From the moment we enter this world, our senses are bombarded – one minute nothing, and then bright lights, prodding hands, excited shrieks and a whole host of strange odours. And the barrage just carries on as we move through our lives in a constant stream of frenzied distractions, each with its own unique sensory fingerprint, until at some point we do not even realise it is happening. But what would it be like if you could just push the pause button and return to the muffled silence of the womb? Recently, I was able to find out.
The Urban Wellness Hub in Bridge of Don has opened Scotland’s only purpose-built float room. If you have never heard of such a thing, it is a fully-enclosed space that has been specifically designed to give your body a break from the constant stimulation of your environment. With a base of around 300 millimetres of heavily salted water to support you, it is your one chance to feel totally weightless without escaping gravity. Add the fact that the water and surrounding air are maintained at body temperature, and that the tank is sealed to prevent light penetration, and you have an opportunity to experience something truly unique.
If you are new to floating, it is recommended that you try three separate sessions before deciding whether it is for you, and that is exactly what I did. The first time in, I was happy to learn that there are soft lights and music for several minutes, as this seemed like a gentler way to ease in to the nothingness to come. Still, when the nothingness came, I did experience some uneasiness, but it quickly passed and I settled into some sort of calm. Ironically, the brain is so programmed to process senses that I spent much of that hour focused on the one sound I couldn’t escape – my heartbeat.
My second session went more smoothly – I blocked out my heartbeat and focused on the amazing sensation of weightlessness. Only in water can you truly straighten your spine and relax your neck, and it is the most physically restful state I could imagine.
By the third session, the novelty had worn off – I was ready for the plunge into darkness, my mind embraced the sensory silence, the hour passed in seconds, and I came out of the float feeling like I’d had a full night’s sleep. And then I understood why people get hooked.
Floating can offer relief from a wide range of conditions like stress, pain, insomnia and anxiety. It has even led some to deep creative inspiration, on par with a psychedelic experience. Whatever your ultimate outcome, I think that everyone can benefit from a sensory vacation.