Tucked away in a corner of quiet Waringin Road is a bare space of raw concrete and stripped-down furniture and, save for a logo on the front door that identifies the place as Palm Ave Float Club, nothing else lends a clue to what this place is for.
The tanks are glowing sci-fi centerpieces in each room, looking very much like extraterrestrial pods from your next Ridley Scott blockbuster. While tech these days serve to overstimulate your senses, the tech in these tanks exist to do the complete opposite, and that is to alienate you from any external environment element as they're light and soundproof. They're equipped with two different filters that use UV and H202 to keep the water clean between sessions.
As for the water itself, it's kept at the temperature of 34 degrees Celsius, which is the sweet spot for most people. And the addition of Epsom salt increases the salinity of the water to keep you afloat. You won't even emerge a wrinkled prune after your 90 minute session.
Some people have described the experience as lifechanging, while others have simply found it relaxing, but it's been said that floating in an isolation tank is a bullet train to that meditative state of mind, faster than yoga and its zen-equivalent can possibly get you there.
In the name of all things science and Stuff, two from the team subjected themselves to the quiet of their minds in order to provide you with unbiased accounts of the experience.
The Unbearable Lightness of Being
"I had no idea what to expect from the experience. But upon lying back in the water and listening to the music piped through, thoughts of work, and life immediately flooded my head. I had to make the conscious effort to still my mind and focus on nothing but my breathing. Who knew it'd be this hard to do nothing?
Floating was an experience in itself, almost like life back in the womb, undisturbed until my foot made contact with the edge of the tank and jolted me back into reality. Or when my body unaccustomed to lying so still experienced a muscle spasm that forced me to restart the centering again. Once in a while, I’d get the sensation I was drifting quickly in a particular direction and would open my eyes to check if I really was, but as I got used to it, I decided to embrace instead of fight the pull. The odd thought forced its way back to my mind once in a while and after yet another time of having to refocus myself, I thought “How the heck am I going to get through the rest of the hour like this?”
That was my last thought before I drifted into sleep.
Till today, I’m not sure if that was quite sleep or not, but the next thing I knew was that I was waking up to the music that signalled the end of the float. Unsure if I was in reality or not, I laid still until a disembodied voice went “Your session is now over,” which freaked the living bejeezus out of me and gave me the clarity I needed.
Despite not fully experiencing the potential of the float, that nap in the pod was one powerful powernap, dreamless and restful. And while waking up usually involves reluctance and repeated yawning, I felt immediately invigorated and clear-headed.
Was my life changed? No. Would I do it again? Definitely. That 45 minute nap felt better than most 8 hour sleeps I’ve had. I might have to think about switching my bed out for one of these."
- Elissa Loi
Am I about to leave my body?
"I’m naked. Floating in a sensory deprivation tank, with only my consciousness to entertain me.
I thought I was going to get bored quickly or feel claustrophobic. But this isn’t the type of place to get bored in. It’s the type of place to get lost in.
Who knows how long it’s been since I closed the lid to embrace the pitch-black unknown. Five minutes? Ten minutes? An hour? I do know that I’ve not wanted to check my phone, or have any connection with the outside world. This is perfectly peaceful - a real stress-buster. Is it what it’s like to be lost in space? Or am I dead?
It’s only when I begin to solely concentrate on my breathing that it happens. I’ve never felt this before; an energy emanating from what could be my pineal gland. I can see it, too. It’s pulling me in. There’s a bright hole about a foot away from my face, almost asking me to go with it.
I want it to take me. But like flash thoughts of grandma during sex with your dream partner, a stray worry about work kills my vibe. The intense energy subsides and I can’t get it back.
With practice I think I’ll get there. Get where? I don’t know. I refuse to research it. But it feels like it could be quite the experience."
- Ian Paynton
The soul of the experience
As you can figure out from the two very different perspectives of the same experience, floating is clearly subjective to the individual. Give it a go yourself at Palm Ave Float Club, and let us know if your experience differs.