Float Your Way to Clarity at Palm Ave Float Club
Spend 60 to 90 minutes in a futuristic tank and experience the art of… doing nothing. Carrie goes in search of clarity and personal growth with her first float.
When I started really taking the time to do some deep reflections on my situations and actions, that was when I realised the only time I effectively reached a state of understanding of what drove me, what were my motivations, was when I was quiet, I was still and I was fully present.
These were moments when I completely committed to writing all my thoughts as they came and really not switching between tabs of my Safari Browser, looking for inspiration or ways to write, but to really just experience that moment of writing and desire to understand myself better. Some of my best written work was done in that state.
That said, most of the time, I’m not someone who is able to stay still. I fidget, I shake my legs often, I tap my fingers, I zone out but there’s always still something going on as I daydream… I’m a busy bee and my brain buzzes myself crazy. Having that wind down period, sometimes hardly happens because I am so preoccupied of “things to do”. I started looking for ways to disconnect and I tried meditation and found it still difficult to really let go and submit to “nothing”.
Early last year, I heard of Palm Ave Float Club which was founded by Derrick Foo and I was instantly intrigued by how a combination of Epsom Salt and a Sensory Deprivation Tank could reward the “floater” with increased recovery, deep relaxation, improved well-being and heightened mental clarity.
I visited Palm Ave Float Club at 20 Waringin Park, just ten minutes stroll away from Kembangan MRT Station. Initially, the float club was named such as it was run out of Derrick’s home at Palm Avenue, but as operations grew, the benefits of a rented space also became apparent and it was moved over to it’s current venue.
Palm Ave Float Club is homely in all respects. You enter, take off your shoes and slip into little blue rubber slippers. You’re greeted by a shelf that could easily be from the living room of someone’s cozy little pad, and by the counter, there is a little minimalist living space of sorts. It’s a relaxing sight.
Settling down before or after a float is also part of the entire experience. On the wooden coffee table are little coloured pens and a little black book which contains messages and “testimonials” from customers who, from the looks of the contents of the book, has unlocked some serious creativity after their float experience, “Fresh off the Float”
Photo Credit: Palm Ave Float Club
Derrick is a convert of floatation after experiencing it outside of Singapore. After regular floats, he realised it greatly helped him achieve clarity of the mind, let go of anxiety, and helped him kick some bad habits that he was previously holding on to. In fact, talking to Derrick, you’ll notice that he is completely deliberate and calm. You’d even describe his demeanour as “zen”.
It sounds a little too far out to be believable, but Derrick stands by floatation and because of how much it was of benefit to him, he decided to take a jump into the unknown and bring floatation to Singapore, making it accessible to those who are interested to give it a go or who are already fans but have not found a way to regularly float because it isn’t readily available here.
His small venture has bore fruit and it has now expanded. From one tank, he now has two and this can only tell us how much interest there is in floatation in Singapore.
It’s not just for creatives in search of greater access to their right hemispheres for enhanced creativity, it’s great for busy professionals in need of rapid stress-relief and also offers deep relaxation for weekend warriors who pack a punch with a filled workout schedule and end up with muscle aches and pains. Floatation is also popular amongst athletes who hope to improve their sports performance. Visualisation in the tank is apparently a powerful way to train the mind for ‘peak performance’.
For me, as I mentioned earlier, it is important for me to disconnect fully and practise the art of doing nothing – enjoying the present. With my social media accounts and phone ringing and a schedule that never takes a break, floatation in a sensory deprivation tank for an hour to an hour and a half, is a way I wanted to explore that complete halt to the rush. When meditation in regular circumstances prove too challenging, this is possibly the fast track to deep meditative state.
More on the benefits of floatation can be found on the Palm Ave Float Club website.
HOW DOES IT WORK?
Epsom salt contains magnesium and sulphate, two minerals that are often lacking in our bodies. Found to be absorbed more effectively via the skin than through oral ingestion, soaking in a tank of epsom salt seems like a pretty good way to benefit from the useful properties of both.
Did you know that magnesium can boost energy levels, relieve stress, calm nerves, help maintain strong healthy bones, relieve sore muscles by flushing out lactic acid build up and even aid weight loss? It is also important for many bodily reactions from protein synthesis to blood pressure control.
Sulphate on the other hand is needed in the formation of brain tissue, joint proteins and proteins lining the digestive track. Other than that it aids digestion and helps detoxify the body from medicines and environmental contaminants.
In a normal environment, any given moment, we are using neurological resources to analyse and respond to everything. The creative side of the brain works best when in deep rest.
So during a float, it’s everything out. There is zero sensory input in a floatation tank. No lights, no sound, nothing. This allows for that need to analyse and respond to be taken away. When this happens, the body lowers levels of cortisol that in turn reduces stress levels and what happens is the release of dopamine and endorphins a.k.a the body’s happy chemicals.
The reason repair of muscles takes so long is because where there is gravity, there is a pull and strain on muscles. While we can’t escape that in day-to-day life, floating takes gravity away.
Gravity reduction helps support the body and less resources are spent in balancing or counter-balancing gravity. The body now focuses fully on healing and this helps reduce pain and aches and improve blood circulation. It is not uncommon to come out of a float feeling absolutely brand new.
WHAT IS THE PROCESS OF A FLOATATION SESH?
