Floatation Therapy – What is it and why am I hooked?

I’d heard about floatation therapy being used by the likes of Joe Rogan and Tim Ferriss amidst the many hours of podcasts I consume while driving each week. As someone who often craves alone time and complete silence in the same way a pregnant lady craves Sav Blanc and brie, the idea of “sensory deprivation” appealed to me immensely. When I discovered that Wollongong has its own Floatation Therapy Centre, it was just a matter of time before I had myself booked into test it out.

So, what is Floatation Therapy exactly?

Float therapy had been around since the 1950’s and was first introduced during experiments in sensory deprivation. It involves being immersed in a closed tank of warm water (34.5 degrees), that is dense in epsom salts, so the “floater” becomes extremely buoyant and remains there in the silent darkness for around an hour. The “floater” experiences sensory deprivation as they shut out all sound and light, even losing the sense of where their skin meets the water, since the tank water is regulated to the same as their body temperature. It’s freaky deaky stuff and I was busting to give it a go. First, a little research…

What are the benefits of Float Therapy?

The benefits of soaking in epsom salts (specifically magnesium sulphate) are widely accepted because of the large amount of magnesium that is absorbed through the skin. Magnesium is the second most abundant element in the human cells and most of us in todays world have low magnesium levels due to the over-farming of soil and our nutrient lacking dietary habits.

Researchers and health professionals report that increasing magnesium levels can have a positive effect on:

Improved heart and circulation, reducing irregular heartbeats, preventing hardening of the arteries, reducing blood clots and lowering blood pressure

Increasing the body’s ability to regulate blood sugar levels, reducing the incidence or severity of diabetes

Assisting in the body’s ability to flush toxins and heavy metals from the cells, including reduced muscle soreness.

Improved nerve function by regulating electrolytes and assisting in maintaining calcium levels in the blood.

Relieving stress. The human body requires magnesium to bind adequate amounts of serotonin, a mood-elevating chemical within the brain that creates a feeling of well-being and relaxation. Excessive stress and adrenaline actually depletes magnesium levels within the body.

Prevention or easing of migraine headaches.

 To be honest, the amount of information online about floating was pretty incredible, so I decided to take the plunge and try out floating therapy in Wollongong.

Floatation Therapy in Wollongong:

Cocoon Floatation have been in the Illawarra for around 5 years, initially in a smaller premises in Figtree and now with a set of four float tanks at its premises on the corner of Market and Kembla St in Wollongong. I’d seen the signage “Cocoon Floatation” for years and had fleeting thoughts of ”What the heck is that?”, but had never taken the curiosity further and actually looked in to it.I booked my appointment online.

The FAQ’s on their website took care of the few questions that I’d been pondering, such “What if I fall asleep?” and “What happens if I freak out and want to get out?” It turns out that the lid of the pod is operated by the floater and that the 350kgs of Epsom salts actually keep you so buoyant that you can’t sink. The worst that can happen is a little salt gets in your eye or your mouth. I can live with that.

My first float experience:

The following day, I arrive for my appointment and am greeted by the delightful Catherine. She gives me a detailed rundown since its’ my first float and I’m really impressed by how calming the atmosphere is right from when I step in the door. My private float room is immaculate and once I’m comfortable with how everything works, I’m left to my own devices. Catherine explains that I’ll hear music when my time is up and a light will come on in the pod after a few minutes of music, in case I’ve drifted off to sleep.

I take a shower, then climb on in to the pod. Catherine provided me with some earplugs, which I put in and I close the lid, sealing off the outside world. I had no real concept of time, but I’m guessing around 20 minutes passed before I felt myself really start to relax in to it. Over the following period, I experienced feeling the muscles around my shoulder blades and my hips, relax to a point that they hung away from the bones (or at least that’s what it felt like). I’ve never experienced anything quite like it. The name “Cocoon Floatation” is perfect as I felt so incredibly safe and shielded from everything, I was probably having some sort of weird in-utero flashback. When the music came on, I was in some sort of semi-conscious trance state, like that part of sleep when you start to dream, but you can still hear the world around you – is that just me?

After another shower to rinse the salt off, I’m greeted with a chamomile tea and I’m completely converted. I book my next visit right then and there. For the same cost as a massage, the float tank was a mind-blowingly great way to reduce stress and take some time out.

Cocoon Floatation is open Wednesday to Sunday with appointments available via their website www.cocoonfloatation.com.au or by phoning (02) 4244 5218.