FLOATING is the latest innovation to sweep the world of alternative health and therapies and one company in Pangbourne is leading the revolution in Berkshire.
Floating Point, which is based in Horseshoe Road, is the only dedicated floating centre in Berkshire, and since opening earlier this year has welcomed the likes of the Bracknell Bees Ice Hockey Club through its doors to benefit from the healing powers of floatation.
Having never experienced floating before, I was slightly apprehensive before my first visit. Upon arriving at Floating Point, owner Michael Cordova welcomes you and explains the floating process. Every visitor is booked into their own private room, complete with floatation pod and shower cubicle, which is lockable from the inside. Visitors are encouraged to shower before entering the pod, and to float in the nude to feel the full effects of the experience.
The futuristic-looking pod is a lot bigger than you would expect, big enough to sit upright but contained enough that you don’t feel lost. Fully-controlled from the inside, with a panic button in case of emergency, visitors can choose from complete darkness, a steady blue light or alternating coloured lights for the duration of their float. Once inside, gentle music is played for 10 minutes to lull you into a state of relaxation. After that, it is just you and the water, densely-saturated with Epsom salts, for the next 50 minutes.
Closing the lid of the pod is not as daunting as it may appear, with the blue light on you can see around you while you get into a comfortable position. If you have never floated before, the sensation of floating in a gravity-free environment can seem strange at first, and the urge to keep your head above the water can be hard to overcome. But gradually, as the minutes tick away, you find yourself relaxing more and once you realise that you really aren’t going to sink (the water is only a matter of inches deep anyway) then you start to let go.
Many people have emerged from floats claiming to have experienced near-psychedelic episodes, seeing colours in the darkness, hearing music that isn’t playing or just finding themselves on a meditative journey of self-exploration. I found that I was very conscious of my movement, and felt like I was floating towards a waterfall at times, even though I hadn’t moved a centimetre. After my float, Michael explained that this is very common as the sensation is such an alien one that the mind tries to overcompensate for the lack of gravity and tries to make sense of what is going on.
After what seemed like no time at all, the gentle music returns and I know my float experience is coming to an end. When the time is up, jets automatically start inside the pod to let you know it is time to get out, and to thoroughly cleanse the water before the next person.
Expecting my skin to be entirely prune-like after being submerged in water for an hour, I was pleasantly surprised to find that my skin felt incredibly soft and moisturised, and not prune-y at all! After exiting the pod you are encouraged to shower to wash off any excess salt from the skin, but I thoroughly enjoyed the amazing aroma of the all-natural shampoo and conditioner provided free of charge.
Once redressed, I left the tranquility of the treatment room and emerged like a butterfly from its cocoon back into the real world. Floating Point provides hairdryers in a separate area for customers, and a relaxation lounge where you can take a breather and enjoy some of the centre’s home-made sorbet. Some say that floating for an hour gives you the same benefits as four hours’ sleep, and I would have to agree. I felt incredibly relaxed, and the feeling stayed with me for a good few days afterwards. My skin also felt nourished and rejuvenated, and my hair felt soft and smooth. Floating is recommended for those who suffer with chronic pain, or to help recover from an injury, but if like me you just fancy an hour to yourself where you can completely escape from the world, floating is an excellent way to unwind.