Ubud Float Garden is a sensory deprivation tank centre in Ubud, Bali. I recently took a visit there to finally check the place out and revive my love of floating.
Back when I used to live in London and worked a nine-to-five, I discovered the joy of floatation therapy. I often booked a long session in a floatation tank on a Sunday night, finding it helped me deal better with the unwanted jolt of Monday morning and the onset of another week in an unfulfilling job.
Later on for a while, once I’d quit my role as a Business Analyst and pretty much moved to Bali, I aspired to open a floatation tank centre in Ubud. I knew it was only a matter of time before someone did, Ubud being the world-wellness-capital it is, and indeed it was. Happily, at Ubud Float Garden they’ve done a very good job too.
Ubud Float Garden is set in peaceful, green countryside about ten minutes drive away from the centre of Ubud. The drive itself is quite a treat, taking in small winding roads that meander through the undulating land, crossing a river and passing dramatic terrain and small villages along the way.
Floating is a sensory deprivation practice achieved by lying in a tank of epsom-salted water, heated to the temperature of the body to reduce the sensation of the water itself on the skin to the bare minimum.
The presence of salt in the water facilitates an experience akin to weightlessness. The body is buoyant and suspended effortlessly in just a few inches of water.
The floatation tanks themselves are typically big enough to lie inside and stretch out comfortably without touching the sides, although part of you might occasionally gently bump a wall as you float.
A user-activated soft blue light greets you inside the tank, which you can turn off when you’re ready, and a spray-bottle of water is there in case you make the mistake of getting salt in your eyes.
Arrival at Ubud Float Garden
Upon parking on the gravel driveway of Ubud Float Garden I was greeting by friendly reception staff, provided with a welcome drink and given a couple forms to complete under a bale.
I had arrived in plenty of time, as I’d been told the grounds of the float centre were conducive to unwinding both before and after a float. As I sat and relaxed I observed that the ‘Float Garden’ was exactly that – float rooms were constructed in a traditional balinese style, built alongside an attractive herb garden.
I spotted rosella, mint and other plants growing close by, and adjacent to the garden relatively empty fields (by Ubud standards) stretched off into the surrounding area, punctuated by the odd resort. It felt nice to get out of the bustle of town.
When it was my time to float, I was introduced to the features of the float room, informed about how the float procedure would work and went through the usual pre-float protocol: shower, dry face, apply earplugs.
By this point I was so ready to get in the float tank. As with other floatation centres, at Ubud Float Garden a futuristic-feeling soft blue light emanated through the open tank door. Stepping into the room and seeing the familiar comforting hue, I was reminded just how rejuvenating and beneficial I’d found these experiences to be.
Ever since the arrival of mobile devices it’s been so much harder to truly switch off from life, and with notifications and the ever-present tug of my iPhone, even an afternoon nap no longer has the restorative power it used to. Floating had provided a sanctuary and a way to unwind unlike any other. I couldn’t wait to climb in.
The first thing I noticed was that the optional headrest I’d chosen to use for the float did wonders for my comfort. This seemed a bit of a masterstroke by Ubud Float Garden, as in all my previous floats I’d never used a headrest, and had sometimes struggled to feel completely comfortable all of the time. Using the headrest however, I could perfectly balance my head, neck and body.
As expected, at first my mind was racing and my body felt awkward. I recalled how it felt similar to when I first started meditating, and when I took my first float in London years ago. I remembered to just accept these sensations without judgement and relax into the experience.
Sure enough, after a while something shifted. I experienced a slightly bizarre moment where I thought I could hear some people talking very loudly. As I was wondering how other people could possible be inside my tank, I had the realisation that these were my thoughts!
I was a little startled, but it wasn’t the first auditory hallucination in my life (more about that another time!), and after this climax of experience my previously non-stop thinking monkey mind quietened swiftly. It felt spacious and almost empty of thoughts.
From then on it was such a pleasure to just lie there, indulging in this rare state of relaxation. I was absolutely fascinated by how this sensory deprived environment eventually caused my mind to almost run out of thoughts.
It was another reminder that most of the time our minds cannot help but endlessly produce content that will preoccupy and worry us, but that this content is not who we truly are.
So many of our thoughts are part of an automatic production line that is fuelled by interactions with our environment. If we starve ourselves of this and other types of thought-fuel, eventually the mind will still.
Emerging from the tank, I moved slowly. I felt pretty high and like I was inebriated on something, in a good way. I was smiling (doesn’t happen that often!). I was honestly so glad I had just done this. My mind was peaceful, and gently elated.
I showered using some nice local and natural products that were provided, and went outside. A fresh coconut was waiting for me to drink on a nearby table amongst the herb garden. The sun was slowly setting, warming the colour of light in the air. This was a good moment.
I made some notes about the experience I’d just had. I couldn’t help but notice how ridiculously enthusiastic I was about floatation tanks. I’d forgotten how much I loved them. Personally, I really find this form of relaxation incredibly therapeutic.
My previously tight neck and shoulders were free of tension, my mind was no longer thinking at the speed of earlier in the day and I felt more peaceful.
Best of all, I was coming back again the following day!