New Zealand Woman’s Weekly




When I was staying in Wellington recently, filling in for the morning host on Newstalk ZB, my hotel was close enough to the radio station that I could walk to work every morning.

And every morning, I passed a sign for a spa that offered all sorts of treatments. There were the standard massages and a sauna, but they also promised hyperbaric oxygen therapy, PEMF (pulsed electromag­netic field) therapy and flotation pods. I had no idea about the benefits or otherwise of the oxygen or PEMF therapies, but I had heard how marvellous flotation pods are.

My friend and fellow columnist Wendyl Nissen has tried them before and is a big fan. “You just lie in the water, inside a dark pod, and do nothing for an hour. It’s bliss!” I was doubtful.

Do nothing?! For an hour?!

I’d go nuts. I have yet to master the art of being still and the thought of being sensory deprived and still for an hour didn’t strike me as much of a good time.

And yet, one morning as I walked past the sign again, sleep-deprived because that just seems to be the way of things at the moment, I could see the attraction of being forced to relax. I had the time, once I’d come off my radio shift, and even if it didn’t “naturally regenerate my body and maintain my metabolic and chemical balance” as the blurb promised, the assurance that “just one hour of floating is the equivalent of four hours deep sleep” got me.

I climbed the stairs and made a booking for the next day. The lovely lady gave me a pamphlet outlining the dos and don’ts of floating along with the frequently asked questions, and was so enthusiast­ic about the benefits of floating, I could hardly wait for my appointmen­t. The next day, I was taken to the therapy room.

The flotation pod was, quite rightly, the focal point of the room. It looked like a huge egg or like something out of a sci-fi film. A safe place I could store myself away in to be transporte­d to the next millennia. I showered and washed my hair as requested, then cautiously approached the pod. I lifted the lid and stepped into the water, closing the lid behind me.

As the woman had explained to me, I could open the pod and get out any time I liked, so there was no feeling of being trapped. I slipped the head support around my neck, lay back and floated.

You’re held up by the salt water and there is no need to make any movement at all to stay on top of the water. I’d been told that I’d hear gentle music for the first fifteen minutes and again for the final fifteen minutes of my session, but as

I lay there, there was only the sound of silence. I assumed I’d done something wrong

– failed to press a button or suchlike

– and started to fret.

How could I completely relax if I had no idea what the time was?

What if I fell asleep and they had to beat down the door to drag me out? But then the music came on and I relaxed completely, allowing the water to support me and the dark to soothe me. That is, until I heard a rumble and then remembered I was in Wellington.

What if there was an earthquake? I’d have to burst out of the pod and scramble down into Tory Street, stark naked. However, the water was already working its magic. “Whatevs,” I thought to myself. Relax. It was only a motorbike. Deal with the earthquake if it happens.

And slowly my mind switched off. And, in fact, went places that were beyond anywhere I’d gone when I’d tried meditating. It was amazing. I would never have thought it possible. I emerged from the pod refreshed and relaxed as promised.

I’m a convert. I couldn’t think of a better present to give a mum with young children who craves some peace and quiet. Or a better present to give to myself.

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