Climb In, Tune In

The capsule was small and dark and the water smelled a bit like a used gym sock, but Caleb Preuss, 28, climbed in anyway, lying supine in a bath of saline.

Once he was inside, the stabbing back pain that had dogged him for months disappeared almost immediately. “It’s something you can never experience otherwise,” he said after he climbed out, “unless maybe you’re an astronaut.”

The practice of floating in sensory deprivation chambers or float tanks — pitch-black, soundproof capsules popularized by artists in the 1970s — is enjoying a frenzied renaissance, with new float centers popping up almost weekly in cities and suburbs across the country.

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