I took a punt on and randomly booked a flotation therapy session. I had considered doing a float therapy session previously, but I thought it was kind of expensive and I didn't really know if I would get anything out of it. But, on a whim, I booked a session at White Spa & Float on Jervois Road, Ponsonby.
I was a bit nervous on arrival, but the friendly staff made me feel welcome, and explained the process thoroughly so I could get the most out of the session. You need to shower and wash both your hair and body with their specific products to ensure the pod is not contaminated. Each pod is maintained and cleaned using the following methods:
High Salt (500 kg)
The water in the pod is roughly 40 percent magnesium sulfate (Epson Salt), which makes the water sterile. Salt levels above 10 percent are required to ensure no pathogenic organisms survive.
The water is pumped into the pod and subjected to a UV light array, which is added security to take care of any hardier organisms that may survive the high salt content.
The pod water is filtered through a 0.5 micron filter three times after every float. The pod is then skimmed to keep the surface clear.
The PH level of the pod is measured and maintained to ensure alkalinity, buoyancy and temperature remains constant.
My float experience
When I first entered, the UV light changes colours and with relaxing music that played for 10 minutes which then stopped, and I needed to turn the light off (as per instructions). Next time (yes, there is definitely a next time, but I'll get why eventually!!) I will turn the light off immediately, because I really didn't want to move to turn the light off, I just wanted to stay where I was.
My earplugs floated away immediately, but I had been told that it doesn't matter, so off they floated into the salty water. I was also warned NOT to touch my eyes, and was given a dry wash cloth if I did, and there was a water spray bottle inside the pod. Two seconds after getting into the pod I realised I had submerged the wash cloth and then I touched my eyes...WHY!!?? I don't know why, but I did it, and instantly regretted it (DON'T TOUCH YOUR EYES PEOPLE!).
I then turned the light off and it was just me in total darkness with a pounding in my ears which turned out to my heart beat. Once I realised it wasn't a headache, (it was just my heart beating...hahahha...who knew!?), I started to listen to the rhythm and I began to relax all the parts of my body which were holding on tight. 500kgs of salt means total buoyancy, the water is at skin temperature (34.8 degrees) and I wasn't sure where my body ended and the water began. I wasn't cold, but I wasn't warm, it was a Goldilocks moment of "just right".
I started with meditation but I don't know how long I undertook that for, but it felt like I was fully aware the entire float (it was a 90 minute session). But then the music started, which meant I had 5 minutes remaining. This didn't seem possible, I felt like I had only been floating for about 30 minutes. This happens sometimes with meditation (and sometimes it REALLY DOESN'T!) you can get lost in the meditation and you find you have finished a 30 minute meditation in what feels like 10 minutes (I love these meditation sessions, but I don't get them very often). So, my 90 minutes of floating, felt like 30 minutes. This is amazing to me, as I thought my mind just wouldn't allow me to stop for that length of time and let go.
I felt massive electrical impulses throughout my body during the moments I was conscious. I get these when I meditate, and energy creation and movement is the purpose of Kundalini Yoga. To me, this meant I experienced a deeply relaxing, yet energising and purposeful meditation session.
I thought I was conscious through the whole experience, but after the bursts of energy, my mind went blank, I didn't experience colours or images, I didn't even experience 90 minutes of relaxation or meditation, I just went blank and I really appreciated that!
My friends float experience
Later in the day on Saturday I had an opportunity to share my float experience with some friends, and amazingly, two of them had experienced a float.
The positive feedback
One friend had been forced into a flotation session in the UK, and she loved it, saying that she felt totally relaxed, and even though she was forced to attend, was glad she did. She saw an amazing fireworks display, with beautiful colours and loved the experience. She wouldn't float again, but that was due to the cost of a float, not the experience itself.
The negative feedback
My other friend who had experienced a float said she hated it. She had in her mind a Simpsons episode where Homer took Lisa out and they experienced a sensory deprivation tank, and all he could do was sing silly songs and bounced around and off the walls of the float tank waiting impatiently for the session to end. She couldn't shut her mind off, and she did not enjoy the experience and would never float again.
The float conclusion
If you are considering a float, don't rule it out. There are some pretty good deals where if you buy more than one float, it brings the cost down considerably. I went with the intention to buy one float, just to see what it was like. Because the monetary transaction for my first float occurred at the end of the session (very clever on their part), I purchased three extra sessions which I wasn't planning on doing. There are also couples and partner share options. I enjoyed the experience so much, and the cost savings were significant, so I booked another session immediately.
The scientific benefits
Stress, Anxiety & Depression
Back and neck pain by decompressing the spine in zero gravity
Insomnia & poor sleep (1 hour in the float tank provides deep rest similar to 4 hours of sleep)
Various types of chronic pain including arthritis and fibromyalgia
High blood pressure
Dopamine and endorphins which enhance your mood and reduces pain
Blood circulation which results in enhanced physical recovery and muscle relaxation
Creativity, learning and visualisation
Lower cortisol levels
Relax and reduce stress
Improve mental clarity
Increase motivation and focus
Balance between left and right sides of the brain
Skin condition, reducing dermatitides and allergic reaction damage
Aid recovery from injury or surgery
Self discovery and self reflection