You are trapped in the typical Monday morning traffic battle. Even though you have to be there in 5 minutes, you are still 10 minutes away. You are planning the email you need to send, anxious about a meeting you have with you boss, replaying the disagreement you had yesterday with your spouse, while trying to plan what you will make for dinner after you pick up the kids. Simultaneously you check your three email accounts, reply to texts, and scroll through the half dozen social networks you participate in keeping you hyper-connected to the external world every minute of the day.
Now stop. Close your eyes and picture yourself floating weightlessly on top of calm water. You will instantly feel your body relax. Floating requires relaxation. Float therapy is based on just that. Our body is intrinsically connected to our mind and it is impossible not to relax the mind when you relax the body. In the demanding and high stress rollercoaster of the common day to day, what if we could stop for an hour (or two) to completely relax our body and mind? Can you imagine the positive impact that would have on s person’s well being? Enter float therapy.
What is Float Therapy
Float therapy takes place in pods or tanks filled with water that is saturated with over 1000 pounds of epsom salt creating an environment very similar to the Dead Sea. As a result of having a salt water solution that is 35% salt, the water inside a float tank is about 12x more buoyant than ocean water. This allows the individual to float weightlessly and effortlessly on the surface of the water. Each tank or pod is only about 10 inches deep and the salt water makes it essentially impossible for anyone to not float. Each float therapy session lasts between 1-2 hours and is void of sound and light. Sometimes you can opt for a soft light and meditation music while you float. I found a great page that answers tons of technical FAQ here.
What Does Epsom Salt Do
For hundreds of years epsom salt has been used as a natural remedy. Epsom salt’s power comes from it’s magnesium. It is commonly used to treat sore muscles, stiff joints, inflammation, and small wounds. It has also been used as a detox aid and is said to pull out toxins from the body. Some have even gone as far as to use it to support treating an infection. Hundreds of years of people claiming positive benefits coupled with deep relaxation of the body and the mind? I’m in.
Top Benefits of Float Therapy
The number one benefit of floating is stress reduction. Stress hormones wreak havoc on our health. They down regulate genes and create disease. Lowering stress can heal our body and allow us to live optimally. But the benefits don’t stop there.
There is a meditative quality to floating and that can clear your mind and calm your thoughts. Many people suffer because they can’t turn their thoughts off. Over time living in this heightened state causes insomnia and panic attacks. Taking routine breaks to force the mind and body into deep relaxation has a positive impact on the modern day busy adult.
Some of the other mentioned benefits of float therapy are:
- Decreased anxiety and depression
- Improved sleep
- Lowered blood pressure
- Increased circulation
- Strengthened immune system
- Improved posture
- Increased energy
- Helps weight management
- Helps overcome addictions
Along with the physical benefits from floating and the scientific benefits of epsom salt/magnesium there is a third and final component to the magic and appeal of float therapy and that is isolation.
In today’s hyper-connected society, solitude and disengagement are grossly undervalued. We constantly have stimuli bombarding our senses all day long. Solitude and silence can be restorative to a busy mind. Float therapy invites sensory deprivation through starving all your senses. The temperature of the water in the tanks and pods is kept at 93.5 degrees Fahrenheit which is the same temperature as human skin making it almost impossible for the individual to distinguish between body parts that are in contact with the water from those that aren’t. This effectively eliminates sensations in the body, tricking the mind into believing that your body is floating weightlessly in the air. You are left with no sounds, no sights, and no physical sensations in your body.
The clinical term for this practice is Restricted Environmental Stimulation Therapy (REST). REST Therapy, Flotation Therapy, Isolation Therapy, and Sensory Deprivation Therapy are all different labels for the same thing.
The possible benefits of isolation and sensory deprivation are:
- Mental Clarity
- Enhanced creativity
- Idea generation & problem solving
- Expanded awareness
- Enabled self-reflection
- Deepened meditation
- Accelerated learning
My Experience With Floating
I have been floating once a week for several months now. I will say I don’t think that floating is a magic cure-all nor do I think that it will change your life in 60 minutes. However, I do believe that having this protocol regularly scheduled into my week has made a very positive impact. Since I began floating I have become more aware of my own hyper-connected tendencies and I am getting better at detaching in and out of the float tank. It does help my body recover when I am extremely sore from the gym and also my meditations have become a bit deeper and a bit easier.
My favorite thing about float therapy is the isolation and sensory deprivation. I find myself craving it in between sessions. I love knowing that no one can reach me while I am in the tank. Sensory deprivation not only deprives me of my senses, I am also free of all deadlines, obligations, demands, responsibilities, judgements, issues and expectations. I come out of every session feeling free and rejuvenated.
I believe with conviction that in the long term, these weekly float therapy sessions will have a major impact on my overall health and well-being. Retreating from chronic stress is allowing our mind and body a moment to repair, reconnect and remember where we came from.
Taking control of your stress is a major component of taking control of your health.
I am a huge advocate for incorporating alternative methods into your lifestyle to optimize your biology. If you have an opportunity to try float therapy, or if you are debating if you should try it for the first time, the answer is DO IT!