What is Floating?
Quite simply, floating is a method of attaining the deepest rest that humankind has ever experienced.
It is spending an hour or so lying quietly in the dark, suspended in a body temperature solution of Epsom salt, about 10” deep, and so dense that you float effortlessly. In the gravity free environment the body balances and heals internally as all the senses are rested. In short, it is complete mental and physical relaxation.
One hour of floating has the restorative effects of 4 hours of sleep!
How It Works
Scientists estimate that up to 90% of the brain’s normal workload is caused by the effects of routine environmental stimulation the combined effects of gravity, temperature, touch, light and sound on the muscles, nervous system and sense organs of the body.
The float room screens out these external physical stimuli, creating a pure state of “sensory” relaxation. Under these unique conditions, your body has a chance to restore its natural powers of self-regulation, while you simply lie back and rediscover the latent abilities of a deeply relaxed mind.
The temperature inside the room is kept at a constant 93.5 degrees F – relaxed skin temperature. As a result, the nerve endings which cover the surface of the skin no longer perceive any sense of separation between the skin and the silky mineral solution which surrounds it.
In the dark, weightless tranquility of the room, the boundaries of your body seem to dissolve and vanish. As you enter progressively deeper levels of relaxation, even your body seems to “disappear” from conscious awareness because of the sharp reduction in signals being transmitted through the nervous system to the brain.
Free from all external stimulation, your body can achieve a state of relaxation, which is deeper, purer and more beneficial than sleep. With no body to look after, your mind can attend to other business. The sudden de-stimulation of large areas of the nervous system triggers a spontaneous chain reaction throughout the body known as the parasympathetic response. Muscle tension, blood pressure, heart rate and oxygen consumption all drop dramatically. The whole chemistry of the body changes.
Blood vessels including capillaries dilate, improving cardio-vascular efficiency and increasing the supply of oxygen and nutrients to every single cell in your body. This is called the vasodilatory effect.
Stress related chemicals such as adrenaline, cortisol, ACTH and lactate are removed from the bloodstream and replaced by beneficial endorphins. High levels of cortisol and ACTH are known to weaken the body’s immune system and create feelings of depression, while lower baseline levels are associated with feelings of confidence.
These biochemical changes occur naturally and spontaneously as by-products of deep sensory relaxation. No training or techniques are required. Just lie back and let it happen.
How Can Floating Help You?
There are myriad ways floating can help you. Listed below are some…
People who lead demanding lifestyles run the risk of developing high blood pressure, also known as hypertension. This disease has no symptoms, but eventually manifests itself in the form of strokes, heart attacks and atherosclerosis (hardening of the arteries) – all potential killers. Floating can produce an immediate reduction in blood pressure and heart rate; regular floating may maintain this.
Modern research has established clearly the interrelationship between high levels of distress and a depression of the immune system. In addition, conditions like pain and depression impair the immunological functions. Floatation therapy is very useful in these cases since the deep relaxation attained by patients releases negative stress, helps chronic pain and depression giving a natural boost to the immunological system both at the cellular and humoral level.
Some digestive tract conditions are associated with high levels of stress that will be benefited by Floatation therapy such as the case of well-known psychosomatic disorders like Duodenal Peptic Ulcer and Irritable Bowel Syndrome. Both are associated with high levels of neurosis/anxiety and psycho-emotional conflict.
Muscular-skeletal and rheumatic conditions
The main benefits derived from Floatation therapy in muscular-skeletal and rheumatic conditions are primarily based on two factors. The first is the elimination of the force of gravity that the body experiences inside the float room. This allows a relaxation and expansion of multiple inter-articular spaces enabling a better blood flow that will improve the general conditions of affected joints. This applies for conditions like rheumatoid arthritis, traumatic injuries, and also chronic degenerative problems like osteo-arthritis.
Chronic and acute pain of neck, shoulders, and lower back generally experience substantial improvement through the release of accumulated muscle tension and increase of blood circulation to the affected areas. It helps conditions such as fibromyalgia, tendonitis, bursitis, etc
The second factor, which benefits substantially these muscular-skeletal conditions, is the release of endorphins into the system. Endorphins are natural painkillers that block the transmission of pain at the synaptic level. These decrease markedly the perception of pain and improve the frame of mind of patients, helping to break the vicious circle of chronic pain/depression that we often see in these cases.
Creativity & Enhanced Learning
In a study in Texas A&M University in 1982, Dr Thomas Taylor selected 40 well-matched subjects from 450 volunteers and split them in to 2 groups. Both groups underwent a series of 70 minute learning sessions using audiotapes.
One group (the control group) listened to the tapes while sitting on sofas in quiet darkened rooms.
The other group listened while floating in floatation tanks.
Taylor tested both groups on 3 levels of learning performance;
1. Basic memorisation
2. Application level (the ability to understand a concept and use it)
3. Synthesis thinking (the ability to put together several concepts and come up with a new idea or an original solution to a problem).
A static analysis of the results showed that on the first level, floaters did better than the control group. On the 2nd level, the gap between floaters and non-floaters widened. On the 3rd level, the superiority of the floating group was greatest of all.
Taylor also recorded the brainwave activity of both groups while learning. He recorded several ‘Eureka events’ – flashes of sudden insight or creative problem-solving. He noted that these tended to occur in the deep theta state.