Floating For Relaxation
The term “relaxation” is vague and subjective. It can be used to describe any activity that brings temporary release from the pressures of life – watching TV, pursuing a hobby, drinking a 6-pack of beer, surfing the net, soaking in a bath, dancing till dawn …
Is there such a thing as true relaxation from a scientific perspective?
Eminent stress researcher Herbert Benson MD of Harvard Medical College showed that meditation and yoga cause measurable changes to heart rate, blood pressure, muscle tension, hormone balance, and brainwave activity. At the time, it came as something of a surprise to learn that an individual could exert control over these normally unconscious processes that are regulated by the autonomic (involuntary) nervous system.
However, a major limitation to the efficacy of yoga and meditation was that these techniques required training, practice, and persistence. Benefits were not immediate. Relaxation required some hard work!
Benson’s studies did not include floatation REST because it was largely unknown at that time. Since the early 1980s, however, research has demonstrated that floatation REST elicits a significantly more powerful relaxation response than any other technique known to science, and does this automatically, passively, and without the need for training or practice.
The brain is a network of cells that constantly exchange electrochemical messages with one another. Brainwaves are the electrical activity generated when hundreds of cells “fire” at the same time in the same part of the brain.
The human brain has four distinct brainwave patterns, which are associated with four distinct states of consciousness
Electrical activity in the cortex of the brain can be recorded with an EEG (electro-encephalograph) and is measured in Hertz (frequency or cycles per second).
The beta state (13 Hz and above): Low amplitude, high frequency brain activity associated with normal waking consciousness and externally directed, linear-thinking mental activity.
The alpha state (8 – 12 Hz): Higher amplitude, lower frequency brain activity associated with mild relaxation, daydreaming, reverie and light meditation. The alpha state is relatively easy to access.
The theta state (4 – 8 Hz): Very high amplitude, very low frequency brain activity just above the threshold of consciousness, associated with deep mental processes, creativity, inspiration, and illumination.
Theta is a highly elusive state. Although we fleetingly pass through the theta state as we fall asleep at night and again as we wake up in the mornings, it is practically impossible to enter this state at will and remain in it without falling asleep.
One of the unique features of floatation REST is that after 10 to 20 minutes of floating, theta becomes the predominant level of brain activity, and remains so for the duration of the float session.
The Delta state (0.5 – 4 Hz): This state of minimal brain activity is associated with deep dreamless sleep.
The brain-state associated with floating – where the whole brain is balanced, synchronized, and resonating at the theta level – is something unique.