During my floatation session, I first signed an indemnity and was given an introduction the floatation and what to expect. Derrick is warm and ready to answer any questions regarding floatation and the process. He runs through how everything will work and of course, the do’s and don’ts.
I was led to one of the rooms which has a shower area, complete with bath amenities like shampoo, conditioner and body wash, and the “pod”… sorry I meant the tank. It does look like a futuristic sci-fi pod, don’t you think?
I removed everything, earrings, accessories, glasses, even my contact lenses and went for a quick shower. Prior to entering my room, Derrick also advised me to visit the loo if I needed to because… if not I would only be able to do so one hour or one and a half hour later. Not funny. Yes, if you were wondering, no peeing in the tank. There’s a major clean up required for every pee accident and when that happens, there’s a big fine of $1,000. Keep things clean, do all that BEFORE your float.
It’s actually pretty surreal. The tank has an interesting button that allows you to set the lighting. It pulses between colours (oh green… blue… purple… pink…) or stops at one colour like shown above in the photo and of course, it shuts off. There will be very soothing music at the start and end of the session for you to ease in and out of the floatation session. In between? That’s total pitch black darkness, silence and only the sound of your breathing and the rhythmic beat of your heart.
Of course at any time, you can climb out of the tank. It doesn’t seal you in for an hour – in case of emergencies there is also an emergency button. Any time the tank door can be lifted and you can leave it, but of course the exercise in surrender would be best completed with no pause. You’ll also find handrails and a small towel, in case it is needed, inside the tank.
When time is up, the music and lights come on. When it ends, just climb up, wash up and you’re done.
Having meditated once, I knew I struggled with surrendering to nothing. I was always hyper sensitive to every single stimulus, from the smallest noises to the flickering of light or any movement. I tended to find myself bothering about my pins and needles and it really takes a lot for me to finally reach a state of nothing. I enjoyed this briefly once for a minute or two during my first meditation session but that was it.
Indeed, the tank was what I needed. It started with a bit of apprehension as I dipped myself into the water and found my “balance”. God knows how long it took before I found it because I had zero concept of time in that tank. I only knew I would do this step by step.
The first thing was to get used to the floating and allow my body to relax instead of tensing up in preparation to “force myself afloat”. I eased on my neck and just let myself to just let it go, letting the epsom salt filled water support my body. This was much easier than I expected.
The next thing was more difficult. Handling the thoughts racing to surface. But I remembered what I was advised on my first meditation experience and I let it be. Instead of resisting the thoughts, I let them come. One after another.
What would I do next after this? Would I find anything from this? How would I know if I would enjoy this? Why am I looking for self awareness? Am I going to keep racing with thoughts? What do I want from this?
This went on for awhile before my mind was cleared. I just let them come, acknowledged them and then let the next one drift in and out. After some time it was just the sound of my breathing and the beating of my heart. At this point my body is just “jumping” at all sensations and I can feel every drop of water if any. It was very important for me to get used to the position, a comfortable one, and just let it be and not move excessively. This is when I knew it was time to fully focus on my breathing.
It’s another exercise to really just let breathing come naturally. Do you find that when you think about how often you blink? You’re not sure if you’re blinking more or forcing your eyes open? Yeah, that doesn’t work with meditation. It has to just be natural. I found a “spot” and just focused on breathing and really experienced breathing. Along the way I started wandering. My mind started drifting and I just had to pull back and focus again but what I thought about started to get interesting. They were questions about myself, my life. Other than business and things to do, I started wandering to something different, like sudden images of people I care about or maybe daydreaming about something I wanted to do. But each time I acknowledged and pulled it back. It really wasn’t easy but it was so much easier than without the sensory deprivation and gravity reduction. Those definitely limited distractions to just my thoughts.
It was quite an experience. As much as it was difficult, I know at one point I wasn’t even aware if I was conscious or not. I don’t think I was sleeping, but it was just nothing. I definitely don’t know how long that was for, but I would snap out of that state and then repeat the whole process again. But there were times when it was just… nothing. Nothing else to think about and for awhile I was able to deal with that and accept that in that tank.
When the music finally came on and the lights started pulsing again in an almost hypnotic cycle, I gently lifted the lid and stepped out. I felt completely relaxed. I usually ache so much from my bad posture and heavy load I carry (what with DSLR and bags filled with everything), but stepping out, I felt really liberated. I was so at ease.
I would usually dread having to spend time doing nothing or spend a lot of time expecting something but I felt like that was the best way to have spent 60 minutes of my time. An hour well spent in really disengaging and at the same time getting in tune with what I am preoccupied with.
In terms of personal development, the questions that came coming told me more about myself and my motivations. It was really clear. In terms of feeling relief, wow, floatation was really amazing for that. Never had I felt so light and free.
Would I do a float again? Yes. Definitely. As “far out” and a little bit of a hipster fad this sounds like, it truly is remarkable to experience this sort of disconnect. The physical benefits are undeniable and I’m sure the emotional and mental clarity, with regular floats will become even more apparent.
Hmm… I think it’s time for my next float.
The introductory 3-pack special is at $165 and is only available one-time for new customers.
- 3 x 60 minute floats (90 minute floats available at no extra charge)
- Valid for three months and shareable
$70 per float
$85 per float
$210 for three floats
Valid for three months and shareable