Photo: Jon Roig

Onstage at the 2013 Float Conference—Float On’s annual gathering of float tank researchers, manufacturers, owners, and enthusiasts—next to a humongous pile of salt, a man asked the audience a simple question: “What do you think of Justin Bieber floating?”

—It’s called “floating.” Not just colloquially. There are franchises, retreat centers, books and consulting companies, all dedicated to the physical (and sometimes the New Age/metaphysical) benefits of a quick dip in an isolation tank. Proponents of floating say it’ll reach the ubiquity of yoga, massage or chiropractic, and soon. Luke Stoddard Nathan lampoons the typical first-person exploration of sensory deprivation and goes deep at The Awl.

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