In a world where we are constantly encouraged to fulfill our desires and feed our senses, booking a sensory deprivation treatment may sound somewhat odd. Then again, in a world where we are constantly encouraged to experiment and abandon the comfort zone, this kind of experience should be right up our alley. What’s more, in the whirlwind of current global events, cultivating optimism and resilience through self-nurturing practices has to be the fool-proof way to keep the immune system naturally balanced.
It all started on a recent visit to Monun Hotel & Spa in the ceramic-crowned town of Grottaglie. On a treatment course between the ’emotional showers’ and splendid Thermarium was a stop at the ‘Floating Suite’. Having never heard of this kind of treatment, my original thought was ‘another romantic suite for two’. In a small, candlelit room stands a tank, literally, wrapped in plastic wrap with overhead lights like an aquamarine experiment.
The spa manager tells me that this Sensory Deprivation treatment (also known as float therapy, isolation tanks, and floating tanks) has been used for decades to help cure psychological distress and anxiety; in a state of total vulnerability, darkness, and zero distraction, the brain is encouraged to let go of all thoughts and enter a state of deep relaxation, taking the patient back to its time in the womb. In fact, 85% of brain activity is focused on gravity at any single moment, making sure you don’t fall, your arms don’t swing, your legs don’t collapse as walk, etc. In recent years, the treatment has been used to boost creativity, improve memory, and sleep patterns.
The ‘master’ is now silent.
The spa manager instructs me to lay down and begins to swirl plastic wrap around me, arms at my side. I’m firmly tucked in and suddenly feel the mattress-like surface that held me up seconds ago begin to disappear. I am immersed in warm, Epsom salt-enriched water. Surprisingly, the H2O bubbles gather around me without wetting my skin. The experience feels like being in a womb (not that I remember); warm, dark, and cozy. I am weightless and need no control, no struggles. My head is firmly nestled in a pillow of water. The ‘master’ is now silent.
In this nothingness, the brain can just be and the body can relax. The colors begin to change, from blue to green to red and purple. Other than that, I’m in the dark for circa 15 minutes. I surrender to the moment, hearing only my breath and the occasional bubbles forming underneath the plastic wrap. After what seems like one hour, I am lifted out as the mattress divides me from the water, closing in as if I were being discharged from the womb. What a shame, I could definitely get used to this. For the rest of the day, a sense of utter relaxation and meditative silence took over. Since then, I have been having extremely vivid dreams and experiencing a diverse state of awareness.
The sensory deprivation kept passing in my thoughts. News arrived that VAIR Spa had a floating tank of its own, housed in the Borgo Egnazia resort on the other side of the heel. Having already been to the spa, all I essentially knew was how promising the ambiance was with hundreds of flickering candles and the infinite, soothing sound of trickling water that I could listen to forever. Off I was in my robe, led to one of the rooms. Inside was a high-salinity plunge pool at body temperature where I could lose the perception of my body weight, and be inspired for the next 25 minutes.
As my body lifted and I let my head immerse in the water, the sound of music filled my ears as the lights above changed every few seconds. The concept was completely different this time; I was essentially in my private Dead Sea with salts purifying my skin and coating every last fiber of my hair. Truth be told, it was hard to stay up for the full 25 minutes due to the nagging neck and shoulder tension, and the surprising weight of my hair in the water didn’t help.
Using meditation practices I’ve learned over the years, I consciously guided my thoughts to focus on the water, the sound of the water in my ears together with the music, the weightlessness. It worked, but it was challenging. Time was up when the music stopped, and my treatment guide returned to greet me. She told me that some people relax as far as full sleep mode during the session. Although there was a sense of strain on my shoulders and neck during the treatment, that faded quickly afterward.
Experiencing this kind of treatment once a month can work wonders to reduce anxiety, stress, and reclaim balance. The combination of listening to your heartbeat and the sound of the water is incredibly therapeutic in itself. There is a constant exchange of energy that happens without your effort or awareness, since the day you were born – connecting to that innate magic in and around our being is profound whether practiced in or out of water. You can easily combine float therapy with additional rituals, too, depending on your state of mind post-treatment.
Floating tank treatments in Puglia are not common which is why these two locations are unique picks; as a matter of fact, the tank in Grottaglie is one of three currently available in Italy. Both spas offer a high level of comfort, service, aesthetics, and safety.
Book a private Floating Tank session:
www.monun.it/spa | firstname.lastname@example.org | +39 099 450 5655
vairspa.borgoegnazia.it | email@example.com | +39 080 2255 455 (ask for Raffaella)