It’s hard to switch off when you live in a big city as fast paced as London, and research has shown that our salience networks are in overdrive. Our salience what? Co-founder of The Floatworks in Vauxhall, Edward Hawley, explains…
‘The salience network is a collection of regions in the brain that select which stimuli are deserving of our attention,’ says Edward Hawley, co-founder of The Floatworks in Vauxhall. ‘It’s the reason why we would experience a sudden rush of cortisol and a heightened sense of danger if we were about to be hit by a car. In the modern day, these networks are in a constant state of alert, meaning that we are always on edge.’
Although it may seem like a relatively new phenomenon, with the likes of actress and Bond girl, Naomie Harris seeing it as a great way to de-stress, floatation has actually been around for more than half a century.
‘It was developed in the 50s by a neuroscientist who was also a bit of an eccentric psychedelic explorer,’ Hawley explains. ‘He wanted to see what would happen if you had no sensory inputs at all. In depth research into reduced sensory input using MRI scans showed a significant reduction in stress levels.’
If you catch Hawley himself at Floatworks, he’s an encyclopaedia of knowledge on the topic. The floatation pods look like something you’d find on a spaceship containing aliens in hibernation. To get the full experience, turn off the lights inside your pod to float in complete darkness with no sound.
Eventually, your body temperature and the water temperature will match and your concept of balance will evaporate, bringing about the sensation of floating. This lulls you into a complete sensory blackout. Hailing from a career in the city, Hawley admits to being overstressed and overworked, which lead to him setting up Floatworks.
‘There is a huge shift towards recognising mindfulness and our holistic health,’ he says.
Taking an hour out of your day to effectively hang in space inside your own zero gravity alien pod is definitely one of the coolest ways to unwind. It’s all about pushing yourself into a state of calm by literally unplugging your senses.
17b, Unit 20d, St George’s Wharf SW8 2LE; 020 7357 0111; floatworks.com