Thursday, 24 September 2015

Float Level's Top 10 Albums to Relax To

We all know floating is one of the best ways to relax and switch off from the hustle and bustle but what about when we're not in the pod? 

Music is a great way to relax and calm the mind so I thought I'd pull together a list of my favourite albums to relax to. 

1. Stars of the Lid - The Tired Sounds of Stars of the Lid

This album blew me away when I first heard it. Slow, fluid drones wash over you with subtle melodies building a very dense and all-encompassing world. It's a double album too so prepare to go deep! Highly recommended.

2. The Dead Texan - The Dead Texan

An offshoot of Stars of the Lid, a lot of the same elements are in force here but this is a more melodious, song-based approach (there are even some words here!).

3. Max Richter - From Sleep

This is my current favourite. Recently released, this is a 1 hour version of an 8 hour piece by British composer Max Richter. The full version is meant to accompany you through the night as it reflects the cycles of sleep but this 1 hour version with its soft, slow piano melodies, haunting vocal passages and patient strings working through variations on a single theme is a beautifully relaxing listen.

4. Brian Eno - Apollo - Atmospheres and Soundtracks

No such list would be complete without the godfather of ambient music, Brian Eno. This is one of a host of his albums I could have chosen but this one always captivated me and it includes one of my favourite ambient tracks (and one you will all recognise) - An Ending (Ascent).

5. Global Communication - 76:14

From the ticking clock of the first track, 76:14 is a real journey of an album and deserves to be listened to in its entirety. A wonderfully relaxing album for mind and body. It's a true classic of the ambient genre.

6. Marconi Union - Weightless

This one will be familiar to many of you as it is the music played in the centre and was voted the most relaxing album ever in a Guardian poll some years ago. A delightfully sweeping ambient electronica album from the Manchester band.

7. Cliff Martinez - Solaris (Soundtrack)

Once a drummer for Captain Beefheart, Cliff Martinez moved into soundtrack music and has produced some excellent work (Traffic, Drive) but the soundtrack to Solaris is just about perfect and for me his highest point. Dark, ominous yet highly melodic, this album reflects the isolation and uncertainty of the film's subject brilliantly. Highly recommended.

8. Carbon Based Lifeforms - Twentythree

Another staple of the ambient genre, this is perhaps Carbon Based Lifeforms' most ambient album. An almost spiritual, dream-like quality pervades throughout. A great immersive listen.

9. Biosphere - Substrata

All of Biosphere's albums are great but this one is my favourite by some distance. Different from the other albums on the list, this is a typically less ambient album as there are more decorations to the sound - conversations, typing on keyboards etc. - but the overall feel is a very quiet, peaceful one. A good one for the late evenings.

10. Boards Of Canada - Music Has The Right To Children

Now, I can't talk about ambient music without including Boards of Canada. Their early output in particular redefined the ambient electronica genre infusing it with a dark, urban feel and this, their first album, is a real masterpiece. Has more of a rhythm than the other albums on this list but again has a masterfully relaxing feel with that touch of "cool" too!

I know that there are many albums I've overlooked/forgotten about so feel free to leave your comments on your favourite chill-out albums below and if you're looking for something new, hopefully you'll find something above.

Happy chilling!

Monday, 22 September 2014

Top 10 Ways Floating Can Help You

It’s been a while since I gave the Top 10 blog some love so here is a post all about the many effects and practical applications of time in the pod. It goes way beyond being simply a relaxing experience!

1. A Rare Opportunity For Targeted, High Quality Thought

You may be saying to yourself, “But I think all the time…” While this is true, you probably do not regularly enjoy the experience of quality thinking time. Some people refer to the floatation tank as the “Think Tank” and with good reason. It allows for a completely uninterrupted, distraction-free opportunity to think deeply about particular issues with full concentration and increased brainpower at your disposal. You will be amazed at just how much you can explore and the solutions you can arrive at when given the opportunity.

2. Increase Mental Clarity And Perspective

Following on from the first point, this is probably the most important and evident aspect of floating for me personally. Disconnecting from the constant stimulus-overload of everyday life allows you to really put worries, issues, plans and indeed your entire life into much-needed perspective and enables order to emerge from the chaos of our scattered thoughts.

3. Reduce Feelings Of Stress And Anxiety

Stress and anxiety are unfortunately all too common in all of our lives and floating has been scientifically proven to reduce cortisol levels in the blood, which in turn reduces those feelings of stress significantly. Contrary to what we all seem to think, stress is not something we just have to put up with in modern life. It is something we all need to address and the pod is a fantastically enjoyable way to reduce stress levels and leave you calm and collected.

