A chat with Chris Plowman co-director at Floatworks

The first time you are faced with a big glowy pod, you are not really sure about what you signed up for.

The pod itself is a spacious tank filled with a super-saturated Epsom-salt solution, 25cm deep and containing 525kg of magnesium rich Epsom-salts (which makes the floatation experience possible).

The solution is heated to skin temperature (35.5°C) and the environment in the tank is controlled so that the air is also skin temperature, “once you are settled, it is impossible to tell which parts of your body are in the water and which are not.” says Chris Plowman, co-director of Floatworks.

Floating is the practice of lying back effortlessly in one of our world leading i-sopod floatation pods and drifting into a blissful, deep, meditative state that rejuvenates and revives your mind and body.

The aim of this micro-system is to create an environment similar to that of the Dead Sea – minus the sensation of temperature or movement – you’ll basically find yourself floating effortlessly on the surface of the water.

This may feel slightly unusual at first, but it is overall extremely liberating, after you get past the total darkness and silence in the pods: “the pods are specifically designed to block out all external distractions including sight, sound, tactile sensations and gravity. This environment brings long lasting and transformational experiences”.

I have been personally introduced to floating through biohackers in the US, and apparently this is no coincidence. Chris confirms that a fair number of ambassadors with huge audiences have endorsed floating, such as Joe Rogan and Tim Ferris.

Would you consider floating an alternative to meditation?

They really go hand in hand.

Those that have experience of meditating find that they drift into a deep meditation very quickly.

However, some people find traditional meditating to be very difficult. Whereas when they float they are able to switch off easier due to the lack of distraction.

As we develop the technology we would like to offer guided meditation in the pods.

What’s the scientific effect of floating on your mind?

The brain uses a lot of power to deal with the huge strain that gravity places on the body. In a floatation tank, your body is totally supported and you feel weightless. So because there is little for your brain to do, every muscle can fully relax.

With no commands needing to be sent out, activity in the logical side of the brain slows down until it synchronises with the creative side. This will leave you in a dream-like state, similar to that experienced just before you go to sleep. In this state, the brain releases vast amounts of endorphins, a ‘feel good’ chemical. While the state of relaxation may be deep and profound, your brain will stay dreamily alert.

To get technical, the brain gradually shifts from its usual alpha state to generate theta waves. This is also the state of mind that Buddhist monks try to reach through hours of meditation and years of training.

What would you say to the skeptics who are worried about floating for an hour in nothingness?

If you don’t try then you’ll never know!

In the Western world, especially in big cities, we are becoming ever more connected and ‘switched on’ due to the influence of the internet and mobile technology. Whilst the freely available information and ability to connect with people around the world has its obvious benefits, is there a coincidence that anxiety and depression rates are at all time highs?

This is a completely new phenomenon that has caught us all by surprise. The human brain has been evolving for around 200,000 years, whereas this movement has been around for 20 years. How it is really affecting us is a great unknown that we will not know for many hundreds of years.

We are losing true connection with ourselves, each other, the planet and the universe. Floating in isolation for an hour gives us a fantastic opportunity to switch off, re-centre ourselves and re-prioritise what is really important in life.

On top of this, it is the most relaxing experience ever for body and mind!

Floating has really taken off in the US, Canada and Australia over the past five years. Seattle has eight float centres alone and there are nearly 500 in the US.

Floatworks was established in 1993 and operated very successfully for 22 years until they were forced to leave the last location in the UK.

However, it has always been somewhat of a fringe/cult pursuit – hence me being quite new to the concept overall: “Since we re-launched in April 2016 we have been running at full occupancy and are planning to open our 2nd centre this summer. With our help, the UK is quickly catching up and we expect that to continue as we continue with our plans to open a float centre in every major town in UK & Europe.”