Achieving a semblance of mental clarity amidst the chaos of the everyday grind is near impossible to many who unconsciously bind themselves to clutter, whether of the mind, or from external stimuli, like the gadgets that practically function as our life forces.
There are options like yoga or meditation to guide your body towards a heightened sense of being, though these avenues require time and a steady acquisition of skill that I am frankly too lazy for. Instructing me to contort my stiff limbs into exotic positions while maintaining a steady breathing technique is a one way ticket to me grabbing my laptop to the couch and turning on a drama series in defiance. My version of Zen is more Game of Thrones than sirasanas and asanas.
But when the brevity of virtual escapism feels more like a crutch than a release, the curiousity towards unique methods to attain mental and physical wellness arose, and this is where the flotation at Palm Ave Float Club piqued my interest.
Flotation was developed in the 1950s as a meditative and relaxation therapy, where a session sees the floater entering a futuristic pod-shaped tank, filled with 10 inches of water and 500kg of dissolved Epsom salt that keeps the body buoyant throughout. Closing the sound- and light-proof lid brings about sensory deprivation, that allows your neural activity to focus inwards when freed from external tasks.
Sounds a little like new-age drivel, but the benefits are scientifically proven. They include rapid stress release, a boost in your creativity and learning ability, an increase in mental clarity as well as improved athletic performance. Here’s where I was sold – I would have to do completely nothing except float for an hour, and reap all the corporeal serenity I required.
Prior to the session, Derrick Foo, the owner of Palm Ave Float Club, led my companion and I to the floatation rooms to explain the simple pre-float process. Get naked, take a shower, enter the pod, close the lid, turn off the lights and begin your journey to personal nirvana. Take care not to let salt enter your eyes, and the most reinforced point – expect nothing.
Armed with the solitary hope of avoiding a claustrophobic attack and little else, I entered the tank. For the first ten minutes, soothing music plays in tandem with soft, coloured lights within the tank to ease you into the floating process. The lights, while comforting, are encouraged to remain switched off during the float so as not to hamper your mind’s adjustment.
It took a while to acclimatise myself to the sensation of being enclosed in nothingness. For the first quarter of the session, the harrowing battle of wills to not clamber out of the tank to check my phone bordered on agony. Free of provocation and robbed of impetus, my brain’s rapid overdrive slowly tapered off into a psychedelic sense of elation where shapes and strange figures began wafting into my vision, and reality began to feel distant.
After the last string of shapes flittered through the darkness, a soporific comfort blanketed the rest of my floatation session, and the only thought was a brief contemplation of whether the suspension was more akin to a regression back to the amniotic sac, or a space mission. The astronaut fantasy was the obvious winner. The notion of time became quickly elusive, which made the music at the end of the session slightly startling.
A slightly awkward tank exit later, I felt a lightness of body and silence of mind that was entirely novel, which sealed the floatation deal for me.
The floatation experience was an immersive natural high on my part and a physical hyper-awareness for my companion, but for many patrons of Palm Ave Float Club, entering the void resulted in contemplative meditation and self-discovery, underlining how each float is a unique episode.
A little over two years ago the tank began as Derrick’s “secret weapon” in his home, where solace was found within him and shared with others. When the therapy began gaining traction from strangers, he decided to open Palm Ave Float Club.
“I think people should float to grow,” he explains when asked about why people should engage in floatation. “You become more aware when you cancel out the 50,000 thoughts, worries and anxieties running through your head. Worries usually stem from the ego and this hinders your progress. Floatation detaches you from indulging in the fear, and helps you become a better version of yourself.”
I’m still unsure as to whether one float brought about any life-altering revelations. All I know is the post-float calm triumphs any television series and plush sofa combination, and though it may seem a little unorthodox as a wellness treatment, the rejuvination towards your sense of self doesn’t get any better than when you’re fresh off the float.
Palm Ave Float Club is located at 20 Waringin Park
For more information, visit www.palmavefloatclub.com