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Any body can float

Philippa Moss

There is great comfort in the habitual activity of everyday life, but every now and then, I like to challenge myself to break away from routine and get out of my comfort zone.

That’s why I’ve become a solo globetrotter, taken the road less travelled and recently I signed up to close myself in a dark room and float in a shallow pool filled with water and half a ton of Epsom salt, better known as a sensory deprivation or float tank.

Deprivation therapy treatments diminish nearly all sights, sounds, smells and touch, earning a reputation for naturally easing many ailments and reducing stress. I’m a Gemini, so my mind is constantly on the go and the idea of sensory deprivation is frightening. Nevertheless, I have signed up for weekly sessions.

There are no lights, no music playing, no guided meditation or directions and nothing else to hear besides my own breath. And even though I am surrounded by water and Epsom salt, after a few minutes, I don’t even feel water on the skin because it’s heated to nearly exact skin temperature. From the moment, I feel so heavy yet so light and peaceful, there is no need to exert any effort to stay afloat.

I am a busy person and my habitual activity in often stressful. Taking the time out to evoke a natural relaxation response is amazingly effective stress-relief for me. Apparently, floating helps lower cortisol (stress hormone) levels and calms the nervous system, bringing the immune and hormonal systems back into balance. Other benefits are thought to be helping lower the heart rate, normalising blood pressure levels, restoring a normal breathing rate and normalising digestive functions.

The theory is that we are best able to induce a relaxation response by decreasing sensory input and bodily movements as much as possible. It may be all about getting the body to balance itself but for me, it is also an hour of complete time out, where I totally switch off – switch off from everything.

Before I decided to go outside of my comfort zone and give floating a go, I did some research and found that some people report that float tanks can bring about a “psychedelic experience.” That is not my experience and while I’m totally open to the idea of “spiritual awareness” I haven’t found floating mind-altering – yet. I am acutely aware of the possibility as when we approach new experiences with an open mind the road less travelled can open us up to emotional breakthroughs and enhanced clarity of mind.

Any body can float. Seriously think about that! Whatever size, height, gender, sexuality, ability – you can float. The Epsom salt in the water creates an extremely dense solution, like the Dead Sea, and enables people of all body types to float effortlessly and escape the pull of gravity. What a revolutionary advance for people disconnected from their bodies or those who want to find a way to relax without enduring the tactility of a massage. In a float tank, anybody can experience the amazing benefits of complete sensory deprivation, weightlessness, and complete body freedom.

Floating probably isn’t a wonder-cure for ailments and won’t change your world in just one session. It’s not some groundbreaking alternative therapy (or even an obscure therapy) or for people looking for a drug-free psychedelic experience. I now have a weekly commitment to floating and incrementally, it is changing my life. I highly recommend giving it a go. Floating really is an amazing experience open to any body.


  • The float tanks are big enough to fit your body when lying down flat but don’t leave too much room for moving around. Most are about the size of a “large coffin.” This can leave some people feeling confined and uneasy.
  • Tanks hold about 10 inches of water and about 1,000 pounds of dissolved Epsom salt. The salt is what allows the floater to stay elevated during the session without needing to swim or tread.
  • Most people choose to float for about 45 minutes to two hours, however, some go for even longer (up to eight hours!) as they sleep in the float overnight.
  • The cost of sessions depends on the type of facility. You could pay anywhere from $50 to $150 in Canberra.
  • You won’t get cold or wrinkly and the salt is good for your hair and skin.


Check out our review of Pure Zen Floatation here. In Canberra, there is also Astral Float Studio.

The author does not receive their treatments free of charge and their opinions remain their own. 


Philippa Moss

Philippa Moss is a HIV activist, professional feminist and best known for her outspoken voice promoting healthy public policy and healthy urban development. Philippa has been a happy resident of Canberra for the past 17 years. Originally from Sydney, she came to Canberra at a pivotal stage in her life. She is a proud mother of two children, a son and daughter in their teens/twenties, who as a Queer parent has always felt a part of Canberra’s greater Lesbian, Gay and Queer community. She was recently appointed the Executive Director of the AIDS Action Council (ACT), after acting in the role for the past two years. In 2015 she was awarded the ACT Telstra Business Women’s Award for Purpose and Social Enterprise, along with the Australian Institute of Management’s Not for Profit Manager of the Year (ACT) award. More about the Author

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