Float your way to mental health.

Scheduling time for relaxation is important for well-being. So how would you respond if I suggested a service that combines a day spa with meditative practice? An experience that merges the world of Buddhist philosophy and contemporary technology?

A key factor in sustaining mental health is making time for relaxation. What are the best ways to do this? We often jump to the couch, fill a glass of wine, or watch a movie but this is not, in fact, relaxing your mind, but distracting it.

Key factors to improve mental health include food, education, social support, emotional regulation, clear thinking, exercise and down time. Another often underestimated factor called “time-in” (a term coined by American psychiatrist Dr Dan Siegel). He proposes “when we quietly reflect internally, focusing on sensations, images, feelings and thoughts, we help to better integrate the brain”. This is a core part of what I teach in therapy, and clients are always eager to learn more. But what can you do practically to achieve time-in and assist with relaxation?

Why you float of course.

I recently visited a local business that claimed to promote relaxation and wellness by floating in a pod of salted water for 60-90 minutes. I have been exposed to some fairly wild ‘psychotherapeutic’ interventions over the years but this was one I couldn’t miss.

Tucked away in the back alleyways of ‘trendy’ Prahran hides an open garage decorated with a small seating area. I opened the door to what can be described as a ‘haven of relaxation’ – with a twist. Subtle blue lighting warms the round, curvy space, progressing to seemingly-endless winding white walls. At first glance, this could be mistaken as a modern massage/yoga day spa. I was warmly greeted by two young attendants asking me to remove my shoes and follow them to ‘my room’. Peeking through the curvy walls fellow guests sit peacefully in the ‘after float’ lounge. They look blissfully peaceful. A sense of hopeful optimism washes over, maybe I too could be that tranquil.

Neatly prepared towels, lotions, herbal shampoo and conditioners are present near the free standing shower. It was quite impressive, and lush. But there it was. A giant pod filled with warm water (what you see on the website doesn’t give it justice. All that is left to do now is undress (yes everyone goes in the nud) and hop in, for an hour. And just float.

The experience will be different for everyone, some even suggest the sensory deprivation brings your imagination and your inner voice to the forefront of your mind etc. What I experienced however, was an exercise in self-love and mindful awareness. Having no external stimulus allows you to be with yourself in a very relaxing spa-like state. You are given an hour (which passes very quickly) to relax the body and simply sit within oneself. This can be challenging for those who are prone to anxiety, chronic stress, perfectionism and/or addiction. You are made aware of immediate cognitive distractions “what on earth am I doing”, “what’s the point of this”, “what am I doing for dinner”, “I can’t wait to see my dog”.

After the experience, I left feeling calmer, more focused and more joyful.

This float is akin to many meditative practices seen in yoga studios, Pilates classes, therapist couches, and mindfulness courses. It is the art of “time-in” which the latest neuropsychological research has proven to be effective in mental health. It is a nice way to spend a morning or afternoon off work. I was impressed.

My recommendation is this would be great for those seeking;

  • stress relief
  • anxiety treatment
  • a bit of pampering
  • managing addiction
  • self-discovery
  • post exercise relief
  • conjunctive work with physical rehab

To discuss further alternative therapies and whether this activity is suitable for you, book an appointment here to see a psychologist to get the best outcome for you and your mental health. Beyond Rest also offer discounts for Contemporary Psychology clients.