Flotation tank experience
‘You’re supposed to float in dark silence, the Epsom salts ensuring your
body stays suspended’
Can being suspended in salty water really help improve mental wellbeing? Katie Mulloy finds out...
My very worst fear, is that it will feel a little like being in a coffin. Or, at the slightly, better end of that scale, an MRI scanner. Either way, for a mild claustrophobe it’s somewhat of a concern.
But I have come to Zero Gravity Float Spa in Altrincham, pushing all of that aside, because being encased in a float tank for 60 minutes – your entire body suspended in a mixture of water and half a ton of Epsom salts – is, apparently, the latest path to inner calm.
Like many stressed-out working mothers I’m prone to anxiety and as I get older it only seems to become more acute. So I’ve tried meditation. I’m an ad-hoc yogi. I take deep breaths whenever I feel things spinning.
Float tanks are one step on from all of that. They were actually developed way back in the 1950s. But our new awareness of mental health has seen as sudden surge in their popularity. And in Cheshire, Zero Gravity Float Spa is ahead of the curve; the North West’s only offering outside of Manchester and Liverpool.
The theory is that thanks to their sensory deprivation – you are supposed to float in dark silence, the Epsom salts ensuring that your body will stay suspended without any effort on your part – the brain reaches deep levels of relaxation.
But for someone who doesn’t like confined spaces and could turn over-thinking into an art form, is it really going to work?
After filling in all the necessary paperwork, I am shown to my float room. You shower beforehand and then climb into the tank completely nude.
Thanks to the design of the tank (it’s large and the handle is right above your head), my mild claustrophobia wasn’t an issue. That might also be because I chose not to turn off the lights - I simply closed my eyes while the soft mood lighting changed from one pastel hue to the next.
After a couple of false starts – don’t wipe your eyes when you have salt water dripping from your hands – I was able to relax. And then relax a bit more. To the point where, when I was gently brought around by white lights, I wondered why it was all ending after what must have been 20 minutes.
Nope, I’d been in there an hour. Even without the darkness and total silence (I chose to listen to waves sounds) it had been the most relaxed I’d felt in ages. Of course afterwards I rushed off to a meeting, checking my email, texting my husband to make sure baby and dog were all well, and the spinning mind started up again. But the sixty minutes I’d left all of that outside the tank? Utter bliss.
Let your troubles float away