The self-care movement is arguably at its peak and kindness is finally, finally cool, despite what the social media trolls might have you think. While it’s not about to lose its kudos any time soon, in such a fast-moving world it’s easy to feel overwhelmed and abandon the notion of being kind to ourselves and giving back to our bodies and minds. Is that sacred ten minutes of meditation more beneficial in the morning or at night? Should I be practising one yoga method or mixing it up? HIIT blasts or endurance training ? Massage or acupuncture ? The downtime options are seemingly endless and everyone’s recipe or secret for success is different, to the extent that we’re often not sure what we need and give up before we’ve even begun.
How about if you could tick off meditation, relaxation and muscle recovery all at once, and within an hour at that? This is the proposition that flotation therapy puts forward, and it’s more accessible up and down the land than you might think - you can book a session through Treatwell at the click of a button and tanks are now almost as prolific in London as they are in LA.
Committing to the experience is pretty effortless once you’ve cleared that hour in your schedule - you’ll be spending 60 minutes floating in a tank of salt water at that’s pretty much your lot. The tank looks like something straight out of a sci-fi film – it’s an enclosed pod large enough for a single person to lie down in comfortably and it closes overhead in the same way that a sunbed would. As such, it’s potentially not the the self-care ritual for you if you suffer from claustrophobia.
The flotation therapy concept was originally developed by neuroscientist Dr. John Lilly in the 1950s as a means of understanding the origins of conscious activity within the brain. Daniel Percival, founder of flotation and hot yoga studio 3 Tribes , highlights that “the very first flotation tank wasn’t dissimilar to today’s interpretation. It was called a ‘sensory deprivation tank’ as Lilly wanted to decipher whether the brain needed external stimuli to keep its conscious state active.”
The result was negative and Lilly found that by removing all distractions, time in the tank could produce the altered state of mind that we now associate with deep meditation ; out-of-body experiences, waking dreams and complete relaxation.
Today, the flotation concept and impetus is much the same. The tank is filled with body-temperature water infused with a high concentration of Epsom salts which enable the body to float unaided. A session at 3 Tribes (£55) starts with five minutes of soft, coloured lighting and soothing music to allow the mind to switch off and completely ‘trust’ the water. From there, the lights go out, the music stops and you’re left with your thoughts for the full 60 minutes. It’s not dissimilar to the effects of a sound bath , but it’s more of a bonafide bathing experience if you catch my meaning.