A warm bath can be such a calming and rejuvenating experience – eyes closed, body relaxed, stresses and hassles of the day melting away. For hundreds of years, people have been adding Epsom salts to bathwater to enhance this feeling of relaxation, soothing tired muscles and easing tension.
Floatation tanks take this idea to a new level. Floating weightlessly on the surface of salty, extremely buoyant water, inside a pod that blocks out stimulating sound and light, you can really disconnect from the world. It’s a calming mind and body experience, giving you a unique space to rest, meditate and recharge.
These pods, also known as isolation tanks, float tanks, sensory deprivation tanks or Restricted Environmental Stimulation Therapy (REST) tanks, are becoming increasingly popular in Australia, with many wellbeing centres offering the experience.
Medibank member Ellen recently tried out a float session at Tally Health in South Melbourne. Here, she shares how she found the experience.
"Floating weightlessly on the surface of salty, extremely buoyant water, you can really disconnect from the world."
What it’s like to float in a sensory deprivation tank
On arrival I was welcomed into a calming lounge area – dimly lit and cosy, with music playing very softly – where I was offered a selection of herbal teas to choose from for my after-float refreshment. Then I was shown into my private floating room.
It was set up like a beautiful bathroom, with a spacious shower, white towels, sweet-smelling shampoo and soap products and, of course, the float tank itself. The DreamPod looks like some kind of space capsule, with glowing lights that gently change colour from pink to purple to blue to green.
Before getting in the tank, you take a shower to remove oils and products from your skin. Then some music gently starts, signalling that the tank is ready for you to enter.
The water is warm like a bath, but so salty that you float on top of it effortlessly. While you can wear a swimsuit in the tank if you want, it’s recommended that you float naked – and that does definitely enhance the feeling of relaxation and freedom.
Once you’re in the water the lights dim to blackness, so you’re floating in the dark. And then time just passes.
I had thought I’d get bored of doing nothing for 45 minutes, but it was surprisingly easy to get lost in the experience. I’ve never been very good at meditation exercises, but I soon found my mind and body sinking into a warm, relaxed sensation. I was also worried about falling asleep, but that didn’t happen. Instead I drifted off into a meditative, half-sleep state. Basically, it’s like the best bath you’ve ever had.
At the end of the session, the soft music starts playing again (gradually getting louder in case you do fall asleep) to let you know it’s time to get out.
After another shower (warning: your skin and hair will be extremely salty!) I returned to the lounge, where my herbal tea was waiting for me. Then all that was left to do was to ease back into my day with a renewed sense of calm.
"I drifted off into a meditative, half-sleep state. Basically, it’s like the best bath you’ve ever had."
Tips for getting the most from your float
We asked Blake Roberts-Settle, General Manager at Tally Health, to share some tips for getting the most from your experience.
- Arrive with some time to calm down from your day before you start the float session.
- It is highly recommended to float naked, but you don't have to.
- If you feel claustrophobic or nervous you don’t have to close the cover to the pod. The cover opens easily with a handle from the inside, so you can open and close it whenever you like.
- The water is very salty. 350-500 kg (yes, kg!) of magnesium sulfate is used in each tank to create the appropriate displacement for floating. Keeping that in mind, don’t rub your eyes!
- Take your time in immersing yourself into the experience and work on clearing your mind during the first 10 minutes to ensure the best possible meditative experience.
- Be prepared to feel very relaxed afterwards and take some time after the session to realign – don't jump straight in the car and drive off.
Try it for yourself at Tally Health in South Melbourne.
Image credit: Tally Health.