I’ve never really felt the tranquil feeling of being completely at one with myself. Sure, I’ve dabbled in massage treatments, cupping, reflexology, manicures, pedicures – the “treat and be treated” concept of beauty regimens, but nothing quite like the serene notion of what is, essentially, floating in a pool of salt concentrated water for an hour.
Until I met with Anton and Vasily, both originally from Russia, I’d never heard of floating as a remedial concept. Floatation therapy derived from the research work of John Lilly, who used isolation tanks filled with body temperature salt water to test for sensory deprivation in the human brain. Today it is commonly used for meditation, relaxation and alternative medicine.
After initially planning the concept of Float Culture, Anton and Vasily launched in Auckland in August, 2014 with a mission to create a culture of distress and relaxation – a culture that indulges and leaves clients in a harmonious state of mind which stays with a person for days after one initial treatment.
The entire treatment lasts 90 minutes and costs $120. Initially the process begins with a shower where clients are asked to shampoo their hair and wash the body prior to entering the tub. From there, you step (fully nude) into a pod-like tub where you will begin your 60 minute session lying in a super-saturated Epsom-salt solution, about 30cm deep. The water is heated to skin temperature at 35.5 degrees celcius, and once fully relaxed it is near impossible to distinguish between exposed body parts and those covered with water. The high density of the saline solution aims to make guests feel completely weightless – a unique sensation completely exclusive to floating.
With floatation tanks specifically designed to block out all external distractions, one is left completely neutral with only their body and thoughts. If you’re new to floating, 10 minutes of soothing music is played to ease consumers into the process and increase comfort. When I entered the pod I initially felt a sensation of floating through space and soon after had entered a deep sleep only to wake five minutes prior to the finishing time, indicated by more music.
Strangely enough I found the approach dissimilar to sleeping in a bed. With no pillow or materials under the body, my neck muscles were able to entirely loosen and my head completely recline, supported only by weightless water – an instant relief from tense muscles for the plenty that lead an office life.
By suddenly de-stimulating large areas of the nervous system, a spontaneous chain-reaction that removes stress build up and ultimately tranquilises the body through chemical changes is triggered, fastly easing uncomfort from arthritis, headaches, back and neck pain and sore muscles. I found this remedial nothingness to be true. My body felt heavy and stiff, but at the same time relaxed in the most carefree way possible, awakening with a nonchalant perception of youthfulness.
It’s not surprising though; research suggests floating can assist with weight loss, reverse the signs of aging and is useful therapy in the treatment of addictions. And having just completed my first float, I can only imagine the utmost relaxation and pressure it can relieve throughout pregnancy!
While we’re on the topic of corporate demands, and perhaps a means of convincing you to indulge in a float session just a little more, floating also increases the Theta brainwaves – those linked to vision and creativity. Entering the state of theta means the body is in a mode of deep relaxation, meditation and mental imagery which results in calming feelings and clarity of creativity.
For the sports orientated, floating increases endorphins, relieves pain and improves your mood by accelerating injury rehabilitation and muscle recovery. The Epsom-salt concentrate is high in magnesium and is best absorbed through the skin via a floating session. Magnesium also relaxes the muscles which reduces the risks of lasting muscular tension and over-exertion – an issue that plagues a little too close to home.
Sports greats, Wayne Rooney, Muhammed Ali and Andy Murray are all advocates of sports visualisation and commonly use floatation to imagine their actions for upcoming sport competitions, preparing themselves to have a ‘memory’ prior to actually participating. With entire sensory deprivation these athletes are able to fully immerse in their thoughts and visualisation without the distraction from mainstream life detractions.
I could go on about the many benefits of floating and the elation and serenity I experienced, but the reality is that every individual float is different. From those who suffer from stress, depression and anxiety to athletes who require muscle rehabilitation or mental clarity, floating truly is a multi-purpose investment that eliminates toxins and enables people to live a stress-free life in the ‘zen’ zone.
Auckland’s only floatation therapy centre, Float Culture, can be located at 12 Water Street, Grafton.