Floatation tanks aka sensory deprivation or isolation tanks sound pretty scary but are something Sam and I have been keen to try for a while now after hearing about them and their benefits on a number of podcasts we listen to.
What are they?
Float tanks vary in appearance depending on where you go but a lot of them look like some weird futuristic space ship.
The tanks are filled with water that is the same temperature as the floaters skin along with large amounts of Epsom salts. The Epsom salt allows you to float, weightless on top of the water with ease no matter your shape or size. Stimuli (sight, smell, sound and touch) are reduced and almost non existent.
Float enthusiasts claim that floating can lower cortisol levels, reduce blood pressure and increase creativity and feelings of wellness and mindfulness. They can help alleviate stress related problems such as:
Depression and anxiety
Addictions and withdrawal symptoms
Low immune function
Chronic pain and muscle tension
Problems focussing, brain fog
After researching we decided to go to Float Life in Arundel as they had great reviews and offered a couples package.
We were unsure what to expect when we got there but were quickly put at ease by the owner Bryan who was super friendly. We had two identical rooms which were dimly lit with a blue rope light and Himalayan salt lamp. It was set up like a fancy treatment room in a spa. The room comprised of an infrared sauna, a shower and the floatation tank that looked like it came from space. Relaxing music filled the room.
The session started with a 15 minute infrared sauna. I’ve never had one before and usually struggle with the humid heat of a regular sauna, but this was a completely different experience! Rather than heating the surface of your skin like a traditional sauna, these saunas use infrared light to give off heat that penetrates deep within your tissues, muscles and cells and heat you from the inside out. In regular saunas I sometimes struggle to breathe deeply and feel as though my nose and throat are incinerating but as this is a dry heat I had none of these issues.
The sauna was a great way to relax and still the mind before stepping into the floatation tank.
After climbing into the tank you pull the lid closed (if you want), lie down on your back like a starfish and turn of the light (if you want) which is located near your head. Once the light is off you are plunged into complete darkness and can hear nothing but the gentle music which gradually fades out after 5 minutes. Then it’s just you and your thoughts….
I started to focus on my breathing feeling my abdomen rising and falling with each breath I took. I then moved my focus up to my chest and finally up to my nose. As I felt more and more relaxed I started to count my breaths and every time I lost count, which was usually when my monkey mind took over with random thoughts, I would return to my breath and start counting again. As time went on my whole body felt completely relaxed floating on top of the water. At one point I tried to move my legs and was surprised to find they felt completely numb, almost as though they weren’t attached to my body.
During my float I had no concept of time. I had no idea whether it had been 5 or 50 minutes. I also had no sense of where in the tank my body was. Soon enough the music came back on which signaled the end of the float. Slowly I made my way out of the tank and into the shower.
Once we were dressed Bryan met us in the retreat room and gave us fresh green tea, water and some yummy treats. Sam and I compared and reflected on our experiences and both agreed we felt really relaxed and energized at the same time. Sam had gone into the float with achey muscles and a sore back after some intense training in the days previous but left feeling like a new man!
We both loved the float so much that we decided to go back for a second one a few days later. The second time was 100 times better than the first, which I think was due to us knowing what to expect. I was able to relax into a meditative state a lot quicker and even fell asleep a couple of times!
In the days that followed our float experience I slept better, felt less irritable and generally felt happier and more relaxed. I can’t wait to go again, and would definitely recommend to everyone!