• How to relax. What happened after three float sessions at Beyond Rest.

Busy lifestyles and ever growing to-do-lists are as commonplace in our society as hairs on a monkey.
Invited to try three float sessions over three weeks at Beyond Rest in Hawthorn, I was hopeful. Will the sessions cure my stiff neck, energise me and improve my sleep as they claim? I asked myself.

For those new to floating, it involves lying in a tank without stimulation for an hour. What does this mean? No light, no sound, no sense of touch as your body becomes one with the water at 34.5 degrees concentrated with Magnesium rich Epsom salts.  In this state, it is believed that the flight, fright or fight reactions in our brain close, so that we can then think of other things.

The layout is based on sacred geometry.

Session 1
I was shown to my private room by Denise, who instructed me on how to operate the float tank and what I could expect. Each room has its own tank and shower. Before getting into the tank, you put silicon earplugs in and then have a cool shower.

The tank water was lit blue and calming. Those who are claustrophobic can keep the lid open and the light on. I had selected to do a forest 'Journey Float' which starts with relaxation exercises, forest noises and music. 

Everyone gets their own room with the float tank and shower.

I had expected to feel instantly relaxed.

Instead I felt more tense. I had done yoga and run and stretch class before the session. For the first fifteen minutes or so, I felt tension in my neck and back. I did a series of yoga stretches, and after about 40 minutes I was finally able to lie still in what would have usually been an odd position. I was later told that the salt points out our tense points, and the warm water allows the salt to penetrate the muscles after about ten minutes.

I slept well that night but still felt tense.

Session 2
I am told that every float session is different. My second session was totally different to my first. This time I chose to do the ‘relaxation float’ this had a voice talking me through relaxation at the start and then silence.

This time I knew what to expect. I had also been given the tip to use the floating head rest to help relax my neck. I got into the tank feeling relaxed. I was immediately still, then soon started to move and stretch until I gave myself permission to be still. Then it was over.

The motto on every door at Beyond Rest, 'expect nothing'.

Yes I had fallen asleep.

Can you drown from falling asleep in a float tank? It seems not. The water is so buoyant, but also because I was wearing the head rest, my head was kept in place.

Again I slept well that night. My body felt more supple after this float too. My uncle, a psychologist, said that 30% of all medications’ effects are placebo, not that this isn’t important. As he described, the mind telling us we will heal and believing that we will heal is more powerful than we realise.

Session 3
An experienced floater by this time, I was interested to see how I would find my last float. I had been told that it takes three to feel the full experience.

This time I chose music at the start and then silence. This suited me much more than the voice that sounded like it was from an advertisement rather than a meditation retreat.

The most comfortable position is key to a relaxed float!

They say you should have only a small meal two hours before your float and no caffeine four hours before. I had had caffeine that morning, and even though it was over four hours before I floated, I felt this really impacted my ability to switch off and embrace it. My body was relaxed but my mind was active. That morning I had focused on legs in my stretch and release class and this was the first part of my body to find stillness. While I was lying there I was thinking about 1) how to work out whether I want to have children or not 2) my life purpose, 3) what makes humans happy. Mind too active, just relax, relax!

Again, I slept well that night.

Should you joint the float revolution?

From this experience, I also spoke to other people about floating. Many of my friends told me that it had eased their physical pain from chronic illness like autoimmune arthritis, released anxiety, help study for exams and become the only time they could fully relax.

For me, I was looking more for physical relaxation and I believe that it did help on some floats, but I had to go into the experience in a relaxed way. An hour to yourself and your thoughts can always be beneficial. And booking in a float session will commit you to this without distraction.

Each session is different, I was told. And for me it was.

I liked that the space was beautifully designed, that it was clean and that I could do something good for my body while doing totally nothing.

Beyond Rest - Hawthorn
2/96 Camberwell Road
Hawthorn East 3123
03 9813 0385

Opening hours:

Daily 9:30am to 10:00pm