lightproof or soundproof float.”
She continued to explain what my brain might experience when it is disconnected from all stimuli. Though first-time floaters rarely completely “let go” and experience out of body experiences, it was likely that my brainwaves would slow down and enter the state of theta. Our brains experience five states of being; alpha, beta, theta, delta and gamma. In the beta state, our brain waves reflect a waking state and entirely conscious state. In the alpha state, our brain waves reflect a relaxed state. This usually happens when our eyes are closed. And theta, the state our brains are likely to enter while in the tank, is when our brain waves slow down and allow dreaming. We generally experience theta when we’re falling into a deep sleep or are awakening from a deep sleep. The theta state is also when lucid dreaming occurs. Some people even recall experiencing vivid visualizations comparable to visualizations caused by hallucinogenic drugs. “Some people go straight into the theta state, even during their first float. But the rest of us are mortal,” says Allison.
I finished drinking my water and headed upstairs to the second floor loft where I would enter a tank and “unplug” from the world. An hour later, I was not sure about what I had experienced. What I had just done was weird and I could not tell if removing myself from external stimuli affected me in any way. I only remember waking a couple times from a light sleep and before I knew it the hour was up. “It’s is a really weird thing,” says Allison. “Not everyone gets used to it and just fights the experience the whole time. I once had a friend that refused to let go of the handle and she exerted herself so much to prevent herself from floating that she eventually fell asleep.” Because our reactions to the tanks all differ in experience, the types of floats experienced differ as well. No two floats are ever the same. “Everyone’s brain is completely different,” says Allison. “Some people see crazy light shows or budding paisleys the second they close their eyes. Some people don’t fall asleep but just think.”
When I asked about the type of people that float, the answer I got surprised me. I honestly that it would be a small niche of people into odd alternative medicine. “When I opened, I thought there’d be a type of client,” says Allison. “But our clients are really busy people, business people or people with families. There really is no profile because we get all ages and all ethnicities.” Allison did mention that her clients do tend to be of the more creative type if anything. “Lots of people float to clear a mind block, whether it be doctors or artists or writers,” says Allison. “And every time someone comes to float because they need a new idea, the second they step out of the tank, they got it.”
The benefits of floating truly seem to be all over the grid. The benefits range from mental relaxation and rejuvenation, similar to the effects of a deep meditation, to physical relaxation, like entering a state of savasana. “We’re constantly reacting to stimuli in our environment, in particular to technology,” explains Allison. “Our bodies are doing things [like using technology] that humans aren’t designed for. We’re designed to be creative, thinking beings.” Floating is a way to unplug from it all. Today, floating promotes the entire and complete relaxation of our most complex organ, our brains. “For almost everyone, floating will be the only time we’re completely alone with ourselves since the womb,” says Allison.
It seems like Lilly’s isolation tanks are all grown up. Even the language is evolving from sensory deprivation chambers to isolation tanks to float tanks. “It’ll probably be another ten years before they’re actually called float tanks,” says Allison. Though the change in views on floatation therapy will take some time, Allison believes that we will soon be seeing float tanks, or “unplugging stations,” everywhere. We are continuously online and the growth of technology doesn’t seem to be slowing down anytime soon. So in order to keep our heads screwed on while constantly receiving new information and the stress that follows, we need to find a way to disconnect. As crazy as paying to be shut into a dark, soundless water tank sounds, it may be one of the few ways to keep us sane.

Saturday, July 7, 2012

Trade Floats for glass work!

Hello glass blowers,

I am looking to trade some floataion therapy sessions (Sensory deprivation tank) for some custom simple glass work. SF bay area local artist.

Give a call @ 510-535-1702, or post @ Ask for Allison, Cheers!