Me and the Floatation Tank

It’s been a good week for new things this week. First of all, I’m in a new year. Turned 36 on Monday and I am glad of it finally. Think I was getting a bit stressed out about it the other week, trying to reconcile what I’ve done, with what I want, with what everyone else is doing, y’know? A losing battle of course, “for there will always be greater and lesser persons than yourself” (Desiderata, Max Ehrmann), but one we keep on fighting anyway don’t we.

Going to be starting a new year on Sunday too; the Chinese year of the Tiger, which is my year. It’s always good when it’s your year. It means good things are meant to happen. Fingers crossed eh.

Also, going to see a West End show tonight, my first ever after 11 1/2 years in London. Can you believe it? I’ll be reporting on that on Sunday, but first… the floatation tank!

Got to admit, this wasn’t what I was expecting. For some reason I had visualised some kind of pod you lie in (a bit like a sun bed) with goggles and ear plugs and that. Instead I was show to my own individual room with a shower and floatation tank. The guy informed me of the basics – strip off (naked), get a quick shower, dry your face, hop in the tank and shut the door – then left me to it. Once you’re laid down and floating in the rather thick, salty water, you turn off the light and just… float. After about 15 minutes the music fades out and you’re on your own til the end of the session.

Ok, a few weird things. First, I couldn’t decide where to put my arms. They recommended down by your side, above your head, or on your chest. But all three made my shoulders feel weird, like they were up around my ears or something. And there was a lot of pain in my neck and shoulders too, which they had warned me about as that’s where you carry most of your stress and tension, so they were very hard to relax.

When I finally did manage it though there were two things that I found distracting. One was muscle twitches, my arms and legs taking turns to spasm now and then, no doubt as the muscles each individually relaxed completely; and the drifting about inside the tank that I did, sometimes bouncing from wall to wall to wall. Both were exasperated by the thick, viscous liquid, which exaggerated the tiniest movement so that pushing off gently from one end of the tank could easily send you all the way to the other.

That being said, I can’t say I didn’t enjoy the experience. As someone who has done different types of meditation before it was interesting to compare and contrast. Floatation seems to offer you the experience of a contemplative state from the outside in, as opposed to the inside out as with other disciplines, so will no doubt be of great value to a number of people. Personally though I don’t think I’ll be going there an awful lot. At £30 a time (off peak) it’s a bit much for me to do on a regular basis. I get as much mental relaxation from Tai Chi or a bit of sitting meditation. But I will go back at some point, as it was a nice thing to do and the people there were really lovely. I got as much spiritually out of sitting chatting over a cup of tea afterwards as I did the float itself.

For those who are interested, here’s where to find them:

More in a few days, including a recipe for hash browns, and my theatre review of Legally Blonde. TTFN.