Curious about floatation therapy? We sent Emma Bangay on a mission to find out what all the fuss is about.
Driving home from my first foray into floating, nothing could kill my buzz. Traffic? No worries. Screaming children? Who cares! A parking fine waiting in the letter box? Bring it!
See, I had spent the hour before floating. For a full 60 minutes, I had experienced sensorial deprivation likened to being back in the womb. No sight, no sound, no stress.
When I arrived at the brand new Beyond Rest studio in Melbourne, I was a little nervous. Shut away in a tank full of water, in the dark, alone? What sounded like a stunt Houdini may be tempted by was about to become reality. And change my life. (Big call, but true!)
Once in the floating room - which looked like something out of a chic sci-fi set - I locked the door, showered, popped in my ear plugs and stepped into the tank. The lights were low and the music lower, intended to lull me into my initial state of calm. But I have to admit, as I closed the lid of the tank – which I was assured could be opened at any time – I felt anything but chill.
I turned off the light (which is controllable from the inside) and waited. Until I turned it on again in about 3.4 seconds. Go slow, I told myself. And I did.
After another minute of lying in the warm, salty expanse of the tank and getting a feel for the weightlessness and lack of sound, I turned off the light and surrendered myself to the experience.
Here's what happened next
Sight: The darkness consumed me. I closed my eyes and went with it. Nothing to see here!
Sound: My breathing slowed, and my heartbeat was the only dull thump, thump, thump I could hear below the water. Now, this is a confronting thing in itself. When is the last time you tuned into your heartbeat? This made me a little anxious. My breathing became so slow there were a few times I gasped for breath when my conscious kicked in. But the beautiful thing was I chose 'fight' over 'flight.' The thought of popping the lid crossed my mind, but I let it pass. I calmed my breath and remained.
Touch: I could feel nothing. The water is a temperature where your body becomes one with it. The only way I knew I had limbs were the rare times they gently skimmed the side of the tank.
Mind: I honestly couldn’t tell you what went through my mind. I liken it to the space between wake and sleep. A truly unique, rare mental moment that acted as a cleanse for my thoughts where nothing registered at all.
Soul: You know when you’ve got a jumble of cables and cords in your office that looks like a technological hairball? Well, that is how I felt going into the float. Coming out, all wires had been unknotted, smoothed and ordered. It was truly incredible.
Floating: The facts
In a nutshell, floating works by shutting down the typical responses the brain has for dealing with stimuli in the world. “By supersaturating the water with Magnesium salts and heating the water to skin temperature (34.5 degress), the user is cut off from all normal sensory input, including the pressures of gravity," explains Kye Murray-Lowe, Manager at Beyond Rest Melbourne. "This lack of information allows the brain to slow down, re-synchronizing itself, and to enter a profoundly relaxed state.”
Why float? Boost your wellbeing
It is a unique experience that effects everyone differently, but some find floating provides relief from painful inflammatory conditions, such as fibromyalgia,” Ky explains. “Others believe regular floating can enhance their mood, problem-solving abilities, and creativity.”
Other health benefits include the decrease in cortisol production, lactic acid, and adrenaline. It also increases endorphins, speeds up rehabilitation and recovery and relieves pain. Additional benefits include boosted immunity, improved circulation and distribution of oxygen and nutrients as well as a reduction in blood pressure, pulse, heart rate and oxygen consumption!
Aside from the mind, body and spirit benefits, there are apparently beauty boosting attributes in the water too. Floating unknots forehead tension and relaxes tightening of the face, Ky notes. “The influx of magnesium also helps your skin as it’s an essential cofactor in biochemical reactions needed for skin repair,” he says.
Studies suggest that cells deficient in magnesium are twice as likely to be attacked by free radicals. This means that if you are low in magnesium, wrinkles may increase. Low magnesium can also enhance the production of histamines which can lead to skin reactions such as blotches.
I am no expert, but I do think floating would be incredible for dealing with grief. It is an emotional 'letting go' experience. I also felt ache-free and my body felt more aligned. And as for my skin? Well, that salt is a thing of beauty! I felt like I was all aglow and tingly to the tips of my toes for the next 24 hours.
I have already marked a monthly float in the calendar. This will be my gift to me. A personal way of powering down after the deadlines have been met and another month is marked on the calender. I already look forward to the next one and incredibly, I've been able to tap into that feeling since when I've felt a little overwhelmed by anything.