Floatation Tank


I’m not really one for beauty treatments or trendy alternative therapies. However, when I saw a cheap deal to have a session in a floatation tank and a massage, I had to have a go.
The instructions were to bring a swimsuit, a towel and shower stuff.
After a picturesque drive through the Sussex countryside, I arrived at a centre with a very new and clinical look to it. Feeling uneasy, I approached the reception desk in one of those hatches favoured by doctors’ surgeries and hospitals.
“Hello?” I said.
An elderly woman actually popped up from somewhere and spoke to me in a Scottish accent so stereotypical I thought she was taking the piss.
“Hello there, hen. Are you Leah?”
“You’ve come for a float and a massage?”
“Had a float before?”
“Well, follow me, pet, and I’ll take you through the procedure.”
The room she led me to had a chair, a sink, a shower cubicle, a Buddha, a dressing gown and a door that looked like a spaceship escape hatch.
“Now, you’ll need to shower before and after your float.” She indicated the phone booth sized shower cubicle. “Then, when you’re ready, sweetheart, you can get in the tank.”
Opening the spaceship door, the Scottish lady revealed a long bath tub in a slick sided pod too low to stand up in but high enough to allow a person to step though the spacey door and crouch in the tub. Surprisingly, the water in the tub was only about six inches deep.
“Careful when you get in, deary. That’s really salty water. Don’t get any in your eyes and make sure you don’t touch your eyes once you’re in.”
I showered. The climb through the hatch brought back memories of the film I’d watched with my mum that weekend: Prometheus. A dim blue light sat low in the pod near the surface of the water. Ripples refracted the light in pretty but slightly eerie patterns adding to the other worldly, ominous atmosphere.
Old Scottish lady had said that I could leave it on if the total darkness of the tank freaked me out. Didn’t they use sensory deprivation as a form of torture in some countries?  She said I had to close the door though, or the heat would escape and the water was supposed to be at perfect body temperature.
Sitting in the tub, I thought, I’ll never float in six inches of water.
My butt was firmly on the bottom as I laid back gently, trying not to splash. I leaned back and dipped my hair in the water. I lifted my butt. I floated.
Relaxation music began to play as my toes bumped against the edge of the tub. Tinkly chimes, muffled by the salt-rich water, sounded as I extended my limbs to stop myself drifting about. This is actually quite nice, I thought. Floating about in this space pod. Then I rubbed my eyes. Plunging towards the little door, my eye was on fire. My soft towel saved the day.
Gingerly, I got back in the tub. Once I had stopped myself from drifting about again, I began to relax.
Medication works by focusing your mind on a single thing. Focusing on a clear blue sky and imagining stray thoughts as clouds, usually works well for me. A few deep breaths. Eyes closed. Floating on an endless sea with an azure sky above me. Had I marked all those Year 10 assessments? A big dark cloud mars my crystalline sky. I wish I could get that Year 9 class to behave. Clouds shift in my darkening sky and look strangely like the faces of smirking teenage boys. Chuck the sky thing; it’s not working for me today. Think of something nice: Tom Hiddleston in Only Lovers Left Alive. Flawless white skin, dazzling blue eyes, long black hair, guitars and perfectly defined muscles flash before my eyes. And those cheekbones, wow, well. No, this is a bad idea. Are they sure this water is body temperature? It feels warmer. This is not an image conducive to relaxation. Think about fields and mountains and shit.
Eventually, I manage to calm my mind enough to just relax and convince myself that this is not a scene from Prometheus so nothing slithery is going to appear from anywhere. My achy back feels better and the dodgy music has gone off. The whole experience is actually working out to be very pleasant except for the fact that my neck is aching and I can’t get it to relax. When the music starts up again it means that I only have about ten minutes left to float about. I’m getting restless long before this happens but find myself in a dreamlike state where I am no longer aware if I’m deliberately imagining things or dreaming. That Prometheus feeling is coming back and I’m wondering if it’s something other than me that’s making the water ripple and the flecks of light dance across the ceiling. My foot bumped against something cold and smooth. I sat up in a most undignified fashion and realised that I’d drifted down the tub enough for my foot to touch the side. The music started up then and I got out.
After washing the salt out of my hair I found that I couldn’t get dry. My soft towel let me down. The room was stifling hot and the air thick with moisture. Dilemma: get out of this humid room and maybe be able to breath but have the downside of going out into the reception area wearing a dressing gown with sopping wet hair and getting massaged while still a bit sweaty; or sit in here and wait for the extractor fan to do its job. Impatience won. Dressing gown fabric clung to my damp flesh in uncomfortable ways. I shuffled out into the reception, where two customers were waiting, and met the masseur who was waiting for me. He reminded me of Geoffrey Rush, the actor, for some reason.
“I couldn’t get dry,” I said. “Sorry for being all wet and dishevelled.”
“That’s fine,” he said. “Do you want to come through?”
“I might be rather damp and unpleasant to massage.”
“I’m sure it’ll be fine.”
“Cheers,” I said, and shuffled through to the massage room feeling fairly foolish.



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