News / Halifax

Halifax floats on: two sensory deprivation centres set to offer 'a unique experience'

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Lying in warm water buoyed by Epsom salts, you relax and spread out as darkness and silence settles in around you.

Known as floating, sensory deprivation tanks have been used since the 1950s but have seen a real surge in popularity across Canada over the past few years, and Halifax is expected to see two open in the next two months.

“It’s such a unique experience,” said Lindsay MacPhee, owner of The Floatation Centre now undergoing renovations on King Steet in Halifax’s north end.

“A lot of times people fall asleep, and you won’t flip over,” MacPhee added with a laugh.

MacPhee, 32, moved home to Halifax in 2013 after years in British Columbia as an environmental engineer, and decided to go into the floating business once she realized the closest facility was in Montreal.

Although getting into a soundproof tank may seem claustrophobic, MacPhee said you can always leave the hatch open or play music, but the real benefits come from letting your mind wander and sink into a meditative state with no distractions.

Floating has been shown to help those with chronic pain, insomnia, or athletes who want to lessen recovery time, thanks to a one-hour session feeling like four to six hours of deep sleep, MacPhee said, and a high magnesium content in the solution.

MacPhee is hoping to open her centre in March, with two pods at first, and has started crowdfunding to help with extra construction costs and spread awareness.

Dr. Mike Buckley has been working on The Compass Rose Health and Wellness Centre for the past three years, and hopes to open the Bedford facility featuring different therapists, physicians and a float room with four pods in April.

As a registered counseling therapist with a PhD in psychology, Buckley said he’s interested in seeing how floating affects patients with post-traumatic stress disorder or addictions like gambling and smoking.

Floating is a well “tried and tested” method of helping people quickly develop relaxation and meditation skills, Buckley said. Blood samples taken before and after a float show a drop in cortisol blood levels, he added, one of the most damaging stress horomones.

While both centres are opening around the same time, Buckley said their customer base will likely be different and six pods probably won’t saturate the floating market.

“Our society focuses on a very high stress, high speed lifestyle and people are quite desperate for a change,” Buckley said.

Estimated float fees

Compass Rose Health Centre: $80 a float. $99 for three as opening bonus.

Floatation Centre: $65 per float. $50 with a monthly membership.

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