Cloud Nine

Ever wonder what it’s like to escape from the frenetic pace of your day and relax for a while inside a soundproof float suite? We found the answer at Enso Float…

Warm water—with 1,000 pounds of Epsom salts dissolved in it—buoyed my body, which lay weightless on the surface. I hadn’t known that my session at Enso Float (1102 NW 10th Ave, 503-349-3774) would entail resting on a cloud for 90 minutes, or relaxing while a million tiny invisible water fairies held me up.

But that’s truly what it felt like.

In the soundproof Float Suite, I lingered in complete blackout darkness, though I had the option of soft lighting from the tank walls or faint pinprick rays from the ceiling. The air in the suite was comfortably humidified, set at normal skin temperature, so it never felt too hot or cold.

I can’t remember before ever experiencing 90 minutes of complete quiet and darkness. If I did, I certainly didn’t get to enjoy it while resting on what felt like a cloud. The deprivation of my senses inspired a bone-deep relaxation. Afterward, my tranquil state seemed testimony to the therapeutic benefits of floating.

“Athletes come here for injury relief and increased recovery time,” says Enso Float owner Charlie Dobson. “But floating is also one of a few effective treatments for fibromyalgia and has been successful in treating depression, anxiety, PTSD, and even eating disorders.”

A former investment adviser who was once glued to his phone, Dobson stresses the mental and emotional benefits of floating. “I don’t know why float shops aren’t on every corner. My first float was unlike anything I’d ever felt. Being able to relax at that level blew me away.”

Dobson, who opened Enso Float in February, outfitted the shop with top-of-the-line lighting, heating, and filtration systems. Two of the most cutting-edge tanks are circular and 8 feet in diameter. With meticulous attention to every detail, he’s created the ultimate float experience, and—of course—the facilities are squeaky clean.

Walk-ins are welcome and first floats cost $65, with the price increasing to $80 per session thereafter, but you can also buy “10 packs” for $500 or a membership for substantial discounts. Float sessions are offered every two hours, 9 a.m.–9 p.m., Wednesday–Sunday. But I’d make an advanced reservation—you don’t want to leave such a rewarding experience to chance. –Ellee Thalheimer | Photos by Ashley Anderson


DE-STRESS – Clinical studies show floating dramatically reduces the presence of cortisol, the steroid hormone associated with stress. // DETOXIFY – Floating in 1,000 pounds of magnesium-based Epsom salt allows the skin to absorb magnesium, which is purported to help prevent cardiovascular diseases, regulate blood pressure, and detoxify the body. // DEVISED – The first float tank was devised by Dr. John C. Lilly in 1954. // DISCOVER – In 2011, there were 85 float shops in the United States. There are now well over 250, with 3 in Portland.