This really is what they call taking a weight off your mind

Reporter Laura Neve Tacey with the owner of Unitas Flotation Kathy Powick
Reporter Laura Neve Tacey with the owner of Unitas Flotation Kathy Powick

The initial faint playing of classical music helped me empty my conscious mind of circling thoughts of the day and focus on absolutely nothing - which is a lot harder than you might imagine.

I was floating in about a foot of water and eventually I felt in touch with my core sense and fell into in a deep meditative state.

At this juncture you might imagine I am writing an account of a holiday at an holistic centre, maybe in Thailand or perhaps India?

But you couldn’t be further away. I’m in Elland, the guest of former NHS nurse Kathy Powick, who has started her own alternative health business.

Unitas Flotation is based within The Wellbeing Centre, Briggate which until recently was the Bridge Inn public house. It is a centre full of alternative health and beauty businesses.

The treatment I had takes place in a cabin with soft colour lighting, or if you wish, no lighting at all. And all you do is lie there, relax and let go of your scrambling thoughts.

There’s no need to worry about sinking as Epsom salt is used to make the water so dense it’s like floating in the Red Sea - you can even pretend that’s where you are.

Scientists have recorded what takes place in the brain when we meditate. Our brain stops processing information as actively as it usually would.

The most highly evolved part of the brain, the frontal lobe, which deals with our thoughts and self-conscious awareness, ‘switches off’ during this deeply relaxed state. Removed from the outside world, alpha activity in the parietal lobe also slows down. The thalamus and reticular formation of the brain benefits from reduced levels of external processes of information.

Basically, it’s a bit like a holiday for the brain - she takes some time out and feels more focused, less anxious and more positive upon returning to everyday existence.

In a relaxed state, the body releases endorphins which, in turn, reduces levels of depression thus providing a self-reliant treatment for a holistic lifestyle.

The ‘ultimate flotation experience’, I’m told, is for your brain to reach the state of ‘Theta’ which brings heightened receptivity and insightful visions of which Buddhist monks dedicate themselves to attain.

I experienced a sense of feeling bodiless; totally weightless - which you rarely are. This weightlessness gives you a feeling of what it might be like to float in space free from the burden of gravity.

Aside from relieving stress and anxiety, regular flotation sessions are said to increase creativity, improve sleep, posture and the immune system, they can help alleviate chronic pain and muscular aches, can help addiction recovery and can be enhanced when used with hypnotherapy.

Experiments involving humans void of external senses were introduced in 1954 by American neuroscientist John C. Lilly.

The process has been around a long time but the concept of ‘going for a float’ to promote our health and wellbeing is becoming increasingly popular in the UK after years of favourability in America, Canada and Sweden.

Native Canadian Kathy Powick, the woman behind Unitas Flotation, had the seven feet square flotation cabin delivered as the centrepiece of her business.

With a background in NHS mental health nursing spanning over 25 years, Kathy has combined her experience within this field and is focusing her compassionate nature in a business model that aims to benefit the individual.

“I’ve dedicated years to nursing and I now want to leave the bureaucracy of the health system to be able to specialise with flotation treatment for individuals.

“I have researched this and believe Unitas Flotation is the only one of its kind in the region.

“It’s a unique concept with health and wellbeing benefits for a wide range of people from those suffering with stress and anxiety, to business men and women in search of creative ideas through some time out. And to sports players and athletes whose bodies are temples.”

Kathy subscribes to the belief that holistic therapies, steeped in centuries of tradition and practice, have the power to aid the body to heal itself free of prescribed medication.

Treatment of the ‘whole’ person, which takes into account mental and social factors rather than isolating symptoms of disease for prognosis, have often been marginalised in the West as “alternative”.

But with increasing amounts of foreign travel, individual, personalised self healing and an appreciation for how other countries are leading the way in holistic health, ‘going for a float’ will become a more common turn of phrase in these parts.

lMore info from: unitasflotation.com or call 07769 340606.