FLOAT ON: DINUKA and SHAHIN
Should you be trying to find spiritual enlightenment in the float tank? Not necessarily.
Scroll through the archive of any highly regarded publication over the last few years, and there’ll be an article that follows a journalist through an hour long experience in a sensory deprivation tank. From the New Yorker to the New York Times, Vanity Fair to The Atlantic, Sensory Deprivation is the new ‘it’ wellness treatment for people in the developed world.
For the record, most first accounts from journalists go something like ours. You walk into a calm, quiet room full of candles and calming music. The guy or girl at the desk whispers to you in a voice that is almost contrived calm. You take your clothes off and wash yourself in a warm shower. Then in seconds the lid of the float tank closes and you’re in another world. There’s nothing but weightlessness and pitch black. You and your mind. So you spend an hour or so trying to have the transcendental experience that you’ve heard of. You don’t have one. You worry that the salt in your eyes will make you blind. You get out. You lie to the person at the desk that it was spiritual and grand.
So it was with mild consternation that we visited the delightful Dinuka and Shahin, owners of one of Melbourne’s first float tank experiences, Elevation Floatation & Yoga, one cold winter Saturday morning in Melbourne. We expected to be greeted by a couple of inner city spiritualists who would tell us all about float tanks and the way they’ll help us reach spiritual enlightenment. But contrary to our cynical expectations, Dinuka and Shahin where nothing like what we expected. Over the course of more than an hour, they taught us a little about curiousity, friendship, and not trying to force the float tank experience.
Dinuka and Shahin have been friends since they were in high school. They’re an incredibly friendly, happy go lucky pair of guys, and you get an immediate sense that they’re great friends. At the same time, they started Elevation without having spent years in health and wellbeing, so their approach to yoga and sensory deprivation is refreshingly unpretentious.
Shahin first learned about float tanks from – of all places – American radio star and comedian, Joe Rogan. In doing a little research, Rogan is actually one of the driving forces behind float tank’s rise to popularity, so many decades after they were first invented by John C. Lilly, in 1954. Commenting in an article for The Atlantic, Rogan attributes sensory deprivation for helping him carve out many of his creative ideas. After Shahin heard Joe talking about floats, the pair got together and set about making a plan to open a centre of their own.
Today, now running a successful wellness centre with a busy base of regular floaters, Dinuka and Shahin are building a community that extends into yoga and other wellness practices.
But when we visited, far from trying to explain floating as an experience that will change your life or help you reach spiritual enlightenment, we particularly loved the way Shahin described it. And, it went a long way to explaining why all of those journalists had such miserable experiences when they went for the first time.
According to Shahin, they were just expecting too much.
“There’s nothing to achieve in a float tank. It can be whatever you want,” said Shahin, when walking down to get coffee, after our quick photo shoot. “It’s a very intimate experience with yourself. You’re being challenged to let yourself go. I feel like it’s my time and my space. I’m busy, just like most people, and I see this as my time and my time to be honest with myself and work through my problems. I spent the first half an hour consciously working through things.”
For more on Dinuka and Shahin, or to book a session at Elevation, visit their website
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