What it’s like inside a sensory-deprivation tank
Whether you call it flotation, isolation therapy or sensory deprivation treatment, the joy of lying in a pitch-dark pod full of lukewarm, salty water in total silence is finding new favour with the modern mindfulness generation. But what’s it really like and what does it do for you? First-time floater Nilufer lifts the lid on London’s flotation tank revival.
A WOMB WITHOUT A VIEW
Developed by US neurophysiologist Professor John C. Lilly in the 1950s, the treatment involves lying in a sensory-deprivation tank with your body weight supported by water. There’s no sound, no light and nothing to do but float and breathe. This leads to a deep meditative state that is said to revive mind and body.
Chris Plowman of Floatworks in Vauxhall is, naturally, a big believer in the benefits: ‘Research consistently demonstrates that flotation therapy has a significant impact on mood enhancement.’
I’m really not a fan of confined spaces, so I was a little nervous when I arrived for my hour-long session, shuddering at the thought of being trapped inside a coffin-like contraption in absolute darkness. Luckily, the tank itself was huge. Inside, optional lights coloured the salty liquid various hues of pink and blue and there was plenty of room to move around.
Simple button controls meant I was in complete control at all times.
Because the water and my body were the same temperature, it felt like I was floating on air. At one point, I forgot I was in water and tried to roll over. The brine got into my eyes. It stings. A lot.
READY FOR DRIFT OFF
The rest of the hour comprised of a mix of daydreams and moments of complete nothingness. Just as I was about to fall asleep again the music started to indicate the end of my hour.
It’s recommended you have three ‘floats’ before deciding if it’s for you, but even after one there was a positive effect. That night’s sleep was the best for a long time.
SHOULD I GIVE IT A TRY?
Definitely. Initially it felt odd just lying there. Ambient music played for the first five minutes before it faded out and I was plunged into darkness. By the end of my hour, I was in a deeply relaxed state and wanted to stay in there forever.
Best part? The sensory deprivation means you reach a much deeper meditative state
Any snags? You’ll need to do a few sessions before you start to feel the real benefits
Cost: Up to £50 per session