4. Relieve Those Aches And Pains

This one is unavoidable regardless of the mental journey you embark on in the pod. The weightless environment has a remarkable effect on your body. Just think, you have probably never been weightless in your entire life outside of the womb. All those years of gravity acting on your body does leave us literally weighed down. When weightless you give your body the opportunity for repair and true rest. After your float, you will feel aches have faded and you’ll enjoy increased mobility in your joints. Floating is also particularly good for relieving back pain as the weightlessness actually decompresses and stretches your vertebrae out.

5. Enhance Your Capacity For Creative Thought

This is another fantastic effect of time in the pod. Since there are no inputs coming into the mind and your central nervous system is sending no signals to your brain due to the weightlessness, you have increased capacity for creative thought.
By disconnecting from the predominantly left-brain rational processing of information, you allow your creative right hemisphere to come to the fore with often remarkably creative consequences!

6. Effortlessly Attain Deeply Meditative States

I sometimes liken the pod to an enforced meditation chamber in that often you cannot help but arrive at a deeply meditative state of mind, even with no experience of meditation. This state of mind is so blissfully calm and serene that it leaves you wanting more as all worries and stresses simply fade away into a simple, centred and present moment.

7. Visualise Your Success

Visualisation has long been known to be central to the psychological side of success in sport but it can be used for anything from that interview you have coming up, that best man’s speech, that presentation at work or even that recipe you’ve been wrangling with! Playing things through in your mind ahead of time, imagining the successful outcome and embedding that within increases confidence and moves your future actions into the more automatic side of experience. This has been particularly helpful for a number of Jiu Jitsu practitioners who come to the centre to play through the chess game of predicting and reacting to opponents’ trigger movements.

8. Improve Your Mood

Floating is known to increase the production of feel-good endorphins and with the absence of external stimuli and forces acting on your mind and body, it leaves you with a noticeably lighter and mildly euphoric mood!

9. Improve Concentration

An interesting aspect of floating is how the effects last long after your float has ended. Anyone who takes a long walk after floating can testify to this physically but another interesting aspect is how your mind is clearer and more disposed to deep, focused concentration.

10. And Finally… A Good Sleep Guarantee

I think most people feel that they could get a little more shuteye in an ideal world. A single hour in the pod has been likened to the equivalent of 4 hours sleep with regard to the physical and mental rest achieved during that short time. Additionally, floating vastly increases your quality of sleep and reduces the time taken to fall asleep. Try a 7pm float at Float Level and see for yourself…

And that’s your Top 10 ways floating can help you. If you like the sound of this and any of the above chimes with you, give floating a go and see what it’s all about. You can book your session here and have a look at our monthly special offers here. Until next time…

Wednesday, 11 June 2014

Top 10 Concerns About Floating – Answered!

When people are initially told about floating or they see pictures of the pods, there is always an element of interest but this interest is typically tempered by some trepidation or uncertainty over the nature of the experience. In this post, I am going to list the most common concerns about floating and hopefully allay any fears you may have regarding your potential time in the pod.

1. I don’t think I’ll like the enclosed space – isn’t it a bit claustrophobic?

This is the most common concern but happily the first thing people say when they actually see the pods is how big and spacious they are! At 8ft long, 5ft wide and almost 5 ft tall, there is plenty of room in there. Additionally, you are in complete control of the lid and since claustrophobia is a fear of being in a confined space without any control, you should not have any concerns in this regard.

2. It sounds pretty boring. An hour seems like a long time in there

When the first research was conducted into floating, it was believed that the mind would shut down without sensory inputs. What scientists found was in fact the polar opposite. You actually have more creative thoughts in the pod so it is not known as the Think Tank for nothing! One of the cool things about floating is that it takes away the normal sensory inputs to free up your mind to focus on what you really need to think about. Part of this sensory reduction is that you lose sense of time and can fully relax and let your mind go. This is not only very liberating but you will be surprised at just how fast the hour goes and also how much ground your mind can cover in this time.

3. Isn’t it just like sitting in a large bath?

Most definitely not. There is no comparison between a bath and a float. The weightless environment in the pod provides a previously unknown level of physical relaxation while the reduction in sensory input calms your mind, reduces feelings of stress and anxiety and allows you to reset your inner balance.

