Life is busy. From dawn to dusk there are hundreds of people, messages and notifications competing for our attention. Sometimes it’s hard to pull yourself away and focus on ‘the now’… and sometimes we just don’t want to.

For me, every day starts with the news coming on the alarm clock. Every evening finishes with me falling asleep to a podcast. Between those moments is all the other stuff and noise that makes up everyday life.

The opportunity to spend an hour in one of Pure Zen’s flotation tanks was as exciting as it was daunting. How would I react to having to spend 60 minutes alone, in the dark with only my thoughts as company?

The venue

Located in Phillip, Pure Zen opened after owner Stacey discovered floatation as a therapy for anxiety. The results were so good that she simply wanted to share the experience with the rest of Canberra.

Inside Stacey’s brand new flotation centre, the tanks – or Dream Pods – are impressive pieces of technology. Almost fully automated, they feature LED lighting, an underwater sound system and an ultra-hygienic cleaning system that is run immediately after each treatment.

Afterwards, there is a chill-out room where clients enjoy teas or filtered water before emerging from the calm and relaxed environment. Full hair and makeup facilities are available to get you prepared to face the world again.

The process

Preparing for your first float is wonderfully simple. There’s a standard waiver to sign and a short instructional video to watch. Once the formalities are over, it’s just a matter of having a shower and climbing into the tank.

Once the lid is closed and you lie back into the water, the unusual floating sensation immediately takes over. Your body becomes more buoyant than it would in a bath or swimming pool – due to the added salts that also provide a mineral treatment to soothe the skin and muscles.

The trick is to let your body relax. In the first moments, there is a natural tendency to crane your neck out for the water (just as you might in a pool). There’s no need. You could quite easily fall asleep and let the salt-rich water keep your face out of the water until it is time to leave.

Importantly, there is plenty of room. I’m 185cm tall and could float with my arms above my head without touching the interior of the pod.

Who is it for?

Easy… everyone!

The system is so simple that you can turn up with very little preparation (so it makes for a great gift!). It would be a perfect ‘time out’ for busy mums, stressed students or anyone who is looking for a break from the everyday.

Even members of the Brumbies rugby team have enjoyed the experience. Canberra Raiders’ captain Jarrod Croker has come in for the experience, and co-player Luke Bateman claims that the best game of the season was shortly after his first float!

Despite having been open for barely a month, the visitors’ book is filled with glowing reviews that come from all different walks of life. Even the most hardened cynic will be converted after their first hour-long float.

The result

This was the longest hour I’ve spent away from my phone in the last decade. Texting, ‘gramming and snapping is an endless pursuit that fills days and nights. Who hasn’t checked their phone in the 30 seconds you wait for a coffee, to cross the road or during a commercial break?

To take a break from all of it – if only for an hour – gave me an opportunity to see the world a little more clearly and calmly. Once your mind lets go, and the rhythm of breathing introduces an almost hypnotic state, the effect is one of extreme relaxation.

Climbing into the car to drive home through Canberra’s peak hour, I turned off the radio and simply relaxed into the commute. There was no sense of rush or urgency – just the residual feeling of serenity and calm that existed within the darkness of the floatation pod.

(Is that guy behind me honking? Whatever… it doesn’t matter)

Click here to book your next float