Therapy Underground

TherapyUnderground4 - HarvestMoon2

The Harvest Moon Centre on Lower Baggot Street was established in 1996 as a holistic therapy centre, providing a variety of treatments to promote stress management, mental relaxation and physical healing. These treatments range from the esoteric, such as Reiki, to the more conventional such as holistic whole-body massage.

Warmly lit and elaborately decorated with unique paintings, statues, icons and a vast array of crystals and semi-precious stones, there’s a curious harmony to what should seem like a disorganised collection of so many different things, a sense that this is a place of retreat.

Harvest Moon were among the very first to offer Floatation Tank Therapy. The Floatation Tank was invented in 1954 by the pioneering American neuroscientist John C. Lilly. Lilly was an innovative researcher and theorist and the Floatation Tank was developed to finally answer a fundamental question in the study of the brain: is consciousness dependent upon stimulation of the senses? In the early 50s, the dominant assumption was that, without the constant input of the external world, the brain would simply fall into a silent sleep-like dormancy, like a wind-chime on a still day. Lilly proved otherwise with the Tank and, in doing so, accidentally invented one of the most definite methods for deep relaxation and introspection known to exist.

The tank is quite big, easy to enter and move around in. There are between eight and 10 inches of water, warmed to around 37ºC (the average person’s body temperature) with water infused with several hundred pounds of Epsom Salts.

Once you lie back, wearing the ear plugs provided, with the door closed in front of you, you are in a totally dark, soundless environment where you float weightlessly on the heavily salted water. Very quickly, you lose track of where your body ends and the warm waters begin. The door is light and effortless to open and the whole procedure is no scarier than taking a bath.

The health benefits are extensive and well-documented, chiefly because the tank was invented by a respected scientist in an era when psychological research was very adventurous (Dr Lilly’s career became weirder and weirder as it went on – he spent his last thirty years researching human/dolphin communication).

A two-hour session in the tank, pictured below right, has been characterised as the deepest form of rest possible, even more so than sleep. This level of relaxation leads to a net reduction in the presence of the stress hormone cortisol. Improved healing times from sporting injuries, normalisation of high blood pressure and even improved skin condition have been shown to result from periods of regular tank use (the magnesium in the Epsom Salts diffuses into the skin quite naturally, reaching a balance with the body’s natural magnesium requirement).

I was advised to take three separate hour-long floats to get a full sense of what the tank had to offer. I decided to go once a week. The best way to describe an hour in the tank is that it’s like falling asleep without losing consciousness. Within the tank, your sense of time becomes distorted, as if you had nodded off to sleep unexpectedly. Without the constant provocation of the sense, your mind seems weightless and adrift, just as your body is.

I’ll definitely try this again, for periods longer than just an hour. Each time, I felt that the relaxation state was only coming into itself when I heard the startling knock that told me my time was up.

A word to the wise: if you have any open cuts, mask them with the Vaseline provided, or that salty water will seriously sting. And be gentle getting in and out of the tank. The natural temptation is to splash about a bit but Epsom Salt isn’t Sea Salt and if you get it in your eyes or nose, you’ll regret it. Happy floating!
Harvest Moon Centre is online at or available at 01-6627556.

By Ruairi Conneely