Staying afloat: Former environmental engineer to open the first flotation centre in Halifax

Lindsay MacPhee, former environmental engineer, hopes to share the benefits of meditation through her new flotation centre.

Wires hang and pipes poke out from the unfinished ceiling. Pieces of plaster, insulation, tubes and tools are scattered around the space. Several workers tinker away in separate rooms. The space will soon become a sea of meditation and tranquility with decorations inspired by Wes Anderson. When the job is done, this will be the first flotation centre in Halifax.

An environmental engineer for five years, Lindsay MacPhee, 32, did not plan on opening her own business. However, after an environmental consulting job fell through, MacPhee decided to open her own flotation centre on King Street, in the north end of Halifax.

“It was definitely a blessing. I had known for awhile that it really wasn’t how I saw myself living my life,” says MacPhee. “I wanted to do something very fulfilling.”

What is flotation therapy?

Developed by Dr. John C. Lilly in 1954, flotation therapy is used as a form of sensory deprivation, detoxification and meditation to decrease stress and anxiety. MacPhee says flotation therapy can relieve chronic pain, such as whiplash and muscle recovery, due to the amount of magnesium sulphate in the solution.

“The health benefits are amazing,” says MacPhee.

In a flotation session, a person enters a tank filled with 10 inches of water and 800 pounds of dissolved Epsom salts. Denser than the Dead Sea, those who enter the tank will become buoyant and float. The temperature of the water is approximately 34.2 C, which is warmer than a public swimming pool. The tank is closed during the session to reduce sights, sounds and smells.

“When you get into that meditative state, which floating assists with, some pretty profound changes can happen,” says MacPhee.

From environmental engineer to flotation therapy

MacPhee got into floating in May 2013 in Vancouver, where she was finishing her degree in chemical and environmental engineering. She returned home to Nova Scotia six months later. Over the years, she never lost her interest in floating.

“I’ve been waiting for years for someone in Halifax to do this,” says MacPhee.

“We have such an amazing and creative community who are into meditation and the arts,” she says. “I think this can help and assist with that.”

Through the Self-Employment Benefits program and Employment Insurance, MacPhee was accepted into the Centre for Entrepreneurship Education and Development program, which helps entrepreneurs start their own small business with government funding.

MacPhee says that the main challenge of opening her own business was having confidence and educating others about floating.

“I had lived in a world where I worked a nine-to-five job as an engineer. It was such a major shift to what I’m doing now,” she says.

MacPhee says there has been an overwhelming response to her business idea. She says she has received numerous phone calls and emails from as far as Cape Breton and New Brunswick.

“It’s been general excitement,” says MacPhee. “That provides a bit of a push. On the days that are very difficult and I’m experiencing challenges, just knowing that provides a lot of support.”

In addition to flotation sessions, the centre will have a wellness co-ordinator, who is a trained naturopathic doctor, as well as a massage therapist and dietician.

MacPhee originally hoped to open The Floatation Centre by April 1. She expects to open the centre within the next few weeks.

“If I can just help people recognize their positive potential within the universe, whether it’s enhance their creativity, to decrease their stress levels … then I think that I’m doing a pretty great job,” says MacPhee.

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