Playing up: Need to chill out? Give floatation therapy a try

Floating is said to have a slew of benefits, from stress relief to promoting healthy sleep patterns. THE BASICS

Floatation therapy is nothing new. The form of alternative medicine first came about in the 1950s as a method to test the effects of sensory deprivation on the brain.

Float Culture, Auckland’s first floatation tank centre has been around for five years now. The company uses spaceship-like isolation tanks and chambers to create a sensory experience. The tanks come filled with highly salinated water to increase buoyancy, and are completely soundproof and light-free to allow the participant to switch off from the distractions of the outside world.

It’s said that floating has a slew of benefits, from stress relief to promoting healthy sleep patterns.

* Unexpected Places: Sensory deprivation for your own sanity?
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* Relax, rewind and escape in a floatation tank, new to Hamilton


The idea of being shut in a pitch-black sensory deprivation chamber completely naked prompted a waterfall of anxious thoughts. What if the tank door gets jammed? How often do they change the liquid? What if you can’t actually float? It turns out those are frequently asked questions for most first timers and there’s nothing to worry about.

The extraordinary salty water contains half a tonne of epsom salts for increased buoyancy. For this reason you’re required to wear earplugs to avoid crystallisation and cover any wounds with petroleum jelly.

After showering, I entered the freezer-like chamber and shut the door. A calming soundtrack kicked off the session as I got comfortable in the tepid water. As the delightful music came to an end I took the plunge and turned off the lights. With the complete darkness and silence came a light rumbling sound in my ears. The foam earplugs also produced a squelching noise as they moved around.

My mind wandered from thoughts of getting sushi for lunch to the prospect of a freak power cut in the building. With that small moment of panic, I reached to the massive round light switch for reassurance.

From here, my heart beat took centre stage — the pulse fluttered through my ears. I tried different body positions; from the arms down by my side to behind the head and then a complete starfish. Sundays are for relaxing and what better way to relax than to come in for a float and help prepare you for the week ahead ☺️ A post shared by Float Culture (@floatculturenz) on Aug 5, 2017 at 5:50pm PDT Then came the euphoric feeling of seemingly drifting around in a circle, only coming back to earth as my elbow nudged the side of the chamber. The water served as the most comfortable bed in the world, giving off the sensation of floating in mid air.

Like the introductory video suggested, boredom eventually set in, as if I had ticked off all possible conversations with my brain. I tested the darkness to see if my hands were visible. By waving them in front of my face a single droplet of salty water fell into my eye.

The excruciating stinging sensation prompted another reach for the light switch and the application of clean water from a spray bottle for relief. With five minutes left, the music reappeared and the tank’s jet fired up to circulate the water for the next guest.


Soundless, lightless sensory deprivation tanks allow you to focus inward for the ultimate distraction-free experience. For that reason, floatation therapy has been credited for reducing blood pressure and stress. Soaking in epsom salts is often considered as remedy to relax muscles, loosen joints and reduce arthritis pain.

Float Culture suggests that while it is possible to feel good after your first float, you are more likely to feel more comfortable after your second, third or greater number of floats.


As discovered during this experience, the briny floatation solution is not friendly to the eyes. Float Culture’s disclaimer states that in rare cases some people might experience nausea, which can be a sign of body detoxification or kidney disorder.

It’s recommended that those with low blood pressure consult a medical professional first. The risk of drowning is very low.


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