Today I went for my very first flotation session (those are obviously not my legs). I’ve wanted to try it for a while, and as I am trying every option available when it comes to resting, unwinding and trying to get my mind into a more healthy place, now seemed like the best time to start.
All I really knew about flotation therapy prior to this I learned from the Simpsons. I rather enjoyed the experience, but then I like things like this generally. I used to love going to the Korean baths in Sydney with the hot, cold and ginseng baths, but I know that was definitely not everyone’s cup of tea. I like the baths on the Mornington Peninsula too, except for how crowded they were. Part of the appeal for this floating thing is how private it is.
I was welcomed by S, who answered any questions and gave me a short video to watch. After taking me through what to expect (such as ‘try not to touch your face because getting super salty water in your eyes isn’t fun’), she led me through the quiet corridors to my ‘suite’. Unlike the ones on the Simpsons, the flotation tanks at LiquidZen are small private rooms with a shower and changing area, and of course the bath. They supply everything you need, including earplugs (again, salty water stuck in your ears isn’t so relaxing).
After showering, I got into the bath, with starry LEDs overhead and calming blue light in the water. The bath was reasonably shallow, but filled with warm water containing some huge amount of Epsom salts, so you’re half submerged and totally weightless. After a short time of floating with music and the lights on, the lights gradually dim and you’re left in pitch blackness and silence.
My first thought was it felt like I’d always imagined lying on a cloud would feel like as a child (before I was rudely disabused of that notion and learned that lying on a cloud would not be nearly as peaceful as it seemed). The air in the room and water in the bath were exactly the same temperature so I was perfectly comfortable and didn’t feel cold or overwarm.
I don’t think I got into any super deep thinking, but I felt so much more relaxed because I didn’t have to hold any tension in my body. I could let my thoughts wander wherever they wanted and aside from occasionally getting a bit of salty water on my face (yes it was really uncomfortable and I had to use the spray bottle of fresh water to wash it off) I felt completely peaceful and just enjoyed listening to my breathing. I must’ve drifted off because it was a surprise when the lights and music came back on to herald the end of the session.
After the bath I showered off the salt, especially from my hair which felt like it was made of straw until I put heaps of conditioner through it. They ask you to wash and dry your earplugs and give you a little box to put them in for when you come back next time. Then it was time to make my way back to the lounge for some water and a cup of tea and to gradually get back into being able to face the world.
As I wandered through the corridor I could hear voices, one quite low and one quite animated.
“Where are you from originally?”
“My family is from the Philippines.”
“Oh wonderful, yes. I know a few Filipinas. Do you know [name of person]?”
“No I don’t.”
“Oh well she’s lovely.”
I entered the lounge. One of the other women who had been in one of the other suites sat on the couch, while S smiled patiently. There wasn’t anywhere else to go in the small room so I perched on the couch and drank my water while the woman loudly prattled on about how she’d been keeping busy during lockdown learning the harp and the ukulele and how her daughter in law had bought her the float for her birthday and how she should probably go and do the groceries but she wasn’t really sure if she should and oh now look at the time she was going to get stuck in traffic. S just smiled but then wandered out of the room leaving me alone in a confined space with this woman. Without even drawing breath she turned to me.
“What did you think of the experience?” she asked.
“I quite enjoyed it.”
“Yes it was interesting. I’m not sure what I think. I was getting fidgety. Towards the end I was just thinking oh hurry up and turn the lights back on.”
I said nothing. My mind was still swirling and I just wanted her to be quiet. I wanted to sit in the muted, quiet room and drink my tea and gather my thoughts. I didn’t want to encourage her to keep talking so I got up to put some moisturiser on and gather my things. She didn’t need me to respond, it turned out.
The monologue continued (“Now where are my earrings? In this pocket? No. That pocket? No. Do you think you’ll come back for another session? I have another one booked, my daughter in law bought me two. I don’t know why. Oh I love that brand of moisturiser, I get it when it’s on sale, I just stock up and that keeps me going until it goes on sale next. Oh here are my earrings!”) until S came back and ushered the woman back out into the foyer.
But by then the spell was broken. Guess I’ll just have to go back next week and try again.
Though some of the peace stayed…I’ve been completely spaced out all evening. But in a good way; calm, not foggy.