Walking up the stairs of white and teal colour scheme, I was overwhelmed by the smell of salty, gently scented chlorine. There were about 6 people waiting or finishing up and my immediate impression was - do they change they water? They have to! It’s literally the one thing they offer.
I’m feeling excited... after a week of intense exercise, I’m forcing myself to stay still and rest for a full hour and a half.
What happens if I fart?
What if I need to pee?
Will it be impossibly boring?
Before our float, I saw a guy running around with what looked like a pool scooper net... pube net I thought? I reminded myself of the almost guaranteed fresh water.
I signed my liability waiver... how much could really go wrong in an adult-sized salt puddle?
I’m nervous about this experience! Perfect! Let’s see how we go￼.
I signed the waiver and shuffled through the waiting room and reception area in my white towelette slippers. A vanity station with eco-moisturiser, deodorant and hair spray and 6 unmarked doors leading to a frosted window. This is the bathroom, and this is your ‘private bathing room’. A few brief instructions including the recommendation to use ear plugs, and it was time to experience the fad that is flotation tanks.
I showered, stripped naked and hopped into the tank.
The water temperature wasn’t warm, so much as body temperature. For a brief moment I felt cold, and then the water, the air and I became one.
It went a bit quicker than an hour and a half of nothingness usually would. I’ll be honest and say that I became quite bored between attempts to let myself ‘go with it’ and zen out. I tried to do body scanning and meditation, but it felt as if the noise of my mind doing that was even too loud for the serene pod. I tried different positions: flat on my back, arms behind head, arms on belly, one leg crossed over and then splashed around trying to get into lotus legs. It didn’t work so I went back to simply laying back.
At first it was creepy, the tingling of the salt drying on my upper thigh, the pod’s pumps and drainage holes softly groaning and dripping. Then there were the sounds I started making with my mouth... POP! PIP!
“Take it seriously! Relax and try breathing exercises”
I took my own advice and managed to fall into a semi-conscious, dreamlike state. I imagined that I was floating in a warm ocean, in the Mediterranean perhaps. Out past the swimming area in a cove somewhere at night. Quietly drifting off to nowhere in particular. I was calm, serene, floating... Then logic kicked in...
“If I’m floating out in the ocean at night, where are the stars? Hah! Got ya there brain!”
I tried to picture some stars but then another question popped into my head:
“If I’m out at sea and there’s no stars then there must be a cover of thick, dark clouds above me... STORM!” Moment ruined. Silly old brain.
After what I can assume to be around 20 minutes, some gentle, esoteric panpipe music randomly commenced. The unexpected addition of music brought my mind back to a state of calm alert that would remain for the rest of the session.
I spent the next little while trying to focus on my breathing and drift off again. Every time I nearly lost my grip on reality, my head, arm or toe would ever-so-softly brush the side of the tub, and I’d be back to alertness once more.
An itch here and a random air bubble floating up from underneath there. All of this was fine until I started needing to pee. My inner monologue of course suggesting that I just let it happen… yes here in the pod... No! I’m a ‘natural’ kind of guy but I’m not that natural. I got out, peed and went back in. Disappointed that I’d interrupted the 90 minutes of isolation, but impossibly relieved.
I could focus once more on Not focusing. I was closer to the end than I thought, and about 10 minutes later the soft music and lights came on. After such a long time with so little sound and light it was like a bloody freight train rounding a corner at me. My eyes and ears adjusted and I hopped out.
Immediately my body felt heavy. Weighted by my own muscle and flesh. It was a weird physical sensation to be conscious of, as though my whole body was dizzy. Not unpleasant, just different. I’m assuming I haven’t felt my own skin and muscles hanging off myself like that since I was born?
I feel relaxed and soft now while writing this. Is been about two hours and I’m feeling super chilled out, so I guess it worked a trick?
Floatation is 100% worth a try, but I’d say that the tanks aren’t much different to a bath at home or a sauna session. The big difference is the total buoyancy, the complete darkness and isolation mixed with the obligation to stay in for the entire time paid for.
If you have a big conundrum your through or just need a bit of quiet time, flotation perfect for being with your thoughts.