4. I don’t like the dark – this isn’t for me

With all the lights out, it is indeed very dark inside the pod while you float. Having the light out provides you with the full immersive experience of floating but like the lid, you are in full control of the lights so you can have them on if you wish. However, it is best to give it a go with the lights out to fully disconnect and achieve a deep level of relaxation.

5. I can’t switch off. Wouldn’t floating drive me crazy?

If you feel like this, then floating is exactly what you need! These days everyone needs some time to process everything and just get away from the stressful demands of modern life. If you have a lot going on, a float is a great way to gain perspective and focus your mind. You will be able reorganise your thoughts to ensure you don’t become overwhelmed.

6. I really don’t have the time to try this

If you are this busy, you need to be kind to yourself and ensure you do not succumb to stress. The beauty of floating is that it is just one hour out of your day but you will leave feeling fully refreshed with a fantastic feeling of wellbeing.

7. How hygienic is floating?

Again a very common concern. The pods at Float Level have a very advanced filtration system which runs 3 times between floats. This, added to the high content of Epsom Salts and a small dash of chlorine, ensure that the water remains free of any nasties.

8. Why would I even need to float?

Floating is not just for people who need therapy or help with any other sort of ailment. It can help with a large number of ailments such as stress, anxiety, chronic pain, fibromyalgia and recovery from injury to mention just a few. But floating is about much more than that. It is a very powerful tool for deep introspection and to reassess what is going on in your life as well as providing a deep state of mental and physical relaxation, which frees your mind and relieves your muscles and joints.

9. I don’t like being in water

Well… this one I can’t really help with. If you float, you’re going to get wet so on this one, maybe floating isn’t for you!

10. I’m pretty sure I’ll have some sort of freak out in there!

So we’ve all seen or at least heard about the Simpsons episode when Homer and Lisa float. While visual and auditory hallucinations are possible, they are rare, particularly during your early floats. There should be no reason to freak out. The pod is a tool for relaxation so if you let go in body and mind and trust the water completely, you will reach a deeply meditative state without even trying. Quite the opposite to a freak out!

So, hopefully, the above has clarified some of the most common concerns and opened your minds to the possibilities of floating. If you would like to give floating a try, you can call the centre on 0161 637 5138 or visit our website at to book your session today.

If you have any further questions about floating, do not hesitate to get in touch. My email is

Wednesday, 7 May 2014

The Top Ten Reasons... You Should Float

So you may have heard about floating and wonder what it’s all about. Is it for meditation? Is it for recovery? Is it just lying in some water for a while? It can be hard to grasp exactly what floating can offer unless you have experienced it.

In this post I’m going back to basics and will outline the Top 10 Reasons You Should Float and with Float Level opening later in the month, you’ll soon be able to try it for yourself… if the below appeals of course!

1. It’s Relaxing… Really Relaxing!

When you float, your entire body is effortlessly suspended on the surface of the water due to the high concentration of Epsom Salt in the pod. This removes the burden of gravity on your muscles and joints. And releases all built up tension giving your body and nervous system a much-needed break.

2. Stress and Anxiety Float Away

Everyone unfortunately has stresses and worries in their life and we all know we need regular breaks away to recharge the batteries. An hour in the pod is a convenient and highly effective way to get away from it all and restore some peace and perspective in your life.

3. It Aids Recovery From Injury And Intense Exercise

Due to the weightless environment, floating is an excellent way to speed up muscle recovery as it allows all of your bodies resources to go into repairing muscles without the distraction of external forces acting on your central nervous system. Many athletes and sporting teams use floating to get the edge.

4. It Eases The Sensation of Pain

Chronic pain sufferers have been shown to have significantly lower subjective pain after floating than those who do not float. The weightless experience in the pod reduces bodily sensation meaning that your brain is not receiving or processing information related to pain.

5. It Sparks Creativity

Since the sensation of the body is reduced, you have more mental capacity for creative thinking. This, along with the fact that the calming reduced sensory environment lowers your brain frequency from Beta (alert state) to Theta (Meditative State) enables a highly interesting and creative state of mind. Your big idea could come in the pod!

6. It’s Energising

Since the pod is a reduced sensory environment with reduced sight, sound and touch, your mind can take a break from the sensory overload of modern life. This unparalleled level of rest you get both mentally  and physically when floating for just one hour means that you emerge from the pod feeling refreshed and rejuvenated.

