I wish I could start and end this post with comparisons of how I felt before and after the float. I would say something like “Before I experienced the float, I was worn out, tired, and in need of a rejuvenating experience – all of which the floatation experience managed to resolve!”
Honestly though, I can hardly remember how I was feeling before I made my way down to Palm Ave Float Club. I had started the week getting into an argument with my friend, crawled through an insane week at work hardly getting enough rest at all, had to rush out college application essays, and at the same time was juggling language classes on the side – all I know is that I was running on autopilot mode, and was desperate for something, anything, to make everything feel a lot less overwhelming.
It was a beautiful day when I made my way over to Palm Ave – the sun was shining brightly, the neighbourhood was pleasant, and the directions I got off the website led me to my destination in no time at all.
Describing Palm Ave as a hippie joint doesn’t quite cut it, despite the whole concept of floating and letting yourself go. With a clean, minimalistic interior accented with a few quirky touches (cue the very swag shade-wearing Buddha statue at the front door), it feels like the sort of place Zen enough to encourage people to really tune in to themselves and be who they truly are.
After being given a quick tour of the premises, I was ushered to one of the three curtained rooms and given a brief explanation including steps to take should an emergency arise. After a quick shower, I was more than ready to jump headfirst into the float (just an expression not to be taken literally, because the bath’s 500kg of dissolved Epsom salts will eat up your eyes in no time).
I slowly waded into the capsule, turned off the lights in the bath, pulled the lid down, and found myself in complete darkness, as well as silence. Apart from the occasional muffled sound of footsteps along the corridor, all that reminded me of my existence was the sound of my breathing and the slight ripples I made with my hands.
In the first five minutes or so, I was brimming with excitement, my mind whizzing from thought to thought and mental lists of what to include in this article. ‘Remember how the first few moments feel, think about the adjectives you’re going to use, have you got enough pictures and questions?’ – It made me jittery having so many thoughts and no place to pen them down on.
After accepting the fact that I wasn’t getting any pen and paper in the next 50 minutes or so, I tried to settle down and fully appreciate the surroundings that I was in. The air in the capsule smelled salty, and my body felt strangely light. Boredom started creeping in, and I found myself thinking “What should I do now?” I tried swimming about in the capsule (big mistake, who knew that even the tiniest of droplets in the bath could sting your eyes so much?), made strange noises with my mouth (the enclosed surrounding makes it very conducive for making Darth Vadar impersonations), but eventually gave up and simply, well, let myself float.
A few stray thoughts floated here and there, but apart from that nothing much happened. Talking to Derrick (Palm Ave’s founder) afterwards, I found out that the point of floating isn’t sleep per se, but rather about encouraging the mind and body to tune in to itself. In essence, ‘Expect nothing. Accept nothing. Except nothing.’
I’ll admit that the reason why I said nothing much happened was because I eventually fell asleep.(As I’m typing this I truly hope that I didn’t drool but even if I did, I’m not too worried because the capsule has a very thorough cleaning system after each session.)
I suppose that the entire week’s exhaustion accumulated itself into that one short nap, because the next thing I knew, calming music had started playing to let me know that the time was up.
As I stepped out from the water, I felt a certain lightness about my being, and the fog that had made its home in my head alongside fatigue the past week felt as if it had cleared up a little. Rinsing off the salt from my body in the shower, this restorative feeling grew bit by bit. By the time I had settled down for a juicy slice of watermelon to ask Derrick some questions, my mind felt clear and calm in a way it had not in a long while, and it certainly helped that Derrick was a very refreshing and inspiring person to talk to.
I had to finish up another tiring night at work, but this time round it didn’t feel so bad. Even though I wasn’t feeling extremely fantastic or as though I was spewing out sunshine from my being, all I know is that I carried a certain lightness about my being, and most importantly was no longer running on autopilot mode. [Note: Apparently, it is the sensory deprivation whilst being in the float that reduces your body’s production of stress-related hormones!]
The next time round, I’m definitely making a beeline for more of these float sessions. It feels like the sort of thing where the more you experience it, the better each time gets, and the better your ability have a state of mind that is more at peace. As the proverb goes, “Peace of mind is not the absence of conflict from life, but the ability to cope with it.” As far as rejuvenating therapies go, this float pretty much floats my boat.
Hello Derrick! Tell us a little more how the idea for Palm Ave was birthed.
I first got acquainted with the idea of float therapy reading the studies of neurophysiologist Dr. John C. Lily, and became convinced of the benefits of floatation. Palm Ave actually started in my room when I first bought my own float! It was initially for my own use, but then I started running a business based on it from my home until I found this space where Palm Ave is currently at.
Why this location though?
Well, mainly because it’s close to home (laughs). But also mostly because of the low cost and the easy availability of parking space. Keeping costs low is an important goal for us as we really want to keep the price of floatation low to encourage more people to give it a try, and experience the benefits float therapy offers.
What do you think makes floatation stand out from other forms of relaxation therapy?
To put it plainly, it’s a lazy way to relax! There’s no need for stimulation or to be stimulated, and it’s also suitable for everyone regardless of shape, age, or size. People are very tied down by the need to be stimulated; to feel something when the idea of relaxation comes up. In essence however, the idea of relaxation should be to feel nothing, allowing the mind and body to tune in to itself, and allowing the body to choose weightlessness – all of which floatation does.
How has the response to float therapy been so far?
Slowly but surely growing. Some regulars are people who have like me, read up about floatation, while some are ones who just wish to try new things.
What do you think is stopping Singaporeans who have heard about floatation, but are unwilling to try it?
The number one reason would be claustrophobia. There is also the perception of boredom (so… what’s supposed to happen now?), as well as the thought of having to pay so much just to take a nap. Floatation is not about sleeping per se, but rather a form of relaxation and a way to cleanse your thoughts. We once had a guy who floated for about 5 hours, and shortly after quit his banking job to start up his own charity in Nepal!
Hopes for Palm Ave down the road?
We definitely hope to see more people taking up floatation, and also to see more float centres emerge in Singapore (it’s not so much about competition, but rather about creating a good floatation community). We hope that floatation will become a movement, lifestyle and belief.
Any new year resolution suggestions for our Shiok! readers?
Information is so readily available these days, so now’s the best time to expand your consciousness and scope – you never know what you might find.