What is it like to float in a sensory deprivation tank for an hour?

What is it like to float in a sensory deprivation tank for an hour?
Sensory Deprivation Tank | ... At True Rest, Scottsdale... | Flickr

Would you spend an hour in a bath full of warm salted water?

Probably. How about if that bath is pitch black, with no sounds and - oh - you're enclosed, so it is more like a coffin than a bath?

If that doesn't sound immediately tempting, we wouldn't blame you - but that is exactly what I am doing in Floatworks, a float centre in Vauxhall, London where I will sit in a 'pod' with half a tonne of Epsom salt whacked in to, well, float.

According to its website, floating brings you a "profound" sense of "relaxation", helps with sleep, reduces anxiety, can get you to achieve a meditative state and even lead to "Eureka" moments.

All that for sitting in a soup that would cause the highest of blood pressure if imbibed? Sign me up. But does it work?

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I go into the pod room to find out. After undressing, I climb in, close the lid and start to enjoy the buoyancy of the water underneath. And I float. All I can hear is my heart beating. I blink and can even hear my eyelids moving. It is weird, but not unsettling.

The amount of salt in the water makes it twice as dense as the Dead Sea and that makes it easy to float and bounce around - I occasionally drift off into the sides and tap the walls of the pod gently, like I'm playing the world's most polite Dodgems game.

An hour of nothing might sound daunting in our dopamine-seeking age of TikTok and BeReal but fear not. Weirdly, time goes very quickly in a sensory deprivation tank. I'd say an hour in tank time feels more like 20 minutes in real-time.

I'd put that down to the deeply relaxed state floating puts me in. I feel like I am caught between that liminal state between sleep and consciousness but somehow more present and attuned to the thoughts and feelings that are coming up.

These thoughts range from what I want to eat for dinner, how the water feels on my skin, and some more existential questions about the general course of my life.

All of them are united in the way they pop up, as if projected onto the screen of my mind, then dissipate, ready to be replaced with another.

It feels impossible to ruminate or feel any sense of negativity. Challenging thoughts don't provoke endless daydreaming for answers. Instead, easy previously unthought answers to dilemmas pop up as if by magic, probably because there is space for them when you cut out all external noise. It is the definition of peacefulness.

I'd even go as far to suggest that if a politician or top CEO is struggling to make a decision, they may find it more simple. Though the thought of Rishi Sunak spending his days in Westminster chilling in a spa doesn't scream value for the taxpayer.

After an hour, music comes on in the pod to gently let me know it is time to skedaddle - but I would stay for another hour if I could.

When I leave - after a quick shower to get the salt schmutter off and a herbal tea - I feel like I have just spent a day at a beach or a spa, certainly not an hour in a salty coffin in South London.

So would I spend an hour in a bath full of warm salted water again? Absolutely. I can't think of anything more chill.

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