What can you do in 60 minutes? Take a leisurely train ride from Boon Lay to Expo station or sweat it out in a kickboxing class?
I did neither. Instead, I floated, in 500kg of Epsom bath salts dissolved in 10 inches of water heated to body temperature.
Honestly, before last week — before I spent 60 minutes immersed in a lightproof, soundproof pod — floating was all but a foreign concept to me. For the purported benefits of meditation, stress relief and enhanced creativity though, it was certainly worth the trek to Palm Avenue Float Club, located in the East side of Singapore.
The rules of floating are simple: for hygiene purposes, have a thorough shower before the float and if you can, it is best to float in the nude.
As I came out of the shower, music streamed from the pod to alert me that the session had begun. The simple act of stepping in and closing the pod on myself had a feel of finality to it. I had fleeting thoughts of what-if-I-have-claustrophobia, followed by isn’t-it-too-late-to-wonder-about-that, and oh-but-there’s-the-red-panic-button. Fortunately, I didn’t have to use it, but then, neither have any of Float Club’s clientele so far.
What’s floating in the dark like?
You spend the first few minutes trying to find your equilibrium – not that it’s difficult, given that you are experiencing weightlessness – but most of us take a while to fully relax into the water. With nothing else to distract you, you wonder what you should do with your arms and legs, and you don’t want to thrash about too much in case the salt water gets into your eyes. That is also something the Float Club has taken into consideration: they provide a spray bottle and towel for you just in case. Some people also find it tough to relax their neck, and for that, the Float Club very kindly provided a neck prop, which I did put to good use.
The silence sets in next. Everything seemed extra loud in the quiet space – the breathing, the water rippling as my arm caressed its surface, and then my stomach growled not once, but thrice, and brought my thoughts to food right after I had lunch. There is a new quality of consciousness of your own body. For me, I grew aware of a slight ache in my lumbar spine near the tailbone, probably due to hours of deskbound work day to day.
This must be what hypersleep would be like, I thought. My thoughts flitted and wandered, and my time in the pod fluttered along. Alas, before I had my Eureka moment, the music cue kicked in again, signaling the end of the session.
The outside world was pristinely bright as I emerged from the thick shade of curtains guarding my pod. Derrick, the founder of Palm Avenue Float Club, offered me some watermelon cubes, and I gobbled them down not realizing how thirsty I had become. In the waiting area, I also met London-based Josh, who has floated a few times with Palm Avenue, and had brought his mother in that day for a trial. So what is the best position to float in, I asked him. It turns out to be what I call the ‘lazy starfish’ – arms and legs spread, parallel to one another.
Interestingly, Josh was looking to bring the float experience to London, and Derrick had been more than happy to offer his two cents. At 27, Derrick had decided to set up the float club after experiencing it for the first time during his stint in Silicon Valley. It helped tremendously with his anxiety issues, and also helped curb his reliance on smoking. In the beginning, he had a single pod in his house for personal use, but he found that friends and family were curious about floating, and the idea for the float club was born.
Derrick’s clientele is currently made up of professionals, athletes and tourists, many of whom have come back to float again and again. For beginners, Derrick recommends to just go in with no expectations and to concentrate on your breathing. Two or three sessions are usually what it takes to fully get into the meditative state of mind.
My recommendation? If you have the time, try to go for a session longer than 60 mins. It takes about that amount of time for your body to be fully acquainted with its new state of mind and being, and the music cue signaling the end did leave me feeling somewhat bereft.
Thank you to beauty/ services review community and booking website Wellnessly and Palm Avenue Float Club, for inviting me to an unforgettable float experience. Certainly, for busy working warriors like us who are always tied to our electronic gadgets, I do see this as a great way for a digital detox, away from work and life’s demands, even if only for a brief respite.
Psst, mention ‘Vulcan Post’ in the comments section of the booking page on Wellnessly to get $5 off!