The salty water gently lapped around him as he floated on the surface, gazing up into the inky blackness while the soft music gave way to perfect silence. It might well be a night time scene in the Mediterranean Sea but for the fact this was the heart of London. Floatworks near London Bridge, to be precise. I first came across their floatation isolation pods a few years ago but finally got round to trying them out myself. You have an entire room to yourself with an isolation tank taking up the bulk of the space. The water is saturated with Epsom salt so that, Dead Sea style, one floats with no effort whatsoever. The water and air are heated to a similar temperature so that, once settled, it becomes difficult to tell which parts of your body are submerged, lending the sensation that you are floating in air.
I won’t discuss floating in terms of potential health benefits, though some are claimed. I am no model for healthy living, but I realised a few years ago that my body largely takes care of itself and it is my mind that I have been neglecting. Routinely I use music to control my head but silence, particularly scarce in London, is a tool I rarely consider. Earplugs in, lid closed and lights out — the result is reminiscent of the sensory deprivation tank in which Daredevil sleeps in the film. The internal chatter rose at first, but gradually dropped to the point where I “lost” a period of around 15-20 minutes in the middle of my one-hour session in the tank without actually falling asleep. I left with an imperturbable calm, and travelling home on public transport I was uncharacteristically disinclined to pop in earphones as would be the norm.
I absolutely recommend it and will certainly return, though it doesn’t come cheap at £80 for three one-hour sessions (or £40 for one). But in a city where isolating oneself is virtually impossible, perhaps that’s not so great a price to pay.