7.  Epsom Salt is great for the skin

As one of my previous posts outlines, there are a wealth of benefits to be gained from the use of Epsom Salts. You can find out more about them here but rest assured that your skin will not have looked as good  in some time and you will look glowing after one hour in the pod!

8.  Out of Body Experiences?

While this should not be expected every time, it is possible to drift off into an altered state of consciousness and have very interesting visual experiences in the tank. You can find out more about this and the research, which has been done into the tank and altered states of consciousness here.

9. Say Hello to a Good Night’s Sleep!

Floating has been shown repeatedly in a wide range of studies to improve both the quality of sleep and the time it takes to get to sleep. After your float, it’s a good bet you may actually get that elusive 8-hour sleep later that night!

10. It’s Not Your Everyday Experience!

Whether you like your float or you can’t quite make your mind up, one thing is sure. When you meet up with your friends later that night, your answer to the “how was your day?” question will definitely be the most interesting!

Float Level is Manchester’s first floatation centre and will be open in late May 2014. Pre-Bookings will be possible here from 14th May 2014.

Wednesday, 9 April 2014

The Top 10… Benefits of Epsom Salts

Typically our knowledge of Epsom Salt comes from its use in bath salts which are known to be a relaxing addition to our soaks in the tub. It is however also a central part of the floatation experience as huge quantities (over 500kg!) of Epsom Salt are used to provide the necessary buoyancy in the water. But Epsom Salt doesn’t just enable you to float effortlessly; there are a whole host of benefits you may not be fully aware of:

1. Epsom Salt is a fantastic source of Magnesium

Our modern diets are generally deficient in magnesium, which is vital for regulating over 325 enzymes in the body and plays an important role in organizing many bodily functions, like muscle control, electrical impulses, energy production and the elimination of harmful toxins. Magnesium supplements have been shown to lack effectiveness since magnesium is not well absorbed via the digestive tract. Soaking in Epsom Salts and absorbing magnesium through the skin is a far more effective (and enjoyable!) way to top up your levels

2. Sulfate in Epsom Salt helps to flush out toxins and build proteins

Sulfate plays an important role in the formation of brain tissue, joint proteins and digestive proteins while also drawing out toxins from cells which helps to eliminate any harmful substances from the body. Great for getting back on track!

3. Epsom Salt acts as a sedative for your nervous system

Excess adrenaline and stress are believed to drain magnesium, a natural stress reliever, from the body. Magnesium is necessary for the body to bind adequate amounts of serotonin, a mood-elevating chemical within the brain that creates a feeling of well-being and relaxation... something we all need!

4. Epsom Salt can soothe Summer ailments like sunburn and bites

Water with a high concentration of Epsom Salt has been shown to soothe irritated skin and reduce inflammation brought on by sunburn or bites.

5. Soaking in Epsom Salt water soothes aches and pains

As mentioned in the introduction, the soothing effect of Epsom Salt on muscles is well known and the high concentration in a floatation tank is perfect for those recovering from intense exercise or injury.

6. Epsom Salt exfoliates your skin

A somewhat surprising revelation after your first float is how incredibly smooth and silky your skin feels. Definitely worth trying floatation just to experience this!

7. Epsom Salt can add body and volume to your hair

Many actresses use Epsom Salt mixed in with their conditioner to volumise their hair. The high concentration and prolonged soaking of your hair while floating leaves your hair feeling thicker and with more body.

8. Epsom Salt improves circulation and heart health

The Epsom Salt Industry Council reports that Epsom Salt is effective in reducing irregular heartbeats, preventing hardening of the arteries, reducing blood clots and lowering blood pressure.

9. Epsom Salt acts as a natural emollient for your skin

While Epsom Salt is a great exfoliator of skin, it is also a natural emollient leaving your skin feeling baby soft!

10. Epsom Salt can draw out painful splinters

Soaking in Epsom Salt has even been shown to help get rid of those annoying splinters you just can’t get to.

Is there no end to the benefits of Epsom Salt? Well… no, actually. I haven’t even mentioned that Epsom Salt eases migraines, helps to maintain proper calcium levels in the body and improves the use of nutrients within the body among other things, but then this is a Top 10 list so I will have to leave it there. Let’s just say that Epsom Salt is a pretty wondrous compound and its benefits coupled with those of the floatation environment make for a pretty amazing experience all round!

You can book yourself in for a session at Float Level from early May 2014 and in the meantime can find out more about floatation on our website